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Hi, New to this Forum

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi everyone, this is very new for me. I believe that I have stenosis. I had an MRI (last week) for my neck. Over the last few months or so, I noticed intermittent tingling and numbness in my right hand (and my left pinky), as well as weakness, as I had been dropping things sometimes - this is what prompted me to go to my primary. Also, a little sciatica-like pain in my right leg once in a while (I had sciatica in the past, many years ago.). Anyway, just in the last few days, I now have leg pain, neck pain, headaches and lower back pain, fortunately not always constant and not severe, but not fun! I am 51 years old. (female)

What helps with the pain? I have only tried Advil, which doesn't do much.

I just quit smoking 5 days ago, before I had any idea that these symptoms may be a serious problem. I smoked for over 25 years, although I quit at least 8 or 10 times, and always went back within a few months or a year. I am now reading how dangerous smoking (unsurprisingly) is in causing spinal problems and in healing if surgery is needed, so I am very concerned about that. Just took the patch off as I read that that is bad also.

I went to see a neurologist today, but they sent me to the wrong doctor! She specializes in headaches (which I am getting some from my neck, but she is not the right doctor) so I have another appt. in a month with a neuro/surgeon and will have an EMG done before that. She did look at my MRI and said there is a lot of degenerative damage (I suppose smoking must have contributed), but thinks waiting until next month is just fine right now, and that this has been going on many years.

I would be very appreciative if anyone can comment on my MRI results, or if anyone has a similar issue(s) as far as a diagnosis or surgery. It looks pretty scary to me:

*No evidence acute fracture, prevertebral soft tissue swelling or epidural fluid collection.

*Caliber/signal characteristics of visualized spinal cord normal limits
*No evidence acute fracture, soft tissue welling or epidural fluid

*Multilevel degenerative disc disease, multilevel disc narrowing, disc dessication as well as posterior disc osteophyte complexes contribute to central canal stenosis, most notably involving C3-C4 through C-6-C7.

*Neural foraminal stenosis at above described levels.

Yikes!! I just joined a gym (before this happened) and am hoping to do the treadmill and some light weights if I am not in pain. I will ask the trainer. What type of exercise is helpful? Thank you so much for any help!!!



  • Sorry your post went unanswered for so long. Not very typical of this forum. But with that said probably the reason is that none of us are qualified to interpret MRI's. I know it's a long time to wait for answers from the doctors after an MRI but believe me every one of us has gone through that. As for your new gym membership staying as healthy as possible is a good thing. And congrats on quitting smoking! If you are going to go to the gym I might suggest that you do things that do not put any undue strain on your neck until after your next Neurologist visit. Welcome to the forum!
  • congrats on quitting that awful habbit! i'm sure your age has alot to do with your spinal problems as well. what you have is aging of your spine.the gym is a great idea for you. have you tried heat for you neck? if that doesn't help you can switch to ice to numb the pain.you could call your doctor and ask for some pain meds. in the meantime until you see your surgeon.just a suggestion,no sense in being in pain. i used to use a massager with heat and would lay on it most of the evening to help my neck and back.i found it very soothing.
  • Tonya,

    Thank you. I just saw these replies. It has been a couple of weeks since you replied and I did not see it. I think I need to keep better track of my posts. This is such a great place to come.

    I totally understand about the MRIs. No one can diagnose here. I did see the neuro doctor a few days ago, will not get into all details, but he said I have cervical spondylosis (C4, 5, 6, 7). I also got an EMG, no nerve damage even though I have hand numbness. He also said I have no neuro deficits which is great. He is totally against surgery. Anyway, I have a lot of neck pain now, some arm and shoulder, headaches. I am going to get a second opinion for perspective. I don't want surgery, but want to hear another opinion.

    He recommended only Pilates stretching and swimming. I am going to look into that. Can't do the usual gym workouts. I am still trying to figure this all out. Yes, quitting smoking is hard, but I am determined, thanks!

    I can't imagine what you must have gone through after that accident. !!!! Were you driving? How are you doing after your surgery? I hope you are healing well!

  • Tammy,

    Thank you, I just saw your reply. Yes, heat is very helpful! I should get a massager. I described what happened at the dr. in my last reply above, so will not get into all of it. But he was completely against surgery and limited my activities a lot.

    Yes, I think my age definitely has a lot to do with it. I had a rear end collision 2 years ago (hit me) and had lots of neck pain so I think that also had a lot to do with it. I did not follow up after it went away.

    So I am still kind of reeling from all of this. The neck pain is tough and is moving down. I take Advil, works OK, not much. I do have Vicodin which I have just discovered helps me if I take 2 over the course of an hour. It has been 3 hours so that is great! (but doctors don't like to give to much of the Vicodin, and it is not great for the stomach) I have started fish oil capsules, supposed to help with neck and back pain.

    Thank you, yes, quitting is a good thing!

    I am going to get a second opinion just to see. Did you see more than one doctor?

    What was your experience with surgery? Sounds like a terrible car accident with whiplash. Did you have spinal problems before the accident? I hope you are doing well!!
  • Sorry to hear that your having these issues. It is great to hear that you have made a decision to stop smoking. There is a smoking forum as well and you may find others going through this difficult process as well. As far as your gym membership, the treadmill is a great idea. My doc always says walk, walk, walk and when you think your tired walk some more. It is a definite for spine issues. Another thing that may help you as well is to watch your posture. If you are someone who is on a computer a lot, try to limit each sit and that may help as well. If you are having spasms i have found the use of a ball(rubbery) that i place on the hard spots and between a wall and press into them. Hurts a bit a first but then, oh the relief. I'm glad that you are getting a second opinion as well. This is a link to a list of questions that maybe helpful when you get your second opinion. Keep us posted on how that goes.
  • Hi Rara,

    Just thought i'd mention something about the different types of pain we experience. For my neck pain, I take something like vicodin (irish med); but the majority of my pain isn't actually in my neck - its all the other stuff (arm, shoulder, hand, etc...). It's this other pain that takes its toll on me. My doc prescribed lyrica - there are other meds that do the same kind of thing it does, i just don't know there names, but lyrica attacks the nerve pain, without having to be on narcotics. I only take 1 or 2 doses of my neck pain med per day, because the lyrica really sorts out the rest; only when my neck gets bad (like after being on the laptop!!) do i need the vicodin.

    DOn't know if thats helpful for you, but thought i'd share :)
    L4-L5 fusion 1998; ACDF C4-6 2008; DDD
  • Tamtam, thank you. It is 4 weeks today that I quit smoking and although I miss it, I think I am done forever. I am going to the gym tomorrow to also check out Pilates stretching and maybe swimming. I am not a good swimmer, but we'll see. I used to like to work out with weights, but I think those days are over.

    I totally agree about the computer. I think that is a lot of my problem. I have it on eye level now and am trying to cut back on time. I will find a ball and try that out.

    Some good news (for everyone who may be interested) is that yesterday I bought a Memory Foam Dream Away Contour Pillow. I cannot believe the difference it makes. I would run out and buy one!!! I am early in this game so I may be overly excited, but a huge improvement in sleep and in my neck. I also put a pillow between my knees. Very helpful. I know I need to do a lot more, but I am more hopeful now. I know it may be premature.

  • Diamonde, as we speak my neck pain is coming back because of the computer. As I said in my last post, that is a problem. The vicodin works for me but I have to limit it so that is tricky. I am so relieved that it does help. Yesterday it lasted about 8 hours. Heat also helps. (and the pillows!) I will look into lyrica but I take so many other meds for other things. I know what you mean about the other pain. It is worse in some ways. My neck pain while driving really worries me.

    Let me know if anyone gets the pillow! I will be in touch! Thanks!

    Sounds like you have been through a lot. I don't know enough yet about people's conditions, etc. I would love to hear from someone with spondylosis but all of you are a great help.
  • Diamonde, where are you in Ireland? My grandparents are from there and i visited once in 1995. West Coast. Lovely!
  • I hope the heating pad and meds are helpful for you. Congrats if you've quit smoking if not keep trying! I think your family Dr. should order you a EMG while waiting for Neuro. My Dr. did and I got to see Neuro right away although I didn't need surgery yet. I have some ostophytes also in my neck but nothing too severe for me yet there. I'm more lumbar problems right now. Keep us posted when you get your results. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • When i mentioned the treadmill to the neuro dr. he didn't seem to think it was a good idea? He was kind of weird, though. Would I be that vulnerable to injury just with a treadmill???? I know you are not a doctor but doesn't that seem odd? If I were that vulnerable shouldn't they just spell it out? It is confusing.
  • Thank you. My first post was before I saw the neuro dr. and just had the MRI. So I have spondylosis as I said above. I did get an EMG and it was clear, even though I have some numbness in my hands. It has improved. I am trying the lifestyle changes and that is helping. The heat and meds too!

    Sounds like you have been through a lot with your back. One year off work is so tough. Have you had surgery? I am still new at these descriptions.
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