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

Are these findings... normal?

TTLCTTTLC Posts: 876
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Chronic Pain
Hi everyone... :H

I was wondering if you guys could give me any advice on my little story below:

Thursday morning, I woke up with a deep productive cough and a sinus headache. I've had a cold for about 10 days and rather than clearing up, it decided to travel into my chest area and sinuses. The OTC medications were helping a little, but not so much with my cough. Since the coughing was creating a lot of back spasms, I figured I should give my PCP a call to see if he was seeing any patients on Thursday. The lady I spoke with told me my doctor and his staff were out until Monday, in observance of the holiday. After speaking with the lady, she suggested I go to an Urgent Care facility... as I might need an antibiotic. No problem. There happens to be an Urgent Care facility a couple of blocks from our house... so Mike and I took off for what turned out to be an interesting visit and outcome, with the doctor at the facility.

We arrived at the facility and there was no wait, which was great. We really expected a full waiting room, as most doctors offices were probably closed. A friendly nurse called us back and took my vitals. My vitals were all good, with the exception of my oxygen level... it was at a 95% level. She took me to an examining room and the doctor came in within minutes. He looked at my ears, nose, throat and listened to my back and chest area. He had me cough, take deep breaths, cough again, etc., while he listened to my lungs with the stethescope. After the exam, he told me I had a sinus infection and bronchitis. He suggested doing a breathing treatment in the office to help my bronchial passageways and also wanted a chest X-ray done, to rule out pneumonia. He also swabbed my throat, to rule out strep throat.

The nurse came into the room and took me to get the X-rays and then set me up with the breathing treatment which lasted about 20 minutes. After my treatment, the doctor popped his head in the room and asked me what antibiotics I could take. I told him anything that wasn't penicillan or sulfa-based. He started naming off antibiotics, asking if I could take this or that. I told him (again) that I can take anything that is penicillan or sulfa-based. He seemed a bit frazzled that I couldn't name off an antibiotic for myself, so I told him I had a big case of the "duh's"... due to not feeling well. Mike and I exchanged looks with each other, kind of like... why doesn't this guy know what to give me for an antiobiotic? He then shut the door and came back a few minutes later with the cotton swab he used to take my throat culture. (I thought that was a bit weird, as once you rub the swab onto the culture... you discard the swab, right?). Anyway, he pointed to the swap and told me I didn't have strep, and was prescribing me an antibiotic for my bronchitis and sinus infection. He also prescribed an inhaler for me to use, as needed. He told us he needed to look at my chest X-rays and then we would be done. All was great in my mind... the staff worked very quickly and thoroughly, so I was pleased with the visit. The doctor returned after looking at my X-rays and told me that I didn't have pneumonia... but, he could sure see a lot of hardware in the X-rays. (My T-spine was visible on the X-rays they took). I told him yes, that is from my surgery last year...which I had already told him of at the beginning of our visit. He then said he was going to have the radiologist look at the X-rays to confirm "no pneumonia" and if anything showed up, he would give me a call. Once again, no problem. Mike and I left the facility and we headed home.

Once I got settled into bed, Mike went to get my prescriptions filled and needed to pick some things up at the grocery store. While Mike was gone, I got a call from the Urgent Care doctor. He told me the radiologist confirmed no pneumonia, but the X-rays were showing compressions fractures at T5, T6, T7. He wanted to know if I was aware of these compression fractures and if I was feeling any numbness or tingling sensations? I told him that I had multiple compression fractures from my fall and I was under the impression that my fractures had healed. I am completely fused at T11 and T12... and wore the turtle shell brace for 3 1/2 months to help my fractures heal. I then got a long "hmmmm" from the doctor. He told me to be sure to go to the ER, if I should start to feel any tingling or numbing sensations in my extremities... as the radiologist said the fractures appeared to be unstable. I got a little concerned and asked him if I needed to call my surgeon... if the fractures were showing unstable? He said that would probably be a good idea and he would have the X-ray reading available to send, this Sunday.

After I hung up with him, it felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest. "Unstable" compression fractures? That is not good... not good at all. I called Mike, who was at the grocery store, and asked him if he could stop in and talk to the Urgent Care doctor... to confirm what the man told me on the phone. He called the radiologist while Mike was there and the radiologist said the compression fractures were stable, but showed loss of height.

I am feeling much better... I don't have any tingling or numbness in any of my extremities.

What I am wondering... is if I should call my surgeon on Monday with what this radiologist found on these X-rays? Are compression fractures still visible after one year or is this something new going on with T5, T6, T7? There was no mention of my other compression fractures that I had from my fall... only these. My hardware and fusion areas look great.

Thanks for any advice you guys might have for me. I'm just scratching my head on what to do with this new information.

Hope everyone is enjoying the rest of their holiday.

Tammy :)


  • Well, never a dull moment, right? I'm afraid I don't know much about compression fractures and little about the thoracic area, in general. But, as always, when in doubt, call your surgeon. Sounds like you should make an appointment, take the X-ray and go back in and talk with him...it can't hurt and then you will either have peace of mind, or a plan of action if one is needed.

    Hope you are feeling better from your sinus infection,etc. You have a lot going on there!

  • Wow, what a story. I would definitely call your surgeon on Monday - there's absolutely nothing to lose. This is going to drive you crazy until you talk to your surgeon and have him tell you what's really going on (at least it would me).

    From what I read, fractures in the area of the spine you mention are pretty rare because the rib cage stabilizes that part of the spine, but of course, it does happen.

    I'm curious: have you had a bone density test? Have you had a fall or something happen since your surgery?

    In my humble opinion, this is something you really can't ignore. If your surgeon tells you it's nothing serious and can heal on its own with time, or even that the radiologist misread the x-rays, then that would be the best scenario.

    But you need to approach this head on with your surgeon. You simply can't take a chance that something else is happening that your surgeon isn't aware of and that can be taken care of before something more serious happens, if that's the case.

    Please, please keep us posted when your appointment with your surgeon is and what s/he says. I'm sending positive vibes your way that this is nothing serious and I'm also sending you a big, gentle hug.

    Take care, my friend.
  • Hi Gwennie,

    Thanks a bunch for the reply. :)

    You're right... better to be safe than sorry.

    I know I'm still in the recovery stage from my fall, so I honestly don't know if my compression fractures should have all healed... or some are taking longer than the others?

    I would really hate to be braced again, but if that would prevent more surgery... I would do it. It is such a longer recovery when you are braced. It takes sooo long to build those core muscles up and I'm finally making some progress in my core area.

    Thanks again, Gwennie. I honestly am feeling much better and only have one more antibiotic to take.

  • Hi Cath,

    Hugs right back to you, my sweet friend. I needed them, as I'm getting a little nervous over here. I just needed to get some extra confirmation on how to handle this.

    I will definitely give my surgeon a call tomorrow and we will go from there.

    I haven't had any falls, since my big ole "lu lu" of a fall. I've been very careful. When I feel I have been overdoing it... I lay low. I don't bend, reach, twist or lift. Walking feels wonderful when the barometric pressure isn't falling, so I will take walks on those good days. I also walk in the pool at the gym and sit in the whirlpool tub afterwards. The whirlpool tub is the closest I can get to taking a bath. I can't bend enough to sit in a bathtub, but I can sit very comfortably on the second step in the whirlpool tub.

    I promise to let you know what my surgeon says, just as soon as I can talk to him and/or be examined. I will call the Urgent Care facility and have the X-rays and report ready to send or pick up on Monday.

    Hope you are feeling okay Cath. I know you have a surgery coming up real soon and I'm praying for a very positive outcome for you!

    Thanks again, Cath!


  • Well... I telephoned my surgeon's office this morning and spoke with his office assistant, regarding my exam and X-rays at the Urgent Care last Thursday. His assistant was very helpful and requested copies of the X-rays and report, so my surgeon could take a look at the X-rays. The assistant said it was not abnormal for my compression fractures to be visible on the X-rays. What my surgeon will be looking at on the X-rays is loss of height percentages and he may request an MRI, if he has any concerns.

    The Urgent Care facility had my X-rays and report ready to be picked up, so Mike picked these up and dropped them off at my surgeon's office. Before Mike made the delivery, he brought the CD home and we took a look at the side view X-ray. We both could see the areas where the discs looked "smashed" down, so I can't help but feel a little anxious right now.

    Cath, I forgot to answer your question on the bone density test. I haven't had one of these done yet.

    I just took a Xanax and I am going to start reading one of the new books I got for Christmas. It's called, "Are you there Vodka? It's me Chelsea". Sounds like it will be funny. :)

    I'll write back, just as soon as I hear from my surgeon. I'm hoping there hasn't been any significant changes in these areas since my last X-ray he read.

    Bye for now...

  • I hope everything goes well with your visit to the Surgeon and more tests if necessary. I hope you're feeling better soon from the bronchitis. Take care and wishing you healing thoughts also. 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
  • Hi Charry,

    Thanks so much for your comforting message. I really appreciate your healing thoughts and well wishes. I'm sending you the same.

    I'm feeling much better with the bronchitis and sinus infection. Just have the coughing spells every once in a while and I can really tell the antibiotics are doing the trick!

    I hope you had a nice Christmas and I will be thinking of you, while we ring in the new year. Hope you are keeping warm... I'm doing a heating treatment right now with our fabulous Infrared heating pads. I'll probably fall asleep once the Xanax kicks in, as the heat is feeling extra great right now.

    Take good care over there,

    Tammy :)
  • Thanks for the update so far. I'm glad that your surgeon's going to take a look at the x-rays.

    Since you posted this, I've been doing some research on thoracic compression fractures and from what I've read so far, the most common treatment is pain medication, rest and bracing so that the fractures can heal themselves. It also said that surgery is pretty rare for this condition in that particular area of the thoracic vertabrae, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you're in that group.

    Hang in there, my friend, and I'll be keeping my eye out for another update.

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I must say I'm happy to see the radiologist looked carefully and somebody called you to alert you!

    As for the antibiotic thing...he may have been hoping that by mentioning a few you'd say "yep, that works really well for me". Otherwise it's somewhat of the luck of the draw.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Dear Cath,

    Thank you for looking into the compression fractures and sharing the information you found. I really appreciate you taking the time to do that. The mid thoracic region is difficult to get to, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed as well. I haven't heard back from my surgeon yet... he may be out of town. (I didn't ask when I called yesterday). I do remember my surgeon mentioning "cement" might be needed in the future, but this was a while back. From what I recall, it was mentioned for the upper thoracic area. As long as the cement trucks stay away from my driveway... I'll keep thinking happy thoughts. Thanks again, Cath. >:D<

    Hi SpineAZ,

    Thank you for your reply. You are correct... I'm thankful that this was brought to my attention and once I talk to my surgeon... it will put my mind at ease. The antibiotic situation was a struggle for me, as I honestly couldn't think of one I could take! I was a little embarassed from my memory loss, but the doctor was nice about it. The doctor and I did the back and forth thing of "can you take this", etc. All I could tell him was that I can take anything that isn't penicillan or sulfa-based. The bronchitis is 75% gone and my sinus infection is much better. If our air quality in AZ was better right now, I think the sinus headache would go away. I hope your upcoming surgery goes very well and you have a great recovery. I'm sure you will feel much better.

    Well... once the doctor calls, I'll let you all know what he says. Thank you for your well wishes and helpful information. I really appreciate it.

    Tammy :)
  • I only have the one, but mine healed with 90% loss of height.

    My doctor said it is healed, just not well ;) I never got the turtle shell because the initial doctor didn't realize how severe it was. But even though it looks like a mess, the bone is solid and not going anywhere at this point.

    Anyway, it sounds like the urgent care doctor just has little experience with such severe injuries and was kind of shocked that people can still move around in that condition ;) I think a call to your ortho for some peace of mind is in order!
  • I spoke with my surgeon today and he told me everything looked fine. These particular compression fractures are stable and they have decided to heal... in their own special way.

    I am very relieved and have peace of mind now.

    HappyMom... you are correct. The doctor at Urgent Care was concerned, so I'm going to give him a call to let him know everything is okay. I guess our backs are not as photogenic as they used to be, eh?

    Thank you all for your posts and for bearing with me.

    Always an adventure!

  • Hey, Tammy. What a relief. Now I bet you'll sleep at least a little bit better.

    Every one of us knows, in one way or another, exactly the OMG moments that you experienced and it's almost worth it once you discover that every thing is just like it was before this happened. Somehow, it makes how you feel now a little better because you know it could've been worse.

    I'm so glad for you. Take care my friend, and a very Happy New Year to ya.

This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.