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Posted in: Herniated disc, Neck pain, and Surgery.

Do I need to get an acdf for my c5-6 herniated disc

Started by blaze805 on 01/19/2010 5:24pm

I am a 28 year old female. I started experiencing pain on in my shoulder on September 14 2009. I did physical therapy for 10 weeks. Took pain killers vicodin 500 and Neurontin 300. I got an MRI finally and the neurologist said I have a herniated disc that is bulging 6-7mm and I need surgery. I went to the surgeon and he said that I need to get an acdf ( anterior cervical discotomy fusion). I got the MRI on 12/22/09. It is now 1/19/10 and I don't have any pain anymore. I was schedule to have surgery tomorrow and canceled the surgery. Its been almost a month since the MRI, is it possible for the herniated disc to go down? Do I need surgery? will I be at risk of a spinal cord injury if I don't get the surgery? Will I loose muscle strength in the future? PLEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAASE help me, I don't know if I should get surgery or not. If I don't get the surgery is there another treatment?

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4 Responses


HI Blaze, I have had 2 disc surgeries in my neck and possibly another one soon. I would first of all get more than one opinion before i let anyone do surgery. I think you did the right thing by canceling for now. Are you still taking the meds? Most Drs don't want to do the surgery unless they have too at last resort.
In Nov 2000 I had disc fusion at c4-5 for a herniated disc. I had the pain for yrs that got much worse causing neck pain, shoulder pain and migraines from the neck pain. Then after the surgery I complained to the Dr. that the pain as still there if not worse. He said there was not much mroe he could do for me and suggested me to go to a pain dr. to treat me for Fibromyalgia. cause past drs I had been to thought I may have fibromyalgia. So I went to many Drs till I meet this dr in Boston. He said I was a complicated case. That I had a bone spur above the disk I originally had surgery on at c3-4 So I agreed to go for surgery again in apr. 2009. He removed the plant I had in me and removed the disk/bone spur and put in another plate to support the 2 disks. Well my pain is still so bad if not worse. I now have pain that radiated down my arms and into my hands & fingers. Mostly on the right side. I have been going to another pain dr. thats been giving me epidoral shots for pain and it hasn't helped me. I have been going to PT 2 days a week and still it dont help much. The arthritis dr and the pain dr both tell me if the shots dont help the pain I will ahve to have surgery again at c5-6. I asked the arth. Dr why is this happening to me. He said that once you have surgery on one disk the disks above and below the one you had surgery on has to work harder and eventually may need surgery too. Well thats happening to me. I am hoping to have surgery again soon just to get rid of the pain. I have been out of work for over 4 yrs now and I hope to live my life again. But yes i'm scard not to have the surgery cause its not that bad, dont be scard of it. They give you alot of pain meds its I worry that is this going to happen to every disk. will I eventually not be able to turn my neck cause i'll have a neck full of plates from all the surgeries.
I don't wish this pain on anyone. I pray someday that I will wake up pain free or at least 1/2 the pain gone. I 'm to the point I will do anything to get rid of it.
as for the neorantin, I have been taking the neurantin and I am stopping it cause it can cause you to forget things and it has happen to me it is pretty scart and gain weight and I have gained 7 lbs the last 2 months. 2 yrs ago I lost over 20lbs from stopping alot of meds the drs gave me before and I hadn't gained for over 1 1/2 yrs at all and now I just started on that med the last 2 months and gained 7lbs. im getting off it before it takes over me. I've been suffering this long whats any different. At this point im waiting for the neck dr to call me. I think I going to be going to another Dr. The drs always say oh its the fibromyalgia. I knew what it is. Like i've been telling them all its in my neck. And I was right. So trust your own insticts. Do keep up with the PT it will help it if its not that bad. and do go to another Dr for a second opinion. I wish you luck and take care of your self. Please keep me posted.


I asked a surgeon friend what they thought and he said the following:

Cervical discs frequently do resolve and the symptoms often do go away, especially in young patients like yourself. Sometimes they shrink and degenerate enough to just pull away from the nerves and relieve pain. The degeneration process is one of dehydration, so much like a grape shrinks into a raisin, a disc can also shrink from dehydration.

If you are not weak now, it is unlikely you will lose muscle strength, but your therapist can continue to monitor your progress. If the symptoms are gone and your neurological exam is unchanged, there is no need for surgery. There is probably no need for another MRI to confirm it either.

It is difficult to say whether you are at risk for spinal cord injury. The depends on your exam and what the MRIs looked like. That should be discussed with your surgeon.


Hi Blaze805

Well that is the best news you can ever get and almost the same thing happened to me. I cancelled two days ahead of the surgery when my pain went away. It was 97 and I was jamming on the glucosomine/chondroitn and it helped just enough. It has come back, but I never had to have surgery.

As long as you feel okay, don't do the surgery. Perhaps some PT to help you heal and strengthen the area would be good. Maybe yoga for the long haul, as long as you feel well.

I wish you the best


if the pain is gone dont have surgery. the swelling has gone down but the disc is more than likely still out. it will probably come back at you again if you aggrivate it, tough call.