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cervical problems and leg weakness????

Since April I have had leg, most affected left leg, weakness and numbness, to the point I have fallen 3 times. I have a history of cervical spine arthritis, DDD, etc. I went to an ortho MD who did a lumbar MRI and I have arthritis there but nothing that would explain the weakness. I was referred to a Physical Rehab Specialist who did an EMG on my left leg - it was normal. I was then sent to a neurologist who did an exam and noted I have positive Babinski reflexes (something is going on in my central nervous system) along with the weakness, sensory impairment, etc. He ordered lab test - B12 which is normal and an MRI of the brain and cervical neck. The brain was normal. Cervical neck MRI showed mild DDD in some areas, a bulging disc C3-4 (new from the last MRI) and at C5-6 "bilobed diffuse osteophyte complex without significant central canal narrowing. Moderate bilateral neural foraminal narrowing." Yes, I have UE pain, numbness, etc. But without central canal narrowing these wouldn't explain the leg weakness and numbness would it? Any thoughts? The neurologist didn't set up a follow up with me, but I have to call the office when all the test were done.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,342
    edited 09/01/2013 - 6:30 AM
    It is not always possible for a MRI or CT scan to truly present the full picture of what may be going on, for many reasons, sometimes due to the size of the slices between images taken- for example I have had some done where the measurement was 5 mm between each image, and others where it was done at 1.5 and 2 mm between and the difference in the findings was astounding, far more detailed using the smaller slices and showed far more extensive damage that was missed or described much more minimally, using the larger slices. So, while the findings may not be showing a severe compression, there may be more of an impact on the cord or the covering than you can see using the spacing between the images.
    What really matters though is the findings of your examination with the surgeon. A babinski reflex problem shows some damage somewhere, and that needs investigation.
    Also, the emg might not show anything if it was only done to one leg from the lumbar spine. I had several and they included the areas from the brain to my feet. If there is cervical compression or damage, then they need to either redo the emg and include the brain to your feet or your brain to the cervical dermatomes to check for damage.
  • I know there is also a difference in reading the tests between professionals. My first MRI the radiologist said I had "minor" arthritic changes. The neurologist I see also has advanced training in reading MRIs and he does his own interpretation and almost hit the roof when he found out they said it was minor. The emg I had done was to rule out a "cyst" on a nerve or peripheral nerve entrapment. I will be curious to see what the neurologist has to say/do
    . I have to wait until Tues to call and see how he wants to proceed.
  • Just got a call from the neurologist's office. He doesn't see that the cervical spinal problems are causing my leg problems. Now is recommending a spinal tap and a number of tests run on what is drawn - some that can take a couple of weeks to get the results..Yeah - I don't need spinal surgery...boo..I have no idea what is causing the problems
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