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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

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I am 59, experiencing neck & radiating pain, at times debilitating, at times not so bad (if I do not use my arm for more than typing), weakness in left arm, for 5+ mos. Pain is always aching, sometimes stabbing, depending on position, activity.

MRI shows disc osteophyte complex C3-C6. Mild canal and foraminal stenosis, except for C5-C6, where radiologist notes severe left foraminal narrowing. not sure what the effacing language means..pushing on?

I assume that it is most likely that the largest osteophyte, at C5-C6, is putting pressure on the nerve root, causing the pain and weakness through my shoulder, left arm, making left arm functionally disabled - significantly limited range of motion, no golf, swimming, yard work, sleeping on left side.. Prescribed Diclonfenac Sodium for pain (NSAID, though not sure it is much more helpful than acetaminophen, or naproxen sodium), sometimes hydrocodone to be able to sleep at night (worse at night). My sleep is disrupted by the pain and discomfort, have to use sleep meds to get more than 3 hours, and even then, they don't work unless I use more than I am comfortable with. So chronic fatigue is a big part of the picture..

I have figured out that surgery is likely my best option for regaining function and range of motion in my arm and shoulder. It seems foraminotomy, at least, is in my future, depending on the exact location of the spurs, but I do not want to jump to conclusions.

I will see a neurosurgeon in a few days, trying to schedule appt for a 2nd opinion as well, scheduled for epidural injection in a couple of weeks, which is not likely to do much for function, but may relieve some pain for a while, or not.. unfortunately the spine surgeon that is most highly recommended is scheduling into mid-February of next year. I am guessing, from my MRI, that my situation is not urgent, if I can live with the pain, and I am wondering if I should wait 3 1/2 mos for the best guy, or see someone that can schedule me sooner (early December)?

Below are the results of my MRI - a lot of regular getting-old-rusty-neck-osteoarthritis stuff, but the pinched nerve, left arm pain and disfunction situation is debilitating.

Are there proactive non-surgical things I can do moving forward, to protect my neck from further deterioration? (stretch my neck?) Everything I know to date has been learned from this board - you all are an amazing resource. A few of you, who are so generous in sharing your time, accumulated expertise, and personal experiences have literally become my heroes - you know who you are.

MRI FINDINGS: On the sagittal images, there is loss of the normal cervical lordosis. Vertebral bodies remain normal in height. Mild degenerative endplate marrow signal and contour changes are noted at C4-C5, C5-C6, and C6-C7, levels where there is also mild to moderate loss of normal intervertebral disc volume. The craniocervical junction is normal in appearance. The cervical spinal cord is normal in contour and signal intensity.

C2-C3: The disc contour remains normal and the central canal and neural foramina are widely patent.

C3-C4: There is disc osteophyte complex with a superimposed more focal left foraminal disc protrusion. This effaces the left ventral CSF space and in conjunction with facet arthrosis, leads to mild left foraminal narrowing.

C4-C5: Disc osteophyte complex effaces the anterior CSF space and leads to mild canal stenosis (mid AP canal diameter of 8 mm). Uncovertebral hypertrophy more than facet arthrosis causes moderate narrowing of both neural foramina, left greater than right.

C5-C6: Disc osteophyte complex effaces the anterior (SF space and leads to mild canal stenosis. Uncovertebral hypertrophy and facet arthrosis contribute to mild right and severe left foraminal narrowing.

C6-C7: Disc osteophyte complex is eccentric to the right and results in mild canal stenosis. Uncovertebral hypertrophy contributes to mild to moderate narrowing of the right neural foramen.

C7-T1: The disc contour is probably normal and the canal and foramina appear patent.

IMPRESSION: Multilevel multifactorial degenerative changes as described above, with moderate C4-C5 and severe C5-C6 left foraminal stenosis.

For anyone that can share their impressions or thoughts, I am extremely grateful. I am used to being very active, and have needed both knees replaced for more than a year (also osteoarthritis), moving towards that.. The development of cervical problems as well has left me feeling pretty "old", but I am determined to regain my functionality and do what it takes to prevent further damage.

Bless you all! (WebDozer, I already owe you a huge debt of thanks, from reading your replies to others. Knowledge is power.)

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