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C4-5 compression and breathing problems: HELP!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,550
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:25 AM in Spinal Stenosis
I went to the neurologist yesterday, first time in 8 years.
I've had two fusions at C5-6 in 96 and C6-7 in 2001. I have a plate and screws from the second surgery.
Three years ago, I was found to have a blown disc at C4-5,
and I didn't have surgery because I had a chance to get a real job and live like a real person for the first time since the 1995. I moved and hoped the climate would help the pan. It did, for a while.
Then, this summer, I started falling a lot, and dropping things, and having a progressive cough, and difficulty breathing.
In July I got bilateral pneumonia and went to ICU with very low O2 sats. I was in a week and was healed as of 2 weeks later.
In September, I got bilateral pneumonia again, and was sent home after 2 days with the strongest antibiotics you can take by mouth. Ten days later I was in ICU and flown to a hospital that could put me on a respirator. I had an open lung biopsy and nobody ever found out what caused the "Acute Lung Injury."
Now--here's the connection. Both pneumonias were preceded by a fall. The pulmonologist asked if my neck injury was at C-4, and at another time asked if I had stenosis. The neurologist asked who my pulmonologist was, and was frowning over my results at the time.
This is what my 3 year old MRI said: (new one soon)
C3-4 Mild broad central canal disc spur, noncompressive.
C4-5 Moderate broad rigthward assymmetrical central canal disc spur with flattening of the ventral cord and complete subarachnoid space effacement. There is effacement of the right lateral recess and proximal right foramina.
I know you're not doctors but has anyone heard of anything like this, connecting lung problems with cervical spine?


  • i just noticed your post and i had many problems due to my stenosis on my spinal cord from c4-c6.my spinal cord was compressed by 50%. i had very painful legs, swelling of hands and feet,i fumbled things, no sensitivity in hands and feet.but the biggest thing i noticed before and after surgery was that before surgery i worked out daily but later down the line i was having problems breathing when i did a few minute on eliptical trainer. like a panic attack feeling or asthma. and i was doing 10-20min on trainer before. now since surgery all symptoms went away. im back to 20 min on trainer and walking without fatigue or fighting for air. so pinched cord or nerves might be the the problem. i feel it was for me.
  • I just joined this forum today (4/21/13). I was specifically looking for anything regarding breathing problems and impinged nerves or spurs in cervical spine.
    I injured my neck on Jan. 3, 2013...obviously there was a problem with it before this date but I never felt anything. Just a stiff neck every now and then. They say this didn't just show up on the ct scan one day in this condition. It happened at work so it's been an ongoing workman's comp. case. I was helping up an elderly woman off her shower chair, when I felt a weird pain and pull in my neck. Thought nothing of it, until the pain was so strong a day or two later. My job has sent me to their doctors, 4 of them now. The 4th finally did an MRI and sees the damage done. Three discs are bulging and pushing into the spinal cord. Spurs on three of them as well and nerves being impinged on both sides. Obviously the reason for all the numbness and tingling in my arms, especially the right arm. Pins and needles all day and night, very hard to get comfy in bed. Sick and tired of taking muscle relaxers and ibuprophen, they are not working. He sent me home with a traction machine 2 weeks ago, says this will help and pull those discs apart. So far nothing, not an ounce of relief, in fact, it hurts more now.
    I developed shortness of breath, roughly around the same time of this neck injury. I have never had a problem like that in my life. In fact, I walk 5 miles a day and went to the gym regularly. Now I can't even walk up a flight of stairs without doubling over trying to catch my breath. My blood pressure was high so Iwent o my PCP, and he put me on a bp med. Also sent me to a cardiologist to get that breathing problem checked out. Did a stress test, showed I may have had a heart attack or a blockage. So they did a catheterization. Everything was fine, no blockages. That doctor said it may be coming from my lungs. So then I started seeing a Pulmonary Spec.Did every test known to man. All came back normal. He had to make some kind of a diagnosis, so he says I have very very mild asthma and gave me an inhaler to try. It's not working, still can't breathe. Still can't walk or even when I'm talking I find my gasping for air. Gained 20 pounds since January, due to non movement. It's very depressing, having to deal with neck pain that radiates into the right shoulder and arm all day, and having this horrible shortness of breath anytime I try to do anything somewhat physical.
    Are these 2 problems related? Pulmonary Doc says absolutley not....Pain Management Doc says yes, the discs control the breathing. Which is it? related or not and how the hell do we fix this?
    sandra verra
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  • OMGOODNESS! I'm so glad i found this site! I was so upset because I'd been told my shortness of breath was anxiety!
    Let me tell you my story...
    Dec 2010, i was a passenger in the backseat behind the front passenger seat when the driver of our vehicle rearended the vehicle in front of us. I was the only one not wearing a seat belt and when we hit, i went flying into the seat in front of me. I had a goose egg on my forehead and I felt a pop in my neck...in the middle of my neck on the right side of my spine..i even had a little knot there and i immediately got a headach and started feeling nausiated but the er doc said there was nothing wrong and sent me home...with absolutely nothing! I was told to expect some pain for the next few weeks as thats a healing process. I have had ..what i call..minor neck pain since but curiously, at the same time, i started having severe sinus problems in the front and especially in the back of my head to the point I'd have to lie down because it was giving me a migraine.. .ive always been active and never sick..never having sinus problems or migrains..now, fast forward to dec 2012...i was out of work and was taking this opportunity to go back to school and to open my business.. .on this one particular day, i was sitting in my computer chair..I'd been sitting in the chair since about 7:30 and it was now noon, i was hungry, so i was going to go to the kitchen to get something to eat. So from my hunched over position at the keyboard i sat straight up and at the same time i took a deep breath...except i couldnt breathe! I was able to breath in gasps..it felt like i could only take small breaths and none of them gave the satisfied feeling of taking a full and deep breath...I ran scared through the house and laid down on my couch and called my husband to take me to the er.. ..at the er they said they couldnt find anything wrong with me, said my o2 sat perfect, said my heart was perfect said my lungs were clear...i must have anxiety....now, I've been a police officer and a corrections guard for twelve years and i was until nov 2012, working a cushy office job in finance..and it was my choice to leave my job to pursue these other adventures! So for about three days of not being able to breathe, i went to another er at another hospital...again, nothing found wrong..lungs were good, heart is good, im getting oxygen great...all the while telling them my back hurt like a knife right through my breast to my back! So they sent me home with the same diagnosis...anxiety...after another four days, I'm sitting on my toilet...sorry about telling this, but i believe its important..I'm sitting on my toilet and its like a dam burst and number 2 came out...at the same time as it was coming out i could feel all the tightness around my chest lift up off me like my chest was opening up and i was able to breathe just like before....normal!....then, in march i was doing alot of heavy lifting of some ceramic molds and all of the sudden i couldnt breathe again and ive been this way every since this time...i have to say that its kind of slacked off but its not back to normal, i am constantly coughing and feel the tightness around my chest, my neck and shoulders stay in constant pain to the touch and its like my bowels have locked up...ive tried to make them go like before hoping that would give me relief like before but nothing seems to be working, not even exlax! ....
    Is all this a result of that pop i felt in my neck back in that car wreck in 2010?...the sinus migrains and dry up, the shortness of breath along with the bowels locking up...i forgot to mention i can feel my sides "jumping" like muscle spasms and a sharp pain in my neck that goes to my right ear and jaw... VERY SHARP!
    If someone else has experienced this and have gotten relief, please respond...I've been an active person of this community and now I've got the stigma of being someone whos losing it by being told all I've got is anxiety!
  • I was recently diagnosed with herniations at C4-C7 with spinal cord compression. I have done much research and C4-5 regulates your diaphragm. This IS, in my opinion, a direct correlation with your spine and breathing issues. I would do some research, look on Google Scholar, this is published, academic research. I have found I have had a variety of issues. I am aggressively pursuing surgery as I do not want to cause any further permanent damage, including paralysis. I would consult a Neurosurgeon, you don't want to take any risks. Good luck in your recovery!
  • This is very interesting... as someone just diagnosed as having C3-5 stenosis, I just put two and two together. There are times when I just cannot draw in a deep breath, and my breathing becomes very shallow, and perhaps these really ARE linked. I am going to ask my doctor asap.
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  • BRestelle, did you ever find out what was causing all your symptoms? I have everything you have and have also been told it's probably anxiety!!!

    I had nerve decompression and L5-S1 disc removed at the end of last year and all these symptoms started a few months later, it's been around 6 months now and it's really bringing me down. I have a consultant apt scheduled in about 8 weeks time so hopefully that will provide some answers and an MRI!!
  • I had spinal surgery on Nov. 8, 2013. C3-C 7, with cages and cadaver bone. The surgery went great. Little problems after I got home. No swallowing or choking problems. Only thing I lost my voice. My left vocal cord was paralyzed.
    After 3?months I was referred to an ENT. He did tests and I went in for an injection of a Botox type material in my left vocal chord. I could talk now. But I also, had breathing issues. My ENT said the muscles for the vocal chord and the breathing muscle sometimes take different recivery times. The Botox has worn off after about 3 months and my voice has come back fairly good. I still have breathing issues. I have shortness of breath most of the time. What gets bad is when I get upset emotionally my breathing closes up almost completely. Kinda like you are choking on something. They have been calling it anxiety. I have had atomizers, breathing treatments. Nothing works. My doctor is no sending me to a Gastro dr. They did a chest ex ray when this startedo rule out lung cancer . In reviewing the X-ray yesterday my dr came across a word she had to go look up...Achalasia. You can read about it on line. Anyone ever gone in this direction? This shortness of breath is Scarey and I worry about catching a cold and really not being able to breath! Hope the GI dr can figure something out.
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