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Cervical spinal cord has only 4mm space yet I still carry on??

Hello People,

I've now reluctantly joined the club of people with spine problems.   :(   Actually I guess I didn't have a choice in the matter... After about 2 months of regular bouts of numbness and tingling in pinky & ring fingers, prior (really really) acute pain around C4-C5 that subsided 3 weeks later, and a few sessions of physio (McKenzy exercises);  my GP sent me off for an MRI.  Four days later the results arrive & I get called in to see him. 

I'm just devastated at what I read on the MRI report and my GP has put in a call to be seen by an orthopedic doc for evaluation within 3 to 10 working days.  Meanwhile I've been reading, reading, reading up on what is happening to me.  At 61 there is obvious and "normal for your age" degeneration in some places while in other places along the cervical spine are much, much more "sick".  Particularly, at C5: "an enormous disk extrusion/fragment with severe central stenosis and compression of the spine". The report goes on with: "at C4-C5 there is a small tear in the annulus fibrosus with leaking of the nucleus pulposus that extends 8mm large x 16mm long".  Because of this, the spinal canal is now only 4mm instead of the usual >= 10mm.  Sorry for the unusual terminology & phrasing, I'm translating this from french!  My GP has told me to go to the ER with my report and image CD if I feel my condition deteriorates significantly.

So, obviously my spine is in danger, at least I think so... yet I feel hardly any pain and aside from some disorientation lately and the finger numbing that comes from problems at C7-D1.  So, on your MRI reports, what were your smallest spinal canal dimensions? 

While I wait for the orthopedic doc appointment, I must say I'm in a very high state of anxiety and have to take some med for that.  Reading about the various spine problems and the success & failures of surgery (which I definitely don't want but may leave me no choice) makes me even more anxious and somewhat depressed...  All this is really stretching my coping abilities and philosophical wisdom "mind helpers".  I don't know what's going to happen to me, what kind of future I will have - I just rertired and was looking forward to a full and active leisure and helping out lifestyle.  Oh God!!

An aside: what have you found to be the best sleeping position to avoid aggravating the stenosis?  I have to stay alive until I see the ortho doc!!  Currently I use a muscle relaxant to aid in sleep and try to stay asleep on my back with a very thin pillow under my neck.

Thanks for reading. 


  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    hello john_in_mtlqc !
    re any readings re mri........there are no medical professionals here on discussion forums.
    we members are not qualified or allowed to comment on mri or other testing results.

    it is not uncommon for chronic pain to be accompanied by anxiety.
    also, quite common as we live with fear of the unknown. 

    search may may be useful to you, upper right on page.
    and main site has all the formal medical articles and videos for you to research on.

    i look forward to reading what advice you received from your orthopedic appointment.
    please keep us posted!

    please click on link for helpful information!

    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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