Cervical vertebrae as indicators of Lumbar pain involvement

Posted by marilynnovak @marilynnovak, Sep 9, 2021

Saw a Harvard-trained spine surgeon interpreting my MRI of entire vertebral column, and he determined that there was no problem in that area, despite my 2-year old lumbar pain. He wants a cervical MRI now. What is the connection, and what therapies can be done IF cervical area is a problem? (NO cervical vertebral pain.)

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@marilynnovak Welcome to Connect. I am a spine cervical surgery patient and had spinal cord compression from stenosis in the central spinal canal because of a collapsed disc and bone spurs that grew there. That generated pain all over my body. I did not have any foraminal nerve root compression. My first symptom of cord compression in my neck was only a pain in my ankle. This caused a lot of surgeons to miss the diagnosis completely and 5 refused to help me. These surgeons thought that the cervical area would only generate arm pain. Kudos to your surgeon if they are looking for something like this. The only fix for compression of a foraminal nerve of the spinal cord itself is decompression surgery. I had a fusion of my C5 andC6 disk with a bone graft. The cord was decompressed when the surgeon removed the disc. There is medical literature about cases of sciatic pain being caused by cervical cord compression, so it should not be assumed to be coming from the lumbar area. The surgeon will get a better detailed look in an MRI of just the cervical area. As for physical therapy on the neck, that tries to maintain proper spine alignment, and the PT can use a Dolphin neurostimulator to suppress neurotransmitters for the pain signals. There is a window of opportunity for collapsed spinal discs. If it goes on too long, the spine can fuse itself and the compression of the nerves and spinal cord remains and may become worse. There are also artificial discs, but a patient would not be a candidate for that if there is instability in the spine.


Dear Jennifer, Thank you so much for your detailed reply. I learned a lot from it. I probably didn't explain clearly that my pain is in the lumbar area; my latest MRI speaks of problems at L5-S1, and all the L1-5 combos. It feels as if it goes from the center of each buttock across to the center of the other buttock. My surgeon just moved to Albuquerque, where I live, from Harvard, where he worked for the last 5 years, so I think that I have a really good doctor. I am now supposed to get a cervical MRI, although I have no neck area pain. I hate having to ask my family doctor to write the order for the MRI. Do you know why spine doctors cannot or will not write their own Rxs for the MRIs? Thanks again. (By the way, I am a retired Hospital Pharmacist, and I blame "being short, 4'11", for the way I have to bend in a certain way to work on today's standard height counters, both at home in the kitchen and in a Pharmacy.)

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