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Welcome dermatone experts!!!

tarheelgirlttarheelgirl Posts: 473
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Please, someone, I need some help. I don't have all my issues in my signature line, but basically, I'm a cervical/high thoracic and lumbar spiney person. My lumbar herniation at L5S1 hurts 10 times as much as my cercical issues. My neck discs...several of them are bulging and causing radiculopothy down right arm and hand. I can not pick up a full milk jug without supporting with my other hand...so about 5 lbs is all I can pick up with my right hand. EMG showed permanent nerve damage.

Ok, here is my question...this am I woke up and my left fingers are numb. At first I thought it was from the way I slept, but now that I've been up and about for at least 6 hours, it's still there and it frightens me. So, for you all that know the dermatone areas so well, the whole side of my pinky is numb...I don't think I'd feel a pin prick and feels wierd typing. My ring finger is also numb and my middle...well it's not all the way numb, but feels odd.

I know none of us are doctors...but I am wondering if I'm in need of a new MRI...it's been about 18 months since my last one. I have an appt with my doctor next Friday, and I just called to move up the appt and they are closed for Friday afternoon.[sigh]...so I guess that will give me some time to see if these symtoms stick around, huh?


  • You can google dermatone maps, and see what nerves affect what areas, and what part of spine they are coming from.

    I still get numbness after my acdf, wierd to read this, as yesterday was my entire left hand, for hours.

    I always say, if you really worried, best is to call docs office.

    Hope the numbness doens't last,

  • I also often wake up with numbness in my left hand, of my ring and smallest finger. I started to think that I must have been lying on that arm, but now know that isn't the case, as even when I am trying to get to sleep, I find that if I lie on my back with my hands rested on my abdomen, after 10 minutes or so, these two fingers and the rest of that hand below them, goes numb. It doesn't stay numb for long, once I move my arm. I also get tingling in both hands during the day. The same place on my left hand and all my fingers and thumb on my right hand.

    I have been told that the ring and little finger are controlled my the C8 nerve root.

    I think that the middle finger is from C7 and the thumb is from C6. There can be slight variations though, as some people are wired differently.

    I am still waiting for the results of my cervical MRI scan, which was done on 22nd October. Yes, you guessed it, I am in the UK!!!

  • ok, thanks for the replies! I did look up the dermatomes and jelly...you are right, it's the c8 nerve root that affects the pinky and ring finger. And so glad to hear you have the same thing as me (well, not glad, but feel validated) as when I lay on my back with my hands up on my chest, my sames fingers go numb. I guess that means my c8 nerve is being pinched. I will go grab my last MRI results and see what it says. I remember having bulging discs goig into my upper thoracic area, so maybe it's not so new.

    However, do you think it warrents concern? I am going to my doctor next Friday and will see if he thinks I need another MRI. Does the numbness signify cord compression? I am going to grab my old MRI results and let you know what it says for that level.

    thanks all
  • I know you all are not doctors...so I'm not asking for a professional opinion at all.

    This is what my old MRI from 10/2006 says about that area:

    At C7-T1, there is a mild focal central disc protrusion without canal or foraminal stenosis, A mild focal central disc protrusion is prensent at T4-T5, which abutts the ventral surface of the spinal cord,

    So, whatever that means. I don't think that "abutting the ventral surface of the spinal cord" sounds good to me, but I don't know what I'm talking about. So, I guess I already have problems at C8...I wonder if my NEW numbness means something is getting worse? I will be discussing with my doctor for sure b/c it's worrying me a bit.
  • Don't forget that those nerves can also be pinched as they go through the joints at the shoulder and elbow, so it's not always spine!
  • oh, thanks...I didn't think about that. How do you know then?
  • how do you know where the 'pinch' is?
  • do you have 'confirmed' C8 problems? b/c your fingers going numb while laying on your back sounds just like mine.

  • I have had several doctors tell me that my various symptoms indicate that I have problems with my neck. My lumbar fusion surgeon even said, before my surgery, that he would fix my neck next!!! Not what I wanted to hear!!

    My physiotherapist, who I am seeing at the moment was concerned about my symptoms and got my MRI scan date brought forward. He is very frustrated at how long it is taking to get the results. I have an appointment with a neurosurgeon in March next year, but I hope that I will get the results of my scan before then.

  • Certain fingers going numb is the key symptom of carpal tunnel and some other syndromes.

    How do you know? I would guess that has something to do with those 5? 6? years of med school and orthopedic specialty that I don't have. I have no clue whatsoever :) I just wouldn't panic!

  • Thanks Brenda...that helps way so very much. They are not as numb today. Still numb, but tingly too, so I thinkk I'd feel a pin prick today. I will just keep a history on the symtoms and let my doc know about it.

    Just curious also...for us spiney's, how often is it that we usually "need" an MRI? Just when a change is felt? Or do they like to do them every year to see the progression of the disesse or what?

    I remember before when I had my cervical issues the docs kept asking aboiut certain fingers and then tge pain would run down to the middle finger and stop...I think that may be c7? Anyway, I already have some nerve damage from my cervical discs,..,.I don't wan't any more. I've already had to re learn a lot of new fuctions since ny right hand is the bad one and I'm right handed.

    Can anyone note on what their doctors said about their MRIS when their was a disc abutting up against the spinal cord? To me that doesn't sound good and I was seeing a PM doc at the time who wasn't too great and we know that they want us to stay in pain b.c thay is how they make their money by us coming back every month. Sorry if others do not see it that way. What I am trying to say is it's not really in their best interest to get us fixed. I am wondering if that should have been brought to someones attention...not that I want surgery, but abutting the spinal cord doesn't sound right,??
  • Something abutting versus something compressing is very different. Basically think of it as the difference between someone brushing up against you and someone leaning on you with most of their weight.

    Your doc should be able to determine if another scan is warranted or not. When things like this happen to me, I keep a good journal so that I can explain to the doc the "when and where" and the doc can provide the "how and why".

  • Tarheelgirl,

    You're very Welcome! Hopefully they may find that you can resolve your issues with therapy and change of how you sleep (they had me wear a brace to see if curling my elbow while sleeping was aggravating the Ulnar.), or make you more conscious of your daily activities like say leaning on your elbow when you're on the phone! Things like that. Is your forearm along the Ulnar sensitive to touch, is your heal of your hand to your pinkie sensitive when you tap it? Mine wasn't until the 'numb' stayed...

    MRI's, I hate to say it, but "it depends" in many cases, and too what the doctor is looking for. Mine does them when I've had symptoms issues that *might* warrant intervention (surgery, PT etc.) Your history (as with mine), might play a role - again basing on symptomatology. My GP for instance is very concerned with my neurological symptoms, and decreasing function along with pain levels. She is also p-od (like I am) that with all the issues, my NS didn't have me go for the standard 12 month x-ray series, so going to do that, and add lumbar when we get back in town. I've never had ext./flex for the lumbar, and I know I can feel it, and now my GP has, my L3 or L4 vertebra is moving!

    Like C said, brushing verses leaning. Remember how one guy can have a nasty MRI, but no symptoms, another can have small hernia's could be in raving pain. He has to put the puzzle together to see if "abutting" (had that myself), they did do surgery because (stand up MRI) when my head was back, it was indenting the cord! Mine was positional for symptoms and issues. So the MRI, x-rays, exam and any other tests to see where you are at. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thanks so much for the responses girls. I understand now what abutting is...so doesn't sound quite as serious when you put the word "commpressing" next to it. I can tell my cervical issues are inflammed and acting up, so I'm going to call in the am to see if I can get my Friday appt moved up sooner. Thanks for all your concern.
  • I have gotten my Friday's appt with my doctor moved up to Wed. So, I will let him know. The numbness hasn't been quite as bad as it was on the day I first posted...it's more intermittent now. Thanks guys.
  • Avaitrix. I am new here and wondering if you could give me the details of your NCV/EMG.
  • Donna,

    Which NCV/EMG are you interested in? Or better stated maybe, which area? I ask that, as I don't want to hijack her thread with my issues, but I know she won't mind recap, as it might help her as well. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Tarheelgirl,

    Greetings! Your describing of the pinkie and 1/2 the ring finger is the C8 nerve. I've had (have?) two areas screw those up for me, so maybe if I give you my situation I had - it might help? Okay....here we go.

    About 5 years ago I would get intermittent numbness in my pinkie and 1/2 the ring finger, no pain in the elbow (where the Ulnar is most exposed). When I started getting longer periods of numbness, I went to my favorite Orthopedic Surgeon. He examined me, and felt I had entrapment in my elbow. Sent for an NCV/EMG, but it didn't come back with many hints oddly! When the numbness did not go away, he did more physical testing...

    MRI - cervical - C5/6 showing a hernia, C7/T1 (C8 nerve) was fine.
    Tapped around my elbow, forearm and heal of my hand to the base of the pinkie. Positive for Tinel's sign. (Shows nerve damage or entrapment).
    Functionality - Could no longer cross my fingers.
    No pinch strength.
    Grip and rolling (like turning a key in the car) almost zero.
    Side *finger to finger* strength very low.
    Curling/clawing of my pinkie and ring fingers.
    Overall hand strength decreasing rapidly.

    I underwent an Ulnar nerve subcutaneous transposition of my Ulnar at the elbow (moved to the inner side of the arm). I also had issues in my hand and wrist, so the Ulnar was released there as well. I was diagnosed with Cubital Tunnel Syndrome. Surgery successful.

    I've now returned to those dang symptoms, and now EMG shows severe neuropathy, but the elbow and wrist are clear! The neurologist feels the C8 in my neck is now entrapped! With my history, I am not surprised. I'll be getting updated x-rays and MRI's in December to see where I am at. I pretty well know when I lost those fingers, and it was too quick to have been from my shoulder (no trauma), elbow or hand.

    Sooooo In a nutshell, they will examine you, and maybe an NCV/EMG to rule in or out the neck. If the neck is out, they will check your shoulder, elbow and hand to zero in on the location. I hope this helps Tarheelgirl. *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thank you so much for responding.
    my paper says two limbs. I think it is right arm and right leg.
  • Sorry for the delay Donna, I am in my RV, and the weather is rather wet, and my Droid is going in and out. :) Just ask away what your questions are, and I will answer were I can.

    My lumbar issues are from the L2/3/4, and the neuropathy matches those levels to a tee. Most of the issues revolve around the motor nerves for me. The nerve responses show between 50 & 75% reduction - mostly through the front of the thigh, and too the paraspinal muscles (specifically L3). I do have my medical binder I keep with me (in case there's a problem when we travel, those doctors would know where I am at!). What might help more though? You might want to start a new thread for your issues, then we won't detract from this thread. :)

    I see you're online, so I will peek back in a few and see if you've moved this to a thread for you. :) If it hasn't be said, Welcome to Spine Health!!

    [my edit] "arm" - Sorry, missed that. I will answer where I can on the arm as well based on what I've gone through. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Im not sure how to start a new thread if you could do it I will ask you questions there
    thank you
  • Donna,

    Just go to the top of this thread, and you will see an option to "post topic" a new thread. Click on it, and then you can title the post, and then below that (I think it's below) - but you'll see it, you can decide where it goes. There is a pull down menu.

    Hope that helps. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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