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Moderate cervical foraminal stenosis and a few other issues

MelWMMelW Posts: 427
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
This might be kind of a dumb question, but I cannot seem to get an actual answer to it with the research I have been doing. Also, I know any advice/comments/suggestions are only that, and not of a professional, medical diagnosis.

Anyhow, how serious should I take it that I have mild/moderate chronic loss of vertebral body height at C3-4, reversal of cervical lordosis from C2-5, and moderate bilateral foraminal stenosis at C3-4 and C4-5? I am more interested in the stenosis because from what I have read, it can become a real big issue. I am going to be seeing my neuro here soon and am just curious, and want to know a lil of what to expect. When I research on the internet it basically says it could be bad or it could mean nothing, which if that’s the case, then I will just have to have more patience, which I do not have a lot of right now, and chill out! Lol 

I guess I should mention that I am only 32, as I know some of the cervical issues I have can just be from normal wear and tear and due to aging, and that I have had an ACDF on C5-6.


  • Hey Mel!

    I have cervical stenosis and since we are the same age I wanted to let you know what my Dr. has told me. From what I understand is that Stenosis basically means that the pathways that our spinal cord and nerves have to pass through is more narrow than the average person or has narrowed and so any disc protrusion can cause even more stress/damage to the nerves when compared to to someone without stenosis. It is not caused by an injury but just genetics, I THINK! I could have understood my Dr. completely incorrectly so if anyone else has a different understanding please feel free to set me straight :)

    I think the most frustrating part of stenosis is that there is nothing you can do to help the problem other than surgery to create more space for the nerves. I think when they say it can mean nothing is if your discs are completely healthy then you will not even know you have Stenosis but if your discs start to buldge then if causes a problem.

    As far as the other 2 issues, I have not heard of lordosis but the loss of vertebral body height seems to be more common with older age.

    Again, I am no doctor and could have this completely wrong :)

    Good luck and keep me updated on what you hear from your Dr!!

  • Thanks for the response! I am in the process of trying to get my appt with the neuro still, probably won't know when I can get in till Monday, at least.

    That's is what I understand about stenosis as well. It is all just so overwhelming. I think I am just getting my hopes up that I will go see my neuro surgeon and he will say "Yep, I see what's going on and can help ya out." I by no means WANT surgery, just getting desperate to get this pain under control and feel that I have tried many conservative treatments with ZERO luck. I am not excited in any way when I have to think of another recovery from spine surgery, but at least there is a goal with surgery, recovery with a possibility of pain reduction. At the moment, I have no goal, it's like I am floating around in "Painville" with no direction on what to do or where to go. I have said it a million times, but I know I will not be pain free, that's not even a thought (well it is, just not a realistic one ;-))), I just want to be functional.

    I just talked to my husband and told him I am irritated at how long it's taking for them to call me just to set the appointment up... His response was "I don't know why you're in such a hurry to be seen by the neuro, he's just going to tell you there is nothing they can do, it's degenerative, deal with it, and send you on your way." UGH! I know he doesn't mean to be a total insensitive a%s at times, but that was not what I felt like hearing at the moment!!! My neuro is awesome and I know that if he thinks there is any chance of helping me to regain my life back and possibly reduce my pain, he will offer me whatever it is and let me decide.

    How are you doing?

  • Hey Mel
    Sorry to hear of your problems especially at your age. I have severe foraminal stenosis bilaterally. I have been to neuro and he is ready to cut. I wanted to wait 10 months to have surgery but doc said it was foolish to wait. I have numbness and tingling in both arms and of course neck pain. You werent specific about your symptoms but I can just about guess. I dont want surgery either. I had emg test and it confirmed radiculopathy and nerve damage. I dont want to scare you but you, like myself risk further damage by waiting.

    Good luck
  • Mel,

    Lordosis(the natural curve in the neck) is backwards for you, and that pressure on C3-4 may be what is basically causing it to slowly compress. It can also place pressure on the spinal cord itself.

    The foraminal stenosis is the narrowing of the opening in a vertebra that the nerve root at that level goes out from the spine. Obviously you know what that pain is like.

    I hope you will get a positive treatment plan from your doc so that you can get through this.

    My DH is good support, he has both cervical and lumbar stenosis, but has not required surgery. He has however had occasional episodes where a twist or turn the wrong way can drop him to his knees from the pain. Still, he doesn't understand the toll from constant, chronic pain. I think only those of us who live with it daily really understand.

    Thinking of you,

  • dmo - I mostly have shooting pain in both arms, some tingling/numbness, but mostly pain. I have a lot of neck pain too. I am sorry to hear about you're pains, and the prospect of surgery, blah. Have you scheduled surgery? If so, what type of procedure have they decided on. I wish you luck!

    H20 Baby - If I remember correctly, you are, or were, an ER nurse? If so, I would like to PM you to chat... I am going to school for nursing and have some concerns about the physical demands of the job. I figure it is better to figure it out now and decide on whether or not to change my major before I get into the program and invest too much more time in it. My backup plan is surg tech.

    Also, I knew that lordosis is the natural curve, from research, and that mine is backwards... Will they do anything about it, just from your experience/knowledge? I am not sure how much of an issue this is. I know I didn't have this problem prior to my ACDF...
  • hey mel
    The neuro recomended acdf at c4-c7 with bmp discs. I would be out of work for at least two months. There doesnt seem to be any alternatives to this. Neuro is adament about this and wants me to have it in the next month. My symptoms are the same as yours. neck pain, numbing tingling in both arms. I am also loosing fine motor control in my left hand. I do not want surgery but am not sure I can avoid it. I still cant get over your situation at such a young age. Anyway, sorry to hear about your pain, I can definately relate

  • Mel,

    I think you should stay positive about the fact that surgery may actually help you. It might be the first go around they didn't do enough and that is why you still have pain issues. With the reversal of the cervical spine, with surgery it will improve. Depending on the levels they do, well actually you could be straight like some of us with the multiple levels. Once the joint is removed and you are fused, then it is just straight so yes in a way it goes away, lol.

    Dmo, I
    I noticed you said the use of BMP, you do know that is off labeling and the FDA has warned of it's use in the cervical spine. As someone who had it, the swelling was pretty intense. Hopefully you have more than one opinion on using that. While multi-levels are harder to fuse, they can get around it. There is also some more information coming out on BMP and the associated risk to cancer, that was left out the FDA trials information. So you might want to do some research on it.
  • Hello all

    You know I am not really sure now if bmp is to be used. Neuro told me plastic disc with hole in the middle. I guess I just assumed...anyway I had better find out. First neuro say operate real soon as nerve damage and pain only getting worse. I am worried that surgery will make things worse or add new pain and Lord knows I have enough for now. I and getting second opinion soon. Emg confirms nerve damage so what now? Stenosis is horrible if you ask me. Neck pain, shoulder pain, arms pain all the way to fingers. Burning sensation and loss of fine moter control. Anyway Mel you are interested in stenosis and I can tell you all about it. I know people here are worse of than me and I will pray for them. I just know stenosis is no fun. God bless and take care

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