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Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: CNS symptom relief by lumbar spinal fusion?


 perlina6911 - Thu Apr 23, 2009 2:37 pm

I began having migraines when I was about 6 years old. Through the years they have changed periodically – sometimes in quantity, sometimes quality and type of symptoms. I must also mention that I have SLE, hypothyroid, GERD, high cholesterol, asthma, and fibromyalgia, among other milder problems. I take meds for all of these in addition to meds for prevention of migraines since developing prolonged aura without headache about 10-11 years ago. This aura involved confusion, somnolence, extreme irritability, difficulty concentrating, some loss of balance, and a periodic stabbing pain at the base of my skull. It would occur every 2-3 weeks and last 5-7 days. Auras and/or headaches still occur but duration is shorter and they are not as severe. About 6 years ago I had Bell’s Palsy which resolved completely within 6 weeks. However, a few months later I began to develop over many more months a facial nerve paralysis again. This left me with a synkinesis involving my right eye & my mouth so that when I smile my eye closes. Also my right eye has persistent drooping as has the right side of my mouth – but mildly. During this time I also developed double vision. I was led to believe that SLE was the cause of all except the double vision which I still have today. I have a prism in the right lens of my glasses. No one knows why I have (horizontal) double vision.
About May, 2008 I suddenly developed Vertical double vision with my glasses on that only lasted for 6-7 minutes. Over the next several months it happened 7 or 8 times. I also began to have sudden attacks of vertigo where I lost my balance completely and fell to the side. This was all new and with my doctors we decided that the symptoms were probably migraine related. To continue the story, in October, 2008 we had a bad wind storm and after spending two days picking up limbs and sticks I developed back pain. The pain continued and changed to pain in buttocks radiating down both legs. In late November an MRI showed degenerated discs at L 3-4-5 with a cyst at L-4 putting pressure on my spine. This was causing difficulty walking. I saw a neurosurgeon in December and after additional studies I had a laminectomies with removal of the cyst and spinal fusion at L 3-4-5 on January 6, 2009. The procedure went really well and I am now past the period of wearing a brace or needing any paid med.
I know anatomy and physiology, or at least I thought I did and I understand the central nervous system. But since I’ve had the spinal fusion and removal of the cyst I haven’t had any bouts of vertical double vision or attacks of vertigo. The horizontal double vision continues as it always has. Here’s my stupid question. Is it possible for a problem in my lower spine to have caused the vertical double vision and vertigo? I’ve never thought there could be a connection like that, but now I don’t know what to think. Is it likely just a concidence?
Thanks for your consideration.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:23 pm

User avatar Hi there --

Oddly, yes, there is at least a school of that believes in retrograde upstream neuropathic changes due to lower spinal cord problems. One theory is that this may sometimes cause some swelling or irritation of the cord above the site of the defect or injury and this somehow causes the backward or upstream neurologic symptoms. I would also suggest your personal experience would at least agree with this if not actually prove it. I've seen some cases in which this does seem to be the only logical explanation, and not always just involving the spinal cord, but other peripher nerve trunks.

Strange, but possibly true. Since it's not established medical fact it's not taught in physiology, but it is encountered in other areas, especially, of course, neurology.

I hope this helps answer your question.

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