Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Stroke

TIA related to disc bulges?

08/06/2008

Question:

Never had a symptom for either until one day I was eating dinner and had a severe numbness and pain down my left arm for about 4 minutes. Then I passed out and then vomited while passed out. Came to three minutes later in cold sweat still with a numb arm and mouth dropped on left side, with slurred speech and memory loss. Over next few days, walked clumbsily, had short term memory loss,could not push elevator button with fingers,could not get my brain to let either arm throw ball, and left arm numbness persists now four weeks later. MRI brain is normal, all CT`s normal, Cardiac stress test normal. Cervical MRI shows disc bulges in C3-7. Nuerologists say that is what is causing persistent arm numbness, but does not explain beginning symptoms which were obviously a TIA, as was my initial diagnosis upon admittance to hospital. Had no signs of blood clots. everything is normal except disc bulges. Cannot get a logical explanation of how these two very different things are related. Can the disc bulges have caused the TIA? I don`t drink or smoke and am considered very healthy at 42 years young.

Answer:

Thank you for visiting NetWellness. On this site, NetWellness experts try to answer general questions about health. Only a health professional performing a thorough clinical exam is able to evaluate your symptoms.  In your case, looking at the MRI of the cervical spine and all other test results would also be crucial.

In general, I can say the following:

1.) Stroke and TIA don't hurt, while anything that compresses a nerve root (like a disc or multiple discs) will hurt.  This part of the history does not fit well with stroke.  Chest pain due to cardiac ischemia could hurt in this way also.

2.) Losing consciousness is not particularly likely for stroke or cardiac chest pain, but possible.  Losing consciousness does not fit well for discs.

3.) If symptoms lasted for >24 hours, then it would be a stroke and not a TIA if it were a brain event.  And if this were the case, we would see the stroke on the MRI scan.

In short, your symptoms don't fit perfectly for any of the three conditions that I've discussed above (and which your doctors were clearly worried about), and there was no evidence for a stroke or cardiac event on your testing.  There is evidence for disc protrusion which could cause your current symptoms of arm numbness.

It's not clear to me what happened to you, and likely your doctors don't know for sure either.  However, it is important for you to follow up with your doctors locally.

For more information:

Go to the Stroke health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Brett   Kissela, MD Brett Kissela, MD
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Director, Neurology Residency Program
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati