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can you advise me


i hope you can help.

back in january i started getting pins and needles in my hand - by febuary this was perminant. by march i started getting pain in my right shoulder running down the back of my arm and across my forearm - so i went to the doctor. he sent me for physio - this didnt work - so i went back a month later and he sent me for a MRI scan - i have recieved my results, but the doctor wouldnt answer any of my questions, ststing that he was unable to comment on that! - he has refered me to a spinal clinic to see a consultant but that 2 months away and i have been left hanging with all sorts of going round in my head...

please can you tell me what all this means?

MRI results:
the cervical vertebral alignment has been maintained. loss of central hyperintensity within nearly all cervical intervertebral discs suggestive of disc dehydration. osteophytic bulging disc at C3-C4. dorsolateral osteophytic disc herniation at C5-6 with encroachment to the left laterial recess/neuroforamen. there is additional dorsolateral right disc at C6-7 with encroachment to the right lateral recess/neuroforamen with indentation to the thecal sac and lateral spinal cord. the cervical posterior elements (facet joints) show severe degeneration with chronic spondyloarthropathy at C5-6 C6-7 and C3-4. there is a spinal cord compression at C6-7 and C5-6. chronic inflamitory changes according to modic's type 1at the level of C6-7 and fat replacement changes type 2 at C5-6

my own knowledge of what is writen above extends only to understanding that when they have spoken about C5-6, C6-7 etc - that that is refering to the bones in my neck

i can tell you i am now, i have good days with pain i would put at a level 7 and bad days at level 9 - only once have i been reduced to tears and i put that day at level 10, and im a 40yr old man!

the questions i asked my doctor were:

1) do i need an opperation
2) am i going to lose the use of my arm - is the pins and needles going to turn into numbness and loss of feeling in my hand
3)if opperated on will i be able to move my neck after, able to turn left to right and move up and down

his responce to all those were "im not able to comment on that"

todays date is the 15th july2010 and my appointment with the consultant is 23 sept 2010, so you can apreciate that i have been left in limbo - and all the things i am seeing on the internet are probably makeing my plight worse, so i have started seeking advice rather than look it up myself

please can you tell me what the reults from the MRI mean in laymans terms and what is probably going to happen to me so i can at least prepare in advance if my life is going to seriously change

yours sincerely

1 Answers
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Avatar universal
Are you serious about this Doctor, that’s got to instill a lot of patient confidence? Maybe he didn’t understand what any of it meant.

Overall you have a lot of age related things going on.Your alignments good, the hyper intensity their referring to, is caused by the disc losing water and drying out. It happens to most people as they age.

The osteophyte bulging discs also known as disc-osteophyte complexes happen when a disc bulge becomes “calcified” (harden). In other words it’s an ossification of soft tissue attachments to the bone. You have one of these at C3-4 and C5-6. The one at C5-6 is encroaching or narrowing the lateral recess/neuroforamen. This is important because the spinal nerves travel through the lateral recess and the foramina. This calcified disc is probably pressing a little on the nerve roots at this level.

At C6-7 you have a disc bulge that is again encroaching or narrowing the lateral recess and neuroforamen probably causing some nerve compression at the C7 nerve root. At this level the disc bulge is also pushing on the Thecal sac (outer covering of the spinal cord and canal) and pushing on the spinal cord at this level as well. The report doesn’t mention the severity of it, which is odd, because they usually do. You have quite a bit of degeneration (Arthritis) within your Facet joints, which are small joints of the spine that connect the all vertebra and allow the systematic movement of the whole spinal column.

So to recap, you have Degenerative Disc Disease, and all that is, is a condition where the spinal disc loses structural integrity from wear and tear, aging, or trauma

You have a calcified disc bulge at C3-4 it doesn’t seem to be compressing anything
At C5-6 you have another disc osteophyte complex that’s narrowing the foramina and further down in the report it says that you have some spinal compression at this level, but the severity is not noted.
At C6-7 you have the same thing going on as 5-6 and you have arthritis of the facet joints at these 3 levels.

As far as your pain, the pins and needles in your hand, shoulder and arm pain, is probably being caused by the disc bulge narrowing the lateral recess and foramina on the right side at C6-7. Some of this other stuff on your report might or might not be causing any symptoms or pain. So don’t stress out about all this. A lot of people have disc bulges that don’t cause any symptoms. Your surgeon will be able to figure a lot of this out, when he/she talks to you and looks at the films him/herself.

1.If the pain is disrupting your life and you can’t stand it anymore, then yes, you need surgery.

2.If you let it go for a long time, you might develop permanent numbness. I have a few fingers that are still numb 5 years after surgery.

3.You won’t be able to move your neck as much and as far as you did before you had neck problems, but you’ll  be able to do what you need to do.

Take Care
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st. louis, MO