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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index

Hello, this is my first post. I am 42 years old and I have suffered since 2013 from left side tingling, numbness and falling due to leg giving way. I broke my nose twice from falling. After a million specialists I think I'm finally getting somewhere.. with a neurologist. I just had an MRI done and I have the images, but not the report yet. This was a cervical Spine MRI with and without contrast. The MRI clearly shows herniated discs which I knew i had in my lower spine, but apparently in my neck as well and you can see that the herniations are pushing into the spinal cord (the fluid / white space around the spinal cord is missing on the images as the herniated discs are pushes all the way to the spinal cord). This is c2/3, c3/4, c4/5, c5/6. The most severe on being C2/3 disc. Is is possible that this is what causes me to go numb and fall? I have severe pain, but not in my neck. I get pain under my left eye shooting from my jaw, and left side chest pain which they tell me is actually my back shooting pain around the nerve in the front of my rib cage area. My primary suspects relapsing MS due to my symptoms which come and go: numbness, tingling pins and needles, falling, loss of hearing, extreme fatigue, etc. Brain MRI's have ruled out MS. My journey has led me down this path of incorrect diagnoseses so far:

Possible TIA, ruled out, then Bells Palsy. Intercostal Neuralgia, possible relapsing MS. 15 falls, two broken noses later and much numbness on left side arm and leg.. they now suspect demylenation of nerves unspecified source. My spine images from the past few years show reverse lordosis and disc degeneration probably from poor posture. Also, more bone spurs / osteophytes than I should have at my age. Osteoarthrisis. I had no accident or injury. I sit at a desk all day for 23 years. With this latest MRI showing discs touching spinal cord.. Is it possible my symptoms are from cord compression? What do they do for this? I really don't want surgery.

Looking forward to reading this board and learning. It's nice to know I'm not alone in my journey for answers.
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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