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New here. Stenosis at C4-5,post surg at C5-7

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  • New here. Stenosis at C4-5,post surg at C5-7

    I was an x-ray tech for 15 years. I used to take the x-rays in spinal fusion surgeries, so I've seen them done--at least the way they did them till '96.
    I fell coming out of surgery in 1995(going to a darKroom to develop films), on a newly waxed floor, and hurt my neck the first time. I was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome.
    In 1996, I was working in a medical office, and a second fall a year later caused disc ruptures at C5, C6 (bad enough for surgery) and C6, C7 (not immediately bad enough for surgery) as well as at L5, S1 (still, hopefully, not bad enough for surgery). I had a fusion at C5, C6 in 1997 and a fusion at C6, C7 in 2001.
    I had to go back to school, and got a degree in English, because the neurosurgeon told me I was going to have to find a way to make living with my head, because I wouldn't be able to make a living with my back anymore. When I finally found a way to make a living with an English degree, it was three years, ago, just as I was being told that I needed a third surgery at C4, C5. The pain was ungodly, I was in Pain Management, having regular epidurals and taking Percocet and none of that was cutting it any more.The neurosurgeon told me I would lose right shoulder movement for at least 6 months, but no more than a year, after the surgery, because of the level--that's where the shoulder nerves are.
    Another surgeon told me the problem "wasn't surgical."
    I talked to my sister, who had gone to teach in Arizona with her English degree. I was very concerned about the surgery, because I lost my voice for 9 months after the second surgery, because of damage to a vocal chord.
    I decided to see if I could put the surgery off for a while by moving to a much drier climate, and seeing if the pain got better. It did, for a while.
    This year, I have been having one fall after another, at least one good one every month, no matter how careful I am. The pain has gotten much worse in my neck, back to unbearable again, and I have a lot of numb spots and muscle spasms. My right foot doesn't seem to listen to me. I can't feel the bottom of it very well.
    Anyway, sorry this is so long. I am going to a have an MRI Tuesday, to see if I have progressed to stenosis or whether I have something like MS going on. I have a persistent pneumonia since July that is complicating everything, and that almost killed me, so surgery may not be an option anyway. I haven't worked in months now.
    Sorry to be such a bummer. I really am glad to be breathing and getting pain management again.

  • #2
    Hi Lisa. I am new here, too, and spend a good part of each day reading the posts - they are like nourishment, because this is a place where people know what others are going through and are honest and open about all aspects of these injuries and illnesses. I have never seen such a wealth of information, so helpfully presented, and with good humor. I hope that your MRI will yield information that will put the docs on the right track, and that you will get all the information you need as a basis for your decisions. Welcome to the site!
    MS with cervical and thoracic cord lesions


    • #3
      Stenosis can mimic MS in its symptoms and progression. Falling is dangerous for a person with stenosis, and balance issues can be another symptom of worsening stenosis. Good luck with the MRI on Tuesday, and welcome to Care Cure.
      Anything worth doing, is worth doing to excess


      • #4
        Hi - I had severe stenosis and didn't know until I fell and couldn't move for about 10 minutes.
        Subsequent MRI showed that I was milimeters away from serious SCI. The MRI showed the problem conclusively and surgery saved me from becoming quad. Ended up with Brown-Sequard syndrome - walking w/ cane.
        My Mom - at 80 - just had surgery for stenosis at about c-5 - she came out of hospital mobile and with radically improved range of motion although there is some discomfort.

        Good luck - I hope you get the help you need and come out much improved.


        • #5
          I, too, am new to this board and have stenosis. I did not know that falling could be attributed to stenosis. I have moderate to severe cervical stenosis from c3 to t-1, the worst at c.4, c.5. Pain can be pretty bad. Went through the pain clinic connected to our local state university and ended up on a high dose of oxycontin three times a day, soma and until about 8 months ago I was able to take ibuprofen. They also prescribed an anti-depressant for nerve pain but I didn't like the way it made me feel and I only took a couple of doses of several different kinds, none of which did not effect me in some adverse way that I consider to be worse than the pain. I like to be in control, won't take anything that takes that away. I have had a lot of changes that I realize are because of the stenosis worsening, I just don't want to deal with it. Have seen several neurosurgeons but none will even consider surgery as they say the risk of being on a respirator afterwards would be too great and because there is no way to say that surgery won't make it worse. I have severe degenerative arthritis in my spinen and bone loss. Any suggestions?


          • #6
            For Back to Back,

            I appreciate your friendly comment about eveyone on this site having ability to empathize with each other. My family, friends, and ev er PCP's seem to underestimate the severity of disabling effects assoc with neuro pain (for me it's TOS with bi-lat carpal tunnel). I've exhausted all options before considering surgery and had dominant wrist surgery in Dec 2007, and now realize post-op pain was severe, ubable to do the simplist of tasks by myself for a few wks, and after 3 yrs almost, an in-depth eval on my arms indicated my dominant arm I had surgery on was less functional, with greaer increse od swelling after mild activity, and decrease of sensation on all fingers. So,I was disappointed with outcome, but my Neurologist tells me unil I have my other wrist surgery, than the Thorasiv Outlet release surgeries perford, I won't know for sure how effective it all was. I just know I can't continue feeling the pain, numbness, and lack of strenght for the rest on my life. I am only 36 yrs old and have 3 girls 5 yrs & under, so I need to at least try the surgeries. It's good too know I'm not alone in my struggle with my TOS & Carpal Tunnel. Like I said I feel alone due to others around me not understanding my flare ups of pain etc.

            Take care & God Bless,