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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec. 2, 2009
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    Michigan
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    Default Spinal Stenosis - anyone deal with it?

    About 5 years ago, my husband had emergency surgery (he went totally numb from feet to neck) on C3 - 5 - had all discs replaced with cadaver bone. We were told he'd need more surgery in the future as he has severe arthritis spurs down his spine pressing against the cord; he would know when he needed to proceed with those being removed - they did not want to to do it unless he really needed it due to the risks.

    Apparently he was very lucky..the neurosurgeon said he usually doesn't see this severe in his patients until they are quadriplegics after an accident.

    Well, he's been getting numb arms/hands (symptoms the doctors said to watch for), but keeps putting off going to the doctor - obviously the surgery concerns, but also because we will have to fight with the insurance company (Priority Health) who wants him to go through physical therapy and drug therapy first...which will not help him; there is a real physical issue of bone on spinal cord.

    He's walking on pins/needles all the time, and is in pain - but manageable without meds most of the time (he's really tough).

    Guess this post is to partly get it off my chest (I am very worried now), and also to see if anyone else has dealt with this.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2007
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    7,860

    Default

    Yes, I have a mild stenosis (not as severe as you describe) but it includes some loss of sensation.

    The physical therapy I was prescribed was nothing short of outstanding. From a fairly consistent 15-20% loss of sensation in my right leg and foot I have improved markedly. I still have a 5% loss (more or less) but it does not affect me walking a couple of miles during the day to bring up horses, work in a round pen, ride, etc.

    I don't run or do anything fast (as just where my right foot is at any given time can be a bit of a mystery ) but overall I am very pleased.

    Try the physical therapy first. If it doesn't work you can always go to the next option.

    G.
    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão



  3. #3
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    Sep. 19, 2008
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    Half past the point of oblivion
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    Default

    I had "significant" stenosis when I was medically discharged from the Army at 26 in 1999. My chiropractor made such a difference I haven't even seen him in 18 months and haven't experienced neuropathy in a couple of years. My insurance paid him practically nothing but he gave me a great deal. I paid $50/week and then $20/session once I was down to biweekly appointments.

    It took nearly a year of 4-5 visits a week and continued care after that, and it cost a lot out of pocket, but it worked better than I ever hoped. Stenosis is a structural issue, yes, but your spine can be "trained" for lack of a better word to stay in the correct alignment that keeps those spurs away from the cord.

    You have to find the right chiro, though. I only had 1 session with someone else (his replacement while he was on vacation) and it felt wrong and scary. If you've had that experience, don't be afraid to try a different doctor!
    Holy crap, how does Darwin keep missing you? ~Lauruffian



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul. 14, 2000
    Location
    midwest
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    Default

    My not quite 50 year old farrier has stenosis. He had a surgery 4 years ago which gave him huge improvement. He was fastidious in following the rehab orders. Regular chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture keep him comfortable.

    However, in the past 90 days those treatments have not resolved a nagging pain and numbness so he saw a surgeon recently. It's time for a second surgery which he will have in two weeks. I have no idea if he has problems with his insurance company getting the procedure scheduled but I don't think there was too much of a problem, only because 5 weeks ago when he was hear last he hadn't seen the surgeon. He called the other night to reschedule our trim so it was all new news to me at that time.

    Good luck working through this with your husband. Being in pain is so tough.



  5. #5

    Default

    I have stenosis and kyphosis. My back is straight where it should curve, etc. I am pretty darn numb over my entire body, including face. (I didn't react when neurosurgeon was poking me with safety pin.)

    Insurance companies do require hoops to be jumped thru. Delaying doing the hoop jumping is only delaying the correct treatment. He will need to "fail" PT I imagine. That can be done by seeing dr, going to PT, having PT document that PT would not be beneficial (and possibly even detrimental) to his condition. Then neurosurgeon's office needs to fight with insurance to get them to authorize surgery since it will be only treatment for his condition.

    Hugs. It sucks. I much prefer being the patient instead of the family member watching. Glad your hubby has you by his side.
    "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here." ~ Desiderata by Max Ehrmann


    1 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep. 5, 2011
    Posts
    2,966

    Default

    My father has spinal stenosis, & is completely non-ambulatory now because of it. Can't even stand up. Unfortunately, due to his age (87) & other unrelated health problems, any type of surgery is out of the question.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    May. 5, 2006
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    Default

    I have had three surgeries to remove herniated discs pressing on my spinal cord. The most recent was just under 6 weeks ago.

    My first injury was in 1995 and from the first sign of symptoms to the surgery was 10 days. That was at L4-L5. I ended up with permanent cauda equina and never did get the feeling back in my butt, legs or feet. The second was in 2001 and from first symptoms to surgery was roughly two weeks. That was at C4-C5. This most recent case started last June and steadily, but slowly, got worse. It went from a moderate pain between my shoulder blades to great difficulty walking. I was half way done with my student teaching semester and ignored it as long as I could. Walked into an emergency room and was in surgery four hours later. I now have C4-C6 reconstructed with plates and a bone graft. This time there was bone "cutting" into my spinal cord.

    OP, if there is bone on spinal cord no amount of physical therapy is going to help. I know surgery stinks and I understand how your husband would want to do whatever he can to not have to do that again. But the danger of having life-long problems if it isn't addressed is so real.

    I hope your husband gets a satisfactory resolution.
    Sheilah



  8. #8
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    Sep. 8, 2006
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    Fredericksburg, VA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by IdahoRider View Post
    I have had three surgeries to remove herniated discs pressing on my spinal cord. The most recent was just under 6 weeks ago.

    My first injury was in 1995 and from the first sign of symptoms to the surgery was 10 days. That was at L4-L5. I ended up with permanent cauda equina and never did get the feeling back in my butt, legs or feet. The second was in 2001 and from first symptoms to surgery was roughly two weeks. That was at C4-C5. This most recent case started last June and steadily, but slowly, got worse. It went from a moderate pain between my shoulder blades to great difficulty walking. I was half way done with my student teaching semester and ignored it as long as I could. Walked into an emergency room and was in surgery four hours later. I now have C4-C6 reconstructed with plates and a bone graft. This time there was bone "cutting" into my spinal cord.

    OP, if there is bone on spinal cord no amount of physical therapy is going to help. I know surgery stinks and I understand how your husband would want to do whatever he can to not have to do that again. But the danger of having life-long problems if it isn't addressed is so real.

    I hope your husband gets a satisfactory resolution.
    Sheilah
    So are you now in no pain or significantly less pain following your surgeries?

    Just curious. My SO has stenosis but is sooooooo resistant to surgery.
    Everyone is entitled to my opinion.



  9. #9
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    May. 5, 2006
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Windsor1 View Post
    So are you now in no pain or significantly less pain following your surgeries?

    Just curious. My SO has stenosis but is sooooooo resistant to surgery.
    LOL, it depends! The herniation in 1995 left me with the cauda equina and, although I have no sensation in my butt, down the back of my legs or in my feet, I do have pain issues from random nerve misfires. It comes and goes, and over the years I have learned to just ignore it. However, I couldn't walk at all prior to the surgery and I had no bowel or bladder control, so as far as I am concerned the surgery was well worth it.

    I had no pain at all prior to the surgery in 2001. But I had immediate relief from the loss of sensation in my arms and hands. So that was a success as well. I have a stiff neck from the fusion, but no pain.

    With this most recent surgery the improvement in my ability to walk was immediate. They had me up and taking steps the next day and the difference was night and day. I hadn't been able to sit for more than a couple of minutes without intense pain between my shoulder blades. That was resolved immediately by the surgery as well.

    I know how horrible surgery is. It is no fun and just stinks. But the improvement in quality of life is so immediate. The surgeries have made a significant improvement in my life, and I can say that although I might not be 100% pain free, I am 80-90% more comfortable than I was. And that is saying something!
    Sheilah


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  10. #10
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    Sep. 8, 2006
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    Fredericksburg, VA
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    Default

    Thanks Sheilah--part of my SO's problem is that he has an acquaintance who is now a paraplegic as a result of a back surgery gone wrong.

    His day-to-day pain level is significant, but at this point not as great as his fear of the surgery. And I'm not positive he's a quite to the point of being a candidate for surgery yet, but that day is coming, I believe!
    Everyone is entitled to my opinion.



  11. #11
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    May. 5, 2006
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Windsor1 View Post
    His day-to-day pain level is significant, but at this point not as great as his fear of the surgery.
    I know how bad that fear can be. I think in a way I was lucky because those first two surgeries happened so quickly, I didn't have time to worry. Plus, with that first one, I was already experiencing paralysis.

    With this last one, I was in so much denial that I would use my desk chair as a walker to get around my classroom and the building. In the morning I would push the chair down to the supply room and get what I needed for the day. I would push it down to the copy machine in the afternoon after the kiddos were dismissed and make my copies for the next day. All to minimize the amount of travel I would have to do.

    I just didn't want to accept that there was a problem. I was tired of having my life interrupted by these issues. Each time I had to recalibrate how I lived my life and I just didn't want to do that again.

    Plus, this was my student teaching experience. We're told this is like a year long job interview and I didn't want to have to disrupt it to deal with a health crisis. I mean, it is bad enough that I am a 50 year old student teacher! To say, "Hey! I'm sick" on top of that?

    But I am still glad I had it addressed. I can sleep through the night without pain. I can sit and walk and do all the things I need to do to live my life.

    Good luck to your SO. There does come a tipping point.
    Sheilah



  12. #12
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    Sep. 8, 2006
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    Default

    I am going to make sure he reads this. Hope you stay pain free (or mostly that way!) Thanks again.
    Everyone is entitled to my opinion.



  13. #13
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    Feb. 12, 2002
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    CA
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    Default

    I have severe stenosis in my neck & back. A couple of years ago, when I got to the point where even I couldn't read my handwriting & was having severe movement issues & some incontinence, I bit the bullet & went off to the neurosurgeon. He removed the c-5 vertebra & I have a plate from c-3 to c-7; he ground up the bone from c-5 & used it to fuse the other vertebra plus fill a little sack thing with it where c-5 was taken out.

    I wish I'd had it done years ago. I was barely ambulatory & had to take my Wal-Pil-O (the only ortho pillow I could use) with me anytime I was going to be gone overnight. My walking improved just about instantaneously, I regained my arms & now sleep on a regular pillow. I still have nerves firing off randomly problems & always will; my spinal column is genetically narrow & scraping bone from the inside in my lower back is something the surgeon doesn't want to do; the risk is too high. So I'm stuck with the mobility I have now, which is pretty good; sometimes I use a cane but not always. Dec 13th I'm scheduled for a knee replacement, so that will also help my mobility.

    Your hubby has to hit that "tipping point" himself. Not much my family said made much difference as far as doing it earlier. One of the first things the neurosurgeon asked me after the first MRI was why I'd waited so long.



  14. #14
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    Sep. 8, 2006
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by suze View Post
    Your hubby has to hit that "tipping point" himself. Not much my family said made much difference as far as doing it earlier. One of the first things the neurosurgeon asked me after the first MRI was why I'd waited so long.
    I sent him a link to this thread (I think he read it before several of the most recent responses were posted), and this was his response:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1531550

    On average, 64% of patients treated surgically for lumbar spinal stenosis were reported to have good-to-excellent outcomes.

    Not a great batting average. I see many surgeons’ web sites that put the success rate at 80 percent. Some, even higher.


    He has used both a chiropractor and, more recently, an acupuncturist with some success. Just reeeeeeally "surgery shy" (obviously). Clearly, his symptoms are goign to have to get worse for him give it serious consideration. It is nice to hear the positive stories, though, so thanks!
    Everyone is entitled to my opinion.



  15. #15
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    Dec. 2, 2009
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    Michigan
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    Default

    Thanks..I'm going to have my husband read this thread, too. I want to post this in case they close the Off Topic threads soon..



  16. #16
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    Aug. 22, 2009
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    Dumfries, VA
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    Default

    I just had surgery on C6-C7 to replace that disc a whole 12 days ago. I had C5-C6 fused and plated 6 years ago. I was having numbness and pain in my hands (middle and ring fingers to start) whenever I slept on my side. Pain would get so bad it would burn all the way up to my elbow. I could never sleep thru the night. Two nights ago I had my first full nights sleep without pain I've had in a year. Will still be a few weeks before I am back in the saddle but so worth it!


    2 members found this post helpful.

  17. #17
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    Dec. 2, 2009
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    Michigan
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    Default

    Yes, that is also his issue...pain. And his feet twitch all night long. He moans in his sleep, and can't get comfortable. And it's wearing on me...I not only am kept awake, I lay awake trying to figure out how to make him more comfortable. I do want him to try acupuncture...but he's quite the skeptic, too.



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