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Disc Bulging/Spinal Stenosis

I have large disc bulges at C5-6 and C 6-7 with severe spinal stenosis and nerve compression.    I have had Chiropractic care for the last 2 1/2 yrs since my accident (over the handle bar of mountain bike).   It has kept me pretty much symptom free, however, I have had muscle weakness from lack of use in my back and have tight trap muscles/pain into the right arm from radiculopathy.   I finally went to a Neuro surgeon today after PT caused some pain and triggered off tingling throughout my body.   By the way I have been active biking/running (running causes pressure to my head), hiking even with this inj.   Anyway the surgeon told me to not bend my head forward/backwards or work standing long/computer use or lifting ( I am a nurse in an ER so that is going to work with my job I will have to quit!).  He told me that I need surgery now or later and immediately if I get worse but he tells me that I am clinically stable.    He also told me that if I got into an accident and injured my neck that I could be paralysed.  I am a canidate for cervical disectomy and fusion 3 levels but not a disc replacement.    So here is my question?   I have pretty much no symptoms when I am somewhat active and receive Chiropractic care and when I stop I feel absolutely miserable.    Has anyone else had relief from the Chiropractor with these symptoms?? I am told that he could make the disc bulge worse but I think it is ironic that i feel the worst under the advisement of no activities but PT and walking.      I know the risk, but if Chiropractic care was so dangerous why did it help so much,  I now have tingling to both hands with flexion which the Neuro doc says that is coming from the spinal cord, but I do not have it with Chiropractic care?????   I do no want to be on pain meds or lose mobility.    Any one use a Chiropractor??????  Thanks for any advise.  
4 Responses
Avatar universal
Degenerative disc disease can wreck havoc in our lives and given your current status of large disc bulges and severe spinal stenosis with nerve compression, the surgeon is offering a reasonable treatment option.
The longer the nerves are compromised the greater the risk for permanent damage that can not be repaired even with surgical intervention.  DDD is progressive and continued degenerative changes can cause additional neurological changes.  Spinal cord compression is generally a surgical situation to avoid significant damage such as paralysis.  Even bruising of the cord is damage that can not be undone.
All of that being said, it is possible that chiropractic care is giving you some temporary relief with some decompression of the affected areas through his manipulation.
Chiropractic care cannot alter the extent of the spinal stenosis if it is related to other structural changes such as osteophytes (bone spurs) which are a usual component of DDD.  
I have had severe osteoarthritis and DDD resulting in a similar set of symptoms.
My neurosurgeon gave me the same advice of surgery now or later, but surgery eventually.  I elected to have anterior cervical discectomy and fusion C4-C7 with allograft and titanium plating.  The surgery was a great success, and most of my preop symptoms were gone within 3 hours of the surgery.  Minor problems with muscle spasms related to the way I was positioned on the OR table, but physical therapy is helping resolve those problems.  I have maintained good ROM of my neck and most people would be unaware of my having had this surgery without being informed.
As a nurse you are more aware of the risks involved in postponing surgery and that is a very personal decision only you can make.  The fact that you are having muscle weakness and significant problems with your trapezius muscle must be affecting your ability to perform your duties as an ER nurse.  (I was an RN for 27 years prior to retiring).
I did not have chiropractic treatment at any time so I can not relate any personal experiences with this form of treatment.  I can personally state that the surgery was not a difficult process and the results have been gratefully appreciated.
Did you discuss chiro as an option with the neurosurgeon?   It could cause more problems that are not reversible with subsequent surgery.
If you have specific questions regarding the ACDF procedure, I would be happy to assist you further.
Best wishes and may you continue in good health.
Avatar universal
I have the same problem at the cervical 6 and 7 its bulging and causes all kinds of pain.I have had epidural shot  and they help but dont last long,about two weeks if I am lucky!Not sure what else my pain doctor is going to do I might end up with surgery. I hope not but I will do what ever it takes to get out of pain! when you have this kind of pain its bad enough to scare you,without a doubt you will do what ever helps.Well good luck to everyone,and God bless!                Rily
Avatar universal
I have disc issues in my lumbar spine due to a mva (rear ended at a stop sign; guy was going about 40 mph). Unfortunately, I also have a fractured vertabrae at L4 (a Pars fracture) and spinal stenosis. I was originally going to seek Chiropractic help until a friend of mine, who is an RN, warned me not to before getting xrays. I am so grateful that I waited as I have been told by everyone involved in my care that I could have caused permanent nerve damage with spinal manipulation (I have been told that due to the Pars fracture I should never have any manipulation of my lower back). I am still at a huge risk for permanent damage as my discs are herniating inward and putting tremendous pressure on the nerve roots.  I am also a huge fall risk due to "dead" leg from the nerve pressure.

I would just urge you to use great caution in continuing with Chiropractic care. I understand your need for pain relief, but ultimately, you want to preserve as much of your original structures and ROM as possible doing the least amount of damage.  I could be facing surgery as well at some point.  Right now, my Neuro guy wants to try the passive route with PT, bracing and 90% bed rest. I have also been adivsed to use a cane...LOL  That is going a bit far for me!  But, again, PLEASE just use caution. I think that Chiropractors certainly have their place and can bring about great relief...but under the right circumstances.

All my wishes for better days!!
Avatar universal
as always, Kitty is right..continued pain and numbness can lead to lasting muscle loss..most of us have had good results with acdf..don't let fear guide you..good luck
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