A witty middle-aged man presented to our clinic with significant back pain. He had dealt with back pain radiating to his legs for years. However, during our encounter, he happened to mention that while leaning his head backward he had a brief but yet sharp and debilitating pain extending from his neck down his entire spine. It was at this moment that I shifted gears in our discussion. I asked if he had balance issues- yes, he did. I asked if he had difficulties buttoning buttons or with fine motor movements- yes, he did.
Through further investigation, we were able to find the dangerous spinal pathology causing the pain.
I immediately ordered an MRI of his neck to discover severe narrowing and spinal cord compression at one level. While he had originally visited us for his back, we were able to catch a potentially dangerous spinal pathology in his neck before it got any worse. You see, oftentimes the low back is much more painful and pain is a beacon that directs us to a problem. However, a trained neurosurgery team will quickly note the difficulty with balance leading to falls, trouble with dexterity, dropping items from your hands, etc., and know that the priority must be the cervical spine.
By performing a single-level total disc replacement in his neck, he noticed an improvement in his back and leg pain as well!
Impressively, after we were able to do a single level total disc replacement in his neck, he noticed an improvement in his back and leg pain as well! His neck stenosis was so severe that this pinching at the top of his spinal cord was greatly affecting his entire body. The moral of the story is while you may present with a certain set of symptoms, an experienced Neurosurgery team can help discern the underlying cause through a comprehensive workup and then render appropriate and effective treatment.
As you are reading this on Memorial Day or sometime after, we hope you remember the great men and women who served our country, and especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. It is because of what they do that we can do what we do. Thank you to our Armed Forces.