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Why are they so reluctant to operate??

Started by gandalf456 on 02/03/2016 8:16am

Last year, I went to the doctor about a weak left hand. Prior to that, I had had some shooting pains which I brushed off as a trapped nerve as the pain wasn't that bad. I work in a supermarket so thought I'd just pulled something while pulling a stock cage.

I had had an MRI and EMG. The MRI revealed degeneration at c5-C6 and a bone spur at c7, causing problems with the ulnar nerve in the left hand. The EMG confirmed this and the cord was OK - at least, it was in July.

I have had a course of physiotherapy. By this time, I was getting pain on my right side, which occasionally goes all the way down to my toes. The pain in my right arm has now transcended into weakness but the physio seemed more worried about the pain and said that they would be reluctant to operate and I would need to live with the weakness for now.

I have heard varied stories of how operations have turned out so I understand but I have also read that not doing anything could mean a worse outcome.

Anyone want to share their experiences?

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2 Responses


Hi, I'm sorry to hear of your pain and weakness. Spine surgery is very major surgery. The risks are high and recovery can be long and painful. Be cautious and do your homework -- some treatment claims that sound too good to be true, are!

Surgery is said to be for spinal instability, not the pain. Of course, these may go hand in hand. But they may not. Surgery may not eliminate your pain. That's one reason they want you to try all other options first (PT, massage, ice/heat, injections, traction, etc.). If conservative therapy helps, then you might be able to delay or avoid surgery.

My advice is the get a second opinion from a neurosurgeon (one associated with a teaching hospital, if possible). Also, you might try a pain management doc, who may have additional suggestions.

You mentioned pain down to your toes - this may be something else, in addition to your cervical spine problems. Be sure to mention these symptoms specifically to your physiotherapist and other docs.

Best wishes for pain-free days!!


They seem to think I have lumbar problems too which is possible but the leg pain does seem to occur alongside the arm pain.

What are the risks of leaving it?