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Possible Cervical Stenosis, what should I do to prevent it from getting worse?

hazyhhazy Posts: 0
edited 01/10/2019 - 6:24 PM in Neck Pain: Cervical

My question is that I most likely have Cervical Stenosis (awaiting
MRI but it makes a lot of sense), this is all brand new and scary to me, and so
what would you have like to have known when you first got the diagnosis that
would have benefited you at the most starting out with treatment and questions
for the Doctors?



I am 33 year old man (34 next month) who is pretty active; I
go the gym several times a week and I’m in decent shape.


My Timeline:

I sit at a desk all M-F 9-5 and over a year ago; near the
end of the day I would get this small burning sensation in the top of my spine.
I didn’t think much of it as soon as I got I would get up and leave for the day
and it was gone. I would get this every couple of weeks and it never seemed
like a big deal (stupid now I know).

About 6 months ago, the trap muscle on my right side
starting to become swollen. For months, I started to massage and stretch it
myself to no avail.

About 2 Months ago, I set up an appointment with my doctor
but he was away on vacation so I met with his physician's assistant. She prescribed
ibuprofen and icing for my shoulder and set up a follow-up appointment with my
doctor in January. The icing and ibuprofen didn’t do much.

Last Thursday, I met with my doctor who made me get an X-ray.

I worked out with a new personal trainer who I spoke to
about my shoulder injury and he did a movement assessment. He noticed that my
ears are about an inch too far away from my shoulders and he thought that might
be causing my shoulder problem. He gave me a program and I worked out pretty
hard on Monday and Tuesday.

Monday, I had minor pain in my shoulders, first time in a
while (I had none over Christmas).

Tuesday morning, the doctor called me to say I have possible
narrowing of the neck discs and we setup an MRI for next Tuesday and PT is
scheduled for Jan 24th. I read up what that was and I was petrified.
I instantly figured I needed to fix my posture but later in the day the pain in
the top of my spine came back. I went home and iced/heated it and it went away.
But I started to feel tingling in my right hand (I actually had noticed this
before but it was so minor I ignored it).

Wednesday, I figured that my bad posture was causing the
narrowing of my discs so I spent the day pushing my head back so it is more in
line with my shoulders. The pain yesterday became intense, so bad I had to go
home and lie and the floor heating and icing my spine, pain went away pretty
quickly. Last night I had tingling, in both arms, both legs and even my
testicles. I’m absolutely petrified I did something yesterday that has done permanent
damage and I feel sick over it. I’m hoping it’s just a flare up from my


So today I have tingling in my both arms, both legs and my
testicles, very little pain though. I’m working from home alternating sitting
at my desk for 30 mins and lying on the floor for 30 mins. Last week, I was
mostly fine and didn’t even have neck pain, this week it feels like my life has
changed forever.


From what I read, cervical issues don’t cause tingling
anywhere other than the arms, correct? I getting a full spine MRI Tuesday which
should catch anything else, right? I’m hoping it’s just anxiety that is causing

The pain has gotten worse this week but it’s treatable. The tingling
has gotten much worse or I have just really noticed it but my any measure its
worse today. How much of this is reversible long term without surgery?


Any general advice that would be beneficial at the start as I’m
struggling right now to cope with the diagnosis?

Thanks in advance!

Edited by Liz Spine-health moderator To remove link



  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 860
    hazy - It is good that you are getting medical evaluations and diagnostic work.  Please do not panic.  By focusing on your pain, it will only exasperate your pain.  From my own experience, making sudden changes in behavior often confuses the medical evaluation by any spine specialist.  What is done is past history.     
    Be forthcoming with your history with any spine specialist and let them do their work.  I'm not implying that you don't get informed of your condition, but from my own experience, we often over think our case and often convince ourselves of the worst possible case.  I not implying that you don't try icing or heat while waiting for tests or any evaluation. 
    As long as you still have control of your arms, legs and basic body functions, you are likely not going to be considered an emergency.  I hate to say that, but that is reality.  If you do start losing control of body functions, then you should get some urgent care or ER evaluation. I've been there, done that of all the items I've just cautioned you about. 
    I know it is a lot to absorb in your emotions right now.  Most of us on this web site have panicked with our first neurological pain.  We are here to support you and please continue to update us as you go though the diagnostic phase.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,264

    As nutcase007 implied, try not to self diagnose.   You will only get  yourself more worked up. It does sound like you have gotten yourself thinking too much of what it could be .  Dont jump the gun and start thinking about surgery and what that could do.  Let the medical professionals take all the diagnostic tests and make their formal diagnosis from there.

    I think it would be close to impossible for medical professionals to diagnose stenosis without viewing the appropriate diagnostic reports

    Overall, spinal stenosis symptoms are often characterized as:

    • Developing slowly over time, or slow onset
    • Coming and going, as opposed to continuous pain
    • Occurring during certain activities (such as walking for lumbar stenosis, or biking while holding the head upright) and/or positions (such as standing upright for lumbar stenosis)
    • Feeling relieved by rest (sitting or lying down) and/or any flexed forward position.

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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  • Thanks guys.

    My anxiety is getting the best of me and im definitely overthinking things. I'm not going to change my behavior and just lie down and ice/heat my neck when in pain till i know more. 

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,264

    Thats great.  Yes, until you get your formal diagnosis, just take it a bit more cautious.  Heat and Ice can always be your friend.  Gentle walking on level ground would also be an exercise that almost any doctor would approve.

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • sounds like many of us here, but yes, anxiety can increase a lot if minding the symptoms in an extreme manner. I know it is scary. sighs...we all have gone through all of these things....I have something similar...have not even started a new PT since I have not followed up with the pain management doctor.

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  • Got the MRI pushed up and had it last night. Presume I’ll get the results on Monday.

    But the pain is becoming more frequent and the symptoms are getting worse. My right shoulder has been swollen since Thursday.

    Last night was the first night I had to get up several times in the night to apply an ice pack so I could sleep. But the scariest part is I’m waking up several times and each time my left hand is completely numb, this happened once in the last couple of nights but several times last night.

    Should I consider going to the ER?

  • Just noticed my X-ray results from last Thursday in the mail. I have mild neural foraminal narrowing at right C4-C5 and C5-C6.

    This is the first time I’ve seen these results. If I knew this I wouldn’t have panicked so much. I’m angry now about the lack of communication for my doctor where I was left to my own devices to panic and self diagnose.

    Fingers crossed I didn’t make it any worse.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,264

    hazy said:
    mild neural foraminal narrowing at right C4-C5 and C5-C6.

    That is good news.....  While no one here can analyze any diagnostic test results, there are specific keywords that can tell the story

    Treated with conservative measures such as Physical Therapy and mild medications.  Many times these situations can be cleared up and the condition can be resolved without any additional treatments.

    Some more treatments may be needed, such as Spinal Injections, Ultra sound and stronger medications.  There are always the possibility of more aggressive treatments if the conservative measures have not helped.  Most of the time, surgery is not an immediate solution.

    Need for stronger medications would be required.   Surgery may be necessary to correct the condition

    Another key word to look for is unremarkable.  That is a positive statement

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • hazyhhazy Posts: 0
    edited 01/17/2019 - 7:24 PM

    So i got some good news (i think) with the MRI results, the doc said there was no spinal stenosis but there is a ton of inflammation so he said it was a cervical sprain. 

    He did say I have a ton of wear and tear in my neck and if i dont make changes, i'm at high risk of a disc herniation in 5/10 years. So its a good wake up call. I start PT tomorrow.

    Here is the full report:

    FINDINGS: The vertebral body height and alignment are maintained. There is mild reversal of the cervical lordosis. The bone marrow has a normal signal intensity. The prevertebral and paraspinal soft tissues are normal. There is mild multilevel disc desiccation with grossly preserved disc space heights. 

    The craniocervical junction is normal. The visualized cord and posterior fossa demonstrate normal signal intensity and morphology. There is no abnormal enhancement. 

    C2-C3: There is mild disc bulge and facet arthropathy without spinal canal or neural foraminal stenosis. 

    C3-C4: There is mild facet arthropathy without disc herniation, spinal canal stenosis or neural foraminal narrowing. 

    C4-C5: There is mild disc bulge and facet arthropathy without spinal canal or neural foraminal stenosis. 

    C5-C6: There is mild disc bulge and uncovertebral and facet arthropathy resulting in mild right neural foraminal narrowing. There is no spinal canal or left neural foraminal stenosis. 

    C6-C7: There is mild disc bulge and facet arthropathy without spinal canal or neural foraminal stenosis. 

    C7-T1: There is mild left neural foraminal narrowing due to multiple and facet arthropathy. There is no disc herniation, or spinal canal or right neural foraminal stenosis. 

    Mild degenerative changes of the cervical spine with mild reversal of the cervical lordosis but otherwise no disc herniation, spinal canal stenosis or significant neural foraminal narrowing. 

    There is a lot to digest and read up on. Anything of note i should pay extra attention too? Or let my PT know about?

    In general, I'm still in pain and my right shoulder is still swollen but both the pain and the swelling are slowly rescinding. I hope to be back in work next week. I still get numb fingers (especially my baby fingers) when i wake up in the middle of the night and slight tingling. The doctor said there should be no nerve issues but I'm confused why i'm still having these issues? Is this related to the neural foraminal stenosis on both sides?

    Again, thanks everybody for your contributions in this thread, its been very helpful in a stressful situation.

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