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Hello! New to Thoracic forum

Copied from my New Members Forum... Lazy, I know...

I am a 43 year old mom dealing with a whole host of specialists, none of which seem to be able to give me any hope or any real answers. I am preparing for a trip this week to the Cleveland clinic. After being born in a position where my arms, legs, and head were all bent towards my back, I always figured my back would become an issue. But I feel like there is something that could be done that isn't. I am just looking for someone to help this make sense.Here are my most recent findings (the are definitely keeping an eye on things):

In comparison to the prior study dated 4/20/2010, mild straightening of the cervical spine appears similar with multilevel disc desiccation. No suspicious marrow signal alterations have developed.

At C3-C4, there is a minimal central disc protrusion touching the ventral spinal cord without significant mass effect, not definitely changed.

At the C4-C5 level, there is a broad-based central disc protrusion causing mild ventral cord indentation with no posterior cord compression. There is mild central stenosis at this level with AP canal dimension of 8 mm.

At the C5-C6 level, there is a focal central disc herniation causing mild ventral cord indentation and no significant posterior cord compression. There is mild canal narrowing at this level to an AP dimension of 9 mm. This disc herniation is similar to slightly more conspicuous compared to the prior study. Slightly increased disc herniation is questioned when comparing sagittal imaging.

At the C6-C7 level, there is a mild noncompressive diffuse disc bulge. The cervical neuroforamina remain patent. There is no evidence of neck mass or adenopathy on this examination.

MRI cervical spine impression: Multilevel cervical degenerative disc disease with questionable slight increased disc herniation at C5-C6

THORACIC 10/2011:
Multilevel degenerative changes are noted as follows: At T5-T6, there is minimal disc bulge with hypertrophic changes.

At T6-T7 there is a small to moderate central left disc extrusion with superior migration resulting in mild cord compression. The extrusion also has a small component of central right inferior extension. There is a superimposed mild disc bulge.

At T7-T8, there is a small central right protrusion/extrusion with a suggestion of slight superior extension and minimal flattening of the cord

At T9-T10 there is a moderate left subarticular and foraminal disc extrusion with hypertrophic changes. This results in moderate left foraminal narrowing.

Impression: Multilevel degenerative changes as described above most severe at T9-T10

LUMBAR 4/2010:
At L3-L4, there is minimal diffuse disc bulge and mild right facet hypertrophy resulting in minimal right greater than left foraminal narrowing.

At L4-L5, there is a minimal diffuse disc bulge and mild right facet hypertrophy resulting in mild bilateral neural foraminal narrowing.

At L5-S1, facet hypertrophy results in mild bilateral foraminal narrowing.

I am currently prescribed Zanaflex 2xday, Flexoril 2xday, Cymbalta 2,1xday (nerve pain). I also take pramipexole and Sinumet for a neurological condition they aren't sure of yet, maybe early onset Parkinsons but my gut tells me no. And the shrink they made me see to keep it all together has prescribed ambien and limictal.

I have had ulnar nerve displacement surgery in my left arm, and am currently seeking therapy for recently diagnosed bilateral carpal tunnel. I also had a surgery to implant an Interstim to help with incontinence which was followed by botox injections in my bladder a few months later.

My back muscles are like cement even while on all the muscle relaxers. I also experience strange 'shock' type sensations eminating from my head or mid chest area... I can't really tell.It's like a burst and happens very quickly. But when it happens, it shoots down my arms and it makes my tongue even tingle like I touched a 9 volt battery to it. Didn't we all do that as kids? smiley Most recently, the pain management guy said that sounded neurological.When I called the neurologist, the message I got from the nurse said that it sounded like something for pain management. I feel like there is a vice-grip squeezing my spine, the pressure being its worst half way down my back all the way down. The endless burning radiates between and around my shoulder blades. None of the doctors really say much though, other than there isn't really anything that necessitates fixing. My discomfort tells me differently.

Pain management said he could do epideral injections but it would likely make the spasms worse. Having not seen my most recent thoracic MRI he said that most likely things had healed and were better than before, but as you can see, they are not. He is also not comfortable prescribing any opiate narcotics because of the possible neuro involvement.

So I am a medical mystery. According to social security, I have arthritis and could work however and whenever I wanted. Which tells me I am clearly missing something. Funny thing is not one of the doctors have mentioned arthritis. I have heard DDD, Facet Atrophy disease, spinal stenosis... but no arthritis. Are they all the same?

I am just looking for some insight. Nice to meet you all and I hope I can talk to some others who make me not feel like I'm crazy for being in constant pain. I really just want someone to fix me so I can go back to talking 2-3 miles a day, enjoying the weight room at the Y, maybe lose the 50# I have gained in 2 years, and ride the big roller coasters at Kings Island. I'm too young for all of this.


  • BlackSwanBBlackSwan Posts: 9
    edited 07/18/2012 - 2:35 AM
    Hi Irish,
    I am not an expert but it reads as if you have a few medical conditions overlapping and it looks sticky. One thing I learned along the way is that the body systems are not discrete, but interwoven and therefore certain people can present more complex symptoms than others. Western medecine is really good at fixing acute health issues but not chronic. You take about 7 powerful meds and they themselves maybe causing some symptoms and angst. You should buy yourself a Conair ( or any other brand you like) portable spa bath mat. It works wonders and costs no more than $60 dollars. It will work wonders for relaxing your body and tight muscles and aid in sleep. You need to sleep so you can heal. I would also advocate a very gentle exercise routine such as a brisk walk and some light stretches on the floor to keep your muscles supple.

    I too have a host of spinal issues but I try to keep my weight down and exercise (carefully). I am prone to comfort eating myself so I joined a Burlesque dance class that keeps me both motivated and lots of fun with not much dancing, more gliding and slow graceful movements. I am also a mum so I know ow hard it is to have a family with all the health issues. My husband is an athlete and older than me, and sometimes I feel like a complete train wreck next to him. I remind myself that I am not alone and my friends, family, and doctors all care for me. It's just hard for me to accept it sometimes because I am too proud.

    I find keeping a daily health journal has helped me too. That way if I have a scary symptom I take note, and if I experience it again, I flip through my notes and I see that it has happened before and I don't panic as much.

    That's really all the advise I have right now.

  • bstevensbbstevens Posts: 2
    edited 07/18/2012 - 7:20 PM
  • Thank you for your response! The class sounds amazing :). I have gained a significant amount of weight because of all of this... mostly the frustration probably. But I also just decides if its only one minute or 5, as long as I try. I guess its all going to be that way:you just keep trying one day at a time. Good luck :)
  • IrishARSEIIrishARSE Posts: 8
    edited 08/19/2012 - 6:03 PM
    Thank you... I am getting ready to change pain management specialists; this guy doesn't seem to want to help me at all. Made a snide comment about "i bet if we did another thoracic MRI you would see its healed," well, he didn't see my most recent one and didn't believe me when I told him it was worse. Maybe I can get some relief. How do I find out if it's someone who specializes in thoracic?
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,839
    can be the hardest to deal with. I've have 4 Tx discs that are in the mild to moderate stages. Thats been going in since around 2005/6. None of the conservative treatments helped that much... Physical Therapy at times made it worse, Acupuncture helped, but not on a long time basis, the same for the ESIs.

    I did have better luck with Aqua Therapy, but what finally helped me the most, was seeing a Thai Deep Tissue Massage specialist. His technique (which differs from most American Deep Tissue Massage specialist) got down deep into
    the major and minor rhomboid muscle. After several months of weekly treatments, I start to get a lot of relief from
    my thoracic area. That was back in 2007, now I generally go once a month for a 'tune up'

    I think the key is finding the right doctor who will work with you in finding all types of treatments, conventional as well
    as alternative medicines.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Hi, Ron... & everyone else. I appreciate all the input. I wonder if a physician can prescribe massage therapy? that would be WONDERFUL! I never give up... just waiting for my hearing now., Lots of prayers to the powers that be much appreciated!
  • Good luck, Irish! I'm a newbie with all of this, had my 1st MRI last week & struggling to learn what it means myself. I dropped my PCP because he didn't take my pain seriously. I've gone 4+ months dealing with things with no Rx meds. While I was seeing my chiropractor & receiving manual therapy, it kept the pain at a manageable level most of the time. Now that I've had the MRI and I'm off chiro until the surgery consult (at least), I'm miserable & shopping for a new PCP, while trying not to be taken for a drug seeker. LOL Good times!

    So...I guess I just wanted to chime in & say I understand where you're coming from...the pain is real, it's not in our heads, and it truly does affect every single thing we try to do.
    C5-C6-C7, T3-T4-T5: disc protrusions, spinal cord & C6 nerve root involvement, tear at T3-T4
    C6 nerve root injection 10/12/12 and at-home traction
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