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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

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I had an MRI on my neck and after reading many of the posts here, I feel much better knowing that there are others with similar (if not almost exact) MRI results on their necks and/or backs. Eases my mind. However, my doctor gave me the impression that I've got some serious stuff going on and that he felt that surgery was likely the only option, but I'm not sure I want to have surgery.

What I'm wanting to know is if those of you with extensive knowledge of MRI reports, do you think surgery would be the only option? Or do you think that maybe non-surgical treatments could be just as effective?

My symptoms are as follows (progressed to this point over the past 3 years) :

Headaches, beginning at the base of my neck and extending to the right temple and behind right eye.

Excruciating pain in the trapezeus region, extending to below the shoulder blade. The side varies, sometimes it's on the left, sometimes on the right. It's inconsistent when it comes to the side affected, but the pain is always the same. This pain is intensified when I move my head (looking left, right, up or down. It also significantly reduces my ROM to the side affected, meaning, if the pain is on the right, I can barely turn my head to look right).

Left arm numbness upon extension. If I reach down to pick something up off the floor, table, etc., I get a combination of tingles and numbness in my hand and get a sharp pain in the shoulder (rotator cuff region).

I was recently given some muscle relaxants, which really helped the pain; however, it did not stop the numbness occuring in my left hand.

Here are the MRI results:

Mild degenerative changes of the cervical spine with central canal stenosis at c5/c6, c6/c7 levels.

c4/c5: There is a tiny disc bulge w/o central canal stenosis or neural foraminal narrowing.

c5/c6: There is a small disc bulge with moderate central canal stenosis and mild left sided neural foraminal narrowing.

c6/c7: There is a disc spur complex, along with facet degenerative changes causing significant central canal stenosis and moderate left sided neural foraminal narrowing.


My family doctor wasn't able to provide clear/concise translation of this report, admiting it was beyond his spectrum of knowledge. I have an appointment set with a neck surgeon, but it's not for another couple of weeks. In the meantime, now I'm freaking out thinking that I've got significant neck problems and will have to have surgery to fix it and based on reading some of the post op reports here, surgery doesn't necessarily make everything "all better.

I'd really appreciate it if someone could help me better understand what's going on. All I know is that stenosis is the narrowing of the canal that my spinal cord runs, my mind has me envisioning that my spine is being compressed and at any moment, my neck could break with the slightest of "wrong move". :eek: Please tell me that's not the case!! :)

Btw...I'm 35 and had 3 seperate accidents affecting my neck between 1988 and 1998.

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