MRI showed degeneration in c-spine

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Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 443
   Posted 5/9/2007 6:48 AM (GMT -7)   
I had an MRI done in late September, that (at first) I was told showed nothing. Then I had an episode at the end of April that left the whole left side of my body numb. I was then told that the first MRI showed an artifact? between the c3-c4, so they now wanted to do yet another MRI (this was from my Neuro, btw). Well, now supposedly I have some degeneration in the c-spine. (I'm curious if this was the artifact?)

I'm 32, and I'm told this is arthritic in nature. I have been having a lot of arthritic issues just in the last couple of months- I've had hip problems since childhood, sciatic issues since 2003 (after giving birth to my son), and now issues with my knees, and all the big joints. However, my RA factor (as far as I know) is negative. (I have a lot of symptoms currently, and have been tested for MS, Lupus, etc.. those have been ruled out. I'm going to see a Lyme doctor in PA tomorrow, to check for possible chronic Lyme).

I am curious to know if the dr's could really have confused degeneration for an "artifact", for one thing. For another, if I'm 32 and experiencing this in my c-spine (or anywhere on the spine, for that matter), what does this potentially mean for me when I'm in my 40's and 50's, and beyond? (They did tell me after the first MRI that I had some deformed bones in my lower spine). And also, if my RA factor is negative, but yet this is arthritic in nature, what could this mean? (My neuro has my current diagnosis as Polymyalgia Rheumatica- but I don't know if she's really convinced that's the true issue. Although I believe the RA factor usually does show up negative). confused
(undiagnosed) chronic pain, for nearly 10 yrs and counting..

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Date Joined Jan 2004
Total Posts : 103
   Posted 5/12/2007 7:03 PM (GMT -7)   
Artifacts on a structure or feature not normally present but visible as a result of an external agent or action, such as one seen in a microscopic specimen after fixation, or in an image produced by radiology or electrocardiography. This is not something to worry about. Sometimes scratches get on the films and they need to redo the study to make sure that the films are clear for asssessment. Even motion can cause artifact on films. I cant imagine that an artifact would be confused with degeration.
I also want to let you know that just because a lyme titre comes out negative..does not mean that you have not been exposed to Lyme. Be aware that they are different types of Lyme. The disease itself varies widely in its appearance. There are many possible physical symptoms, such as rash, flu-like symptoms, neurologic, arthritic, and cardiac manifestations – to name a few. Although there are technically no other literal types of Lyme disease, there are however other clinical types of Lyme disease such as Lyme arthritis and neuroborreliosis. I dont want to ramble on,..I just want you to understand that the Lyme testss can be misinterpreted..and even though you are told you are negative, you may indeed be positive. There are also false positives that show up also.

The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis currently is unknown. In fact, there probably isn’t an exact cause for RA. Researchers now are debating whether RA is one disease or several different diseases with common features. We do know that the body’s immune system plays an important role in rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, RA is referred to as an autoimmune disease because people with RA have an abnormal immune system response. In a healthy immune system, white blood cells produce antibodies that protect the body against foreign substances. People who have RA have an immune system that mistakes the body’s healthy tissue for a foreign invader and attacks it. One example of this miscommunication in the body is known as rheumatoid factor. Rheumatoid factor is an antibody that is directed to regulate normal antibodies made by the body. It works well in people with small quantities of rheumatoid factor. People with high levels of rheumatoid factor, however, may have a malfunctioning immune system. This is why your doctor often will request a test measuring rheumatoid factor when trying to diagnose RA. In general, the higher the level of rheumatoid factor present in the body, the more severe the disease activity is. It is important to note that not all people with RA have an elevated rheumatoid factor and not all people with an elevated rheumatoid factor have RA. The test also can come out negative if it is done too early in the course of the disease. Approximately 20 percent of people with RA will have a negative rheumatoid factor test and some people who don’t have RA will test positive.
It isnt uncommon to have deformed bones in the long as they do not press on the nerves. Spina biffida occulta is a condition where pieces of bone are missing in the spine..and people can live with neveer having any type of problems, but the risk exists when there are malformations of bone in the spine and it should be watched.
Polymyalgia rheumatica is a rheumatic disorder associated with moderate-to-severe musculoskeletal pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulder, and hip area. A diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica is based primarily on the patient’s medical history and symptoms, and on a physical examination. No single test is available to definitively diagnose polymyalgia rheumatica. However, doctors often use lab tests to confirm a diagnosis or rule out other diagnoses or possible reasons for the patient’s symptoms. So, in essence this is just a guess based on ruling out other disease processses that carry the same symptoms. Most people with this do have an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (what we call SED rate). Before making a diagnosis of polymyalgia rheumatica, the doctor may order additional tests. For example, the C-reactive protein test is another common means of measuring inflammation. There is also a common test for rheumatoid factor, an antibody (a protein made by the immune system) that is sometimes found in the blood of people with rheumatoid arthritis. While polymyalgia rheumatica and rheumatoid arthritis share many symptoms, those with polymyalgia rheumatica rarely test positive for rheumatoid factor. Therefore, a positive rheumatoid factor might suggest a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis instead of polymyalgia rheumatica.
Degeneration of the spine or osteoarthritis... is one of the common causes of back pain. Spinal arthritis is the mechanical breakdown of the cartilage between the aligning facet joints in the back portion of the spine that quite often leads to mechanically induced pain. The facet joints become inflamed and progressive joint degeneration creates more frictional pain. Bone spurs can form and cause more pain and make the spine unstable. RA can cause this to can increased weight, aging, genetics..and women more then men get this. Most osteoarthritis treatments are focused on reducing the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and maintaining the joint mobility and flexibility needed to continue with necessary and desired activities. It is clear that a combination of proper exercise, joint mobility, weight control, nutrition and use of appropriate medication is required to control osteoarthritis.
I do hope that you are able to get some correct answers to that you can move forward with the proper management of that condition. Don't give up and continue to ask questions and seek other opinions. Don't settle for just a guess unless you get a second opinion that agrees.
be well
I am a Registered Nurse, who also is a chronic pain patient who well understands the world of living in pain. I have had 17 orthopedic surgeries and am still dealing with orthopedic and neurological complications. My background in nursing consists of Legal Nurse Consulting, chronic pain management, medical surgical nursing as well as intensive care. Ive worked with children with sever neurological injuries and diseases. Becoming a patient really opened my eyes to how people in pain suffer and are neglected by our society..

Post Edited (IceDrop) : 5/13/2007 8:59:46 PM (GMT-6)

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 380
   Posted 5/14/2007 11:51 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Quitesmile,

thanks for the great post to dear Sylvie.

I am currently treating my MS with antibiotics and I'm improving...steadily.

I had MS for 20 yrs, so I'm considered an 'ol Lymie.

My question is this: given that testing for Lyme typically with an ELISA is very flawed and does indeed tend to show a negative results....with the understanding that the ELSIA isn't a very sensitive medium for borrelia..

is anyone with RA tested for CD57 and even more importantly
Immune Complexes, Ciq Binding ?

I'm asking because these 2 blood tests give doctors a larger picture...of antibodies and antigens that could be "clumped" together.

My CD57 was 21 and now is 23 after 6.5 months of abx treatment.
My Immune Complexes was in alert status and 6.5 months into treatment went up 16 points to almost eqivolent! Yeah

This test I'm finding to be very important for any so called Auto Immune Disease...
and am wondering if they are also part of RA's clinical diagnosis?

and BTW, I too tested Negative...through IgeneX Labs, but I do have lyme specific bands that are both positive and IND. thank goodness for doctors who use labs that test for all the lyme bands. :)

thanks in advance,
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