Spasticity, Imbalance, Shadow on Cervical Spinal Cord & Spinal Tap?
I'm new here. I've been suffering from strange problems for the last two months now, mostly affecting my balance when walking. I have not been officially diagnosed with Spinal Cord injury, but I'm thinking it is most likely the cause of my symptoms.
Over the last two months I've had several chiropractic adjustments to my neck, back, lumbar, pelvis. Any one of these things could have started or exacerbated my issues because this is when I started experiencing my imbalance, gait disturbances, blurry vision, pressure headaches, neck pain, and muscle spasms. After going to the ER, and many neurologists and orthopedists, I was referred to Physical Therapy for stabilization exercises, as the doctors couldn't see anything wrong from a MRI angiogram of my head & neck or x-rays of my entire spine, but thought maybe there was some soft tissue damage.
It's been 3 weeks of PT and no change, in fact it may be making matters worse. Most of the visual symptoms I was having at first had cleared up in the first 3 weeks of my 'illness' but after a lot of heavy handling of the neck by my Physical Therapist, my vision got blurry again, and my neck pain/pressure & headaches got worse. Finally, a neurologist ordered a cervical spine MRI for me. I got it done on Thursday 6/24 and my neuro called me the next day Friday 6/25 and told me that there was a shadow on my spinal cord and that the next step was to do a Spinal Tap to check for inflammation or vitamin deficiencies. He doesn't think it's anything because its "borderline." When I asked him if anything was compressing the Spinal Cord, he said no. I'm guessing that means that I don't have instability of any of the joints?? However, he went out of town immediately after calling me so I won't get to talk to him again until he gets back and I likely won't get to do the Spinal Tap for 2 weeks.
At this time, my main symptoms are:
SPASTICITY & IMBALANCE--when walking, I feel like there are strong involuntary reflexes pulling me in different directions so that it's hard to keep my balance. I haven't fallen, but it makes walking very awkward. If I touch anywhere on my body I feel a reflex reaction...I like to describe it as "rubbery" and it's mostly on my right side. When I stand still, I involuntarily sway to the right. When at rest, my head tilts to the right on it's own. My reflexes are super sensitive, and I feel the need to squirm to get comfortable when laying in bed at night. I've been seeing a Physical Therapist that says when I'm exerting force with a purpose - like when doing strengthening exercises, I am actually quite strong, so I'm not lacking muscle strength per say. However, any movement for too long leaves me very fatigued. I'm not in a lot of pain. No traditional muscle tightness or tension. No sharp pains or burning. but I do get cramping in my feet and legs, and they fall asleep rather easily when I sit on my feet. Just yesterday, I got a sort of itching nagging ache in both my legs for a while, unprovoked.
NECK PAIN/TENSION HEADACHE--There is a constant dull ache on my right skull base behind my ear, and pressure in my head, around the temples and back of the head. If I push my head in one direction lightly, it will sort of spring back towards me. Other than that there really isn't pain. Today, I was riding in the car with my mom, she stopped at a light suddenly, and my head was thrown forward a bit. My neck hurts more now. After I got home, and got out of the car, I saw a thick light green horizontal light that wasn't there. Not sure if it's related, just thought I'd mention it.
Anyways, I've got a few questions for anyone with any experience:
1. Do my symptoms sound like they may be cervical spinal cord injury? Has anyone had a similar experience?
2. If the Spinal Tap finds evidence of inflammation - what does that mean? Does it mean the Spinal Cord was somehow bruised or injured?
3. If there is SCI, how will it be treated? I can still move all my limbs, there's just an awkward hyper-reflexive feeling and a lot of pressure in my neck and head. What can be done to get rid of that?
4. What if, by the time I have the procedure, the inflammation has died down, but the symptoms still remain? Does that mean I have scarring and permanent nerve damage? How long is the inflammation period supposed to last following trauma to the Spinal Cord? What's the deal with this debate over stopping inflammation or not w/ steroid injections? Should I be taking anti-inflammatory meds?
5. How do I know that my Spinal Cord isn't still being compressed and causing more nerve damage and brain damage at this moment? Is it safe to wait two weeks to check this out? Will this hinder my ability to heal in the long run? How can I tell if my neck or else where in my spine is unstable/misaligned and therefore putting pressure on the Spinal Cord?
Thanks in advance for reading this, taking the time to listen!
Thanks so much for the advice! I definitely will stay on top of this, but I'm wondering if I'm a ticking time-bomb for the two weeks that I'm waiting for this Spinal Tap. Could the nerve damage be getting worse while I wait? Why, why did the neurologist choose now to go on vacation, of all weeks?! Should I try to get someone else to do the Spinal Tap now, so that the neuro can discuss it with me right away when he returns?
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