Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

24/cervical pain/cognitive dysfunction

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:28 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi all,

I'm a third year law student living in Boston, MA. I've been "sick" for about two years, suffering from tons of muscle pain, facial pain, neck stiffness, cognitive decline/poor memory, poor vision, and urinary incontinence. Really, just in tons of pain, but the cognitive decline has been the *most* painful.

I've had an MRI, CT, and lumbar puncture - all showing nothing.

Just had a Rheum order a spinal MRI which showed DDD, multiple bulging discs, and cervical arthritis in every disc. Haven't had a follow up yet.

Anyways - I've been all over - been tested for everything, and this spinal info is the first objective evidence that I have of my pain. Finally, I don't have to hear that I am making up the pain (i.e. fibromyalgia diagnosis) I'm wondering - can my spinal issues be the culprit for my cognitive issues? If not, what should I expect?

I've taken the steps of already exercising everyday, eating perfect, and doing yoga 4 days a week (found that it helps a lot with the lower back pain).

Would love to hear stories - advice, or simply just get some information about what to expect with my new diagnosis.


  • Welcome to spine-health. It would be hard for anyone of us to say yes that is coming from your spine. When do you go for the follow-up for the MRI? Those are things that can come from the spine but it could only be diagnosed by a medical doctor. Lots of times along with the MRI and the physical exam itself is how they make those diagnosis. Good to hear that you have altered your health in a positive way. Stretching is so important for the muscles and the spine itself. Keep up your search for the answers and hopefully this will lead you to the answers as to what is causing your pain. Look forward to reading your post and what the doctor says about the MRI.
  • Hi ya legal,

    So sorry to hear you're going through so much... i was just wondering if you're on any medication?? and if you could provide an example of what you mean by cognitive decline? i know what cognitive is... i'm just wondering what you mean by it? memory - short or long term? abilities? intellect?

    Hang in there!
    L4-L5 fusion 1998; ACDF C4-6 2008; DDD
  • Hi everyone,

    Thanks for your responses. Diamonde, you make a good point - I find it hard to explain, no pun intended.

    I was previously top of my class, very witty, well liked, class president - the type of guy who is always out and about socializing and networking. I had a remarkable memory -- able to recreate entire course books on a white board for the benefit of other students - really operating at a high level academically, socially, and intellectually.

    Since I've been sick - I'm none of that. I misread and missay words (intending one but say the other), my speaking sklls are non-existent, I can barely summarize things I just read, I have difficulty understanding concepts, participating in a meaningful manner in conversation, lack wit, humor, and ultimately - lack personality. It is like I've been wiped clean, and there is nothing there. I have ppor spatial awareness, am clumsy, walk into things, can't concentrate. I realize many of these thigs sound run of the mill - but the issue is truly deeper than that . . I'm not. . . me. I'm not functional in the sense that my brain doesn't operate the way it used to - I simply lack the capability to understand things the way I used to.

    All of these issues are SO uncharacteristic for me. I would also like to add that I took it upon myself to get evaluated for mental illness. I was open to the idea that my illness might be psychosymatic. Alas, after 6 months with a harvard psych, I have a letter certifying that I do not suffer from any major mental illness or disorder- no depression, not bipolar, no anxiety, etc.

    Meds I'm on:
    1. guaifenesin (only thing that has really helped the pain, tylenol is useless)
    2. fish oil
    3. just recently (last week) occassional adderral. Psych admits i dont have adhd, but thinks it might help relieve some symptons - it doesn't. I've found it makes muscle pain worse.

    They've tried meds for an incorrect migraine diagnosis:
    1. IC propanolol
    2. ami/notriptyline (headache preventative/anti-depressant)

    Anyways, I realize this is a terribly complex issue, but thought I would see if some of these more plain vanilla spinal issues could cause the type of more severe cognitive issues I'm experiencing or if others are experiencing the same.

  • First off let me congratulate you on taking the bull by the horns and doing what you can to get an answer for your issues. You will always receive better care when you're fully "in" and aware of the direction that your care is going.

    In my experience with chronic pain and the consequent treatment of it I have also lost so much of the concentration and skills that I once had. Think about it; it's hard to be at your best when you are in pain. Enjoyment of life seems to be on the back burner. Learning new concepts becomes very difficult when I hurt constantly and applying previously learned ones can be equally challenging. To put it simply, for many of us pain has taken so much more than our physical selves.

    Until you have a diagnosis please don't write anything off to anything I said here, I'm no doctor. With your pain and urinary symptoms it's essential that you keep at it until you have some answers. Talk to your Dean at school and explain what you're going through; perhaps they'll offer you some help such as allowing you to tape lectures or take a little extra time to write a paper. You'll never know until you try.

    Good luck to you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do- I'm a PM away. This is a board full of caring individuals who will see you through this for the long run.

  • hi just wanted to say since i have found this web site it has really helped me out i came down sick last april being in pain evreyday is no fun thats for sure. i have to have surgrey done on my neck i have 4 disk out compressing on my spinal cord with bone spurs steniois and so on.i havent been able to work or anything which is very depressing barley hanging on. my left face is numb at times i get sick to my stomach not sure why that is i was wondering if surgerey helped with your symptoms did they go away? thank you for the ones putting information out there
  • Im 29 now and feel I should tell you to enjoy the rest of your 20's. Ever since I was 25 ive wasted my last 4 years at doctors for depression/bi polar ect... I got an MRI in sept 08 on neck due to chronic pain and realize it was stenosis all along. Now I need to figure out what to do. Got an injection last week and feel awful.
  • welcome legaleagle. 1st of all after reading your posts i have to disagree.... you have NOT lost your sense of humor. :) i don't claim to throughly understand your symptoms but i do know that both acute and chronic pain can alter your ability to think clearly. for me, it caused me to forget simple things like how to spell words i've always known, i couldn't go to the store without a list (even if it was just 3 things), i could go on and on. i was just trying to do simple things, YOU'RE TRYING TO GET A LAW DEGREE. give your self a break and work on getting rid of the physical pain.
    i am still recovering and experiencing pretty good amts of pain at times, esp after P.T. i have, however, started getting my mind back a bit. i have come to the conclusion that along with the pain distraction that the fear of what was to happen to me (?scary surgery, ?worsenings symptoms with possible disability, ?living in pain forever) was equally distracting. good luck with a follow up. hope some of these comments have at least given you food for thought. i also have to say the "cough med effectiveness" has me perplexed.lol.
  • since your young im curious what medical approach you take to this. Im far to scared of surgery getting an injection was bad enough. Im honestly scared my life is already over.
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    Can certainly lead to all of the "cognitive" symptomology that you are describing. Follow up with a Neurologist or Orthopedist, and then please follow up with us.

    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

  • Hi all,

    JKDE - I've never injured my neck, at least to my knowledge. I've taken a few nasty falls skiing, but I've certainly never required immediate medical attention, or any medical attention for that matter from a neck injury. Right now, the evidence shows that I have scoliosis (mild), DDD, and cervical arthritis. I haven't had a follow up re: my spinal MRI yet though.

    Your dark statements scare me a little - your life is not over!! I've been living with tons of chronic pain for two years, had a major change in mental and social capacity, can't eat anything (open surgery for stomach in 2008), and LIFE IS GOOD! I'm breathing, i enjoy the company of my family! I realize its really really difficult to face, and I wont pretend to know how much pain your in, but we've got to try - we've got to give it our best.

    There is a great story about General Patton sitting in his tent during the middle of the campaign, screaming at his aids saying, "My men are getting killed out there!! Killed!", pacing back and forth. His aid says, "Would you like a cup of coffee sir?", to which he replies, "Coffee?!?! Men are dying and you think coffee is going to help?" . . . . the aid responds, "It couldn't hurt . . ."

    If you're in terrible pain - maybe the surgery is worth a shot?

    Keep me updated. good luck.
  • oh, and re: approach - I'm still looking for a diagnosis in my opinion. I've been told I have fibromyalgia (least convincing diagnosis I've EVER seen) and migraines, but I'm not buying it. These things dont cause incontinence in a 24 year old . . .cognitive changes, etc, in a happy, health, strees free without some catalyst. . .in my opinion.

    I know my body - and something is just off kilter here.

    So, my approach is to continue to get diagnostic assistance while i attempt to maintain/salvage my personal and professional life. I think that is what you were asking?
  • metalneck -

    Will do! Looking fw to my follow ups. Although interestingly, my neuro/cognitive problems significantly preceded my neck pain (almost 1 yr). I've often argued w/ drs that the chicken came before the egg, but they seem happy to push off the cognitive (my most severe symptom) to the pain.

    Nonetheless, I'm definitely exploring all theories. I dont care what they call it so long as they treat it!
  • I have much to say but im gonna be careful.
    First I want to welcome you here.
    My opinion take what metalneck has said serious.
    Dont stop at letting them tell you fibro is your problem. MY OPINION. fibro this fibro that... yea yea yea that's what a neurosurgeon said to me once. I swear he said those words and I was thinking just about the same words as he spoke them.
    I have many questions. but I'm not gonna ask you on post
    P.M. anytime or email me at ladybug@patsy.com ..Patsy
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    Even though your congnitive symptoms were proceeded by the pain, the pathology in your neck no doubt exsisted before the appearance of either the cognitive, the pain, urinary issue(s).

    Just because you were relatively asymptomatic "physically" that would not preclude that the effect of physical changes within the structure and function of the neck - spinal cord - and neural foramon's and facets, could have been manifesting themsevles as cognitive symptoms.

    Chronic cervical myositis has left me with an almost constant HISSing sound .... is this a cognitive symptom? Organic brain syndrome? ... no, just restriction of nerve and blood flow from musculature in constant treppe. (maybe it just the air leaking from my head).

    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

  • like you, legaleagle, i was once a brilliant accountant with a bionic memory. other people at work frustrated me because i could never fully understand what they were *thinking* when they did their work...their friday night DATE...er what?? ~until it started happening to me. it started slowly at first...i'd catch mistakes i'd made...get a bit rattled...fix them and move on. forward about two years...and it was so bad, i'd spend an entire day correcting the previous days errors - then try and get my work for the current day done too. late, long hours. it never failed to stun me to see some of the mistakes i'd made with MY signature on the paper.

    it was like mental blackouts or something. or like a nine year old did my job one day...then i had to fix it all. very scary.

    "they" call it fibromyalgia and anxiety. personally, i think both stem from some kind of cord or brain stem issue. pain is pain...whatever "they" call it and most of the treatments for it are antidepressants, muscle relaxers, narcs. cymbalta works for me but makes me dumber. it took me years to accept taking it...because you're right - losing "me" has been the worst of it all - no matter the degree of physical pain. my pain has NOTHING to do with what's going on mentally - i experience cognitive issues when my pain is under control. example: i've lived in the same place for 16 years...and couldn't remember how to get to the grocery store! literally. yet...after grieving for my "self" and after spending weeks in bed...i finally relented to being dumber (on cymbalta) so i could relieve the pain. i've lost my ability to work anyway...it's just "the way it is".

    i don't know..is it mini-strokes or something?? there's only SO MUCH they know about the brain. what they DO know has really only blossomed in the last forty years or so.

    hang in there, be strong, and accept that it "is what it is" ~then make the best out of what you've GOT.

    best regards,
  • Jasro - Your story just hits dead on with me, and I think we are walking a similar line. Like you, for me, the loss of my professional and social prowess has really been the hardest to deal with. Im really not concerned with my diagnostic label - just want my life back. I have come to accept it for what it is, but I can't stop fighting back or searching for a new diagnosis - I can't bring myself to do that yet, to accept that the way I am now, mentally, will be me forever.

    Anyways, thanks for the advice and words of encouragement. I will keep you updated.



  • you are accustomed to having a mind that has always given you the ability to figure out and put together things... taking control of your life and destiny ~ "triple A" type personality...i would guess.

    my "will" wouldn't be thwarted in the beginning either. i took myself on...as a science project. documented pain, weather conditions, symptoms, reactions - googled everything to death. tried to study cytokine storms, macrophages, basil ganglia - but the frustrations of not being able to RETAIN what i'd read to keep following thru got to be unbearable. like continually beating my head against a brick wall...but i was consumed with it.

    doctors weren't interested in any *new* symptom...they'd just nod their heads and say, "you have fibromyalgia". (fibromyalgia = fukked up) but i pushed ...had tests done endlessly. now my finances are at the point that to continue pushing forward would mean move to ghetto housing - i REFUSE.

    "accepting" the diagnosis has been too much like dying. giving up. the cravings never stop for me. i make a lousy disabled person. (crap, it's time to lie down AGAIN??!!) i hated naps when i was a KID.

    please DO keep me posted on your progress. one of us - somewhere - will figure it out. i don't mean to discourage you...my intentions are just to share with you. you inspire me.

    i'm sorry you are so very, very young.

    keep your mind fit. no matter how tedious the exercises are. fitbrains.com is a good place to check out.

    very best regards,
  • jas...fibro- you summed that up in a few words. (my opinion
    My thoughts too.
  • Is fibromyalgia like osteoarthritis? Im not even 30 yet and feel tired to the point of not doing anything but laying down. I use to be super active up to age 25.
  • I had to look up osteo to know! Fibro is fatigue beyond the point of exhaustion. Hits like a brick wall or creeps up slowly until managed by lying down so as not to flare. The pain is muscle pain - like someone beat the crap out of you or you've been on a roofing job. Yet, sometimes it's my bones (spine) and I feel as though I was also dropped off of a building.
    Hope this helps.

  • I read this whole string and it strikes something in me too. I was wondering if the acronym for DDD, could really be something else. LOL. I too am a type A personality and have felt like I was slipping. I get so frustrated when I feel bewildered for a split second. Is it old age? It is middle age? My mouth says a word when I really mean another. What is this? I'm 44 and have been through so much, I wonder if my brain is rebelling?

    Legaleagle, I so feel for you and your story. I hope you find a good doctor that will listen and believe you and find a culprit for your symptoms. It's so bad to know that something is going on and not get an answer. It would seem, like Metalneck says, that there has to be a connection. You can have cervical problems before you have the symptoms of them.
  • I admire you! I can tell that you are a very strong and smart. I believe if you can look past the pain for five minutes a day and write down on a sheet of paper what you need to say to the doctors, it would come out perfectly. You have a way with words. I can see you as a sweet talker, but very professional. I believe with all my heart you will get the answers you are looking for keep trying! :)

    Listen to metal_Neck, he is great!
  • leagal please keep us updated...
  • i can so relate to this...i have been sick now for a little over a year...i have been through a battery of tests and they just found out i have 3 slipped discs in my cervical region. my symptoms have been really varied and cognitive is a main issue...i am a grad students and i had to take a leave of absence from school, my internship, and quit my p/t job bc of all of these symptoms...i am wondering about the cognitive problems being related to this newly found slipped disc..any information??
  • i can so relate to this...i have been sick now for a little over a year...i have been through a battery of tests and they just found out i have 3 slipped discs in my cervical region. my symptoms have been really varied and cognitive is a main issue...i am a grad students and i had to take a leave of absence from school, my internship, and quit my p/t job bc of all of these symptoms...i am wondering about the cognitive problems being related to this newly found slipped disc..any information??
  • I am impressed that you recently said a Rheumy ordered the MRI......what other tests has the Rheumy done (like for Lupus, anklylosing spondylitis,RA - some of these do not present with joint issues.) Cognitive issues can come from a variety of sources, not only the neck discs, but impreded blood flow to the brain, autoimmune diseases, and as others have noted, chronic pain. I just hope this Rheumy is using a really good lab for any tests - labs differ considerably in their quality! Is there one person that is overseeing all these consults?

    Since my neck pain started last November I have noticed some cognitive issues myself and felt it was from the chronic pain. But I finally went to a Rheumy and his battery of tests lean heavily toward Lupus. Lupus and other autoimmune diseases have an element of cognitive issues. I have cervical spondylosis and already am fused C3-6. So for me there are 2 issues going on at the same time. You may also have several issues - such as urinary symptoms, which can be evaluated by a competant urologist. They can do a neuro urology test that differentiates spine issues from other types of urinary problems.

    Chronic pain, whatever the underlying cause, can really play havoc with your brain, literally changes the brain chemistry and how it perceives pain. When any condition becomes an all comsuming focus, it can become a cycle. But I must say, for your description of your cognitive complaints, you write extremely well here - distinct, well worded, concise.

    Other than yoga, what do you find helps your pain? Did you get a PT evaluation? I assume the MRI was of your brain? No tumor, infarcts, etc.? Do you keep copies of all your diagnostic reports? Who recommended the current medicines you are taking?

    I am truly sorry for what you are going through! And never let anyone tell you such'n'such can't be happening because you are so young:) Do keep us updated.
  • I'm sorry you can relate to this.

    I haven't found any info to validate that cognitive
    issues may come from cervical ones. Don't know
    about LegalEagle.

  • The cognitive deficits (memory, learning, multitasking) you described are those that I have lost as well. I have been called crazy, although my shrink sticks up for me. I don't have emotional problems - I just take the wrong exit home.

    It's so messed up and I feel like I'm floating in nowhere.

    I have two current tears (l3/l4, l4/l5) and one totally drained, sunken disc (l5/s1). I am wondering if its the fluid. I reported to my doctor that the cognitive/speaking problems oscillated with sciatic symptoms, but she's Edited, and had already made up her mind that I was nuts. So she didn't even listen.

    Let me know what you come up with. I'm a college student too. This feels sooo wrong.

    -April B., Maryland

    Post Edited for Inappropriate Language by Authority Member haglandc
  • Been doing a lot of reading about the above in regards to cognitive function. Interesting stuff. Can cause most of fibromyalgia symptoms. I believe C1 commpression may be hard to see on mri unless neck is tilted.

    They say that being in pain becomes a "learned response" by the brain. How many times must I get drunk for it to learn to stay that happy?

    If docs increase my Serotonin with drugs because I'm depressed, why don't I get excessively happy when I take them?

    Why does everyone worry about addiction to alcohol, maryjane, codeine (happy stuff) but not addiction to antidepressants? Ever withdrawn from Cymbalta? Topamax? If docs don't know why a drug works, what else do they not know it's doing?

    If a particular cell (or cell group) has become too active over time, that cell "learns" to more more reactive to a chemical transmitter and reacts fast with exposure every time. Like ...it can kill a virus faster or make allergic reactions more severe with each exposure. With all that said, why does it take increasing doses of beer to get drunk or codiene to get pain relief?

    It all makes me nuts(er).

  • OTowner5OOTowner5 Posts: 1
    edited 10/24/2015 - 11:02 AM
    I've been suffering from the same symptoms. I've had fibromyalgia since I was 13 or 14 (I was diagnosed in 1979 before most doctors had even heard of it)! It started after several camping trips and a bad bout of mono. It felt like I never fully recovered from the mono; I still have the same joint pain and lethargy that a person with active mono or a flu feels. But I was still mentally sharp and could get a lot done if the weather wasn't bad! Flash forward to 2012. I was sitting at a stoplight with a friend when a driver across the six lane highway ran the red light and turned into traffic, broadsiding a semi that was entering the intersection at 55 mph. The semi lost control and slammed into the driver's side of my Prius (I was driving) flinging us across several lanes. We were amazed that we survived at all and felt a bit dazed when we walked away from the accident. I had an MRI done right away but they didn't find anything. Three months later my shoulder and right arm were going numb and cold, I was dizzy all the time, and had the other cognitive issues you've listed. Another MRI showed herniated discs, C4-C8. I tried physical therapy for a year, an osteopath for another year, a couple of chiropractors...nothing helped. The driver who hit the semi was barely insured and his wife died in the accident (he did too, but they brought him back). My insurance maxed out early on. I decided to go to South Africa for a month and visit a family member who lived on a wildlife reserve there. It was a needed break, but I picked up a bacterial infection and parasites while I was there (too many interactions with local wildlife!) and all of my symptoms became much worse. The rough African roads probably didn't help my neck either!

    I did a lot of research; one possibility for the cognitive issues seems to be chronic Lyme disease. There are only two labs in the U.S. that can properly diagnose it, and even they miss it 30% of the time. It can be made worse by parasite infections, so that's what caught my attention. Check out a documentary called "Under our skin". I do think that the herniated discs make matters worse, but they may not be the root cause of our cognitive problems. What's frightening is that millions of people across the globe are experiencing the same thing, but the CDC still doesn't want to address the epidemic!

    This is an old thread and LegalEagle is no longer a member of the forum

    Please click on this link for spine-health information
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Liz. Spine-health Moderator
This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.