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When did you know that surgery was the right choice? Re:cervical sponylosis

Started by Phloxy on 01/20/2011 2:04am

Hi. I've. Been perusing this wonderful site since 10/10 when my left arm radiculopathy began to cause neck pain, muscle spasms etc. I'd say my pain level was a 12 out of 10. I. D had numbness and neck pain 2 years prior but it went away with PT and NSAIDS. At that time, I could tell a few days after manual manipulation that I got significantly better. So, when similar symptoms came up again 9/10, I went back to PT. It seemed to work for about 2 weeks, then the radiculopathy just seemed to get stuck. I tried oral steroids and rest. Not much change.

I'm a nurse and work 12 hour(read14) shifts with basically only 30 min rest. I could tell my neck was screaming for rest, but I soldiered on for the team. I think that's what threw me over into worse pain,radiating down the arm and tricep myelopathy and looking for an MRI. Bottom line- just an old neck, and NS couldn't see anything significant on the symptomatic side. So we have done conservative tx. Pain is tons better, but fingers are still numb, can't seem to sit or lie down without pressure seeming to build up in my neck, head or fingers so I fidget. I call myself " the Princess and the Pea". Have to take OTC pain mess during day and percocet at night to get sleep.
Many of you seem to have had worse symptoms and have put off surgery. At what point did you say enough? I feel like there has been no improvement really since before my flare up. But I can't say I,ve gotten progressively worse. mainly just learning to live with it. Is just constant numbness and uncomfortableness in the absence of obvious disc herniation something that can be helped by a fusion or foraminotomy etc.? Is 4 months not long enough to see improvement? I'm so ambivalent because fusions seem so iffy according to this site and any studies I can find. Any advice appreciated.

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Hi PHLOXY,
I am an RN ,worked 12 hour shifts for 29 years,we all know nursing wreaks havoc on our spines and necks,i have a neck situation like yours plus lumbar spine.Have gone through everything too,i am looking forward to neck surgery as soon as i have some recovery on my L5-S1 fusion which is 3 weeks from today.Cervical spine is bad,i couldn't even lift my arms today long enough to hang a shower liner without significant pain and weakness,my reflexes in my arms becoming next to nothing.So for me it is time,only you can make that decision for yourself,just do a lot of research and get a very good doc who you can trust.These conditions we have only get worse with age,don't mean to sound doom and gloom but it is the reality of it all.Best Wishes,
Blessings,
Nurse Nancy in pain

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Wow! I am a nurse too. I was hurt at work several years ago and have been living with constant pain, muscle spasms, etc. I have bulging, herniated and protruding cervical disc with spurring, foraminal narrowing, radiculopathy, etc. Nothing helps. Been thru 2 rounds of physical therapy without change, in fact PT number 1 made my neck pain sky rocket. Ive requested cervical epidural to try and relieve this pain. Any ideas on this? My neurosurgeon says I can have up to 2 epidurals then we move on to "nerve blocks or fusion. I have heard that fusion will not make me better. I do not know what the answer is...i do know that I need a lawyer. Any advice for a sister in the same boat? I do take hydrocodone, oxycodone, sleeping pills, NSAIDS oh and of course antidepressants and nerve pills. I am early 40's.

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Just had a CT myelogram today . Hoping to find a specific site of pinching that they can roto rooter. I'm going to get a second opinion after I hear about the results. I'm figuring if 2 NS on the same page, I may go for it. I would like a few more years of being able to sit in a car or on a plane. I'm hoping for more studies showing whether fusion or foraminotomy are statistically proven to be effective. If the chances are 80/20 I think I'll go for it. If it's 50/50, not so sure.

I have had luck with Neurontin. It has helped the "burning" feeling I have at the base of my neck and also seems to help me sit longer without fidgeting. I started back to work doing 4hour, then 8 hour shifts. I recently went back to 12 hours. It's definitely the 12 hour shifts that my neck doesn't like. The neuron tin helps the neck pain, but I can tell that my trapezius are tensing up by the end of the day. If I take a muscle relaxer and do those relaxing breathing techniques, and remember to do my proper posture, it does help. I will need to get a new job, though. As soon as I figure out if I'm doing surgery.

One question I have is, have I waited so long now that surgery may not help return the sensation to my fingers? If you wait too long for surgery, will the neck pain just stay? The only studies I can find re:radiculopathy tend to be about herniated discs. Which I don't have.

I hope my fellow nurses are improving. I have heard of these "no lift states" , but I don't really know how they do it.

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Hi pocahontas1,
I did two cervical epidurals ,first one worked 3weeks .second one only 1 week.I will not do that again,results not long enough to put that steroid stuff in my body,i did not like the side effects.Anyhow,i will take the 50/50 chance after my back surgery to get my neck done.I am so tired of the pain,my hands and arms are very weak and in pain.I have heard the opposite about the neck,that a lot of neck surgeries are successful and help with the pain.
Take Care,
Nurse Nancy in pain

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Well, no news is good news? Apparently, my CT myelogram showed no specific area that could be causing my pain and numbness. So, I guess I'm left with guessing about what the heck happened to me. I' m glad that I don't have to decide about a surgery, but also upset that I am know a chronic neck pain sufferer. I just hope it never gets that bad again.

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Hi Nurse Nancy and I guess that's good news for you Phloxy---I also had a myelogram. That was very painful for me. When the dye hit my lumbar and then my neck I was in tears. I felt like my body was going to explode. Did you experience that sensation?
Nurse Nancy, I am very concerned about the steriods but would like to give it one try, al least. I am managing on oxycodone and neurotinin ok but gotta have those meds- every day. I just want to feel normal again. Play, laugh, dance, enjoy...I try. Is there really a difference between disc protrusion and herniation?

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Hi pocahontas1 and fellow nurses,
Sorry i am just responding back.Had my L5-S1 lumbar fusion on March 25th,and i am happy to report so far so good,i can feel my leg again,and the good thing is my neck has calmed down a bit,but i know in part because i have been lying down a lot for the recovery of my back fusion.I know as soon as i start to be active again(and when i say active,i mean just vacuuming and doing normal household chores),it will act up again.But for now i am thankful for the break.We do have a merciful God,i was so concerned about how i would do with the recovery on my back with all the neck pain.
In answer to your question ,is there a difference between herniated or bulging disks?I guess it depends on which doc you are talking to,I got tired of hearing so many different stuff,i just decided to do my own research.But i do know that when you have a herniated disk,the disk material is actually protruding out from the disk,where with a bulging disk that is not usually the case.
I want to hear how everyone is doing.
Blessings,
Nurse Nancy

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