Yesterday I finally got an answer as to why I’ve had near-constant neck, shoulder, and facial pain for the last several months (and some degree of it for a very long time). A cervical spine MRI shows that I have a condition called cervical spinal stenosis, among other issues.
In the C5-C6 area of my neck, quote:
Uncovertebral spurring with accompanying disc material is present both centrally and laterally. There is significant proximal right neural foraminal narrowing and compression of the right C6 nerve root. Moderate canal stenosis overall with AP dimension of the canal approximately 8 to 9 mm and mild to moderate cord compression. Milder narrowing of the left neural foramen due to spurring and mild compression of the left C6 nerve root.
In the C6-C7 area:
Milder uncovertebral spurring with accompanying disc bulge. Mild canal and neural foraminal narrowing but no cord or nerve root compression.
Basically, some of the nerves in my neck are being compressed by deformity in my spinal column; I also have mild arthritis in my neck.
My neurologist has urged me to have surgery as soon as I can in order to resolve this. The procedure is fairly commonplace, so it shouldn’t be too big a deal. Other than it may conflict with my plans to travel to the Caribbean in November. A lot depends on exactly what procedure is needed (which will determine how long my recovery time will be) and how long after my first meeting with the surgeon I’m able to get into an operating room.
I’m scheduled to meet with a surgeon on October 17 to get the ball rolling toward having this repaired. I hope beyond hope we can get this done quickly. I’d like to be able to focus on my work again. It’s hard to write sensibly about deeply technical things when you’re either in serious pain or on narcotic painkillers (or both).
I’m incredibly fortunate to work with so many people that are tolerant of all the delays and throughput issues I’ve gone through lately while trying to sort this out. It’s been several long months that I’ve been trying to get an answer for this problem. Turns out that three months of physical therapy was probably not the best course of action. Still, I apologize (again) for all the delays, and thank everyone (again) for their patience with me!
At least now I know why I’ve been, at times, nearly out of my mind in pain lately, and needing to take pain medications just to get by. Once this surgery is done, things should be so much better.