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C2-C3 symptoms?

abbeyjoyaabbeyjoy Posts: 23
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm sorry if this has been answered before (I just can't find anything similar) but what are the effects of cervical stenosis, disc space narrowing, and foramina -- whatever, all that means-- on C2-C3? I am fused from C3-C7. This was taken from notes from an MRI done two years ago. I am also having an issue with the disc directly underneath the fusion (C7-T1? I think its called) crumbling under the weight of the fusion.

I am supposed to schedule a myelogram next month (yep, I was scared and backed out of it several weeks ago) but having so much pain, I just don't know what is coming from where. I also have multiple areas of disc and facet changes in a 40% curvature in my L spine. The surgeon said that he was sure I needed a fusion in lower back :( I assume this is where leg problems come in?

Could someone please explain this all to me very simply? Also, he wouldn't go into any detail about C2-C3 until after myelogram for he said it was a risky surgery? What problems does one experience with this particular area? I am experiencing bad headaches, toothpain (but not the same tooth?), sudden loss of hearing in one ear or another--thankfully, it returns, balance issues, etc? My neck crunches and is always in pain, but I thought that was from the fusion?

Thank you for any and all help !!

:-( Abbey


  • Howdy Abbey,

    It's me again! (G) My MRI's over the years have described my C2/3 as: Stenosis, crowding of the left exit nerve, narrowing of the foramina, large disk bulge crowding...large osteophyte complex crowding.. etc. Basic nutshell for mine, stenosis (narrowing) well crowding does that, disk issues and spurs.

    Of all the mess in my neck, surgery at my C2/3 scares me the most. Why? So high in the spine, with fusion, fusing two dissimilar bones, 360 to secure and fuse for most, much more can go wrong etc. I am getting to where I might not be able to push it off much longer. I've had slowly deteriorating issues at this level since 2003.

    My symptoms of date?

    Most of my surface neck is numb to the touch.
    Parts of my internal neck "meat?" now numbing - feels like a snug scarf.
    Left ear lobe is numb.
    Looking up getting more and more restricted.
    Looking up turning left or right, very (burning like) painful at the base of the skull. Does not radiate.
    Vice grip headaches that start behind my left ear, and wraps to my right.
    If I sleep wrong, pain from the base of my skull to the base of my neck (in the back) - ice pick like.
    No tooth or jaw specific pain.
    Ear ringing, occasionally. Lasts less than 10 minutes most times.
    No vision changes.

    Hope that helps.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • O:) (((Brenda))) You are always so faithful :)

    I am so sorry you are also experiencing this same area problem. Yes, this area scares me the most too. I am very apprehensive about allowing them to touch it, but as you, its getting more and more intense :( You have many of the same symptoms I have--yes, looking up is getting difficult and if I do I get dizzy,
    base of skull is painful and my head feels so heavy. What scares me is the swallowing problems are worse since my second c fusion -- even waking up choking during the night occasionally. :SS

    My friend here just had to have three disk fusion in her L spine and is still having a very hard time. The surgery was over three weeks ago; she goes to the same doc I went to this last time and he knows we are close friends and I knew all details about her surgery, etc. He told me mine would be similar--of course, that's before we knew how hard her recovery would be. I am thankful she also has a supportive husband, but he has had to do almost everything for her. I wonder what would happen if I just DON'T have surgery? I have managed to get by thus far on meds and two injections in lower spine (for sciatica that just wouldn't stop) -- but now they are taking Darvocette off the market, I don't know what I'll do.

    Are they pressuring you into having a myelogram? I wonder why they can't 'see' this area well without one? Can you imagine trying to hold your neck up or even bent any length of time with it fused? Soooo undecided, but my husband is saying my quality of life is ebbing. Its true -- my head/neck/back hurts so that I'm ready to go to bed by 8.

    ((())) Hugs my friend and thanks once again O:) Abbey

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  • (((Abbey)))

    I think the reason I've been able to delay so long is because the cord at that level starts curving back into the base of the brain, so the disk has more room to squish out? For years I would get the occasional "mechanical" pain. You know, the umm..bone crunch or stuck feeling? Once freed, no pain. That kind.

    About a year ago I started getting some neurological issues, but as was told to me by my neurologist and surgeon, they are 'concerned' about that level, but we aren't there yet. Whew! My favorite neurologist has taken his practice back over from that jerk of a partner he had (kicked him OUT), so I'm hoping to get back with him soon.

    As I read your post, I noticed something I've been unconsciously been doing...propping my head with my hand or thumb! I'm not doing that as I type this, and I am noticing that I seem to be trying to tilt my head up a tiny bit. Probably nothing, but new to me - no new pain or nerve issues with this, just an observation on my part. (G)

    If I remember right, the C2/3 is for fore and aft of the head / nodding. The C1/2 is for the side to side movements of your head? I think twist and turning is a shared function? My first MRI that showed issues with my C2/3 was when I was 41 - I'm 48 now, so getting good marks on that warranty! Other levels have gone so much sooner on me! (G)

    I have swallowing problems as well, but that was deemed by my ENT since my hardware is moving. I still have a cracked vertebra (C6), and I went to the ENT when I started losing my voice starting (yep starting) around 5 months post op! My swallowing and choke outs (mainly with liquids) is due to my vocal cords being constantly swollen due to aggravation from the movement, so liquids go past when a normal closed (for swallowing) vocal cord would have prevented it. Woke me up? Oh yeah, happens most if I sleep un-elevated on my back!

    Not going to freak until the updated x-rays and MRI's and whatever else he wants to do are in. No mention of a myelogram yet. My guess is that would come *if* surgery looks likely. I think (me thinking here) it is hard to get a true look in there due to the different bones, and density of them? Not sure. If you find out, please let me know, and too (lol) did it hurt?

    I sent a buddy request to ya! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.

  • I am STILL waiting for the results of my cervical MRI scan, so I don't know what or where my problems are.

    From my symptoms, I can take a guess and feel like I should write my prediction on a piece of paper and put it in a sealed envelope to open when I get the results to see if I am correct. (Perhaps I'll do just that!! ;) )

    Today I am having a lot of short 'zinger' type of pains, mostly on the right side of my skull, just behind my ear. It is strong enough to make me jump and wince. I am getting in also on the left side, but far less often there. (I have had this type of pain before, but not often.)

    I do often get headaches in that area at the base of my skull and down into my neck. If I slightly life my head with my hands, it really eases the pain.

    I also get pain in my ears (on the outside) and pain and tingles just in front of my ears and my cheeks. I have even had tingling in my lips and tongue in the last month.

    I also experience vertigo sometimes, particularly when I look up or turn over to my right side in bed.

    These are not my only symptoms, but the ones I wonder if are caused by my C2/C3 area.

    Do any of them sound familiar to you ladies?

  • Sorry, missed a couple of things you asked...

    I too was on Darvocet. Here is what I found out yesterday after I was given a new pain med script - for 5/325 Oxycodone, I was prescribed Percocet which I know I can handle, the pharmacy changed it to the generic - we'll see how that goes. Pharmacies (some) are still dispensing it. I posted a thread about this journey yesterday. I initially didn't catch the wording; The FDA "pulled" it from the market, vs 'recalled' it from the market. So there is probably a grace period that they can sell what they have until its gone. Maybe you can check with your pharmacy to see if they have it? Mine took it off their shelves as soon as the 'pull' was announced. "Walgreen's"

    As to whether or not to have the surgery Abbey. As with any surgery, and more so with spine surgery, it is a very hard and personal decision. A decision to which can be aided with "delay won't/could cause damage", or we can offer xx% likelihood of success. You will gain this, or stop more of that etc. You will have to mix what you are going through with what your doctors and surgeon is advising, then weigh it all and then decide. Some decisions are pretty cut and dried, but with our lovely spines, not always so easy. I wish I had a crystal ball, but my cat knocked it off the table and...ker-smash! All gone. Sorry, trying to perk you up a bit. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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  • Howdy Ms. Jellyhall!! :)

    Try this (carefully okay)interlace your fingers, and place them on the top of your head. Gently start applying pressure down, hold for a few seconds and release. Where do you feel pain, and if any pain, did it reduce once you released?

    My NS does that each time I go in to check my C2/3 and it makes me feel pain (not bad-bad yet) right after I release it, then it settles down. The other thing he does that we can do at home, I sit straight, then fully supporting my jaw, I gently 'lift' my head and then release. For me, minor discomfort as my head returns to its normal position. Oops, looks like you already do this little test! (G)

    My neck is numb 3/4 of the way around from the tip of the chin down to the bottom of my neckline and wraps for me from behind the left ear to about 2 inches past my windpipe. Feels like a snug scarf, especially to the left. No jaw issues per say. The ear pain might be a preamble to the start of a headache there. My C2/3 headaches have always started right behind the bottom of my left ear. If I don't catch it, it wraps around to my right ear and takes me out for the day! I just got Imitrex, so we'll see how that works on the next one! (G)

    Jelly hope that helps? I have searched the net big time to find out what "neurological symptoms" to expect from this level, and almost nothing except... This is the only level that the pain *is* directly IN the neck verses say a C5/6 where it hurts there, but radiates to other parts of the body! If I can sit such that my other levels don't move much, I can isolate C2/3 pain all around the base of the skull! Nice to have rare level issues eh? (G) *HUGZ*


    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • It's important to treat the symptoms each patient has, not find the symptoms that may or may not correspond to a specific level. As patients, we can make the doctors job much more difficult, by presenting symptoms we think most specifically highlight an area of concern instead of just going over what we experience and when. It's great to be a better informed and more educated patient, but it's also important to let the doc do the sorting and prioritizing of signs and symptoms.

    I watched my husband tell the doc which symptoms he thought were most important and related to what he thought was his problem. This delayed my husband getting proper treatment for an unknown heart issue that was the root of the problem that had sent a couple of blood clots to his foot.

    I'm not trying to offend anyone here. I just would hate to see someone delay proper treatment by focusing too much on possibly the least telltale of their symptoms. I hope that makes sense.

  • Nope, not offended here. I couldn't agree more with what you posted! For pretty much what you posted, that is why I keep a log, and too a "symptoms" report so they can see what I am feeling, and too the changes. So far my doctors seem to like them. It also reduces me missing questions I had for the appointment. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • No offence taken C,

    I just wish I could see this neurosurgeon soon for him to listen to my symptoms and let me know what is happening. :-)

  • Hi --agreed no offense taken. I have an appointment with my primary care doc tomorrow morning to get her opinion on my test results thus far, then I am going to see what my neurologist has to say. I don't want to go into this blindsided, but neither do I want to list 'symptoms' that may misdirect my treatment.

    Saying that, I pretty well know what the answers are to my lower back issues, the causes (40% curvature with multiple levels needing fusions) and the symptoms, sciatica pain, pins and needles in legs, trouble sleeping on that area, etc. The doctor confirmed all these and more. However, my upper neck is an unknown, even to this ortheo surgeon, who said he would have to send me back to the well qualified neurosurgeon that comes to our large city only a few times monthly. He does surgeries around the world and has down my two prior neck surgeries. He warned me after my last C fusion that it may be a matter of time before I will become aware of 'issues' with the unfused area above and beneath. I know the lower is a problem; I can tell these issues myself. Its the area that is directly under my skull and brain that's a bit of a mystery.

    Having never been told (nor asked) what these 'issues' would be, I just wanted a bit of feedback. Obviously, I DO NOT want anymore surgery, esp. in my neck--I have a hard time swallowing, sometimes breathing and choking. But I have experienced strange things lately and do not feel well at all. I will probably have to book an appointment with this neurosurgeon after I get the other's opinions and perhaps the myelogram, but since he's so hard to reach, this may be months. In the meanwhile, I just wanted to 'hear' the few others that have this rare problem with that disk. I'm not one to run to the ER and have tolerated a lot of pain since our accident in 1991, but this pain can be horrible.

    Going to the ER would be useless tho, for even specialist aren't sure about this area and what to do? No one in any of these doctor's offices will even dare sticking a needle or shot in it. There just isn't any way to get relief... I truly wanted to know what that particular area of the spine controls? My previous surgeries have designated what area of the spinal column is responsible for what ?? Why don't we know what this C2-3 is for? Just saying :(

    Thanks for hearing me out. I am thankful your husband is doing better, C :)
    And ((Jelly)) please keep us updated. (((Brenda))) thank you once again !!

    Gentle hugs (|: Bedtime; neck miserable and usual miserable headache.
    :H Abbey
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