MRI Results-Severe Left Foraminal Stenosis C6-C7

Hi y’all:)!

A bit of history: two whiplash accidents in 1997 and an MRI two years ago that showed moderate herniation in C5-6; no debilitating symptoms all those years and spasms were temporarily relieved by massage.

A year and a half ago, my migraine and vertiginous symptoms began and have cost quite a bit in health care bills and woes. For the past couple of months, I’ve had pain in my left shoulder and arm, radiating down to my index finger and thumb (literally like electrified fingers). After an x-ray that revealed nothing and a visit to a physiotherapist who did a nerve conduction test that revealed no problem with the nerves, but a problem in my vertebrae, they finally did an MRI (previously requested by neurologist and denied by insurance). The result is a completely new issue, severe left foraminal stenosis, in C6-C7. Of course, I think this degeneration could have triggered all of the issues, including the dizziness. The physiotherapist wants to do a steroid injection to relieve inflammation/pain and I’m most likely going ahead with this. Don’t think the symptoms justify any kind of surgery.

Is this what it’s all been about? What does that have to do with light and sound sensitivity? Your thoughts?

Lisa

Hi, Lisa.

When it comes to the neck, nerves and neurological symptoms, I think that anything is possible so there is certainly a chance that some of the dizziness is coming from the stenosis. Having said that, C-6, C-7 is not usually going to be linked with dizziness – that would usually come more from C-1-3. Issues with the Atlas and Axis (C-1 and 2) are frequently implicated in dizziness. C-6/7 usually will affect the arm, hand, etc. Any or all of them can account for neck pain and corresponding headache pain. Like I said, however, it is possible that the neck is a trigger for the symptoms you have. I agree with you, however, that it doesn’t really give much explanation for light and sound sensitivity other than the vague notion that the weakening of the physiology of the CNS has left you more predisposed to sensitivity to outside stimuli.

In any event, I don’t see a reason you wouldn’t do the injection therapy unless you had some problem with steriods (allergy, etc.). Surgery – anywhere along the spinal column – is really a last resort in my view. They wanted to cut my back open and I said “not happening.” Took me 9 months of various therapies but the back (this is lumbar region) is doing fine at this point.

Best,

Andy

Hi Lisa,

I just wrote a separate post mentioning my experience with fusion at c6-c7. At the time, the neurosurgeon told me he has had a handful of cases where dizziness went away after a lower cervical fusion. Moreover, a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor who specializes in spine injections told me that cord compression (which I don’t think is what you have since you specifically mentioned stenosis in the foramen) even at the lower cervical level can cause dizziness due to the change in flow of CSF (cerebral spinal fluid). I had another neurologist tell me that recent research supports that conclusion as well.

You mentioned a whiplash injury? See my post about occipital neuritis and dizziness caused by whiplash. I’m not saying this is causing your problems, but it just caught my eye…

KennedyLane

I read your post with great interest, KennedyLane (this one and the thread you started). I have always wondered about the relationship of the neck, cervical vertebrae, etc. and the dizziness component. When you read the definitions of “Cervical Vertigo”, it always refers to the notion that head movements cause the vertigo and that is not the case for me (and I imagine many here). I still believe there is some connection. In my case, I have degeneration of the cervical spine and, in addition, kyphosis of the neck where the normal curve is reversed to the tune of about 15 degrees. My best guess is that I developed this condition from years of heading soccer balls (perhaps one of the most unnatural things in sport) as there was a study done that showed that soccer players develop cervical spine degeneration, on average, about 10-15 years earlier than the norm.

It certainly makes me wonder more about the benefits of corrective work on the neck.

Interested in hearing as you (and Lisa) proceed with neck treatment.

Andy

Thank you both for your replies and interest. What are the options for corrective neck work? I’ve tried acupuncture, chiropractors, massage, physical therapy, a few Rx drugs, and now the spinal injection. It seems to all help temporarily with pain and discomfort, which I’m thinking is all I can do short of surgery.

Overall, my cervical spine had trauma from two whiplash accidents in one year decades ago and though I may never know how it’s all connected, at least this does help me understand that something specific changed from one MRI to the next (degeneration and aging at 51?). A year and a half ago I had my first ever and only severe “classic” migraine followed by 24/7 dizziness for about three months. The tinnitus, noise, light, and motion sensitivity followed. None of this justified another MRI in part because I was getting better from when these symptoms started. It wasn’t until I had the radiating pain in my left arm/fingers for these past two months that the insurance approved it. I’m allergic to ibuprofen and trixocortil, so I’m a bit concerned about steroids, but the doctor reassures me that it should be OK-no guarantees though; will keep you posted.

KennedyLane, I’ll definitely check out your other posts and links; I’ve always thought the whiplash created a weak spot in my body. Andy, I also have a “military neck” and this MRI showed moderate disc-osteophyte complex or bone spurs in C4-5 as well as C5-6; I’m just not too concerned about moderate when I see “severe:).”

Lisa

I hear you on the notion of “moderate” v. “severe”, Lisa, but…

I have a very good friend who is a radiologist and does his work from a home office with really cool big screen computers and hi-def, etc. Anyway, when I’ve had MRI in the past and didn’t want to wait for the imaging center to report back, I’ve taken it over to him to read. The “art” of radiology is such that one man’s (or woman’s) moderate is another man’s (or woman’s) severe. Sometimes it depends on how they characterized the last MRI they read (kind of like gymnasts – a routine can be great but it might not be “as great” as another one). Sometimes it depends on how good their lunch was.

As far as what you can do for the neck, I did chiropractic where they put a weighted ball hung from your head to “realign” the neck and reduce the military neck. Would never do that again – wonder if it helped cause my current problems (although there was a several month gap between stopping that and getting dizzy). There are some products you can buy over the internet that are pretty good at helping correct the cervical curve. One I’ve seen/used is linked below. Not sure that they ultimately solve anything, but might be worth a try.

protherapysupplies.com/Posture-Pump

I would get the injection after doing some research on the likelihood of allergic reaction. It may not help the dizziness, but it might, and it very likely will give you some relief from the pain.

Andy

— Begin quote from "apace41"

I hear you on the notion of “moderate” v. “severe”, Lisa, but…

I have a very good friend who is a radiologist and does his work from a home office with really cool big screen computers and hi-def, etc. Anyway, when I’ve had MRI in the past and didn’t want to wait for the imaging center to report back, I’ve taken it over to him to read. The “art” of radiology is such that one man’s (or woman’s) moderate is another man’s (or woman’s) severe. Sometimes it depends on how they characterized the last MRI they read (kind of like gymnasts – a routine can be great but it might not be “as great” as another one). Sometimes it depends on how good their lunch was.

As far as what you can do for the neck, I did chiropractic where they put a weighted ball hung from your head to “realign” the neck and reduce the military neck. Would never do that again – wonder if it helped cause my current problems (although there was a several month gap between stopping that and getting dizzy). There are some products you can buy over the internet that are pretty good at helping correct the cervical curve. One I’ve seen/used is linked below. Not sure that they ultimately solve anything, but might be worth a try.

protherapysupplies.com/Posture-Pump

I would get the injection after doing some research on the likelihood of allergic reaction. It may not help the dizziness, but it might, and it very likely will give you some relief from the pain.

Andy

— End quote

Oh, my… We had one of those Posture Pump things laying around in my closet forever. I finally ditched it when we moved last. My husband bought it many years ago… It didn’t do anything at all for him, although your issue might be different. Also, an FYI that they will send you junk mail like there’s no tomorrow. We’re STILL getting their flyers in the mail even after multiple moves. Not sure how they keep finding us :slight_smile:

— Begin quote from "apace41"

I read your post with great interest, KennedyLane (this one and the thread you started). I have always wondered about the relationship of the neck, cervical vertebrae, etc. and the dizziness component. When you read the definitions of “Cervical Vertigo”, it always refers to the notion that head movements cause the vertigo and that is not the case for me (and I imagine many here). I still believe there is some connection. In my case, I have degeneration of the cervical spine and, in addition, kyphosis of the neck where the normal curve is reversed to the tune of about 15 degrees. My best guess is that I developed this condition from years of heading soccer balls (perhaps one of the most unnatural things in sport) as there was a study done that showed that soccer players develop cervical spine degeneration, on average, about 10-15 years earlier than the norm.

It certainly makes me wonder more about the benefits of corrective work on the neck.

Interested in hearing as you (and Lisa) proceed with neck treatment.

Andy

— End quote

Andy, I agree that the accepted text book definition of cervical vertigo requires dizziness upon neck movement. In fact, last summer I spent a week in the US mid-West with a physical therapist who specializes in cervical vertigo. After several appointments with him, he ruled-out cervical vertigo as a basis for my symptoms. I guess if you go by the text book definition, he was correct. The issue is that I disagree with the classic definition of cervical vertigo.

As do I, KennedyLane.

In fact, I think the labels in this area are bodering on worthless. There is so much overlap between diagnoses that calling it a “duck” and treating it like a “duck” may not be the best approach unless you are damn well sure it is a “duck.” I think that for many of us the symptoms are not as brightline as the medical manuals would like and that leads to discomfort for a lot of “by the book” doctors.

I have a sense that your situation is a LOT like mine and the fact that you think you may have triggered this with neck straining during exercise is very similar to the timing of my onset. In addition, when I am working out, I have a bad habit of straining and not breathing through the exercise. That leads to more neck and head tension. Finally, I watch television in some of the most god-awful positions that, after 30-45 minutes sometimes, I realize are putting great strain on my head and neck.

There’s got to be something to that.

Andy