Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Head Bone's Connected To The Neck Bone

I went and saw my doctor, Dr. P, yesterday and he didn't like that not only had my symptoms not improved, but they had worsened, so off to get x-rays done we went. Prior to going to my appointment I did the dumbest thing I could do...I searched the internet for what could be causing the pain and numbness I was having. The most common thing I found was tumors, (AKA: the big C), so of course I was battling the thought that I could have some sort of untreatable tumor wrapped around my spine.

Mental note to self: Never try to self-diagnose via the internet

The results of the xrays showed no tumors (YEAH!), but I do have a couple of bone spurs in my neck.

Let's do a brief anatomy lesson of my neck shall we? The picture below shows a "normal" neck. See how there is a slight backwards curve in the neck. That's how it's supposed to look.

I have scoliosis, which I have known about since shortly after high school. Although mine doesn't make my spine do an "S" type of curve. Instead my spine is shaped with sort of reversed curves. For example, here is sort of what my neck looks like:

See how the curve is the opposite direction? That causes the spine to sit back a little bit further at the base of the head than it would if it were curved the proper direction. It also makes it harder for my neck to hold my head up.

Did you know the average human head weighs between 12-14lbs? A big shout out to Dr. P for that bit of info.

Therefore over the years my spine and muscles and ligaments and whatever else is in there has had to adapt to hold up my head. Over time that has caused my spine to move and adjust, and spurs have developed. While the adjustment has been ever so slight, it has been enough to now cause my spinal cord to be pressed against those spurs.

So THAT's why I have pain, weakness and numbness down my arm.

Good to know, Dr. P. Thanks.

It also explains many other symptoms such as frequent low back pain (not caused by a mis-alignment) and the increasing number of migraines I have been having. Plus, I have always held my head with my chin higher than most people do. I just thought it was a wierd "thing" I did, but Dr. P said it's because my spine is working harder to keep my head up straight.

So now all those people who thought I was walking around like a snob will know that that's just not true....I'm trying to hold up my big old heavy head.

If left untreated, all this can cause permanent damage. Not good. So what can be done you ask? Well, Dr. P is going to be seeing me 2-3 times a week to keep things adjusted and aligned and that should ease things back into a better place and take pressure off the spinal cord. IF after a few times there is no progress being made, or if symptoms get worse, he will then refer me to a specialist. The ultimate treatment is surgery, which I plan to avoid at all cost if possible!

For the moment, I am to do no high impact activities, which means my plans for rock climbing, sky diving, and boxing lessons are out for this weekend. Oh, I kid, you all know me too well to know I'd never do boxing.

So there's your anatomy lesson for today. Give your spine a hug, and let it know how much you love the fact that it's shaped (and working) properly. Then, just for kicks and giggles, put your bathroom scale on your counter and try to weigh just your head to see if it really does weigh what Dr. P said it would.

Not that I did that or anything. I'm just sayin'.


2nd Cup of Coffee said...

This is so weird because I tell my husband from time to time, "It feels like my head is too heavy for my neck," and of course, this completely cracks him up. Maybe I'm onto something. Sorry for you that you are dealing with this, though. Keep us posted; I think it's interesting.

Chel's Leaving a Legacy said...

Uh, Dena...that's just yucky. But HEY, at least it's not the "C" word!


OH, and I have gotten myself into trouble trying to figure out what ails me, too.

panic = bad