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C5-6 Severe Spinal Canal Stenosis - MRI show 7.2MM

Started by Grobush on 11/11/2017 9:59am

I was already a little stiff, chest pain, neck back pain, and then awkwardly lifted something above my head (no pop or immediate pain), but then within 15 minutes or so (this was about 3 weeks ago) had severe pain from between shoulder blades up to base of the skull. Also accompanied with chest pain - Costochondritis. PT helped relieve the 9 out of 10 on the pain scale to maybe a 7-8 within days. I likened the pain that first day to the amount of pain I felt when I ruptured my achilles. That first day I could not move without tremendous pain, being driven to PT, the turns and bumps were excruciating. But every day, the stiffness, dull pain, chest pain, seems to diminish (I would say I am at a discomfort of 2-3 on the pain scale now). Although I have been pretty sedentary. Also I noticed even now difficulty getting a full breath (like when you yawn). But I have not experienced, numbness, arm pain, no tripping, no loss of control issues. . . I had an MRI done, and was thinking it was going to come back totally perfect, and that I could get back to my regular routine. It came back with. . . .multilevel discogenic changes, worst at C5-6 with disc extrusion which abuts the cord. There is significant contouring of the cord and central canal severe stenosis at 7.2mm. There is one perspective on the MRI that the cord does not have intrinsic high signal, although another perspective is that it looks brighter than normal.

I went to a very well respected neurologist and have total confidence in him. When he looked at the MRI he indicated I needed surgery to fix the extrusion from my disc that was making an indention on the spinal cord. After looking at my MRI . . .. I asked if I was his son or him, what would he do . . . he said . . . "I would drive directly to the emergency room and go into surgery" . . . he then did the physical exam, and I had full control of everything (muscle strength, range of motion, etc.) everything was good. He revised his impression on the MRI and thought I didn't need to rush into the hospital, but instead get another Ortho Back Surgeon to evaluate the MRI/the possibility of performing an anterior decompression at C5-6, and also to do an SSEP. Obviously, I need to wait for the SSEP and the Ortho to weigh in on the facts here

I get the sense that with this extrusion into my spinal cord, the only option is to surgically address it, but without any terrible symptoms existing today (it was only one day that I couldn't move), I can't help wonder if I should wait. After reading the boards, it looks like everyone is saying if you need the surgery do it before things get terrible. But on the other hand, a lot of people have indicated post surgery problems. I would love people's thoughts on this?

I am a little scared about losing my ability to live the life I have been living, and fear that both paths lead me away from the one I have been on.

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1 Response


Hi, Grobush--Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. While we don't have a personal experience to share, we do have resources that we think will help as you weigh the decision of whether to have surgery.

The first resource is about non-operative treatment for spinal stenosis: ( Spinal Stenosis: Non-operative Treatment ). Perhaps it is worth asking the spine specialists you see whether these measures will be able safely help manage your pain--and if so, will they be suitable short term or long term?

We'd also like to share our spinal stenosis surgery overview: ( Surgery for Spinal Stenosis ). If you do move forward with surgery, this article will help you learn more about whichever procedure you undergo.

Lastly, before you undergo spine surgery, we encourage you to sit down with your surgeon and ask questions to ensure you understand the procedure and expectations around recovery. This article gives you lots of good examples of questions to ask: ( Spine Surgery: Questions to Ask Your Doctor ).

We hope this information helps, Grobush. Please keep us posted on what you decide to do! Take care.