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New to this journey with alot of questions and some anxiety

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
What a blessing this site has been already - so much information that has been so helpful! But, still many more questions I am hoping some of you here can help with.

I am new to this whole world of neck and back issues (history below) but just today received results from my cervical and lumbar x-rays and was wondering a few things.

1. The x-ray showed stenosis at c3 and c4 - mainly on the left side - is it likely or even plausible that this could be causing one or more of these symptoms a. tingling on the left side of my face b. chronic headaches c. weakness in my left upper arm?

2. Could arthritis in either l3 or the si joints be causing tingling/numbness in my legs and moderate lower back pain?

If the answer to any of these is "yes", what have you all taken as your next step? I have a follow up with my PCP on Monday and based on the limited info the nurse gave me it seems likely he will suggest PT. Would it be prudent to push for an MRI as well?

I am having trouble not worrying about this as of course people have thrown out words like MS. I have a husband and four little boys I love dearly and who rely on me to take care of them - I just want to feel normal again, be as pain and symptom free as possible and get on with things!

What, in all of your opinions is the likelihood that this is spine related vs. neurological issues like neuropathy or MS? I know you all aren't MD's but collectively you've been through so much and have such a wealth of information. Anything you have to share would be appreciated.

Here is my history such that it is - just more for info but I think most of my questions are up above.

I am a 37 year old female who just recently (3 months ago) started having weird symptoms. 3 months ago I had a bout of horrible neck pain on the left side for about a week. This eventually went away and a week later I ended up in the emergency room with my first migraine headache that progressed into facial/scalp numbness and tingling. They preformed a CT scan that was clear and sent me home to follow up with my PCP and a Neurologist. Followed up with the Neuro and she examined me and didn't find any markers for neuro issues but offered a lumbar puncture which I declined after talking to my PCP. He felt like the numbness/tingling could be a parathesia from the migraine and it would remit on it's own. So, I followed his advice and waited a week to see if it would go away. But it didn't.

After this I started having constant headaches and tingling in my face, mainly on the left side. The headaches are migraine like fairly infrequently, mostly just a constant "tension" headache. The facial tingling remits when I lie down on my left side and occasionally during the day as well, but is most usually present these days. I also have developed tingling/mild weakness in my left arm.

Since I was pregnant with my first child 10 years ago I have had off and on "sciatic" pain. This reappeared again shortly after the issues with my head/face/arm started. I am currently having chronic lower back pain and some mild tingling in my lower legs, especially when I sit down. Things feel better when I lay down or bend over.

I went back to see my PCP to follow up with all this and he sent me for some x-rays. The results were as follows:

stenosis at C3 and C4

arthritis of L3 as well as the SI joints and the pubic bone

I am just wondering what to do next? The nurse I spoke with who gave me the rundown on the x-rays started talking about cervical traction, PT, and chiropractic. I suggested a follow up with my doctor which I will have on Monday.

The pain is getting worse, the symptoms seem to be multiplying. I don't want to be a hypochondriac or overreact but I do want to get some relief and some definite answers. Should I press for an MRI? How likely is it that this is spine related or should I worry about neurological causes like MS? Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated.

If you made it all the way down here to the end of this long-winded post, thank you, I appreciate it!



  • I made it all the way through. :-) Welcome to Spine-Health. I'm afraid that there's nobody here that can give you definitive answers to your questions because, as you've already stated, we're not doctors.

    I'm so sorry you're having so much pain. I know from my experience, cervical disc problems can cause arm issues such as pain and weakness, muscle spasms, and tingling and/or numbness in the arms. I've never had any headaches or scalp tingling from my problems.

    I'm not surprised that the nurse told you about non-invasive measures to take before moving forward with an MRI. Almost everyone with spine issues try PT, traction, ESIs, etc. before getting to more desperate measures. You and your doctor will probably want to see if these help and if not, then there are steps to take afterwards.

    This is just fairly common procedure and may not be what is in your future at all. Just make sure that you are totally upfront and honest with your doc about your pain issues and how scared you are and you two should be able to move forward from there.

    Sorry I can't be more help.
  • Hi Aimee;

    Sorry to hear you are having so many problems. I too have stenosis but at C4/5 left side, I don't get the numbness in my face. But that doesn't matter, people do have different symptoms, some none at all even. I would ask for an MRI, as it will show more detail than an x-ray, and they will better be able to come up with an action plan for you from that information. Anyways, that's what I would do, just for some more piece of mind. I'm sure your doctor will send you for different tests, especially if they are throwing around other possible diagnosis. I know that it's scary, but don't worry about things too much, until you have a definite diagnosis. I know, easier said than done... Good luck, warm wishes to you.
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • I have chronic arthritis also and facet joint disease at L3 to S1. and arthritis in the low back would be inflammation on the vertebra. When the inflammation builds up it can touch the siactica area that shoots the pain down your leg. So to try to get some immediate relief now I would ask your doctor for some naproxen or aleve does the same thing and they will reduce the inflammation where the arthritis is. It takes several weeks to build up and work. Its like a maintenance drug to control the arthritis. Swimming would be good too. Under the water you can move the painful areas and that would reduce the inflammed areas and resulting in a reduction of pain. I take the anti inflammatories several times a day every day with food and not prior to going to bed to avoid stomache problems.
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
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