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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index

Need Support
Oct 24, 2006
:confused: I need support in the form of information or just old fashioned empathy. I cannot discuss this much with my family because we just adopted a baby and, after 3 years of waiting for him, I can't really take care of him b/c of my neck pain, and my husband is overtaxed taking care of all of my responsibilities as well as working full time. So here goes:

I've done some stupid things to my neck over the years; put my 40 pound son on my shoulders for an hour at Disney World this year; too many headstands in yoga, a fall from my horse, and was rear-ended about 10 years ago b/c I slammed on the breaks when I found the "perfect parking spot."

But I had no symptoms until I went to a massage therapist for a stiff neck a month ago. While I was telling him how much I distrust chiropractors b/c they do crazy stuff with your spine, the MT did "traction," cracked my back, and wiggled all of my vertebra. I felt like I had whiplash.

An MRI showed a herniated disc at c5-6, with severe impingement and bone spurs (it is touching my spinal cord) and "dehydration" of C2, 3, and 4. I have tingling in my legs and hands, can't sleep at night and have this wierd "bone on bone" feeling when I tilt my head up. I'm starting PT next week, but my physiatrist says I can't avoid surgery and will need a fusion. What are the odds that PT can fix this? Many sources say up to 70 percent of disc herniations heal themselves. Is this true in the neck? Should I be on bed rest? Heating pads or ice packs? I'm only 37 and I feel like my life has been ruined. And if I don't have the surgery in the next few weeks, I will either have to wait a year so I don't get fired (I'm on maternity leave and that is taking up my 12 weeks family/medical leave). What happens if I wait? Am I doing permanent nerve damage to myself? :confused:

Thanks for listening.:angel:
Re: Need Support
Oct 27, 2006
Hi Looksee1~

The cord impingment tells me that if they are offering surgery, TAKE IT! It's only one level and it will only get worse. I just had ACDF at levels C4-5- and 5-6 and will eventually have C7. I have severe spinal canal stenosis (narrowing at all three levels, worse at the ones fused) and all the other horrors of the neck! I should have had this done ten years ago but the HMO Gods wouldn't approve it. And besides, they have come a long way in ten years with C-spine surgery.

I exhausted all conservative treatment available ie traction, tens units, physical therapy multiple times, posture modifications, relaxation, muscle relaxants and nothing worked! If it is cord impingement none of the above is going to open up your spinal canal. I just became worse and worse until I ended up in the emergency room with a completely numb arm and hand. Well the HMO Gods could no longer tell me I was inoperable. My Neurosurgeon was really ticked off when he saw my MRI and EMG reports from ten years ago because they were so bad way back then. He shook his head and I could tell he couldn't believe the inept treatment I received.

You don't want permanent damage done to your spinal cord and the longer you wait, the more damage will be done. I am 8 1/2 weeks post surgery and doing much, much better. The surgery itself was a breeze, honestly. I didn't have to wear a collar because I have a plate, I had no incision site problems and I am fusing well. My biggest complaint is the extreme muscle spasms but he had to change the contour of my neck (lordosis) because from so many years of damage the slippage and muscles turned my neck into a frontward C shape instead of a backward C shape. What he did to help change that was to tighten the middle screw in my titanium plate and draw my entire neck forward in the middle and you wouldn't believe how it changed the shape of my C-spine. It looks completely normal now on my x-rays.

If you didn't have the severe impingement I would suggest conservative treatment since it's been a realitively short period of time, but since you do, I say go for the gold and get it fixed now.

Good luck to you on whatever you decide to do.


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