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So I received my results from my cervical MRI. I have a posterior disc osteophyte complex on my c5-c6. Mild to moderate spinal canal stenosis. Mild right-sided neuroforaminal stenosis.
C6-C7 Large left posterolateral disc osteophyte complex. This flattens the thecal sac and indents the spinal cord. Moderate spinal canal stenosis. Severe left sided neuroforaminal stenosis.
I filed a complaint agains the doctor who told me there is nothing wrong with my neck and shoulder except a pinched nerve. He also told me to go see a shaman instead of pursuing further medical action because he couldn't do any more for me. The other doctor who said that my initial x-ray looked normal and that I didn't need an MRI has been calling me 3 times a day to discuss my MRI results. I also reported him to the patient representative. If I hadn't gone to urgent care and had a caring doctor asses the initial x-ray and recommend an MRI, I would be trying to live with intense pain and thinking I am insane because two doctors told me there's nothing wrong with me. How is this acceptable?

I found a new doctor who is very empathetic. She made an appointment with a neurosurgeon from Mayo clinic who works in La Crosse now. He has a great reputation and I am hoping he can help me alleviate pain. I'm terrified I am going to do something to permanently damage my nerves or the feeling in my arm. She agrees with me that I may have an underlying issue because of the severity of the damage in my joints. I'm only 43 and my dad, as I mentioned earlier, had rheumatoid arthritis. She said surgery is likely for the neck problem because they need to relieve the pressure on my spinal cord. I'm terrified. I don't know how long the recovery is. I am a teacher and can't take off of work until the end of the school year. I really don't know how I can live with this amount of pain for another six months without going crazy.

Thanks for being so kind and giving me words of wisdom, Jen. I can't tell you how much I appreciate that.
I'm so glad you found a new doc who cares and the Mayo spine doc sounds good.

So let me explain what the MRI says about your neck. As you probably know(but I'll explain for anyone else reading this)the spinal cord comes down through the back part of the vertebrae....disks are in the front but the backside of the disk is snug up against the spinal canal. So if that disk starts to bulge backwards, it can hit the cord or the nerves that peel off the cord at each level and go out to the body through small holes on either side of the vertebra. If it hits the nerves, you get a lot of pain as well as pain going down the arm and possibly numbness and even muscle weakness. This is what you have "mildly" at C5-6 on the right side and "severely" at C6-7 on the left side. The reason I marked mild and severe is that, those are the words radiologist use to rate the amount of compression. The least amount is "minimal, then "mild" then "moderate" and then "severe". Sometimes if they can't see the nerve at all, they will use the word "obliterated". These of course have to be correlated with your symptoms. But most spine docs will insist on operating when a nerve is "severely" compromised.

The other issue you get with spines is compression of the cord itself and you have that as well. Although at both levels they note that you have canal stenosis, they only say that the cord is being compromised at C6-7. The thecal sac they mention is the membrane that holds spinal fluid in around your cord. So the disc/osteophyte complex at C6-7 is not only hitting the membrane around your cord, it is actually indenting the cord. Although this sounds bad, the cord can take a lot....I had multiple levels of this and my cord was squished down to half normal thickness with only minor symptoms. But since this is the same level as the nerve compression, they may be able to fix both at one time.

The doc should be able to make you comfortable enough to wait until next year to fix it as usually you need about 6 weeks in a hard collar after surgery(that means no driving) but he might also propose a surgery where there is no fusion and a shorter recovery time.

Once you see the spine doc, why don't you join me and others with neck problems down on the Spinal Cord Disorders board and we can give you advice and support to help you get through it? Good group of people there.

I'm just glad someone finally listened to you!

hugs...........Jenny





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