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Should I be in so much pain due to thecal sac and cord flattening C4-6?

jrcmomjjrcmom Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:42 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I'm new here, and have found really good information here. Any guidance would be so very appreciated. I have cervical dystonia, and am in extreme constant pain. My PM Dr. finally ordered a cervical MRI, but never explained the results when I asked - he still wants to try and get my muscles to stop spasming (its been over 15 years). My MRI results show:
*broad-based central and bilateral paracentral disc
protrusions with mild-mod. flattening of the thecal sac and cord at C3-4 thru C5-6. AP sac 9mm.
C6-7: Small bulge/spur. Mild right foraminal narrowing due touncinate spur.

I would like to know if these issues could be causing my neck/shoulder/arm pain, and also migraines? Is there anything I can do (exercises, PT) that could "un-flatten" my thecal sac and cord? I am in so much pain day and night that I spend all my energy trying to appear sane for my family.

I also have severe sciatica, a flattening of the sac and cord at L5, and I have been unable to move the toes on my left foot for six months.
Are these average issues for a 48 yr-old? I am so used to the "just live with it" attitude about my dystonia, that I no longer know if this is something I should act-on, or just accept as part of being older?

Thanks for listening to me vent! Lisa


  • I really can't comment on the flattening of the thecal sac, but I can comment on the Cervical Dystonia. I had a couple of surgeries on C1 and C2 and as a result wound up with two muscles completely atrophied and Cervical Dystonia. Something I had never heard of in my life until it was thrown in my face.

    The constant spasm is an incredible source of pain, throughout my head, neck and shoulders. Once you tip the balance of power in the neck, everything tries to fight back and you wind up with a muscle spasm war in the neck and shoulders. I have a very asymmetrical neck now and my shoulders are total opposites in muscle mass as a result.

    The doc started me on long term Baclofen and for a while it provided a small measure of relief. Eventually we swapped that out for Zanaflex, which does a much better job handling the spasms for me. The key being working to find a anti-spasmotic med that works for me. Trial and error sort of thing.

    During this time, I underwent implantation of a cervical Spinal Cord Stimulator, to control the pain in my neck, shoulders, scapulas, arms and hands. What happened as a result, is a nice little side effect of the SCS. It helps to control the Cervical Dystonia. It's not implanted to do so, but we proved it last year on accident and talk about a wake up. Basically if I shut the SCS off, within less than a minute, the dystonia gets so bad it tries to twist my head around like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. Turn the SCS back on and it calms down within a few minutes.

    I spoke with the company rep about this and was told that many docs and patients have spoken about similar experiences.

    This has been my experience. I share it with you so that you can know that there is hope and that living with the Cervical Dystonia can be managed. How it's managed is an individual thing and you really have to work with your docs to find a way to manage it. So please don't give up. Surgery may not be the "magic pill" for and there are many other ways to treat this.

    There is also an implantable pump that puts an anti-spasmotic medication directly into your thecal sac and helps to calm severe spasms. If you are interested in more information on any of this, please feel free to PM me.

    Welcome to Spine Health. This is a great place to find friends, information and others who do "understand".


    Oh, P.S. I am also an active 48 year old woman.
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