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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

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Hi Spasmedout - what a dilemna! Here is how I deal with this situation you find yourself in.

I also have problems in cervical, thoracic and lumbar. I found that one pain can outrule another. Whatever hurts the most gets the attention in your brain. It is so complicated to explain - but there is like a gatekeeper in your brain and the signals go up and down. When there is a bad pain the signals get sent and somehow (the complicated part) the gatekeeper figures out how to let the most important ones through and shuts the gate on the others. Truly amazing!

The doctors are going to be extremely reluctant to do anything in thoracic unless it is really bad damage. It is difficult surgery and lots of problems. You will need to find techniques to manage that part of the pain. I do injections and thankfully it works for me. Another FYI - those lidocaine patches are effective for disc/nerve pain in the area of T5-7. Around that area the nerves run pretty close to the surface and even wearing those patches can help = you might check into this with your doctor and try out if that is the area for you.

My first choice is to fix the cervical. It is at the top and that goes bad it could all go bad. It is also the narrowest part of your spine-really not much extra room in there, actually helps control the rest since everything runs from the top to the bottom. If you look at it everything is also so tiny in the cervical compared to the nerves below. To me it seems the most critical.

In your lumbar - your spinal cord does not run down past L1 for most people. Therefore, you may have nerve roots that get compressed, but the majority of your spinal cord is protected because it doesn't run in there. I have a very nasty L5/S1 central herniation and damaged disc. I researched and found that after 5 year studies of surgical/non surgical - the researchers found very similar outcomes in patients ability, pain scale, etc.. that meant to me that if I could find some ways to live with it, manage the pain and as long as I had reasonable function - I would not touch it. Plus when I discussed with the surgeons they told me that when a person has degenerative disease as bad as mine, if I touch L5/S1 it might set off a disasterous effect on the other levels in that part of the spine. So we all agreed to stick with injections and other techniques to keep some comfort in my life.

Lastly, surgery might not take away all the pain - it is important to set reasonable expections which I do not think all the surgeons always do. When degeneration is widespread - it is just something you need to learn to manage and live with. I rotate injections, take meds, PT here and there, and all the other stuff - plus changed lifestyle etc..

Over time - you kind of get used to it in some ways and adjust to living with the degeneration and also the pain. Glad that other information helped you out.

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