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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index

Iíve been reading and researching on this message board for a few days now and have found all sorts of useful information. I was hoping to get some opinions on my neck issues. I am 29 years old and am in good physical shape. I am becoming frustrated with the different opinions I am getting and the fact that it is not getting better on its own.

I was dropped/slammed on my head while training in mixed martial arts (kickboxing/wrestling) way back in 2006, which led to a loss of range of motion and pain in my neck and some numbness down my right arm.

I had an MRI performed with the following results on 9/30/2006:
Foramen magnum is widely patent
Cervical potion of spinal canal has an average diameter of 12 mm

C4-C5 : Broad-based central disc bulge associated with a rightward protrusion of disc material into right C4-C5 neural foramen. Focal rightward disc protrusions narrows at right C4-C5 formamen and raises concern for mild impingement of the exiting right C5 nerve root.

C5-C6: Broad-based disc bulge. Small protrusion of disc material both right and left into inferior aspect of the C5-C6 neural foramen bilaterally. Partial neuroforaminal narrowing bilaterally at this level, greater on right side. Potential mild irritation or impingement of exiting right C6 nerve root.

C6-C7: Small broad-based disc bulge with mild protrusion of disc material into the interior aspect of the neural foramina bilaterally, right greater than left. Possible impingement of the exiting right C7 nerve root.

Impression: No spinal cord impingement and partial effacement of ventral CSF space at C4-C5 through C6-C7. Multilevel spondylosis with protrusions of disc material into the neural foramen on the right side at C4C5, C5C6, & C6C7 and impingement of the exiting right C4, C5, & C6 nerve roots.

The neurologist and neurosurgeon that I saw told me to give it time and it would heal on its own. Over time, I did get much better. The only problem that did not go away completely was being able to tilt my head back. I did have spasms from time to time, which led to a lack of range of motion in my neck and pain in the back of my deltoid and trapezius area. Over the next 6 or 7 years, I was able to work out and play sports at a pretty high level, including training MMA, playing football and basketball, and doing P90X and Insanity on a daily basis. I did have some issues with the spasms and went through 3 rounds of cortisone injections and a round of physical therapy. Eventually, in 2012, I started seeing a chiropractor and had no significant spasms for a year.

In late July of 2013, I went to the beach and woke up one morning not being able to turn my head at all without severe pain. I was not able to put any weight on my right arm. I visited my chiropractor twice a week and began to feel better and started to get back into my regular workout routine.

In mid-September of 2013, I was doing chin ups (wide grip, palms facing me) and felt a pop. I am not sure where the pop occurred in my body, but my right arm gave out. Since then, I have had a new sensation of numbness that creeps down my right bicep, forearm, and index finger & thumb depending on how I am sitting or standing. I have also lost a significant amount of strength in my right bicep. I was doing dumbbell curls at 45 pounds and now struggle to do repetitions at 25 pounds. I had a new MRI performed and had a series of cervical nerve root injections, which did not help.

The new MRI from 10/3/2013 stated the following:
Straightening of the cervical spine potentially due to muscle spasm
C4-C5, C5-C6, C6-C7: Degenerative disc disease, annular bulging, small herniations, and spondylosis

C4-C5: Minimal degree of intrinsic degenerative change. Small broad-based right posterolateral hernation superimposed on a minimal posterior annular bulge. Hernation contacts and very slightly flattens the right ventrolateral aspect of the spinal cord. A good volume of CSF remains present dorsal to the cord at this disc level. Osteophytes arising from the joints of Luschka create mild bony encroachment of the right foramen and minimal encroachment of the left foramen.

C5-C6: Same statement as C4-C6 except mild intrinsic degenerative change.

C6-C7: Mild instrinsic degenerative change and mild posterior annular bulging without mass effect upon the spinal cord or significant canal encroachment. Osteophytes arising from the joints of Luschka create moderate bony encroachment of the right foramen and mild to moderate curvature of the left foramen.

C4-C5 disc herniation is less prominent than shown on my 2011 MRI

I have seen several doctors with different opinions on how to deal with this problem:

Neurosurgeon: Recommended posterior discectomy via laminotomy at C5-C6 and right C5, C6, C7 foraminotomy . She said that there was a slight chance (6% I think) that I may need a fusion if it fails. The fusion would be a three level fusion due to the instability in the three discs. She recommended I work out with lighter weights but no jumping/plyometrics or lifting above my head.

Neurosurgeon/Orthopedic Surgeon: Do not have the above procedure done because it will just lead to reherniation and a spinal fusion soon after. He recommended that I deal with it and continue to do what I can as far as work outs go or I should go ahead and get the fusion surgery.

Chiropractor: Continue to do decompression treatment with him which includes traction, light manipulation, and electodes to relax muscles in neck and shoulders. Surgery might be considered down the road, but told me to stay away from the fusion.

Neurologist: Saw significant weakness in my right arm compared to my left arm. Said that the laminotomy/foraminotomy surgery may be something I need. I will be going in for further testing on Friday and will consult with him about the possibility of needing corrective surgery. He told me not to do any upperbody exercises.

I do plan to get a third opinion about surgery. I am most concerned about losing muscle mass and strength in my right bicep. I also do not want to make the injury worse. My ultimate goal would be to be able to compete at a high athletic level once again and resume the activities I have had to give up. I do not want to get the fusion surgery at such a young age, but I am afraid the other surgery could lead to me reherniating the disc and needing the fusion soon after. I am also afraid that I will not be able to workout at all after getting this type of surgery. I am sorry for being so wordy, but that is pretty much my whole story. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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