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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index

Hi. I am a new member to this group. I am a 59 (almost 60) year old with a diagnosis of cervical disk disease. The most effected area is C6-C7. My orthopedist has advised me that essentially I have two options: take anti-inflammatory meds for as long as I can and tolerate the pain or have ACDF surgery. I found this group while doing online research about the procedure, and Iím hoping that some of you who have faced the same decision can advise me.

I was first diagnosed with degenerative disk disease (DDD) about 3 years ago. I believe this all started when I suffered whiplash in car accident about 1996. When the problems first became troublesome in 2003, it was mostly neck pain. At that time the doctor took a MRI and prescribed naprosyn and physical therapy. I went to PT about 3 months and was able to take the meds about 4 months and became mostly asymptomatic. Between 2003 and early 2006, I had occasional stiffness in the neck but nothing serious. Then around March of this year, the stiffness in the neck returned and was pretty much constant. I could hear popping or cracking sounds and sometimes my neck would just lock up. If I had to look over my right shoulder, I often had to turn my body (not fun when youíre driving in Northern Virginia traffic). And I also noticed that my right arm would feel numb and my hand would be tingling. I mentioned this to my Primary Care physician, and he took a cervical spine series of x-rays and referred me back to the orthopedist.

I saw the orthopedist about 2 weeks ago and when he compared the recent x-rays to the 2003 MRI, he said there had been significant deterioration in the C6-C7 area and there was also evidence of bone spurs. He gave me another prescription for naprosyn and scheduled me for another MRI (on Monday, the 11th). Iím also going back to physical therapy. But he also said that in his opinion neither the meds nor the PT would give me much relief from the pain and numbness. Only surgery could do that.

After reading many of the postings here, I have to truthfully say Iím more confused than ever about whether I should have the surgery. First, I was surprised that many of the members here who have had ACDF seem quite young. Of course, many of you have suffered injuries that led to your problems as opposed to it just being age related. And yet many of you have had lengthy recoveries and post-operative experiences that have not been pleasant. My orthopedist made the procedure seem like not a big deal Ė 2 weeks of ďtaking it easy,Ē with complete recovery in 4-6 weeks. But many of you have had several months of recovery time and are still in pain or unable to resume activities you were doing before the procedure. I should tell you that I get up at 3:45am every weekday and am in the gym by 5:30am. I do 45-50 minutes of cardiology exercise (elliptical) every day and add weight work twice a week. How long might it be before I could get back to that level of activity?

I know that everyone is unique and every procedure is different, but my question to the group is: If you really knew before the surgery what the recovery would be like, would you still have made the decision to have the surgery? Are you experiencing significantly less pain post-op than you had before? Did you decide to have the surgery after trying meds and PT and other possible remedies (e.g., acupuncture)? Did you get a second opinion before deciding to have the surgery?

Sorry to have taken so much space, but Iím really struggling with this issue, and Iím trying to make the most informed decision possible. Thanks in advance for any responses.

Curt in Virginia:confused:

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