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Displaced spinal cord/flattening of spinal cord

I am 43 years old, and love an active lifestyle. Kayaking, gardening, hiking, fishing, etc. A few years back I had a series of three Ant. Cervical disectomy & fusions with plating. I have been doing fairly well until recently.

My MRI says:
C3-4 Broad based disc osteophyte complex resulting in bilateral foraminal stenosis.
C4-5 Broad based disc osteophyte complex which abuts and posterialy displaces the cord and results in moderate bilateral foraminal stenosis.
C5-6 Posterior osteophyte or osseous prminaence which focally abuts and mildly displaces the cervical cord, resulting in mild flattening of the left side of the cervical cord.

My question is, should I return to my Nuerosurgeon at this point? Or, are there other things that I could try to reduce some of the pain. I already practice visualization, yoga, etc. I have a tens unit that I use at home. I am concerned that the spinal cord is being affected.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.


  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 10/28/2012 - 10:25 AM

    What are your symptoms?
    Most surgeons will say that they treat the patient, not the MRI scan. I think by that they mean that they take it all into consideration.
    I assume that you had the MRI scan because you were having symptoms. What are they?

    I am in the UK and over here they are not so quick to do spinal surgery.
    Two years ago, my MRI scan showed that I had osteodiscal bars causing compression of my cord at C3/4 and C4/5. I was left while they 'watched and waited' with 6 monthly appointments to review how things were progressing.

    Slowly, my symptoms have got worse and I am showing signs of myelopathy.
    I am booked to have these two levels fused on 5th November.
    Apparently the rest of my neck is very degenerated and I have bilateral nerve root compression at all levels.
    The surgeon can deal with this during the ACDF but he will not be able to do anything with them at the other levels.
    He has said that he may need to do another surgery from the back afterwards, but that we will see how much relief I get from the ACDF.

    Depending on what your symptoms are, it may be wise to return to your neurosurgeon to get his perspect on this. He can always tell you that nothing needs to be done at the moment (hopefully). He is the expert though, and I am only sharing my experience which may be very different from yours.

    Do let us know how you get on.
  • Thank you for your caring comment. i am hoping that all will go well with your surgery tomorrow. I am lucky that I have a very cautious nuerosurgeon team as well! They are saying that i may be able to hold off on another surgery for a while, as the disc is only slightly compressing the cord at this time. They are also suggesting an implanted spinal cord stimulator to help with the pain. It sounds a little freaky, but I am doing my research on it, and am willing to give it a try!

    I hope that you will find some relief after recovering from your ACDF, and that may be able to hold off on a second surgery for some time. Be sure to get plenty of rest! Pain free hugs to you!
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  • RickilalasRRickilalas Posts: 559
    edited 11/06/2012 - 6:55 PM
    On most MRIs they list cord compression as mild, moderate or severe. Look at my profile pic and enlarge it. It was listed on a MRI as moderate LOL it was beyond severe. It took me two weeks to get into surgery because of the schedules. I was very luck and should not be in as good shape that I am in. One BIG problem is now I have cord damage that brings all kinds of great issues. Sorry about spelling and comp on this post I just don't want to see some body wait too long. Keep in mind your doc has enough info and feels like a wait is safe but just make sure.
    My cord compression in the neck was found by accident when I went in for a lower back problem and I had no real issues with my neck at that time. They said at time of surgery If I had waited another week I would have become a quad.
    Good luck
    Ask your doctor to show you on the MRI how much pressure is on the cord and if the shape has changed.
    Ask to see the top to bottom slices on your MRI and at the place ask if there is spinal fluid all the way around the cord. If there is not spinal fluid all the way around the cord something needs to be done very soon.
    We can not take any chances on our cords. I was in a class in a comunnity college and my counsler had a compression half as bad a s mine and he is paralyzed from the waist down. Yes I feel very lucky but still can't win the lotto LOL
  • I am so pleased to hear how well you are doing now, after your surgery.
    I had my cord being pushed back into the bones at the back of my spinal canal, and it was being indented with no spinal fluid on either side of it. Still, some surgeons felt we could wait because I didn't have all of the signs of myelopathy, only some of them.
    I got a second opinion and he felt that we should do surgery. A third opinion, said that I should get it done as soon as possible.

    My second opinion surgeon did the surgery on 5th November. He said things were very tight in there and that it is good that we got the pressure off the cord and nerves. I know that I still have compression of the nerve roots at all levels below C4 (which he did manage to deal with), but we will wait to see what relief I get from the 2 level ACDF.

    So far, I feel encouraged that this has helped, but I am on strong nerve pain meds. Over the next month, I will be weaned off them, and then we should have a better idea.

    Thanks shirleelynn,
    I am getting lots of rest and being very well looked after by my husband. xx
  • Get well Jellyhall! I have read a lot of your posts, I can be a lurker at times ! Hugs to you;)
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  • RickilalasRRickilalas Posts: 559
    edited 11/10/2012 - 7:16 PM
    I am glad to hear you had your surgery. I feel very lucky when I picked my second opinion doctor and followed his advice to have surgery because there was no fluid around the cord at the point of compression and he stated if we wait or if we were already to late we would have to deal with myelopathy. MRI at that time did not show any myelopathy. In a strange way it was sort of fun the week before surgery because it was at a university and they had several interns do a work up on me and each of them looked at me and my file and said sorry they had the wrong file. They would leave the room and come back a few mins later and apoligise again because they did have the right file but I did not show the signs that would go with my MRI. Everyone was surprised I could walk into the office with no help. After surgery the surgeon explained it was even worse then the MRI showed and felt I might have more problems. Sure enough just a few months later I had to go back in as I had all new kinds of issues like the feeling that I was walking on broken glass all the time and a lot of pain that I call false pain because no real issue showed for what I was going through. We did another MRI a few months later and it showed two places with no fluid all around the cord and a place with a high T signal which turned out to be cord damage.

    Now the fun part comes in because of several new issues its hard if not impossible to say its the cord damage, the cercical'nerve damage or the lumbar nerve damage. I was doing so good for awhile and now we had to change all my pain meds and go back to fentanyl patches and another for break through pain. Some thing is getting worse and now I have seven doctors trying. To make anew game plan so time will tell.

    I so much hope they caught yours in time and it will heal right and give your life back
    Be careful and don't over do it and cut your meds down very slowly so it does my cause any more issue.
    Keep in mind very few of us ever get drug free. Its a goal but most of us will not make it

    I am glad you have family that helps out I feel so bad for those that have no help

    Good luck and nest wishes. Please feel free to ask anything that may help you
  • QuazzieQQuazzie Posts: 4
    edited 07/29/2015 - 7:35 AM
    Hi I was wondering if anyone is suffering the same and could tell me if this is the cause of my pain. I has an l4-5 spinal fussion with hardware 12 years ago, from that I suffered thoracic pain for 7 years until it was investigated, I have a thoracic arachnoid cyst from t1-t6 with anteriorly displaced spinal cord in the same area, I suffer with chronic pain, muscle spasm in my shoulder blades and neck, I feel like my lungs are being squashed from the back, I have numbness in my left leg and arms fingers and toes and the feeling of walking on broken glass along with arthritis of the lumbar faucet joints which I have injections every 6 months, I am on palexia or tampentadol for pain relief, is the pain coming from the cyst or the cord flattening, thank you in advance

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