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Why didn't the doctors tell me?!?!

CatieCCatie Posts: 22
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
So...I had to get my medical records from my old PCP to give to my new PCP. I happened to come across my MRI report. The doctor from the spine center told me that I have several bulging discs and two herniated discs. However, the MRI says I also have mild cervical stenosis and another herniated disc (T4/5), along with a couple more bulging discs in that area.
I'm so angry that the doctor would not tell me this. I have been telling the doctors for months about my leg weakness and pain along with all the neck issues. I've read a lot of info on cervical stenosis. It seems that leg weakness is a symptom.
We are now at the point that we are planning surgery for my neck. However...How would this affect the stenosis? If the stenosis is causing the leg pain and weakness...along with the neck issues...How would fusion or disc replacement be of any help??
I need some opinions please. I'm at my wits end...


  • When they go in to do the fusion, they will take away any bony areas or disc causing the stenosis. Your surgeon will make sure the area is clear. Best wishes to you. There are many days now I forget I had a cervical fusion.

  • Hi Catie,

    Part of the surgery for neck fusion is doing frominatomy(sp). You can look at the video on the exact procedure here on spine-health. But basically they open up the space so that the cord and exiting nerve roots have more room. Also by removing the disc that are causing the stenosis opens the area up as well. Most do rather well with surgery and are very happy with the results. However, like any surgery there are risk that surgery won't take away the pain. I am glad you have a new PCP. Be sure when you go for a surgical consult to check out the FAQ section and the questions preparing to meet with a spinal surgeon. I also like to tell people to get at least 2 opinions on surgery. So while you are waiting for the appointment with one you can set up the appointment with a second opinion as well. Also many insurance companies are now requiring the second opinions. Also you may mesh better with one surgeon over the next. Hopefully your waits won't be to long. Keep us posted.
  • Its a journey that you'll soon find out can be frustrating. I see you already are & have every right to be. Tamtam said it "get another opinion, or two". Surgeons are taught different procedures, so find one you are comfortable with & by all means ASK QUESTIONS.
    Good luck
  • I'm going to give you a little different perspective on this. A person can have herniated discs without them causing any symptoms. If it's not causing you pain, then there's no need to even bring it up. Like you, I found out I have mild to moderate cervical stenosis which was never mentioned to me. It isn't causing me any problems so I can understand the rationale for not mentioning it. If you are reading widely on spinal problems you'll find that there are many problems which cause no pain or disability and I think that is why doctors do not mention them--unless or until you have a problem which corresponds to the MRI finding, etc. For your leg weakness to be caused by cervical stenosis, it would have to be more than a mild case of it. In other words, it would have to be compressing your spinal cord. All that mild stenosis does is narrow the canal that the spinal cord runs through. It sounds like they need to look at your lumbar spine for answers to your leg weakness.

    Years ago I happened to see the operative report on a procedure I'd had done and it said I had a hiatal hernia. When I saw the surgeon again I asked him why he didn't tell me that and he said, because, it's insignificant. I think you get my point. From our perspective, as the patient, everything that isn't absolutely normal is significant, but in truth only those things needing "fixing" are generally even mentioned by doctors, unless there is something we can do to help ourselves from getting worse, etc.

    I do hope you can find the answers you need so you can feel good again! :)

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • I wish my surgeon's PA would have ordered a lumbar MRI for me because I'm having problems (and a long history of trouble) but he said they don't order MRI's just for curiosity--they order them for people they anticipate will have surgery. So, I agree with you in that regard--do be careful--but at the same time, don't expect them to mention everything they might see on the MRI. :)

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • When ppl go to their doctors in pain, it has become common for them to send you for an MRI to find out the cause. The problem is that most people have some wear & tear in their spines that doesn't necessarily cause discomfort. Many ppl have herniatied or slipped disks detected by an MRI but no pain. Too often unnecessary surgeries are performed but exactly the same outcome as those who don't get scanned. Most all ppl that have an MRI's will result in surgery. Sad when the was pain could be from something as simple as gardening over the weekend. Be careful.
  • Hi inch...... MRI's are just a copy of what's going on inside. One never knows exact until they get it there - Im sorry you're having back trouble still. Hell, my lower back hurt before my neck surgery, still does. My surgeon said "lets deal with one pain at a time". Im too scared of the thought of having another surgery at the moment. Arthoscopically would be the way to fix your back. right?! I know what you mean "you wished they'd have scanned your back when they did the neck" I wished they'd have scanned my frozen shoulder instead of my neck the 3rd time. I just don't trust anyone anymore it seems.
    luv ya
  • I understand your distrust. You, my sweet friend, have had a tough year (it will be one year next month for both of us). You need a little more time to forget the pain and frustration. You know so much more now and would undoubtedly speak up and ask tough questions if things seem to not be handled properly. I hope you never need another spine surgery but if you do, I have a feeling things will go much more smoothly for you. :)

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • My old OS neglected to tell me that I had blown my L4-5 a month later after a microdiscectomy. I languished in pain not understanding why for many months until I picked up my MRI films and reports. No wonder he sent me for 2 post op ESI's. And on top of that I also discovered I had grade II retrolisthesis and ongoing nerve compression. I was so angry and felt betrayed. I took my records to another surgeon and he scheduled me for a fusion because of the bad condition my back was in. Now, that's shady...
  • That really bites! I'd be changing doctors too if that had happened to me.

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • I went to neuro with shoulder pain (thinking it was related to neck surgery done 04/09)& he ordered an MRI - the MRI showed nothing uncommon for my age - normal wear & tear but he'd do a "preventive surgery" ACDF on C3-4,5-6,6-7 - this would protect my neck in the future & he scheduled surgery in 2 weeks - I know now that all surgeons have on their mind is how & where to cut - anything out of their field is like speaking a foreign language...
    this is why I dont trust all doctors - live & learn, huh inch.... thank God I didn't go through with it,,,,,,,,,,
    come to find out 6 wks later, I had frozen shoulder
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