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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index

Welcome to the board. I hope you will find this and the "Back Problems" board informational. Sometimes people with cervical spine issues post on that board too.

I wonder if you have ever consulted with a spine specialist? This could be either a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon. These two specialties have the most education and training in the back, neck and spine.
They provide the most accurate diagnosis and plan for treatment, and will refer to others for additional testing, and conservative treatments as needed. Surgery is always considered as a last resort.

Look online for a "dermatome map." You will see which specific spinal nerve innervates which part of the body. When a spinal nerve is compressed, the area of the body that nerve innervates may exhibit symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness. For example, when my big toe went numb, my doctor knew to begin checking to see if I had a bulging disc at L4-5 because the L4 spinal nerve innervates the big toe.

The Cervical nerves that innervate the head, C1,2 and 3, aren't quite as simply delineated for the lay person to see...but if you hunt around you can find dermatome maps that show in great detail what part of the head is innervated by which cervical nerve. C2 does innervate the ear.

Another thing to remember is that if there is spinal nerve compression, symptoms can be felt at the site of the nerve or anywhere along the path of that nerve. However, when there is spinal cord compression the problems can be much bigger. Pain and symptoms can be felt at the level of compression or anywhere below that cord compression. So it is possible for someone to have cervical cord compression that causes one to stumble and fall. In your case, the compression is affecting your left side.

It will depend on how severe is the cord compression as to whether surgery is necessary. The problem with cord compression is that if left in a compressed state, it can lead to a nasty disease of the spinal cord called myelomalacia. When the cord is compressed, it does not get sufficient nutrients to survive normally. This leads to permanent nerve damage which can lead to paralysis, etc.

I hope your neurologist will refer you to a spine surgeon soon....this is the specialty that can determine the extent of the cord compression most accurately, and will be able to organize a plan of treatment for you.

Good luck.

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