Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Updated Diagnoses of Spine, Lower Extremities & Chronic Pain Disorders

I hope that this blog post finds everybody well and off to a great New Year!

Some may remember that I had a procedure done in the middle of December that was outpatient. This was a CT Myelogram. The myelogram itself is a procedure in which they inject a contrast dye directly into the spinal canal (much like an epidural, except more fluid), then manipulate the body (and actually tip you on a table) to let the dye flow into the desired areas of the spinal canal and nerves surrounding it. The technicians then take pictures while the patient is in each position, all under radiofrequency equipment, to see what areas of the spine are damaged. After the myelogram is complete, the patient is then sent to the CT scanner while the contrast fluid is still in the spinal canal, allowing for better visibility of possible abnormalities. The myelogram itself is a painful process simply because of the positions they put you in after the dye hits the damaged nerves (which hurts terribly - multiplies your pain by 10x at least). But in the end, the clear picture of damage is much better than any MRI or CT (by itself).

This year, they found more damage in the cervical spine (neck). I have 4 bulging discs in the neck that we were not originally aware of. That makes for 7 bulging discs in the spine total. They also were able to see (miraculously) the impingement of the L4 nerve. To actually SEE evidence of an impingement is pretty note-worthy. I have EMG studies that have found nerve damage from the age of 24, but they could never see it on a study. They also found that my discs are beginning to collapse on one another at the L4 & L5 levels.

Much of the other findings were things we were already aware of, such as the progressive degenerative disc disease, spinal canal & foraminal stenosis, bulging discs & bilateral foraminal narrowing, etc.

Spinal & Chronic Pain Conditions:
* Hypertrophic facet disease
* Facet Arthopathy
* Progressive degenerative disc disease (cervical and lumbar)
* 2 collapsed discs in lumbar (L4, L5)
* 8 bulging discs in lumbar & cervical spine (C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1)
* 2 torn discs (L4/5, L5/S1)

* Thecal sac compression (L3 & L4)
* [Visible] nerve root impingement (L4)
* Gross spinal instability (lumbar)
* Spinal canal & foraminal stenosis

* Bilateral foraminal narrowing (L3/4, L4/5)
* Ligamentum Flavum Hypertrophy (not connected with Hypertrophic Facet Disease)
* Bilateral sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction syndrome
(SI joints aligned and 85% relief from surgery -   SI joint bilateral fixation with screws)

* Piriformis Syndrome (80% relieved due to surgery - Piriformis Release)
* Mild Scoliosis
* Peripheral neuropathy in both legs and feet
* Bone tumors in cervical spine (neck)

* Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS)
* Fibromyalgia

* Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS)

The following diagnoses are impacted by the spinal & chronic pain conditions:
* Insomnia
* Adrenal Fatigue, Stage III (out of IV)
* Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
* Chronic Migraines (with ocular changes)
* Vertigo

That's a total of 40 diagnoses (if you count each damaged disc as a diagnosis, as they do in the medical field). 33 of those diagnoses are oriented of the spine. The remaining 7 diagnoses are usually linked to my chronic pain in some way, yet separate from the actual disorders of the nerves and spine.

Although the diagnoses keep adding up, so do my blessings. I'm alive. I have great access to healthcare. Yes, I struggle with bad days just like anyone else does, but I also have great days. God gave us emotions for a great reason. But I also need to trust God, and not my heart, not my emotions. And let me tell you - with that trust, God brings us a great hope for today and tomorrow!

2 Corinthians 4:15-16 (NIV)

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

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Mental Illness and the Church