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raykemble (@ray666)

Balance, high blood pressure medications, and …

Neuropathy | Last Active: Jul 22, 2021 | Replies (26)

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Thank you, all (@artscaping, @elizm, @njh, @jenniferhunter, @amandaburnett) for having replied to my posts! Your words have been immensely helpful. I met with my neurologist yesterday and now have what seems a clear diagnosis of my problem: cervical stenosis. Finally, I have a name to put to what has been troubling me––and getting slowly worse––for something like ten years. (Can any of you relate to this?) The immediate plan is twofold: neck PT, and a visit with a neurosurgeon––not necessarily to arrange surgery but to learn what if anything besides PT might be the wisest way to tackle this cervical stenosis. ––Ray

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Replies to "Thank you, all (@artscaping, @elizm, @njh, @jenniferhunter, @amandaburnett) for having replied to my posts! Your words..."

@ray666 Thank you. You are experiencing what I went through 5 years ago. It is reassuring to have an answer and be validated, but now with that information there are choices to be made.

I knew I would become disabled if I allowed my spine condition to worsen. My spinal cord compression was at C5/C6 with bone spurs (disc osteophyte complex) pressing into my spinal cord in the central canal. The critical factor is how fast the bone spurs are growing and if the compression is increasing. The herniated jelly like inner disc material causes inflammation when it spills out and that causes bone spur growth which can also happen at the nerve roots if it herniates that direction. I did not have that, just the spinal cord compression. On MRI,s I saw the bone spurs double in 9 months time while my symptoms got worse. PT can only go so far, and if you can maintain normal neck curvature, it helps. If muscle spasms start moving your vertebrae around with a compressed spinal cord, it just makes the central canal space smaller. I was having dizziness when muscle spasms twisted or tilted my vertebrae. I went through intermittent problems because my PT would realign my neck and the next muscles spasm brought on the symptoms from the compression again.

What I can tell you is find the very best surgeon that you can at a respected medical center. There are ratings for this on the US News and World Report website. Look up everything you can about a surgeon. Ask questions. Different surgeons have different choices for implants they use and it they do or don't do disc replacements. My surgery was at Mayo Rochester with Dr. Fogelson. Here is my story.
My experience was that this surgery was not as bad as I had imagined. On waking up from surgery, all the spine generated pain and leg weakness was gone, and I was left with the incision pain. After 6 weeks I felt pretty good and after 3 months, I could forget that I had had spine surgery. I also had a good physical therapist who also did myofascial release to treat the surgical scar tissue. Here is our discussion about MFR:
There are lots of factors that play into surgical success including things like age, smoker or nonsmoker, other health conditions, etc. Also know that permanent damage of the spinal cord or paralysis is possible if you were to be in a traffic accident in this condition. If you do choose to have surgery, it's best to do that before permanent damage happens. Make sure to ask your surgeon about that time frame, but listen to your body. It is also good to get several opinions before making your decision. I chose a bone graft fusion without hardware. If you need to discuss surgery experience further, please reach out to me.

One thing that surgeons sometimes do is spinal injections of steroids to calm inflammation (which are not FDA approved for this use). That didn't help me much when I had one as a diagnostic test. It can indicate what would be resolved by surgery. I also had a new sharp electric stabbing pain in my hand for several weeks because of the epidural injection. Also know that surgeons do this to put off surgery, and that might be because they don't want to take on the risk of your case, so instead of offering a fix, they offer injections. Surgeons have ratings for the success of their procedures and they don't want to lower their statistics if a procedure doesn't go well. It's easier to have great ratings if you can cherry pick your cases. I ran into that myself before I came to Mayo and was refused by 5 local surgeons. At Mayo, the conversation was about fixing the problem and I was offered surgery right away. The other surgeons had not understood the connection of my symptoms to the imaging, and because it generated pain all over my body, they were afraid to touch it.

It's a big decision. Is there anything I can do to help you?

Good evening Ray. What a welcome and meaningful post. Congratulations on understanding that there are no miracle "fixes". I think @jenniferhunter's story pretty much covers the waterfront so I will just say that I had several years of painful and troubling cervical stenosis.

Finally, when I could no longer get much-needed rest at night I turned to my shoulder surgeon for help. He immediately took me to meet the surgeon who saved him from similar pain and tragedy. I had cervical surgery complete with titanium fusions that essentially turned my life around.

Good luck to you and it would be very helpful if you could keep us updated on your PT and neurosurgeon visits.

May you be physically well
May you be mentally well.