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Back pain, numbness, kyphosis, bulging disk, 9.5-10mm AP canal diameter - Should I just let it go?

I am a 26 year old, in shape, female and for the past three years, I've had upper back pain (both constant dull and occasional sharp) and numbness (solid numbness between shoulder blades, not tingling).  When the pain first started I went to a PCP and he told me to shrug it off.  Fast forward almost three years of pain/numbness that got progressively worse without care.  At the beginning of July 2016, I went back to a PCP, who basically told me to shrug it off again but wrote me a physical therapy script just saying "back."  So I decided to go to physical therapy and after almost 2 months (twice a week), I was unable to make any improvement, and it made things worse. Exercises in physical therapy that caused sharp shoulder pain also led to intense pressure and tingling in my neck and the base of skull, with tingling going into the jaw line.  This feeling would last for days at a time and was extremely debilitating.  

I decided to go to an orthopedic, and he told me that I need to just be more active and aware of myself.  (He did xrays of my neck and said they looked normal.)  I told him that after three years of pain, I am clearly aware of myself and my posture and what I do that could cause stress on my body.  I also advised him that I am active, as I do play soccer and exercise regularly.  He then responded to that by saying that by active, he meant I need to go on walks, not play sports.  I was on the verge of tears, because this was the third time I had gone to a doctor who completed dismissed the debilitating pain I've been in for the past few years.  He could tell I was about to have a breakdown so he said he would schedule me for an MRI.  I went ahead and had the MRI done but told them that I wanted to receive my own report and not have it sent to the doctor because I didn't plan on going back to him.

I got my cervical MRI results back yesterday, which shows lordosis in C2-3 and Kyphosis in C3-4 and C5-6.  I have dorsal cord flattening in C2-3 and ventral cord flattening in C3-6.  I have a dorsal disc bulge in C4-5, C5-6 (broad based bulge), and C6-7 (with 1 mm retrolisthesis).  All disc bulges are 1-2mm.  My canal diameter in C4-6 is reduced to 9.5-10mm.

In the bottom summary, it just states that I have multilevel cervical canal compromises and cord flattening.  This is the report that I received from the imaging company, as I did not like the orthopedic I went to so I did not want him to review the results.  So my question for you is, will the radiologist list whatever is specifically wrong in the summary at the bottom or should I find a new orthopedic and have them review the results with me?  Since the radiologist's summary doesn't specifically list anything like spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease, am I safe to assume that scheduling an appointment with an orthopedic would be a waste of my time and money?  I'm just not really up for going to a fourth doctor just to have them dismiss my concerns.

On a side note, the orthopedic I did go to that said everything was fine -- his assistant did tell me that I have hyperactive reflexes, which I later discovered can be caused by spinal issues.  Has anyone else experienced that?

Should I just let it go and drop looking into this further?  If I'm unlikely to be able to have anything done about my pain, then it may just be time for me to accept that this is just the way it's gonna be rather than taking myself on this emotional roller coaster of disappointment.  Yes, I'm just being dramatic but really, based on your own experiences, should I just let it go?  All advice and stories are appreciated in advance. :blush:" alt=":blush:" height="20" /> 


  • hello, krislynn89!

    like fingerprints, no two doctors are alike, either.  my top concern for you is that your condition(s) may worsen to the point of permanent damage if you don't get the help of a spine specialist. 

    i know how frustrating it can be to feel like your condition is not improving despite "doing the work" to try to make yourself well.  please don't allow your frustration to create that dangerous mindset where you think time/effort/money spent on getting better is a "waste".  there is a vibrant soul inside of you that is worth every second, every attempt, and every penny that it takes to find the treatment plan that can lead you to a life of less pain!!! 

    i'd like to welcome you to spine-health!  please click on the following link for some helpful information to get you started!

    welcome to spine-health 
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
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