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what can they tell from an xray

baffledbbaffled Posts: 375
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
i have spoken to my doctor about the huge increase in pain these past 12 days. At first I thought it was just weather, then maybe some serious muscle spasms - but now i am not so sure - it just feels very, very wrong. I have an appt with him on Tues regarding this - but he said to go to an urgicare or er if this cycle doesn't break and I cannot wait until he sees me Tues

The question: i have a herniation at c56 and bone spurs, would an xray show if this has worsened or what exactly would an xray pick up on if they do this at the er/urgicare?

thanks for your input - i have to get my kids to an activity tonight and then get myself to the er - I would rather get them where they have promise to be then drag them along



  • Hi Patti,
    Typically the x-ray will show bone but not tissue so it should show your vertebrae and bone spurs but not any detail about your discs, muscle or spinal column. An MRI is much better at soft tissue but not so good with the bones. A combination of the two usually gives a decent picture of what's going on. Now, even though the xray won't show your discs, you can see the spacing between your vertebrae (and shape of those spaces) which can still give the docs a clue if your discs may be causing problems.

    Good luck with your ER visit, I hope they are able to find and treat your recent pain increase.
    Spiney hugs :hug:
  • they did a cat of the cervical - and my mild herniation is now a moderate - so i guess that explains my pain - the mild was from a mri jan 08 - so i guess things have changed in my neck and why my pain is getting worse over time.

    i wonder now if my present doc still thinks all my pain can be attributed to my muscles. I am sure there is a division between the herniation and the muscles - which is which - i don't care, but i am hoping now he will address not just my muscles but my structure of the spine.

    thank jay
  • and we shall see if he will agree to a surgical referral - i have said my prayers and i have practices my speech - will update later today - i hope i have good news.

  • Best of luck to you today.

  • Yes, as C said, good luck and let us know!! Something struck me about your post, as you said, your MRI in Jan didn't show anything that woud explain the pain you're having now. In Feb, when my pain changed and got considerably worse, my doc kept saying, well your MRI from Dec doesn't show a herniation or anything. I not so much demanded, but talked her into referring me to a neurosurgeon, who agreed that my protuding disc had probably herniated, ended up going for surgery (anterior foraminotomy), and it turned out that a disc, that showed nothing on the MRI had herniated, and the protruding disc had got worse since my MRI. So yes, things do change, and if you're experiencing more/worse/different pain, then find someone who will investigate it, and don't let anyone say "well, your MRI from a couple of months ago doesn't show anything".
    I hope you find the solution needed to fix your pain, just keep in mind that surgery is not always necessary, and if it is, there are less invasive procedures available, do your research, and discuss with your doctor and surgeon, to find what is best for you.
    Again, good luck, and keep us updated!!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • thank you both for your good thoughts and kind words. Just to clarify - the mri of jan 08 does show a mild herniation and a bunch of bone spurs and arthritis...the ct scan last weekend showed that i have a moderate herniation and mild degenerative disc....so to me a layman...it would seem like unfortunately my cervical c56 is progressing and hence the increase of pain.

    But my current doc says this still cannot be causing my pain! His reasons are this - i do not have the typical neropothy (sp) into my hands...i still have muscle strength and my reflexes are good. He doesn't believe that a fusion would help since my pain isn't typical. I do have the elbow and frequenct finger pain, but no tingling. And the ct did confirm that the herniation is not pressing on my spinal cord. No bladder problems. He doesn't know why i have the pain i do - but he can't say it is from my structure problems.

    He did however referr me to a cervical surgeon at the large hospital here - who is the 'who's who' of neck surgeon. He would like to see what he has to say - and i am waiting to get the appt from the scheduling nurse. In the meantime, he is having some rhem arthritis blood work done on me.

    In his opinion, i have lituraly fused myself, since i am very limited in my ROM.

    I (think) I understand that surgery isn't always the answer. But I have really exhausted all my options in conservative measures. It is a tricky guessing game - try the surgery and maybe it works or doesn't solve anything. Don't push for surgery - but things get even worse and have permanent damage....what a dilemna!?

    My gut is that something is not right - obviously, i can literaly twist my neck or bend it (ever so slightly that I can) and get specific pains going. Do you know what I mean? I honestly can say - wow I have thought I was in pain before - but that was nothing to what things have turned into!!!! It truely was pain, but I had no idea it could get this worse on a constant level!

    thanks again
  • Well at least the doc is referring your case to someone who specializes in neck issues. Maybe a fresh set of eyes and ears will be just what is needed for getting you some relief. I'll keep my fingers crossed!

  • You got that right C, different eyes may see from a whole new perspective and have a revelation!

    baffled, when is your appointment with the specialist? Keep us updated!
  • I find myself in the intense pain I found myself at the beginning of June. I have choosen to call my doc instead of the er - he has written a new script for me - but needs to be mailed - I will have to wait until thurs., wed at the earliest. His office is @ 1 hour away - and unfortuately I am not working any where near his office.

    the good news is this new med may give me some releif from the intense spasms (feels like someone is twisting my shoulder blades together - and soon the part that is at the outside of the back, will be touching) - bad news i have 2-3 days to wait for the perscription!

    I don't see the nuerosurgeon until the 23 of Sept...oh man - I wish this would end - nausea is coming with this bout of spasms...gotta go - just making the back worse sitting here at the computer.

  • Wow, I can't believe you have to wait that long!! Couldn't someone drive you to your dr's office to pick it up, or have someone pick it up for you? I hope that tomorrow is a better day for you.
    As for surgery, a fusion really isn't the end all and be all of spine surgeries, there are less invasive procedures, as I said before I had a foraminotomy. All they did was trim up the protruding disc, the herniated disc and shaved down the bone spurs. Boy, what a difference that made!! I did have severe pain in my neck, shoulder, arm and hand, with the numbness and tingling, and that radicular pain/numbness is all gone now in my arm and hand, just the occasional twinging and cramping. Still have neck pain, and a bit in the shoulders, but I also have stenosis and arthritis and DDD, but the pain is not as bad as it was.
    Anyways, just a thought, to ask the surgeon when you do see him, about other procedures that they can do. Until then, hang in there, and I hope that you have better days ahead!!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • I too have lots of arthritis osteophyte complexes and so on and mild DDD (but the DDD may be typical for a 43 year old). And I agree that fusion maynot be the way - that is even my point - there are so many different options with surgery - wouldn't one of them be something to try at this point with me?!

    I wish, so wish there was a way to get to his office - my hubby works farther away, and i wouldn't be able to get there any sooner than the mail to me. My parents are not healthy - thought of them too - they wouldn't even know where to go (hospital is huge). I will have to wait it out. I guess my body is really going to appreciate the relief in this cycle of pain.

    It all started after I turned my head NO (which I don't ususally do) and I am in the same spot I found myself at the end of may. I am always in spasms and have nerve pain - but this is even more intense - and the current meds won't break it.

    Last time I did the er route, frightened that something had changed and was dangerous. There I gave me Dilaten (sp) and some other anti inflamatories. I have to say, I still was in pain, to alot lesser degree, but my left shoulder blade still was twisting. The count down begins and the mail around here doesn't get here until @5 pm - hope this comes WEd!

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