I'm 23 years old and have recently been diagnosed with spinal stenosis from C2-C7. I have been diagnosed with herniations at T5-T8 (2010). My symptoms (since 2008) has been mainly pain in my thoracic spine. The pain seems to radiate from the inside of my spine, with the tearing sensation being between the vertebra on the right side, burning pain in the soft tissue surrounding area, tenderness in the muscles around the area, and pins and needles sensation in the entire region. I also have stiffness and moderate pain in my neck (that I thought was caused by thoracic issues). The pain is constant, but the peak issues arise 4-5 times a day and it feels like my vertebrae are "out of alignment." The only relief comes from popping them back into place by straightening out my thoracic spine. I also have to crack my neck left and right to alleviate the upper thoracic pain when it's at its worst.
The thoracic pain was initially blamed on herniations discovered in 2010, and slight scoliosis L-R in the thoracic region. I did not have surgery to repair the herniations in hopes they would heal themselves. The herniations have since healed according to recent MRIs, but the pain still remains.
My treatment has been medications (high doses of Oxycontin and Percocet), injections to the thoracic area, physical therapy, and chiropractic adjustments. None of the above have proven an effective solution to my pain. I had to go through treatment to get off of the pain meds, and that to me is not at all a tangible solution. It led to heroin use and had a devastating affect on my life. I want the cause addressed, not to mask the pain.
A few months ago, I started having numbness down my right arm, and weakness. These new symptoms prompted another visit to the doctor. I explained the new neurological symptoms, and explained my thoracic pain was increasing. With new symptoms and no abnormalities evident in the t-spine, I convinced my doctor to have an MRI of my neck done. The MRI showed Spinal Stenosis from C2-C7. At this time, I thought my search was over, and I could have surgery that would hopefully lead to less pain.
I was referred to the OHSU Spine Center. I was examined and poked. The surgeon explained that I was not a candidate for surgery because: "You have Cervical Stenosis- not Cervical Stenosis..." and "You don't have pain down your arm, just numbness and weakness intermittently." The surgeon also claimed that it was impossible for my thoracic pain to be caused by anything in my neck.
I was devastated. I now have undiagnosed, unbearable pain in my thoracic spine, and an MRI that clearly shows severe stenosis in my neck. I have now been dumped to a pain management clinic to cover my pain instead of address the cause of it. None of the doctors I have seen recently can point me in any direction to get help. I don't know who to turn to, or what to do.
Can the thoracic pain be caused by what's going on in my neck? Is there any type of doctor that can help me with my stenosis (get rid of numbness, pain)? Can anyone give me advice? I have no one with similar experiences to turn to for help or advice, and am very close to giving up completely. Living life has become very hard and the last thing I want is to go back on pain medication.
My most recent MRI conclusions:
Cervical Spine- In the sagittal alignment of the cervical vertebral bodies is anatomic. The vertebral body heights are preserved. The marrow containing spaces are normal in signal intensity. The structures of the craniocervical junction are normally aligned. The visualized portions of the posterior fossa are normal in signal intensity. The cervical spinal cord is normal in signal intensity. The intervertebral discs are normal in height.
C 2-3 - There is a right paracentral/foraminal disc osteophyte complex which contributes to mild right foraminal stenosis. The central canal and left foramen remain patent.
C 3-4 - There is a right foraminal disc osteophyte complex contributing to severe right foraminal stenosis. The central canal and left foramin remain patent.
C 4-5 - Uncovertebral and facet degenerative changes contribute to mild bilateral foraminal stenosis.
C 5-6 - The right foraminal disc osteophyte complex contributes to moderate right foraminal stenosis. The central canal and left foramen remain patent.
C 6-7 - Asymmetric left uncovertebral degenerative changes contribute to mild left foraminal stenosis. The central canal and right foramen remain patent.
C7-T1 - No significant canal or foraminal stenosis.
Thoracic spine - The sagittal alignment of the thoracic vertebral bodies is anatomic. The vertebral body heights are preserved. The marrow containing spaces are normal in signal intensity. The thoracic spinal cord is normal in signal intensity. The tip of the conus medullaris lies at the superior L1 level. Intervertebral discs are normal in signal intensity and height.
No significant desc bulge or protrusion, canal or foraminal stenosis is appreciated at any level within the thoracic spine.