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Cervical stenosis surgery

From: ToriaM - on 04/04/2010 12:00am

I'm stil trying to process the words my neurologist told me on thursday. I thought he said said "shoulder"but he didn't .He said Stenosis. I knew I had that as well as other related neurlogical issues. I knew it was progressing. However. With this latest MRI My Neuro Dr. told me He has never seen progress happen like it has in my case. I have to travel now,right now,for surgery. He says In hisentire lifehe has never seen a case of Cervical Stenosis as bad or as progressive as what I have. So, me and my sympotms will make some phone calls and get some ends tidyed up and I guess It's time to face the music and get this over with. I have to say I am scared andI would really apperciate hearing from those who have had this done before or from some Doctors or Nurses who are experencedin this area.

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on 04/07/2010 5:53pm

I am sorry I cannot give adivce. I am in your boat. Same boat. Multi-level central and foraminal stenosis, severe at all levels and digenerative disc disease particularly C5-6 and C6-7. Daily migraine and neck pain. Dizzy when I reach for something over my head. Surgery possible paralysis, no surgery, possible paralysis. Either way it's crappy.

I also have Fibromyalgia and chronic myofascial disease. I am concerned about recovery and residual effects.

How do we find a surgeon we can trust? It's not like we do this everyday. My heart and thoughts are with you. I will be waiting to see if anyone gives us some good advice.

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on 04/15/2010 2:57pm

I am in the same boat as well. I am 32 and I have herniated discs at C4/C5 and C5/C6. I also have the narrowing of the nerve root canal, pinching the nerve at C5 (they think). Oh we can add Stenosis of the cervical spine, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. I am having my first (and only) nerve root block done at C5 in 3 weeks. I've been told by quite a few doctors that they don't like doing surgery on someone as young as I am. But I sure done feel "young"! Not one of the doctors I've seen can tell me anything other then it will get worse on it's own over time, and the only options besides sugery are only options to mask the pain not fix the structural problems. I too would like to hear from others or doctors who have the same experience. I feel like the best chance I have is sugery now, since I am younger, and stronger then I would be in say another 10 or 15 years, and 10 or 15 years of what, drugs, injections.... just masking the problem..... thanks

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on 04/16/2010 12:19am

Hi Guys,

It looks like we are in the same boat, in one way or another, and at times, our boat has to navigate some pretty choppy waters. I'm a female who has had osteoarthritis since I was 19 and cervical spondylosis since age 21. My first spondylosis attack scared the heck out of me -- the extreme dizziness, numbness in the left arm and feeling of disorientation. After seeing the neurologist and having many tests, I was given the diagnosis of cervical spondylosis. In one way, I was relieved because I had feared a stroke but it was the beginning of another way of life for me. Through the years, I managed the pain with NSAIDS but only when absolutely needed. My rheumatologist, a most compassionate and efficient doctor, encouraged me to keep moving because he said that movement would help alleviate some of the pain, dizziness and numbness which it did. The years passed and I learned to be very careful about lifting heavy objects, lifting my arms above my head, vacuuming or doing anything that would put more pressure on the cervical disks. Life was not as carefree as my friends but it was tolerable. As the years passed, my spondylosis episodes increased but again, staying active and positive helped. About a year ago, my balance problems worsened and I noticed that my walking was becoming almost robotic ; my legs seemed stiff and weak. My doctor sent me for a CAT Scan and the diagnosis came back as severe Cervical Stenosis. So I had graduated from cervical spondylosis to stenosis which essentially is the same thing with just a change in names. I was given detailed information about my condition and repeatedly was told that surgery should only be considered as a last option. Because I knew several people who had neck surgery without much success, I knew that unless my condition was life threatening, I would try to avoid surgery. Instead, I opted for physical therapy. Does it help? Yes. However, it has to be ongoing. It is not something that you can do and then forget about it. You also have to do several easy exercises daily to keep your body more agile and muscles stronger. Is it a perfect solution -- no. I still will get a bad attack if I'm not careful. As I type this, my neck is very painful and my shoulder is as hard as a rock and my one hand is numb. However, with PT, I know that my therapist can help alleviate the pain and numbness. The important thing is watching your movements and not doing things which will trigger an attack. I know that is very difficult because in all honesty, almost anything can set off a problem. By the way, long hours at the computer is very taxing on the neck. The plain truth is cervical stenosis limits one's mobility and lifestyle. And, unfortunately, don't expect a lot of understanding from your family and friends. If they have never experienced a severe cervical attack, they cannot relate and they will tell you to just take an aspirin and "stop babying yourself." Life is not easy for us who suffer from this rather unique disease. I empathize with all my fellow sufferers and the only suggestions I can give are the following. Before opting for surgery, thoroughly research all your options. Always start with a conservative approach and always get a second or third opinion. Spinal surgery, like any surgery, should not be taken lightly. Next, talk to a competent physical therapist who will educate you about your body and help treat your problem. Once you start PT, try to stay as active as your body will allow and if your balance is bad, don't be too proud to use a cane. You won't always need one but during a bad attack, it can be most helpful. Most important, stay positive and don't let anything break your spirit. I've been dealing with this condition for almost 38 years. It isn't a picnic but remember, there are people who are dealing with far more deadly diseases. Each day, there is the possibility of a new treatment for arthritis so keep hope in your heart. I know that is easier said than done but if we stay strong, it will help relieve stress which definitely makes cervical stenosis much worse. Finally, remember that each of us is an individual and each situation is different. Listen to your doctors, do plenty of research, ask lots of questions, make a determination based on what you feel is best and never lose hope and don't forget the power of prayer.

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on 05/04/2010 10:29pm

I to have stenosis contributed from DDD I do believe in my cervical spine. I only maybe have only a few good days at a time so this is getting really old. I dont have so much numbness and tinglng in the extremeties as the first on set, only finger swelling, muscle twitching, spinal soreness and spinal headaches. Traction has helped with the headaches but like mentioned in and earlier blog PT must be maintained to get benefits. I has to stop PT beause it would flare me up and make me feel worse so they arent letting me return until I get further testing. I see a pain specialist Friday and hoping they can help make sense of my problems and how to best treat. If you are going the surgery route I wish you luck, I think I am still early on and still in the discovery phase of it all. take care.

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on 05/05/2010 8:48am

Toria, I have questions for you. How did you find a surgeon? What kind of surgeon will be doing your surgery, neurosurgeon, spinal surgeon, neuro-spinal surgeon? It is confusing enough. I have heard, operate or you will be paralysed (my girlfriend was), or don't operate, you may never have a problem. Of course the later hasn't walked in my shoes, nor experiences the pain and extreme neck fatigue from nerve impingement.

My friend had spinal shock for a mere fall (only 49). The hospital nurses told her, come back if your symptoms get worse, she said, "define worse, I am paralysed from the waste down, cannot hold my urine or feces and have had to have someone clean me since I was admitted 3 days ago." Of course the nurse assumed her paralysis was a lifelong thing. She had spinal stenosis and disc surgery 2 weeks later, as when they called in the RIGHT doctor, he told her if she sneezed wrong, she could be paralysed for life. She is much better now, 18 months later, still oozing urine and feces and has to wear a diaper when calling on clients (she has her own business), and tells me she has numb areas all over her abdomen and lower body, but feels they are starting to "wake up" this could improve over time, or be permanent. So asks me, "what are you waiting for?"

My stenosis is multi level, but worse were the most pain is at C5-6, C6-7. I also have myofascial disease and understand that surgery is NOT going to ease that pain, or could possibly make it worse. It is also progressing. In two years I have moved from mild (upper)-moderate(lower) to mild-moderate(upper) severe(lower) and in the lower spine the discs have now completely degenerated with bone on bone. I to this point still have a good signal from the spinal cord, but my canal is small by heredity, and another person has told me that an MRI with your neck in a neutral position does not give a clear picture on that and I should have had an MRI with positional changes since we move our neck all day. I become dizzy when reaching overhead or hyperextending my neck (which is pretty limited these days) causes excrutiating pain.

There are so many of us that would love to hear how people are doing. I belive patients (being a retired RN) can give the best account, after all, the only thing we have invested is our body, no political or financial gain. Would you come back and let us know how you picked a surgeon, what technique was done (frontal, posterior) and how you recover.

Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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on 05/05/2010 9:40am

Hi Toria,

I had this surgery on 4/20. I was having severe numbness and tingling from chest down, gait problems, weakness in arms and legs.etc. No pain. I have severe damage to my spinal cord from 3 ruptured discs smashing into it. I too was shocked to see the MRI and find this problem. Discs were removed, replaced with plastic ones, a cage built around them...and a titanium plate fused them together. I am experiencing some improvement in those symptoms. Today I see the Dr. to evaluate my progress. The surgery went very well with minimal pain to me. Most significant is the swelling in my throat as he had to bruise me up in there to get the job done. I hope your surgery went well...I'd like to hear about it...and from anyone else who can say what recovery is like..especially losing the numbness and tingling and healing of the spinal cord.

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on 07/10/2010 7:57pm

For a different point of view please read the book Mind Over Back Pain by John Sarno, MD. I got it at my local library. It does provide an interesting point---I am wondering if anyone decides NOT to have the cervial stenosis surgery and years later is just the same..... I am being told I need a 3 level fusion surgery ASAP but I am NOT in constant pain---only have occassional neck cramps and mild right hand numbness....it really IS NOT that bad......but MRI does show bone spurs and major spinal compression and I don't want to end up paralized....part of me though feels i'm being scared into this and wish it wasn't so time consuming trying to research all this! Good Luck everyone!

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on 07/11/2010 4:59pm

There is a surgery specifically for spinal stenosis called a "laminoplasty" and you read all about here on Spineuniverse. they go into the back of the spine and rebuild the bones to double the size of the spinal canal. I had it done from C3 to C6 and woke up with no numbness, not dropping things, able to walk a straight line...basically normal.

You will need to do some research to find a neurosurgeon who does the surgery but it is well worth having. No fusion is involved. You keep full movement of the neck.

Hope this helps.

Jenny

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on 10/01/2010 4:12pm

Hi all! I promised myself to come back onto sites I visited AFTER my surgery. I am 53 yrs old & right hand went numb/had sharp neck pains on left side. Doc sent me for xrays,then MRI, then to neuro surgeon...He recommended a 3 level disc W/fusion in May. I did LOTS of research, got a 2nd opinion at a different neuro, waited a month, then decided YES & did surgery on Aug 19, 2010. Had Dr. Matthew Williams at St. Joe hosp in Tucson AZ. IT IS NOT THAT BAD!!!! i was so scared because of all these horror stories online...but really--this is the first surgery i have ever had and yes, i was is some pain and sore for awhile, but now I am at the 6 wk mark and feeling pretty good! Was in hosp for 2 1/2 days, rested at home with pain meds for next few wks. Started taking off my soft collar in the hosp on day 2! I felt that if my neck got used to be supported my muscles would weaken and it would be harder that longer I waited...so took off more and more each day and was completely done with using it after 2 1/2 wks. Had doc check up at 3 wks--they removed rest of incision tape that had not come off --that was a little painfull and then my incision hurt for another week or so (took pain meds=percocet or alleve during the day) and now I am starting stretching exercises--slowly---the hardest thing is go slow---and not carry heavy things...which I did when I went groc shopping yesterday and now today I am sore again...so do take it slow. other helpful notes: get some PJs and shirts you can button up front cuz it's hard to get stuff over head at first, hook in front bras are also easier, I slept in recliner chair first 2 nights home, then used several pillows. Drank milkshakes & icee drinks first 2 days but could talk ok from the start--just trouble swallowing solid foods. Consitpation a problem w pain meds so take something continuously for that. used a heating pad at home--felt good. Watched a lot of TV--so cable/video rentals are good. got books on CDs too from library (but kept falling asleep during them!) My job is to babysit my 3 yr old grandson so i took 2 wks off that and then told him grandma had bad owie so had to rest on couch a lot...he was fine with that and we watched a lot of his THomas Train videos-HA! soooo those of you that are really freaked out--it's not that bad! my hands were immediately cured--no more numbness! i've had 1 neck pain since surgery but was having 4 or 5 a day, so that's great too. Find a doctor you like, ask friends--I send out 1 big mass email to all my friends asking if they know of anyone having this surgery and got hooked up to 2 diff people that also have had surgery with good results!!! so good luck! do it! cjschip at comcast.net for any with further questions.

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on 10/04/2010 12:01pm

I just had my second opinion from a neurosurgeon because I have been repeatedly told by pain managment doctors and neurologists that my neck needed surgery. This second neurosurgeon says no, inoperable. The stenosis and disc degeneration involves my entire cervical spine and is moderate to severe at all levels. Unless of the spurs completely obstructs the signal in the spinal cord, they suggest no surgical intervention. Basically, live with it. I am 60, they say my neck is 80. I do have bowel and bladder problems, but am opting for no surgery at this time. I had another epidural and 9 trigger point injections and immediately started therapy with a physical therapist that does Active Release Therapy. I now have some range of motion returning to my neck. The pain is about 20% better. I was hoping to not have to take pain meds, but it seems to be my plight in life. Moving forward with alternative options.

I am grateful to those who have returned to post the outcome of surgery. It is always good to hear a success story.

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on 08/24/2014 12:38pm

They said if I didn't have surgery right away I could become a paraplegic at any time. I had cervical spine surgery 1 month ago for bulging disks at c4-5 c5-6 c6-7. disks removed and artificial disk put in also bone spurs filed down. Surgery took longer then expected, they put in plates and screws. They said the damage was so bad when they went in that it was a miracle I was still functioning. I was having trouble with hand dexterity and pain, also neuropathy in legs. I was having spasms in arms and legs etc. After surgery I felt pretty good so they sent me home the next day. I had no one to help me so that has been hard but I am handling it the best I can. I have to wear hard collar for 2 or maybe 3 months. I will know at next Dr. visit. They damage I had before the surgery is still here and they said it might happen but they said it could take months to see improvement. I am having very little pain but have times when neck hurts but I take a muscle relaxer and Tylenol 4 and I am good. The one thing I have and is very painful are the hands cramping with spasms and locking up in a claw. It usually happens when I use my hands a little. It happens when I play cards and board games with neighbor so I have to stop playing because I cannot hold cards or game pieces. I hope it goes away but I am doing better then a lot of people do after this surgery. Wearing this neck brace bugs me but I wear it. Dr. said I cannot have a soft collar because they do no good (not enough support). It is tempting to not do what Dr. says but if I didn't it could cause more damage. But all in all I am doing well. If you are having severe problems like bladder and bowel problems and Dr says you don't need surgery I would get another opinion because you don't want to end up paralyzed. best of luck to all.

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