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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

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Hi Jez, Did you get an MRI? I would think so because that is the only way a neurosurgeon can put together an informed diagnosis. I have the same conditions you describe and that is disc herniation at C5-6 with cord impingement. I have 3 neurosurgeons who say that surgery should be in my future.

Jez I believe you need opinions, you need a second and a third opinion at a minimum. ACDF is major surgery they tell me 2 hours on the table and 1 night in the hospital and it at least 6 weeks in active recovery.

What concerns me is the success rate mentioned above by Jenny and also by the way just how do they quantify this success? My pain like yours is in the right shoulder (also the left shoulder) with numbness in both feet. I wonder if the surgery will end the pain and what my complications will be afterward.

I have 3 opinions: the first doctor says "I should get surgery but it is not an emergency and that ESI will not help me" this surgeon is very well known and out of my network so I would not be able to use her for surgery but I went out of network because of her preeminent reputation. My second opinion from an equally well known doctor is for immediate surgery. This surgeon scheduled me for surgery on the spot and on the table in 4 days. I immediately went for a pre-op physical straight from his office that day and in that process backed out because I did not like the hospital. My third opinion said I should "contemplate surgery but there was no emergency and that I may do the surgery on my time line". This surgeon also said I should explore ESI therapy.

Two weeks ago I had my first ESI it put me in quite a bit of pain initially then I felt better for one day and now I think I am worse off. I meet my PM next week for a follow up on this first injection and I think he will want to do another one.

I will most probably continue with ESI and get all 3 injections and see where that takes me. I do not want surgery and If I absolutely must have it I will schedule the surgery for the very beginning of the new year. My deductible is $4500 a year and I would rather do this early in the year so I will not have any other "out of pocket" expense. I can also put aside money that will not be taxed for this purpose.

So I still ask myself "do I need this surgery?" I am delaying as long as possible. I have modified my lifestyle and no longer road bike(lance armstrong wannabe at 55) because the doctors (one especially) say if I fall I could be paralyzed. I am in pain all the time and it really hurts but my PM helps me with prescriptions for LYRICA and Percocet this gets me relief and my pain while medicated is at a 5. I would contemplate this approach as an alternate to surgery. That is modified lifestyle, and painkillers vs. the surgery that approach would work for me but maybe not for you.

ACDF is a serious procedure and I mostly read about failures on the web. I am still unsure what constitutes success for this procedure. I need to ask my doctor next time.

Jez all the best to you. As you may have gathered my advice would be the consensus opinion apparent on the web for ACDF be conservative and exhaust all other options first.

Hi Jez,
Boy are you getting some great advice here! I can sympathize with your fear of making the incorrect decision. I lost so much additional sleep (was already sleep deprived due to the neck and arm pain) when trying to figure out what to do that it was a relief when the decision was finally made.

All the suggestions that have been listed previously are great and I wish that maybe I'd have found this Healthboard before my surgery. But, I just want to give you a positive outcome to see as you mentioned that you've mostly only seen negative outcomes.

I couldn't sleep due to the arm pain being so severe. There was not one place that I could rest my arm and it not be excruciating. I had pain from my neck down to my left shoulder blade and then down the back of my arm and around the outside of my elbow and then down into my index finger. I was numb from the inside of the middle finger to the index finger and inside of my thumb. I had no reflex in my left arm. Don't know how much of that is similar to what you are experiencing.

Anyway the NS told me that only surgery would take care of the issue at C5-C6 because I had bone built up that on the MRI made it look completely black. (I am not an expert in terminology about all of this that the others are.) My NS kept my MRI report and I only read it once and I don't remember how it was exactly stated. I also had a very large herniation between C6 - C7 and he said he'd have to make a decision when he got in there about whether he would do something about it then.

I ended up with an ACDF C5 - C7 and a plate. When I woke up from surgery my numbness was gone and so was the arm and shoulder pain. My neck was sore just from the surgery, but that pain was gone within a day or so. I am now 11 weeks post surgery and am wanting to go wakeboarding and ride go-carts with my kids!!! Hold on........ :) I know I can't and I won't, but I just said that to let you know how good I'm feeling now!!! I haven't been on the Healthboards very long and so I am not all that up on what my future could possible hold, but I do know that I don't have to take any drugs, have great range of motion, and all the pain and numbness if gone.

After reading several of the threads here on the neck/spine board I do know that many people do not have these results. I will say that it was only about 2.5 months from the time I hit severe pain level to my surgery date. I do think that this had alot to do with the success of my surgery. (Plus a fantastic NS and lots of prayer for both him and me!)

Oh, one other thing I thought that I would mention as I think I remember that you mentioned your shoulders hurting too. I truly believed that I had rotator cuff injuries as I had played softball for years. I finally gave it up at 46 years old. I realized about four weeks after surgery when I didn't have to wear my neck brace anymore that the pain in my shoulders was completely gone too!!! What an added benefit. I used to sleep on my arm with it raised above my head and hadn't been able to do that for about 8 years. Guess what.........I can do it now. :)

Well.......I wish you a peace about your decision and all the best recovery for whatever treatment you decide.


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