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Cervical Fusion vs. Artificial Disc Replacement

From: bjcycle - on 07/24/2010 1:09pm

I've been dealing with shoulder and arm pain down on the right side for over 3 years. 50 year old active male. Buldging discs at C6/7 (now herniated) and pain to the fingers that is typical of C7/T1. Have had 3 epidurals (only the 1st one worked for a month) a pain mgt Dr. for meds, and have seen 5 chiropractors, PT and have go to the Y regulally over these past 3 years. But not the last month, after an MRI and CT scan, the C6/7 disc herniation was confirmed. Intense pain down the same right side, but much worse to forearm and fingers, and a lot of weakness in right hand (...no sleep, lots of meds to get through, ...etc..)

After discussing/consulting with 3 different neurosurgeons, they all confirmed surgery is my only option for relief. Of course, they had 3 different suggested procedures.
1. 2 level anterior discectomy and fusion from C6 to T1
2. Posterior Cervical Foraminotomy to relief pain at C7/T1
3. Anterior Disc replacement at C6/7 with the Prestige (all stainless steel) and removal of bone spurs

#1 doctor claimed that fusion is the gold standard and after outlining all the risks, it will resolve the pain. Doctor #2 wanted to resolve the problem incrementally. if i got releif great, if not more surgery (which i didn't want). I decided on #3, but still working with the insurance company to cover it. My reasons:
- same or less recovery time than discectomy and 2 level fusion.
- better ROM than fusion
- Less strain on the adjacent discs that will likely occur with fusion ( my other discs are not in great shape)
- better chance at correcting problem, rather than attempting #2 and only temporarily resolves problem
- friend had the same surgery with same doctor at same C6/7, and is completly pain free.

I've read some of the clinical studies on ADR, and they all are very positive when compared to fusion. only 1 level is approved by the FDA, but i understand soldiers in Afganistan have used 2 and 3 levels of ADR to get back in the field, and are all doing great (not that I'm looking for 2 or 3 level). I would be very interested to hear if anyone else is considering ADR over fusion, OR fusion over ADR.
Thank you in advance, BJ in NJ

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on 07/26/2010 9:37am

I have been suffering ( yes suffering ) for almost 2 years now . I have had every test you can get from needles jammed into my neck while I'm awake, mri, ct scan , steroid injections, facet joint injections. I have gone to surgeons, chiropractors,neorologist, pain management, and finally I have had disk replacement surgery and you know what...... NO RELIEF AT ALL. As a matter of fact it got worse . I am 45 years old and I feel like I am 90 .I am not in pain I am in complete agony, every day I wake up I go into my basement and cry . I don't want my kids to see their Dad in the shape that I am in . As for my doctors SCREW THEM !!!! I have tried everything possible and stiil nothing . Right now I am taking OPANA 10 MG . If you have never heard of it ask your doctor about it . It is a narcotic but it helps a bit better than all the other drugs that have been perscribed to me any way. It doesn't completely stop the pain but at least I can move , very slowly but like I said I can move . worst part is that I lost my job as a result of this . I can't work I cant swim , run , ride a bike or even play catch with my kids ( both of them are on baseball teams ) I used to coach them , now that is just an impossible task . I don't know what to do or who to turn too. I can't go and get a job because of the pain I am in , and the drugs that I am on . I was a constuction worker and now there is no way I can do that any more . NOW WHAT ? I have pain in my right elbow , right hip , neck , hands , Christ I can just about stand up.. I feel for every person here who is in the pain that I am in . I have come to the decision that I will feel like this for the rest of my life ......... as far as I can tell nothing works, I always get the same answer from every doctor that I have seen . they don't know & I get a hand shake and a good luck and on my way to the next one . It's f***king rediculous . one doctor to the next with no answers from anyone .
GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF YOU ...........FRANK

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on 07/27/2010 5:03pm

Frank,
Very sorry to hear about your chronic pain and the agony you’re going through. No one deserves having to put up with what you have, and then to try surgery and it not provide the relief you so desperately need. It is ridiculous that they can’t pin point a solution to your pain. I’ve tired of being poked and jammed as well. The CT scan with contrast (....that freaking hurts getting hung upside down on your shoulders!), and then get an intense headache (for days) that’s far worse than the herniated disc itself!
I stopped running and biking due to the disc issues as well, but still try to do (the recommended) stretching. I’m close to your age, and also coached my kids in youth sports. It’s really my kids that give me the incentive to keep going – to try and find the illusive solution – so I don’t feel like an old man and not be so short tempered because of the pain. Other than narcotics (that I hate to have to take) I’ve tried ice cubes in a zip-lock bag, directly on my neck until it’s numb. It provides some temporary relieve. This was on a web site (…that’s very hokey) but it’s got some suggestions on disc nutrition and pain relief, and a plan to fix your disc www.healyourbulgingdisc.com Certainly not promoting this site for anyone, but some of it worked.
Sometimes you just can’t think about the pain (….yes, I know, MUCH easier said than done). Sometimes I kick back on the couch with my ice bag, read the paper, watch my miserable Mets loose again, and try to stay positive and informed. Hang in there Frank and good luck to you and everyone else who suffers with chronic pain on this board.

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on 07/28/2010 11:31am

Hi, I can only image what you're going through as I have a herniated disc C5/6 and a piece about the size of a pea was pressing on the root of a nerve causing intense pain in neck, shoulder, left arm & fingers for 4 weeks and NOTHING helped. After MRI, CAT scan, X-Rays, Ortho, Chiro, etc. I saw a Neurosurgeon at the University of Miami. I'm so lucky in that after 8 weeks my 'piece' has been reabsorbed into the body and is not pressing on the nerve anymore and the pain has abated, otherwise only relief would have been surgery.
I found an interesting article today on the Internet, so I'm passing it along for what it's worth.
I think this doc is only in Florida, but go to "www.avoidtheknife.com and see the other option they are offering as treatment ... you never know, if could help you guys.

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on 11/17/2010 3:08pm

I'm a 48 yr. old mother of 4 - 3 are grown up & gone now. Suffered with back pain since I was in my 20's, saw a chiro for for YEARS until my 1st and only surgery in '98 - spinal fusion/discotomy on L5-S1, which was a TOTAL success. HOWEVER, I've since had degenerative disc disease, osteoporosis, a broken thorascic vertebra in '04 and have been living with 3 herniated discs in my cervical (neck) area. I spent all of 2007 in traction on a state-of-the-art machine (3 - 5 times a week). DIDN'T HELP AT ALL! In fact, I was even more miserable than ever during treatments! Had to quit work in '06 due to chronic pain & physical limitations. Get migraines and pain down shoulder blades, arms, as well as terrible constant pain in my neck! Saw my surgeon again in '08 and he would LOVE to put in artificial discs! He'd only done 'a few'....I said, "NO WAY"! The risks of having 3 cervical artificial discs, not to mention the cost even WITH good insurance, is scary to me and out of the question. I live on pain meds to take 'the edge' off, but my quality of life has declined so much in these last several years! I've suffered from depression also due to chronic pain & physical limitations, but I refuse to allow ANYONE to do surgery! Surgeons WANT to do surgery! That's how they make their money! Because of the degenerative nature of my situation, I only worry that I'd be looking at even MORE surgeries as years go by. I've recently started seeing a new doctor who would like to do the Laser Endoscopic surgery, which removes only the herniated sections of the discs. Now, for as much as I'd like to entertain this idea, I'm still very afraid. I have done my research, as I've always done, but I'm still afraid! He said he's done this procedure thousands of times (even pro football players come to him) and it's VERY minimally invasive, I'd have it done as an outpatient, and he believes I'd be pain free within 3 weeks! As much as I'd LOVE to believe him, I still have my doubts. I asked if he could do all 3 at once, and he said "yes". Of course, after all my research, as well as seeing ALL posts from various individuals here at Spine Universe, I KNOW that surgery is NOT always the best idea! I've also gotten MANY injections, NONE of which helped for more than a week! I too, am at the end of my rope! I still have a 14 yr. old at home to raise, so I've stayed away from stronger meds. I take Tylenol #4 every 4 hours, flexoril & xanax. They help only a little, but I refuse to go on anything stronger. I need to be AWAKE and ALERT for my son & my life! I am on Social Security Disability and fear that my spine issues will only get worse as I get older! I do, however, keep a positive attitude most of the time, but am physically miserable 100% of the time! I feel for EVERYONE out there considering surgery. As I said, when I had my lumbar spinal fusion surgery, I was 12 years younger and it was a complete success, but at this point in my life, & with the fact that I'm not a candidate for spinal fusion anymore, I'm beside myself with worry about making ANY surgical decisions. In fact, even if I were a candidate for spinal fusion, I know I wouldn't opt for it now on the 3 herniated discs in my neck. There's a risk of TOTAL PARALYSIS! I'm curious to know if anyone has had this Endoscopic Laser surgery in their neck and if they've had more than 1 disc done, if it has helped like my new doc would like me to believe? I would like to believe him, but have so many reservations! It's true that these are personal decisions for every individual, and I'm just so afraid that I'll get worse afterwards. Even IF I allow this procedure, I still believe that I'll have to make more decisions as I get older, and am overwhelmed at this prospect! For now, I don't do ANYTHING that will hurt me more...(this took years to get used to), and I now pay someone to clean my house and can't even do laundry. When I do anything, I pay dearly for it later in the day! My son is wonderful, and I suppose I'm just grateful that I don't have the 'housefull' anymore.

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on 11/17/2010 6:18pm

Dee:

I, too, have osteoporosis and DDD in my lumbar spine. I just continue to get worse. I saw a surgeon who is hesitant to operate on me but I just keep getting worse and worse to the point that I can barely walk. Because of my osteoporosis, the surgeon wanted me to see an endocrinologist. I will probably have to use Forteo, which you have to inject yourself with every day for two years to build bone. Yuck! After three months, I will probably be cleared for surgery. I have DDD because I had a spinal tumor removed when I was 34 and had radiation. I'm now 56 and the proud grandma of five!

I think those laser spine centers are not that great. I'm sure you've looked it up. Even on this site, people have stated that the centers all have a lot of lawsuits filed against them. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Anyway, I am rambling as usual! Hope you have a good night!

P.S. I forgot to mention. I have tons of pain in my rear end and legs and feet. It is so painful. I'm on Hydrocodone and a muscle relaxer.

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on 01/12/2011 12:18pm

Pam:
Thanks for sharing your story with me. I hope all goes well with you when it's time for your surgery. And I believe you're correct about all the 'new' laser treatments - NOTHING IS GUARANTEED. A truth I'm afraid I've learned to live with. The surgeons speak with such arrogance about their 'skills' and promise positive results, but for those of us who do our research, it remains a 'crap shoot'! I've been considering the endoscopic laser procedure, but all it does is remove the part of the discs that are herniated & pressing on the nerve roots. Sure, that may work for a while, but what happens when the remaining parts of the discs deterioriate more, or when more discs start to deteriorate? MORE SURGERIES, THAT'S WHAT! Ugh! Some life, huh? HOWEVER, I'm alive & relatively mobile - which is better than worse pain and/or NO mobility!

Take care & God Bless

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on 01/12/2011 8:14pm

Dee

I'm a 42 year old male i have mild cervical Stenosis in C1-C5 and had to have C-5-C7 fused, because I had moderate to severe Stenosis there. The recovery was okay had some pain in the neck and shoulders. About 4 months after the surgery I started to develope tension headaches at 6 months I started getting pain down my left shoulder blade and my Doctor put me on a muscle relaxer which helped quite a bit. 2 months later at christmas time I started having new pain and numbness in my neck and arm and the pain in the middle of my shoulder blades and the tention head aches where so bad that I couldn't stand myself. They had another MRI done on my neck and thorasic spine and they found a mild compression fracture on my T-10 which automaticly sent red flags up for Osteoporosis, I had a DXA scan done and they found that I have severe Osteoporosis in my lumbar spine they did some lab work and sent me to an Endocronologist which I waited 4 months for and I finally got started on medication at almost 5 months after I was diagnosed, because I needed more test run. I finally started Forteo in November its not all that bad the needle is so small you can barely see it and you definantly don't feel it go in. Just try to take the training they offer and do you first shot with them. Its just part of my morning routine now and every once in a while I bleed a few drops. Just get some cotton pads to put pressure on it for a few minutes and your good to go. Good luck!

Tim

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on 01/12/2011 8:29pm

Sorry I ment Pam

I have been on some pretty stron pain meds and I have never had an adverse reaction. You only use what you need to get out of pain and try to cut back as far as you can. Even when I first started I've never gotten a high off of it and I was always alert to my suroundings exept after my surger for a short period of time.

Tim

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on 01/12/2011 8:29pm

Sorry I ment Pam

I have been on some pretty stron pain meds and I have never had an adverse reaction. You only use what you need to get out of pain and try to cut back as far as you can. Even when I first started I've never gotten a high off of it and I was always alert to my suroundings exept after my surger for a short period of time.

Tim

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on 01/13/2011 12:52am

Actually, tswitzer, I found your story informative, because I broke T-7 in '04 due to osteoporosis, & have alot of your symptoms; severe headaches, pain in shoulder blades, arms, hands, neck & thorascic area. Guess I just LITERALLY feel your pain! C4-7 are all herniated, & that's where they want to do surgery. I'm apprehensive about ANY surgery & have been for the last 6 yrs. I agree with you about the pain management & keeping it down - I take only 3 to 4 doses a day (depending on how I feel) of Tylenol #4, 1 or 2 flexoril (1 always at bedtime), & xanax twice a day (also 1 at bedtime for sleep - I'm a terrible insomniac & I also have bad anxiety). It actually sounds like alot, but I've been on the same regimen for over 6 years & I think I manage meds well. I've never abused them. I've got 4 kids & led a busy life, and thankfully, I've only 1 left at home now. Guess I'm just not an 'addictive personality', & I'm grateful for that, however, because I do have to take them daily, I'm POSITIVE that, if I suddenly had none, my body would definitely feel withdrawal, as well as more pain! It is frustrating to have to live on meds.....TO; bicycle: It sounds like you've done your research about ADR & made the right decision for you. When my surgeon first suggested it to me in '08, I saw a 30ish male patient who'd had it done on his neck 6 weeks earlier & he was released to go back to work. And it was a Prestige the doc used on him. Would you believe my doc actually showed ME that guy's x-ray? Not very ethical, but I got to see it! Good luck & I'm curious how you'll be feeling after surgery, so please remember to share! It's perhaps more than 1 or 2 surgeries I might have to be NOT looking forward to in the future, unfortunately..... But I'm very interested in opinions of those who actually HAVE the surgery and THEIR experiences with recovery. Take care!

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on 01/13/2011 4:42pm

Dee

Since my Osteoporosis diagnosis, my Doctor felt I was still able to work and I fell at work and now I have compression fractures at T-8, T-9 and T-12 plus the one I already had at T-10 plus in my little fall I put out my L-4 and L-5 and it won't go back in. My primary called it really bad spinololitesis but when I went to the Endocronologis the radiologist called it retrololithesis. No matter which it is it hurts like heck and my Thorasic spine isn't any better. The Forteo advice was for Pam and you hif you need it, but the rest was for Dee. The way I look at it is I had a decision to make it was either get some relief, or be in pain for the rest of my life and even getting worse or have a surgery to slow down that pain, so I can have a semi productive life, then I find out about the Osteoporosis which was causing a lot of my pain. But I still have the head aches, but the extra muscle relaxer really helped, it got rid of the head ache, but I'm still on the Norco, but the pain is under control. Good luck!

Tim

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on 01/13/2011 9:44pm

Dee,
Back with an update. I went with the 'gold standard and had the 2 level anterior discectomy and fusion from C6 to T1 fusion surgery (with a plate) in August'10. My insurance company would not cover the disc replacement. Although, I'm very pleased with the choice i made. Two reasons pushed me; a great surgeon who showed that my cervical was unique and not a good candidate for ADR, and single level ADR wouldn't completely solve the issue as i had the problem at 2 locations. Today, I feel great and just have a very slight discomfort when over do it at work. NO pain meds, active again and sleeping well. I wish you all the best and hope you get relief in what ever you decide.
BJ

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on 01/20/2011 1:29pm

Tim:
Wow! Such a bummer to hear that you had cervical fusion surgery, then suffered that fall, which only created many more problems & pain for you in the thorascic area! Ridiculous that you had to wait so long to see the new doc, too! With severe osteoporosis, it doesn't take much for us to crack a vertebra (or more). I had a bone density scan which showed low bone mass (which is why I'm not a candidate for fusion - the doc says it won't heal, and that's why he suggested artificial discs). What is the new muscle relaxer you take that's giving you some relief? I should probably start considering Norco (since I have taken Vicodin ES once in a while when my sis-in-law gives me a few). They actually work better for the pain & for some reason, give me more energy! I've been considering asking my doc for those instead of Tylenol #4. I was offered Opana a few years ago by my doc who's now retired, but I was too afraid to try something so strong! He said it was what they were giving instead of Oxycontin, so I looked it up online. It's Oxymorphone! Synthetic morphene! I never tried it - scares me too much to think about taking something so strong. I am glad for you that you're feeling SOME RELIEF though. Hearing your story makes me even more apprehensive about any surgery, since anything can happen afterwards (like your fall) causing more issues & possibly more surgeries. I defnitely feel for ya....Hang in there & take care!
@BJ: Thanks for the update about your surgery. It just figures that your insurance didn't cover the ADR! That's a VERY expensive bill to have! BUT...you've found relief and that's the best news to hear! I haven't even bothered to see if my insurance would cover it, since I'm not at that point yet. AND, I'd need 3 done! I am very happy the procedure worked for you! I think I read somewhere that only one of the 3 available 'brands' of artificial discs has been approved by the FDA & it wasn't the Prestige. Probably why your insurance didn't cover it, but I wish I could remember the ONE that is approved - sorry! It's my understanding that ADR has only been approved here in the U.S. for about the last 6 years (in Europe, they've been doing it for over 20). I do know that they MUST be placed perfectly in order to not have post-op problems, and that they have a 'shelf-life' (like knee & hip replacements) & probably have to be replaced in 10 or 15 yrs! But, the fact that you've been relieved of most of your pain is a VERY GOOD REPORT! Thanks for sharing! Take care!

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on 01/21/2011 11:20am

Hi Dee

Yea it was a bummmer after I fell this fall and the found the extra 3 T spine compression fracture and the deal with my Lowwer back, but I have a job where slips happen on a daily basis year round and even worse in the winter month. You said your Doc advised against the fusion, because you had Low Bone Density and you weren't a candidate. We didn't find out about my Osteoporosis until almost a year later. The C5-C6 fusion healed just fine in the first year and the C-6-C7 wasn't very far behind it. We only cought the Osteoporosis, because I insisted that something was going on in that area, because there was pain where it shouldn't be and I had never had any problems in that area. That is the only reason we caught the compression fracture and then was suspected of Osteoporosis.
Vicodin ES id 7.5 mg of Hydrocodone and 750 mg of acetamenophine (Tylenol) they might start you on these or they could start you on the Vicodin 5.0/500 mg for a week or two if eitherone works for you great, but beware of the (tylenol) you use because that shouldn't go over 4000 mg/day. If you feel you need more pain killer they will start to bring you up in dosage to Lortab which is 7.5/500 after Lortab then it should go to Norco which come in 5.0, 7.5 and 10.0/325 mg. The biggest difference in Norco vs. Vicodin is the amount of Tylenol that is in it 325 mg you can take 10 to 12 of these a day with out getting to much Tylenol. Some doctors won't tell you your alternative to Vicodin unless you ask, so make sure ask for a perscription if you don't get the releif from the vicodin. My muscle relaxers that I take are Parafone forte (Chlorzoxazone) 500 mg I take 1 and 1/2 of these 1 to 4 times a day and I am also taking Valume (Diazapam) 5 mg 3 times a day helps with the Anxiety we have to deal with every day besides the muscle relaxer they use it for. I've been taking both of these 3 times a day at the same time because one seems to help the other. That was something you will have to experiment with to make sure you don't go all loopy or any other bad effects which I don't get. Also once you have a surgery on your Spine depending on how good the discs above and below a fusion is there is just another surgery sometime in the future. Its just the way it is when you have 2,3 or even 4 levels of vertabrea working in unison it just puts more pressure on the ones around it. Unfortunetly I have stenosis through out my whole upper neck and the ones above getting more work will just go faster. Hopefully since I have a good disc between C7 and T1 it will help keep it from going down my back for 10-15 years (I hope) and I'm not telling you this to discourage the surgeries you might need, I'm telling you this because I've accepted my fate and hopefully we all can live a life with less pain. Take care!

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on 01/24/2011 2:14pm

Tim: Thanks very much for the advice. I appreciate it, because I know I'm gonna have to probably switch up my meds soon. I'm just nervous about 'getting loopy', like you said. It is a process, I know. I also know that I'll eventually have to start thinking seriously about surgeries, too. But, for now, if I can manage the pain with meds, that's what I choose to do. I do know about the risks to the liver of taking too much acetaminophen, so Norco sounds like a better choice. I'll bring it up to my doc at my next visit. Recently, I've been trying to stretch out the time between doses - closer to 6 hrs. than 4 - but sometimes I'm watching the clock to get to that 4th hour to take another dose. Thanks again, & take Care.

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on 01/25/2011 3:07am

No problem Dee

I am also working with my Endocronologist who wants me off the Norco, because it lowers the Testoterone levels and mine is right on the edge of being low, so I've streched mine out to 5 and 6 hours instead of every 4 hours. The first time I did it I went out to 6 hours for 1 day and the next morning I knew I made a very bad mistake and I paid for almost 2 weeks. Lately I've been doing pretty good on a 5 to 6 hour schedule and I sleep through the night with out pain, so hopefully this will make the Endocronologist happy. We'll see how long this last ussually this time of the year is the worst for me. Even before the surgery I always had bad neck pain. Another thing my endocronologist told me was to have my Family Doctor raise the amount of Valume I am on to help lower my Norco use. I haven't had rthe nerve to ask him yet, but I think in February when I see him again I will mention it to him and see where it takes me, but I don't think it will help that much. My licensing for work has become more stringent about medications and also the Osteoporosis is just going to knock me down a really big notch, so it looks like retirement from this job at age 43. I finally got my wife out of denial about this whole thing, but I'm hoping I can take a medical leave and get off of the meds and get my bones back into shape. If not there are no other jobs in the area that offer the pay, that mine does, so I will probably have to go on Disability and hope for the best. Hopefully I can find some volunteer work to keep mwe busy. Take care!

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on 02/16/2011 10:56am

I am curious to know how your surgery went, if you did it or what you are doing now, I have c5,c6,c7 bad, with herniations spurs, foraminal narrowing mostly right side with same pain you describe, but shoulder blades absolutely kill!! arm hurts all the time. am on pain med regime now as I have done every injrction, rf ablation, manipulation etc,etc. I have also started having some probs with sciatica in right leg as well and am in the process of applying for disability, refusing fusion surgery as the likelihood of probs down the road scare me. let me know how you are doing....curious

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on 02/17/2011 8:56am

I had C5-C7 Fused with a metal plate. They went in from the front as far as the surgery went it was a success, but my other conditions above that area are what I feel are making the headaches and some of the other numbness. At this point I suffer from chronic pain. I feel we waited to long to do the fusion. When I was diagnosed with Stenosis (mild C1-C5) and (Moderate C5-C7) My Doctor gave me about a year and I would need Surgery on C5-C7 he was hoping to be able to replace my Discs with Artificial Discs which would have made my pain less, because he was hoping the insurance companies would start paying for it when we could do the surgery. Personally I think I could have waited to long for the surgery. I've heard that if you leave the pressure on the nerve roots to long they swell up and it causes pain and sometimes the same pain. Like I have said the surgery was a success, but I also have other issues. I wouldn't rule out surgery, but I would get all of the information that you can, before you just jump into. My Left arm had Shooting pain (unbareable even with meds), Numbness (that would make my arm week), and burning. The numbness and some of the pain was always there, but the shooting pain would come at almost anytime and you never new when and about the same with the burning. I would get advice from your Doctors and get a second opinion and if you decide to go with the surgery make sure you comepletely TRUST your Doctor that will be performing the surgery for you. Good Luck!

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on 02/17/2011 1:23pm

Thanks for commenting. The only surgery I am considering at this point would be laser surgery for enlarging the root openings. if I have fusion done like you most likey would have the above and below discs go bad in ten years, that is typical and the norm from all I have read. it would be nice to not be in pain all the time, but i already come to the conclusion that its not going to happen in my lifetime. I think laser surgery and artificial discs will eventually replace fusion, especially in the less severe cases. I was hopeful in the beginning of this spinal problem (8 years now) that artificial discs mite be for me but they are onlky doing one level, and I need at least two. as you must know the pain cause up and down days...am kinda coming out of a couple down days. good luck to you and all of you out there with this problem. pain changes you, no matter who you are.

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on 02/18/2011 12:16pm

I would agree with you on the pain changing you that is for sure. My pain was so sudden and severe I dealt with it for almost 2 years. I am still working and it was one of the main reasons I had it done, because my work license requires me to use that arm any higher than I had to raise it I had such weekness in it I couldn't use it. Now my license requires me to be off of the pain meds and the muscle relaxers and I'm most likely looking at Social Security Disability myself. I hope everything works out for you, good luck.

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on 11/12/2011 5:04pm

Hi-just thought you would like my feedback. Ran into a wall with my head at high speed when playing squash and had no xrays or anything resembling treatment or care at the local ER.. Drs kept saying pain etc in my mind but reluctantly sent me for MRI after 6 yrs of agony. There was a problem(which they wouldnt say what it was) but it was inoperable and 2nd opinion agreed.
We had a Tv series, Brain hospital that I saw and got referred to. Turned out I had 3 cervical discs pressing into my spinal cord! !I'm lucky not to have died or been paralysed especially as in the last few yrs physios did some weird things to my neck that would make me start to black out.
Oct 2007 I had discs between c5,c6,c7(ie 2 discs) removed in experimental surgery and replaced with titanium implants.Things went well then after 2 yrs other probs arose, severe weakness in right(dominant) side, pain, weird tingling, electrical shocks into muscles.My neurosurgeon is very conservative and I had to get my shoulder fixed (acromium joint had disintegrated causing calcific tendonitis), done in 2 ops as 1st surgeon just removed the bits of bones from the tendons and muscles without fixing the cause, ie the ruined shoulder joint.
3 months ago I had removal of xostosis in right hand with carpal tunnel sorted at same time.
I seem to grow bone in wrong places.

Underwent spinal nerve decompression 3 days ago(cervical foraminotomy) that made the hole around C7 spinal nerve bigger as that nerve was compressed.
So far things look good. NO pain in right arm, thats right, NO pain and no headaches.According to surgeon my MRI shows my spine is in a mess but he will only operate on symptoms and not on the damage showing on the MRI.
My neurosurgeon is world renowned & I have had US surgeons sit in my consults as they want to learn from Mr Choi. I cant recommend him enough and he is a nice person.
PS I dont think diving into swimming pools and hitting my head 9 times on the pool bottom has done me any favours either but I think my sporty lifestyle meant I have strong neck muscles..

By the way my surgeon says that only 2 discs can be replaced like I had hence why my 3rd disc in my spinal cord remains but it is at C4 and causes the smallest dent into the spinal cord. There is a limit what they can do.

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on 01/11/2012 1:04pm

Update, have loads tingling pain etc which surgeon says is form other damaged areas. He cant say how quickly my spine will deteriorate. Found out that they didnt make the foramen bigger, they removed that part of vertebra and stitched muscle over spinal nerve to protect it.

I am only back at work part time as the issue after this latest surgery is keeping your head up.Its very paunful

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on 03/12/2012 12:49am

I injured my neck back in September of 2002 while I was at work. That day has changed my life forever. In November of 2002, I had a cervical fusion done and levels C-4C-5,and C5-C6. I now have a plate with 4 screws. After intense therapy and being out of work for 16 months, I returned to work in January of 2004. Although I had lost motion in my neck, I did what i was told and tried to move on over the years. Finally in 2008, it got to the point where I couldn't take anymore. I for the most part kept the pain level to myself not to alert my family. When I reached my breaking part in Spring of 2008, I started looking for another doctor, the one i was using moved his practice further up North Jersey. I found one I was comfortable and went thru more testing and MRI. He told me my fusion didn't heal properly and that I needed to have the surgery redone. My first reaction was No Way!! I have had so many injections over the last 4 years. More then I can count and not none of them has given me the relief that I so desperately need. I have also had the nerves burned twice oh the right side and this
week we will do the left side. This is all with a Pain Management Doctor, I have been seeming him for
4 years. As I have had enough feeling this way I am reconsidering having surgery. My pain problem is
the pain in my neck literally 24/7, and down my right arm. Tons of numbness. I can not keep going to
pain management for the rest of my like taking narcotic pain relievers which at this point, I don't get
much relief because I have been on them for so long. I just want help and results. My question is for
anyone with this issue as well, if you have had any other surgery besides fusion, is there anything out
there you would recommend. I am so frustrated and need some relief. You may email me at marysweeney55@comcast.net.

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on 03/13/2012 7:30pm

Been there done this; I had bulging discs C6/7 and degenerative disc disease starting in my neck; I tried everything, accupuncture, PT, surgery on my C3/4 as the gel was going to a pocket above my right collar bone instead of between my discs. My Dr told me I had a 90 percent chance of being pain free if he did surgery on my C3/4, I am much worse now and ALL my neck discs are bulging and I am loosing space between my discs. Dr who read the MRI said it all stemmed from the surgery. With it going into my back, my legs ache, and now along with not being able to sit for long periods of time, I also have aching legs, and they shake if I stand too long.

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on 08/15/2012 3:23pm

I had 5-6 cervical disc replacement 5 yrs ago. My problem is: if I push, pull, lift anything, 3 or 4 lbs. or more , I get migraine pain. So, I can't do anything!
Has anyone had this problem?

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