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Cervical Herniation C5/C6 - with discomfort, experiences about fusion surgery

From: dr_man - on 10/25/2010 7:20am

I am a 46 years old doctor a pediatrician working in a busy on call schedules. I started occasional mild neck discomfort about 15 years ago but had only one noteworthy attck 5 years back when I a needed a PT and rest for one week, MRI was not done at that time, 4 months back I had another pain episode associated with numbness in right hand and MRI done at that time showed these results.
The height of vertebral bodies and marrow signal intensity are preserved. Degenerative changes with osteophytosis are noted.

At C3-C4 level, there is diffuse degenerative disc bulge causing indentation on the thecal sac and left nerve root.

At C4/C5 level, diffuse degenerative disc bulge causing indentation on the thecal sac and both nerve roots.

At C5/C6 level, there is diffuse degenerative disc bulge compressing the thecal sac and both nerve roots, and causes indentation on the spinal cord.

At C6/C7 level, there is degenerative disc bulge indenting the thecal sac and nerve roots bilaterally.
Neurosurgeon suggested surgery; while my Neurologist wanted me to give it time to resolve itself (90% do). As a sole breadwinner for a big family I am really worried about the outcome and the life after surgery as I keep on hearing hoorendous stories
Here I am 4 months later with massive lifestyle changes less driving, no physical adventures and still have continuous dull discomfort which even sometimes hurt during sleep. I have moderate degree dull pain near nape of neck with occasional numbness and nerve pain down my right arm into hand. Sometimes I feel weakness on carrying the small luggage items and even laptop bag and feel fatigue of upper girdle while driving. Two months I also notice problem with my erection.
My neurosurgeon has planned an anterior approach decompression at C4-5 and C5-6 levels with fusion by inserting cages.
Would any body like to share that how would be life beyond after getting a cervical fusion at age of 46, what would be the limitations and problems and what about usual activities and life as a working physician who has a career ahead.

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on 10/28/2010 7:14am

I had gone through spinal cord surgery (cage fusion and plate stabilization) at C5-C6 level 10months back and leading normal life from just after one month of the surgery itself. Only apprx 10% of pre-surgery problems like cooling and pulling sensation, numbness etc exists till date which is very minor compared to pre-surgery position. Still I am taking medicine. I was in the hospital for 7days only and from very 4th day I was able to walk (with support) and after 7days I came back to normal life. I am grateful to my doctor who had done the surgery.

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on 10/28/2010 8:08pm

I hear your pain and wish the very best for all of us suffering from this. My hope is that these posts are being read/relayed to the medical community to help with care,treatment and compassion. 42 yr old RN who has herniated disc at c 5-6, been to MD 4 times, endured pain of laying on MRI table for 40 min., refered to Orthopedic MD who's sub specialty is spine surgery ( on patients 60 and older, which is posted on his profile) Did not care for his bed side manner or his optimism for my cervial health future. He wants to fuse my spine, OK but I really would like a second opinion from a neurosurgeon. Researched for 24 hours, talked to several people with same or similar problems and now my MD ( I have HMO) whom I called and requested a referal to neuro won't return my call!! Now what? So very frustrated, this is my cervical spine we are talking about, my future livelyhood, caring for my family and just getting back to some normal activity. I just cry inside and out when no one is looking because I can't play with or enjoy my 13 yr old or 5 yr old. Pleading for any suggestions or recommendations.

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on 11/05/2010 4:14pm

I have had all cervical disc fused and here's what I can tell you...
1988: C-3 and C-4 fusion, used bone from bone bank. No titanium. went well and all pain was gone. I thought it was a miracle!
Five years later.... a different story. More neck pain, migraines, etc. had C-5 and C-6 fused.
The pain was still there, migraines worse, however the numbness was gone.

Five years later....
I held out on the operation at the dismay of my neuro-surgeon. Yes, I pushed it til my surgeon said, "look, if you fall down or get bumped you will be paralyzed". Prior to surgery I was unable to walk and had lost control of my bladder.
After surgery, I regained bladder control within 2 days and was able to walk within a week.

The reason I held out, is because I learned that surgery is not for alieviating pain, it should be done to protect the spine and for protection only. You will exchange one type of pain for another.
With each cervical fusion the end result has been more pain.
Currently, I have pain that shoots down my neck, shoulders, chest, arms, and hands.
It also works it way up into my head. Migraines are still a problem.
Now, that time has passed, I have arthritis in every disc that was fused. This pain is incredible as it radiates around my skull into my jaws, teeth, and eye sockets. I am constantly holding my face, because it hurts so badly. This pain triggers migraine pain. So....hold out as long as you can and do all that you can to heal naturally and deal with lower grade pain as best you can, because one surgery means you'll have another in the near future!
Good luck

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on 11/05/2010 4:15pm

Oh yes....always, always, always use a neuro-surgeon for your cervical spine! :)

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on 11/07/2010 7:25pm

I hear your pain Dr. I too had a several herniated disks from the C2-3 down to the C5-6 along with bone spurs. My neurologist asked me when I had my accident, I didn't. I guess it was from narrowing spine, natural aging, (I was 53 at the time) etc. I went for therapy for over 1 1/2 years, the numbness and tingling was better but still there. My therapist referred me to a neurosurgeon, the best around. He took one look at my MRI and told me I needed to have surgery to prevent further damage to my spinal cord. That was almost 4 years ago. The surgery went well, anterior approach, you can't even tell( I ama woman by the way), no complications and most of the numbness went away. My surgeon is wonderful. You should absolutely get the surgery but be aware that these type of problems do not go away. .....Earlier this year I noticed the numbing coming back at night along with pain I had not experienced before. It has progressively gotten worst over the course of the last 8-9 months. Shooting, electric pain and burning numbness. Nothing helps for long. I have had 3 MRI's, an EMG and other nerve tests, an MRA, gone for myofascial therapy and am now back with my original therapist. I know I have degenerative disk disease, myelopathy, paresthesia, and spinal stenosis. I have also been told I have mild-moderate carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands. My neurologist gave me anti inflamatory and pain meds. Now he wants me to see a hand doctor. I am going to see a new neurologist for the second time in a week tomorrow armed with all my reports and MRI images. He spoke to me once and said he thinks I have Double Crush Syndrome. This is where the nerve is getting compressed at both ends. I never heard of this before but read up on it and I think he is right. My original neurologist never even mentioned this. I am NOT going to have my hands sliced up and still have to endure this constant pain and numbness. My therapist said she never saw anyone cry from the pain of carpal tunnel, and I have a very high tolerance for pain and it is wearing me down.

Good luck to you! :o)

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on 11/08/2010 10:37am

I have recently on 18.9.10 undergone ACDF Surgery to levels 4/5/6. The neck incision of about 3 inches long is healing quite nicely but I cannot swallow solid food as yet. The pain I had in my neck, shoulders, between shoulder blades and front of upper chest has all but disappeared which is wonderful. However it seems to have given me pain in the area where I had a PLIF operation plus rebuild in December 2008! I shall have to ask the Surgeon who I see on Thursday 11th November 2010. I am still wearing a soft neck collar and hope on Thursday to be told this is no longer required. With regards to driving I manage carefully but only go short distances. The ACDF operation is not to be feared and for me has been wonderful. I live in UK.

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on 11/08/2010 4:07pm

I had a C5/C6 fusion done in 2000 at the age of 35 and it was hugely successful. I am a computer programmer and enjoy my job immensely. I had been having trouble holding my head up straight for years and had lost the ability to grip with my right hand. I also had significant pain in my shoulder with numbness in my hand and fingers.
When I woke up in the recovery room I felt tremendous. My throat was a little sore and the hip they harvested the bone from was also a bit sore but other than that I was great.
I went home the next day and wore a soft collar for about 4 weeks. I went back to work after only 2 days at home and haven't looked back.
I don't regret the surgery at all and would do it all over again.
I do have a little loss of strength in my right hand for twisting and for grasping but it is much better than before the surgery. The longer you wait the less chance of strength recovery you have is my understanding. I may have waited just a smidge too long but I am fortunate that I recovered much of my abilities.
At the time, I had an 8 year old daughter and I resumed playing with her without restriction after about 6 weeks.

Best of Luck to you.

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on 11/11/2010 3:16am

DR MAN, I sure understand what you are going through. I am 43 year old female...I am a CMA, and I currently do medical billing for a 22 doc multi-practice...I fill in at the offices PRN. I am 4 weeks post op of a disc fusion...my neurosurgeon went in from the front right side of my neck...and fused C5/C6/C7 with Triad Bone and Atlantis plating and screws. I too, had been having neck and shoulder problems, pain to the right...I had been seeing my chiropractor...with little to no relief. I woke up one day about 6 weeks ago...with my right arm in so much pain it brought me to tears. (I am not a pain wimp~16 surgeries and 2 babies under my belt!) At first my grip was a little less...then about 5 days later my arm began the cramping and the bicep began staying tight...like ALL the time. I then went to the ER were my neurosurgeon resides...with the MRI disc that my chiropractor ordered on day 2 after the horrific pain started. (I live in a small town, so heading to the big city 40 miles south, straight to where my current doctor worked...seemed to be the thing to do.) I got there and checked in to the ER with my BP 209/105...no one seemed to all that concerned. I was "examined"~ glanced at...by the attending, I had brought my MRI disc with me...he didn't even bother to take a look at it...and he was a DO. He called my Neuro....who happened to be the doc on call for the ER that day...I was like...great...I will get some results!! NOT....my neuro...said for me to call the office and make an appt!!!! I was right there at the hospital. This was a Wed. ...so I sat in the ER and called the office and I told the scheduler...that I was in ER and he wouldn't come and consult with me...and I was to make an appt. She seemed surprised...and got me the first available which was the following Monday...so another 5 days in pain. Yes...you guessed it...I left the ER with my BP at 193/104, and they knew I was driving myself home. I recieved a Toradol inj and a Lidocaine patch for my arm pain. (And this is a top ranked hospital in OHIO!!) So...I saw the doc on Monday...he looked at the MRI disc....(the same one I took to the ER) and right away he could see the to compressed nerves, and said "you need surgery"..so he did the surgery that week on Thursday...but while I was there, he called my family doc and had him order me some BP medicine because he was afraid that they wouldn't put me under for surgery with my BP that high. It was high at his office too. (189/95) By the time I got to the doctor visit...my grip had diminished to virtually nothing. So...now I am 4 weeks post op...the surgery immediately took care of the horrible pain. Now...believe me the first week was no picnic...because my neck and shoulder had been very tight and painful for over a month before the nerves pinched in my arm. I still have a very numb index finger...and he said nerves take time...and that I may always have some numbness...but I def. believe...it wouldn't be as bad...if he had addressed it sooner and did the surgery sooner. I believe the longer you wait...the worse it will be for your nerves to recover. In 2001 I had a pinched nerve at L5-S1 from a ruptured disc....same Neuro did surgery. I came out of surgery with immediate relief......but there is always residual pain...and it still acts up from time to time with some sciatica pain. NOW....about the cages...he is talking about...I know of 2 people that have had this done...the other neuro in this office I go to does this procedure....and one lady had 4 disc fusion...and has done great...and hers was done from the back...not the front of the neck. The other lady...I am not sure how many she had done...but she is a neighbor to my Mother in law...and she is doing great...and she is in her 70's. With all that I have been through...I am def. better off after the surgery. I would hate to see you have permanent damage from waiting too long....plus you aren't living life...the way you want to. So...get a doctor you trust...with a good reputation...and get back to living!!! Let me know what you decide....and how things go. Oh...i just read your post again...the nape of the neck.....was a place that i experienced significant pain also...still having some there...but it is getting better. I am just trying to get back to work asap...I feel awful leaving my co-workers shorthanded. We run that billing dept...at bare minimum anyway. Take care!!

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on 11/13/2010 10:19pm

I recently underwent ACDF with cage and fusion on 11/3/10. Instead of using bone or artificial disc my neurosurgeon used bone shavings taken during the surgery from my bone along with my stem cell which was then packed into the cage and fused along with a plate and 2 screws. I am 10 days out and the first week was horrible BUT now that I have had the opportunity to read other blogs I really can't complain. I am a 38 year old very active, strong female and my surgery was only one level C3-4 BUT I believe spine surgery regardless of single or multiple levels is still scary for anyone. I had 3 opinions 2 of which were by top rated neurosurgeons here in San Diego in La Jolla. My family and I felt very comfortable with the surgeon who has been doing spine/brain surgery for more than 20 years! The first week involved MAJOR swelling and difficulty swallowing along with this constant pulling sensation and shoulder/neck sensitivity from the surgery. This week (2nd) I can eat just about anything although I am still chewing much longer for a smoother transition. I still have this pulling sensation almost like taking the skin from under my chin and pulling in 2 directions. Hopefully this will subside because it's driving me nuts! I am amazed that most people are going back to work so soon. I do feel blessed, my doctor took me off work 1 month before the surgery and has me scheduled to go back in 4 months. My injury was work related so Workers Comp is paying me 66% while I am off including paid for the surgery. I agree with everyone who stated that the longer you wait, the less likely you will return to full status in strength. My doctors caught my case after 5 months so I have not really experienced any nerve loss but I am still having a little numbness in my right leg, I was told this is normal and everyone is different. Well, good luck to everyone I know your pain!

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on 11/17/2010 12:34pm

Please don't mind my username...it was made up by my teenage daughter who has a lot of fun in life. Having 3 bulging disks and just starting this journey, I wanted to ask Jay from Cali who she saw in San Diego. There apparently are a whole lot of neurosurgeons out there and I wanted to find a recommended one, not an advertised special. Anyone else have recommendations for San Diego? I've been reading about all the problems with surgery, however, I don't want to be in pain or unable to exercise, etc, so I would appreciate your input. It appears that the choice of surgeon is the most important detail in all this.

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on 11/17/2010 1:22pm

Saw my Surgeon on 11th November 2010 and he was very pleased with my ACDF at C4/5/6. I still have problems swallowing solid food and my throat is still quite sore. With regards to problems with my lower back ( had PLIF plus rebuild in December 2008 ) the trouble is swelling in the areas of L4, L5 and S1. He is going to give me 3 injections in the hope these will reduce swelling but if this does not work he may have to open me up again and either realign or remove the metalwork. Just when I thought I was finished with operations. Only good thing is that my operations are all free as I live in UK!! Have to wear my soft collar for another 2-3 months!

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on 11/17/2010 2:33pm

good luck dr man, i had 3 level fusion done in 03, i am now 51 yrs old and was told in jan of 10 i'll never be able to work again. i've been to several types of dr's and had several procedures done. along with therapy. had about 8 steroid injections done, 3 over the past nine months. just had a selective nerve root block injection done yesterday 2/16. seem to have gotten a little relief. i now have an appt with neuro dept on 24th, i assume they will schedule some type of surgery. after arguing with all these dr's for a yr i may be making progress. problem is i lose my insurance on jan 1st. so i hope to get some help before then. there are several new disc replacement options, it's just a matter of findind the right dr, wich can be time consuming. i wish you well.

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on 01/19/2011 4:29pm

hello...

well i will keep u all posted. I am having c5-c6 fusion on dec 16th at harper hopstial.

i could read/type u a similiar report from my mri,,,but for now i will just tell u now both my hands are about 25 % numb,,,use to the numbness,,,also had sevre burning in left arm,,,but that has not been case lately. i also am losing strenght in left arm,,,and sometimes neck aches so much it wakes me up at nite.
my neurosurgeon best statement was i dont have spinal cord injury yet. i looked at mri,,,there is no space between bone and cord.....lovely

flash...........(i am a respiratory therapist)

surgery done 12/16/10...home on17th........with very mod pain,,,,wear neck brace ,,,doing fine ,,,no nummbness in thumb finger left arm.....

so far,,,,great......just sleeping,,,,must find ""youtr:: good position....a few lusenda's will help that,,,

flash man,

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on 12/15/2010 5:39pm

This is so helpful. I just posted a question regarding my up coming surgery as well. All I have read is more than helpful.

Dr Man, I truly hope you are feeling better, as I do for everyone else.

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on 12/21/2010 5:04am

I've now read all the posts here. Im going to have the fusion surgery on 1/10/2011. I suffer with Psoriatic arthritis. On Sept 8, 2010 I woke up and could not move. Of course I did the usual mind games with myself trying to figure out what I did wrong, however I didnt do anything, it's degenerative disc disease and it goes along with Psoriatic arthritis. Those of us affected with this lousy disease always have spinal problems in the cervical and lumbar area. In 2005 I had two epidurals for an extremely bulged L5/S1.

My MRI for the cervical condition shows a "large disc buldge C5/C6 protruding into the spinal cord"
I had an epidural performed on 10/29/2010-with no effect whatsoever. I've been in massive pain since 9/8, but the first three days were incredibly painful. Im no wimp-Im in pain 24/7 as my Rheumatologist cannot find the right combination of meds to get my raging arthritis in check yet. I have a Rx for 1000mg of Vicodin as needed but that didnt even touch this kind of pain. To put it mildy I would rather have gone and had another 3 C-Sections than have this kind of pain. My Rheumatolotigst put me on a Medrol Dose pai, and then we converted to 12 mgs daily of Medrol. The medrol contained and controlled this pain., but the doc took me off the steroids because they have very bad side effects so they tend to be used short term.

The pain runs down my left arm, into my middle finger. It ranges from numbness to a burning sensation especially in my finger tips. I spent two nights in a hospital last week because I feared I was having a heart attack. The pain in my chest was excrusciating and my blood pressure went up to 200/90. I have a mytral valve prolapse in my heart and my BP is always low as a result. I was extremely dizzy-even sitting in a chair I WAS DIZZY. A cardiologist was brought in, I had x-ray, ultrasound, and holter monitor. It was determined by the cardiologist that the cervical disc is causing all my sypmtoms. He diagnosed me with Costacondritis and HYPN, and I now take a Beta Blocker. Thankfully I have no more palpations, and Im no longer dizzy, but I do still have chest pain.
I have now had five doctors tell me I needed this surgery-AND I BELIEVE THEM ALL-Im just extremely hopefull that the surgery corrects this. I don't believe I have waited too long, at least I hope not.

I have a best friend who was critically injured in a head on collision 4 years ago, and C5/C6 were crushed. Her family had her transferred to a NY hospital and she had the fusion done. She tells me that her pain did not go away for at least 4 months, and from time to time she still has numbness but she believes thats because of the trauma-that her nerves were so traumatized. Many of the people who went through the same surgery that she spoke to were extremely happy with the results. In addition, both my pain management doc, and the Spine doc (orthopedic) assure me Im going to be one of the ones who will get a good result because I have not waited too long, so while I cannot advise you DR.MAN on what you should do because I have not had the surgery yet, I KNOW FOR ME it's going to be a must. BTW Im a retired nurse (not by choice but by disease lol) and prior owner of my own medical billing company (15 years). I wish I could work, your very lucky to be able to work still-make sure you keep it that way-I would give anything to be able to go back to work.

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on 01/03/2011 9:14am

I had C5-C6 fusion done on 10/25/10. After suffering in, at times, absolutely agonizing pain since the age of 14, I am 44 now. I was in the hospital overnight and spent the first 10 days sleeping in a recliner. Surgeon had me wear the soft collar for 4 weeks. I was able to drive at 6 weeks or so. I went back to work at a week, of course it was not a full day for another 4 weeks, mainly because of pain meds. I was unable to use my left arm/hand for 3 months prior to surgery and was able to grasp with it immediately after surgery! I am doing almost great now. I do still have some difficulty swallowing at times and the trapizoid muscle is very easily aggravated. Some days the most minor movement can cause extreme pain that lasts for hours in the muscle. I have no numbness at all in my left hand, nor do I have extreme swelling on the left side of my body (head to toes some days). I hope that with continued PT the muscle pain will resolve since I intend to start skydiving this spring. I wish you the best of luck!

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on 01/04/2011 3:53am

@ sdy - Glad to hear you are doing better. I'll be going in next month for discectomy x2 at C-5/6 and C-6/7 with a fusion from C-5 to C-7 ... I have heard more than once about improvements right after surgery, and thats what I am looking forward to!! My injury happened 14 months ago (Nov. 2009) and I'm more than ready to get on the "feeling better" train. The idea of being out of pain is practically intoxicating to me after all this time!

Best of luck on your continued healing.

Jenn

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on 01/04/2011 7:28am

@ Jenn
I hope that you have as good an outcome as I have had so far. The relief is overwhelming some days. I was not injured, I have scoliosis and it has been progressively getting worse. That is one reason my surgeon thinks I am still having so much trouble with the muscle. I have spent most of my adult life favoring the left side and that muscle was very weak. I wish you all the best!

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on 01/16/2011 4:24pm

UPDATE: I had my surgery on 1/10/2011. I never wanna do that again. I feel "some" relief, but some of the pain is still there in my neck, and shooting over still to the left arm. My husband was told by my doctor that those are called "phantom" pains..but there's nothing phantom about them-they are real I FEEL THEM. Im not due to see him until Feb1. In fact I HAVENT SEEN HIM SINCE SURGERY! Im angry that he feels its ok to send in his PA when the patient is one day post op. From reading other stories like mine, the general consencius is that I most definitely need PT. In my case PT is only done in the water because of my arthritis. Who knows I may start to feel really ok with my back like I did prior to this disc problem-who knows-I hope so. BTW-doc told my husband that the herniation was so large he needed to pieces of bone to fill the space.

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on 01/16/2011 10:38pm

@ Texigurl

I had my surgery on 10/25 with a bone fusion too. I can tell you that the pain you are having is exactly the same as I had. I had some relief immediately after the surgery but I had to take pain meds until the beginning of this month. I was on Vicodin 10/325 until 12/1/10 then doctor lowered my dose to 5/325. It was not always constant but when I have it is horrible! I am getting better still. I can tolerate longer and more active periods. I am off the narco pain meds now but I am still taking torodol once a day usually later in the evening. I too did not see my doctor after my surgery. I did not have a problem seeing the PA but that was because I made sure that I was comfortable with him prior to scheduling my surgery. I am still on the bone stimulator until 2/12 but I have no other restrictions. My mom in law had the same surgery one week before me, she is 70. She is doing wonderfully well now. I am hoping that you will have the same type of recovery. It is not as fast as we would like it but it does come. Good luck to you!!!!

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on 01/17/2011 12:18am

You are in the right profession to get the right answers. Ask your peers for Neurosurgeon recommendations and don't let anyone refer you to an Orthopedic surgeon.

I had (have) a problem with many of the disks in my spine due to a bad car accident. Three years ago I had to see a neurologist before carpal tunnel surgery. They wanted to make sure that it really was carpal tunnel. Too my surprise, the MRI revealed that I had several herniated and bulging disks throughout my entire spine. The one the neurologist was concerned with was the cervical spine. He told me to go home and tell my family to be prepared for the possibility that I could become quadroplegic in a heartbeat. He said no surgery was available to fix it. I showed no symptoms at the time. Against my better judgement, I followed his advice and did a 7 day course of steroids and physical therapy. During mechanical traction one day, the pain was so severe, I thought I was going to pass out and it felt like my brain was going to pop out of the top of my head. I quit therapy. about 18 months later, I would get up in the morning and have to stretch out my neck and back for 10 minutes, then 20 minutes, and finally it took 90 minutes. When walking, my right leg would freeze mid-stride for a minute. The final straw was waking up and not being able to walk for 30 minutes to an hour, and I mean not take a step, because I couldn't make my legs go. I am fortunate enough to I live near The Miami Project to Prevent and Cure Paralysis, and had watched a local news story about their surgical team reattaching a young man's spinal cord and he was rapidly regaining everything. I'm lucky I called them when I did, I had only 6mm of space at C5 and C6. I have spinal stenosis, osteophytes, severe spinal arthritis and degenerative disk disease. Within two weeks, i had scheduled an anterior cervical fusion. They used a titanium plate, screws and a cadaver bone. I woke up in my room with zero symptoms. I had to wear a Miami J-Collar 24/7 for 30 days and had a 4 lb weight limit for a couple of months, but I was able to walk without that ungodly pain. Most importantly, I was able to walk!! If you live near a medical college, that will be your best bet to find a state of the art surgeon that will deal specifically with the brain and cervial spine. I needed my life back, as I am an athletic 51 year old female with a lot of living to do!!!!! Time is precious, don't waste it because there is a point of no return with this type of injury.

I am 18 months post-op, and it's been a ride!!!! I know that my problems are lifelong, but because of the fusion, I am walking, playing WII and chronically work out to build and maintain core, shoulder and neck muscles. I wouldn't have done it differently. I was only in the hospital for three nights and barely hit the button on the morphine pump. Let me know how it works out. The alternative of doing nothing is grave and life altering for you, your career and your family. You just relearn how to do daily things that work. Keep a positive mental attitude and it will carry you far.

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on 01/17/2011 1:22am

@sdy66: Thank you for your response. Im a retired nurse...can u tell? lol As I said in my previous post I have psoriatic arthritis so Im pretty used to pain. I have also been diagnosed with Degenerative disc disease-and that was 7-8 years ago. In essence I know I have to "get this right" because chances are I will be dealing with spinal issues going forward. A friend of ours gave me her Bone stimulator although we can't get it to work, and my husband is going to call the company about it. Im not losing hope, and I realize that there is also some depression after this surgery (maybe med related), I really hate...no I RESENT having to have had the surgery at all! Im sure everyone of us feels that way. Now I just want to get better, but you have made me see that if your 70 yr old MIL can do it, so can I! Thanks again, and best of luck to you!

BTW-the high blood pressure problems and brutal headaches I was having that were directly related to the cervical disc are gone-thats a major plus! Im not taking any more Lopressor for high BP

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on 01/25/2011 4:36am

Nice to find some kindred souls. My story is similar but complicated. Chapter 1: I am 57, but at the age of 29 was rear-ended, causing a herniation at L4-L5, eventually undergoing a chemopapaine injection, with poor results. Have had low back pain every since, but learned to live with it.
Chapter 2: 2003: I was helping an elderly woman place her bag in the overhead, and immediately experienced severe left-sided pain, especially in the deltoid area and traps, with pain and stinging running down my arm to my wrist and hand. Diagnosis: herniation of C5-C6, bulges at C3-C4, C4-C5, and C6-C7, lucchia bone spurs at C3-C7, congenital spinal stenosis, and severe degenerative disk disease; also mild bilateral carpal tunnel. Had physical therapy, injections, message therapy, the usual assortment of pain meds, muscle relaxants, gabopentaine, sleep meds, anti-inflammatories, etc. No real relief. Neurosurgeon said fusion was only option, but 50/50 chances at best since condition had become chronic and risks of adjacent disk syndrome were too high.
Chapter 3: 2007: Right-sided symptoms appeared; everything became bilateral. neuropathy appeared in my feet and legs. Clumsiness, lack of coordination, muscle spasms. Nerve conduction studies revealed damage to triceps and biceps nerves on both sides.
Chapter 4: 2008: diagnosis of fibromylagia made, and added cymbalta (my least favorite medication due to side effects and withdrawal symptoms if you forget to take it) and lyrica (replacing gabopentain). Quick weight gain. 2nd neurosurgeon said fusion might help, but might make it worse. Discouraged artificial disk replacement, saying technology too new and manufacturers were having major problems.
Chapter 5: 2009. 3 rear-end car accidents within six months, removed on a stretcher in 3rd with ambulance trip; intense pain in shoulders, hands and arms. DDD appeared in my thoracic spine and I became dependent on ambien to get any sleep. liver enzyme problems, and I dropped lyrica and amiltryptiline. 3rd neurosurgeon recommended fusions at C5--C6 and C6--C7, although adjacent disks also messed up, but not quite as bad, and no guarantee problems would go away. To sum up, I'm paralyzed with indecision. Work has become almost impossible. Each time I think it can't get any worse, it does. Can't really stand or sit for very long. Exercise makes it all worse. And my disability carrier denied my disability claim saying I could alternate sitting and standing and travel with lidocaine and heat patches. I don't feel sorry for myself, but am resigned to the lack of any realistic solution. So I take solace in the fact that I am still alive.

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on 01/28/2011 6:19pm

Dr., I am so sorry to read your story. I started out in 2004 with anterior fusion of C5-C7 and donor bone was used. I did great at first so I ignored my Dr. and did things I shouldn't have done which of course means I didn't allow myself enough time to heal. Also, I went through a series of trigger point injections, epidural blocks and physical therapy before the first surgery and again before my second one a year later that was posterior and bone was used from my hip. I have titanium rods and screws as well. I wish I had good news for you but here it is 2011 and I have been going to a pain clinic since 12/08. I lost my job in 4/09 due to missing to much work with migraines and severe neck, shoulder and arm pain. I totaled my car in 6/09 and had severe whiplash. Things have continued to get worse since then. My neurosurgeon wants to wait 6 more months to see if any improvement due to it taking some people as much as 2 years to feel better after severe whiplash. I did however, finally get to see the top Dr. at the pain clinic I go to and after a couple epidural blocks, occipital blocks, trigger point and facet injections. Actually the new Dr completed 2 epidural blocks and 1 trigger point injection and has decided we are dealing with nerve damage, which I had been asking the other Dr. if that could be some of my problem. So 2/1/11 I begin cervical facet injections with radio frequency therapy to burn some of the nerves. I will take some responsibility due to being so independent and hard headed, I wouldn't ask for help but do things on my own. I now beg people to follow Dr instructions because I have spent the last year and a half of my life in bed due to pain being too severe to move. Anything I do that requires using my arms is very painful. Typing this, took a long time so I could rest in between. I have trouble turning my head as well and have come close to side swiping a few people, I drive now only when I have to. I'm a 46 year old lady that was so active and loved life to doing nothing but going to Dr's or laying around. I am, after being advised by my neurosurgeon, MD and Pain Clinic for the last year in the process of filing for disability. They do have laser surgery now and I understand that makes healing 10 times quicker and better than what I went through. Get 2 or 3 opinions before you decide. I know people who have done great and then others like me that wish they never had the 1st surgery. God Bless and best of luck.

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on 03/17/2011 1:02am

Hi,
Good news from me! I had a c5-6 discectomy and fusion 6 years ago. My right arm and fingers were getting numb and I had horrendous pain in left shoulder blade. It was great after I woke up. The pain was very tolerable. It took me 2 months to regain strength. I was on pain meds 3weeks post op. I could drive at 2 weeks and walk slowly at one week . No lifting anything over the size of a milk jug for 2 months.and I haven't had any issues except occasional spasms in shoulder blade. Lifting weights helps this. Good luck!

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on 03/17/2011 7:06pm

On 2/9/11, I had ACDF of c6/c7. I am 58 year old male in otherwise good health and non-smoker.
In the months leading up to this, I had tingling and losing feeling of the fingers in my right hand and loss of strength in my arm. Pain in my shoulder and arm was not severe, but was increasing in the past few months.
I am happy to report that immediately after surgery, my fingers, arm and shoulder felt normal. Feeling is back, no tingling. No arm or shoulder pain. I experienced pain post surgery at my chest and upper back that has now gone away.
I had a sore throat and difficulty swallowing for about 4 days. Eating was normal after that.
Sleeping with a neck collar was uncomfortable. I slept in my recliner for 3 days, but in my bed after that. I wore the collar 24x7 for 14 days. After that, I wear it only while in the car and when sleeping.
I was allowed to drive after 4 weeks, but only short trips. No highway driving yet. I am only allowed to lift up to 15 pounds, no strenous activity. However, I have been working in the yard the last 2 weeks.
My 6 week follow up is next week, and I hope to be driving and back to work.
I am glad I went ahead with the surgery...I had never had surgery before and never been in the hospital.
I trust this will give some hope to those like me that may be afraid to go forward with surgery.

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