Friday, November 30, 2007

In Which I Don't Have To Have Surgery and Other Interesting News So the lump in my neck will not require surgery. It isn't even going to need a needle biopsy. As it turns out, I have arthritis in my neck. Specifially cervical spondylosis. Degenerative, which is not good but it is good to have something (a lump) and a diagnosis. Unlike my vertigo which remains undiagnosed and uncured. I asked, "Could there be a connection between my vertigo and having a degenerative form of arthritis in my neck?" She admitted that nothing was jumping out at her so I came home, called my family and friends with the news about the lump not being even potentially cancerous. Then I googled arthritis and vertigo. What did I find?

Vertigo may be caused by damage to nerves in the neck. If these nerves are damaged, the brain has difficulty monitoring the relative position of the neck and trunk. This type of vertigo is called cervical vertigo. Whiplash injuries, blunt injuries to the top of the head, or severe arthritis in the neck (cervical spondylosis) may cause cervical vertigo.

There is more and you can read all about vertigo here. Still, all these months (a year now) I've been hearing vestibular vertigo. All of the testing showed nothing wrong with my ears and still it is looked at as vestibular. Not once did I hear about cervical vertigo. Probably because I hadn't been in an accident recently which, from what I can tell, is a more common reason for cervical vertigo than say arthritis in the neck! Would have been nice if someone had tested me for arthritis a lot sooner. In the meantime, I will be going to Emory to see if they can get me the help I need to be cured. In the meantime, my doctor is recommending that I start having massages for my neck and she is curious to see what the people there will say. Leave it to me to come down with something that would require my getting a massage. No wonder I keep saying my life is good even though I am not 100% healthy!

Edit

I found the following information about cervical spondylosis in the Merck website and wanted to put it here for further clarification of what I am dealing with.

Cervical Spondylosis Cervical spondylosis is a disorder in which the disks and vertebrae in the neck degenerate, putting pressure on the spinal cord in the neck.

Cervical spondylosis usually affects middle-aged and older people. With aging, the bone of the spine overgrows and narrows the spinal canal in the neck. As a result, the spinal cord or the spinal nerve roots (the part of spinal nerves located next to the cord (see Biology of the Nervous System:Spinal Cord) are compressed, causing dysfunction.

Symptoms

Symptoms may reflect compression of the spinal cord, the spinal nerve roots, or both. If the spinal cord is compressed, a change in walking is usually the first sign. Leg movements may become jerky (spastic), and walking becomes unsteady. The neck may be painful. If the spinal nerve roots are compressed, weakness in one or both arms may develop, and the muscles may waste away. The neck is likely to be painful. Nerve root compression may be accompanied by or progress to spinal cord compression.

Diagnosis and Treatment

When doctors suspect cervical spondylosis, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or myelography with computed tomography (CT) is performed. MRI provides slightly more information, but myelography with CT may be more available. These procedures show where the spinal canal is narrowed, how compressed it is, and which spinal nerve roots may be affected. MRI has generally replaced x-rays of the neck.

Without treatment, spinal cord dysfunction due to cervical spondylosis sometimes lessens or stabilizes, but it may progress. Initially, a soft neck collar, neck traction, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (see Pain: Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), and muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine may provide relief. However, when the disorder progresses or when MRI shows severe compression or collapsed or displaced vertebrae, surgery is usually needed. As a rule, surgery does not reverse changes that have already occurred, because the pathways in the spinal cord become permanently damaged unless the disorder is treated very early.

Last full review/revision February 2003

3 comments:

  1. glad you don't need surgery- and there is no cancer danger.

    Glad for the diagnosis. I hope that maybe a definate link can be made between the vertigo and arthritis.

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  2. I'm not out of the woods yet. If there is a connection between this and my vertigo then I will never be free from the vertigo. And if this degenerative condition progresses too far then I will need surgery. On my spine, no less. Scary.

    But hopefully we have caught it early enough where I can slow down the progress and never have to face another scalpel. That would be nice.

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  3. hi
    i just came across your story and believe me mine is no different.I have been suffering from the same problem for 3 years now.It was only recently diagnosed,around a couple of months back.Till then i'd had numerous x-rays,a hosts of tests and what not. somebody told me that i had carpel tunnel syndrome ,another said i had hypermobility syndrome.my neurologist(the 4th one i consulted)gave me a clean chit and even told me to consult a shrink.he said that i might be suffering from a panic disorder and depression.since one year,after that i was on anti-depressents and even practised meditation regularly. i had to give up my job also.everything seemed so difficult all of a sudden.i kept living with all the pain until one day i decided to start all over again.i visited another physician who recommended a number of tests including an x-ray of the cervical spine.believe me the diagnosis was such a relief.everything ,the vertigo,numbness,tremors,just fell into place.
    I can truly empathise with you.surgery scares me too.but exercise can help provide relief to a large extent.many of my friends and relatives have the same problem
    and there are certain exercises in yoga that help.i have tried and felt the difference.plus sleeping without a pillow also helps.
    whether life would ever be normal again i cannot tell but hope springs eternally and i believe there will be a way out.

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