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Pain in neck and headaches. MRI shows paraspinal soft tissue hemorrhage, disc degeneration. Can have normal life after surgery ?

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Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 1994
Answered : 10437 Questions
In September 2009 I had a MRI done for my neck pain. The results is as follows: Moderate C5-C7 disk- osteophyte complexes. Moderate C5-C6 and C6-C7 central canal stenosis with mild cord compression/impingment. Mild to moderate bilateral C5-C6 and moderate right C6-C7 neural foraminal stenosis. As a result I had a cervical fusion C5-C7 which has helped with the tingling in the right arm, though I still have pain in the neck and headaches.
This year I carried a barrell of chlorine and the following is the impression from that MRI L1 compression fracture with minimal buckling of fragments posteriorly and small paraspinal soft tissue hemorrage is not associated with signifficant spinal stenosis, abnormality of the adjacent conus dedullaris or cauda equina or epidural hematoma formation. Disc, ligament and facet degeneration is most prominent at the L4-L5 and L5-S1 levels resulting in minimal effacement of the anterior thecal sac at L4--5 and slight narrowing of the right lateral recess at L5-S1 with possible contact of the disc material with the right S1 nervew root. As a result of this I'm awaiting balloon Kyphoplasty surgery for the compressed fracture.
My question is after all is done would it be safe to say I won't be able to return to my regular job. I'm a pool technician and need to lift and carry 50lbs frequently. Or will I be able to resume normal work activity and not aggrevate m y back further. I did forget to mention that I have also been dignosed with osteopenia and will be getting another bone density test done this week.
Posted Mon, 16 Apr 2012 in Brain and Spine
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 3 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.
I have read your problem with concern and can imagine your distress.
After the surgery of your lumbar spine, lifting heavy weights is not at all advisable. This can cause a re-injury in an osteopenic spine.
You can resume your normal daily activity as long as it involves a light work more of a sedentary nature.
Even after the successful surgery there might be some nerve root compression symptoms for which you might have to take medicines.
Right now you can add calcium supplements to prevent the further progress of osteopenia.
I hope this answers your query effectively.
In case you have additional questions or doubts, you can forward them to me, and I shall be glad to help you out.
Wishing you good health.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Pain in neck and headaches. MRI shows paraspinal soft tissue hemorrhage, disc degeneration. Can have normal life after surgery ? 3 hours later
The problem I have with sedentary work is that with my neck problem if I don't support it periodically, I end up getting head aches and pain that at times my fingers go numb or tingle, I also fall asleep due to my apnea. I had to request for 1/2 hour lunch cause 1 hour was too long I fall asleep after eating. Does this possibly mean that I might have to trying going out on disability?
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 48 minutes later

Thanks for writing again.

To avoid the problem of unsupported neck you can use a cervical collar for relief.

Right now it is premature to decide about leaving the job due to disability. This can only properly be decided after a follow up MRI after the surgery.

Hope my answer is helpful. Write back if you have further queries.

Wishing you a trouble free speedy recovery.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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