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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index

Hello all,

First off I apologize in advance if my questions have already been answered elsewhere. It is extremely painful for me to be on the computer so rather than search the forum, I decided to simply ask.

A bit of background on me... I am (or was) a relatively healthy 36 year old woman without any major health concerns until March of this year. On 3/2/10 I was injured in a rear end collision while stopped at the end of an on ramp to the highway. I had my head turned to the left looking over my shoulder in order to merge at the first opportunity, and apparently, the person who hit me was doing the same, but he had someone in front of him, I didn't. I had no warning and no clue he was going to hit me so no time to brace myself.

I hit my head on the driver side window and felt immediate sharp pain in my neck. I was taken to the ER via ambulance and later released with a tentative diagnosis of cervical strain and two scripts for Vicodin and Flexeril. I had significant pain in and around my neck and shoulders. I followed up with my family doctor who advised waiting a month to see if the symptoms resolved, and prescribed muscle relaxants. About three weeks after the accident I started experiencing stabbing pains radiating down my left arm and tingling in the fingers of my left hand so I went back to the doctor and was referred to a spine and sports specialist.

The spine doc ordered an MRI which showed a significant disc herniation of c5-6. He recommended conservative treatment and scheduled me for PT 3x a week. I went for about three weeks before giving it up due to it causing me excruciating pain for 24-36 hours after each session. The doctor then recommended an EMG to assess nerve damage and the results were positive for nerve damage. At that point the doctor recommended facet joint injections to see if the pain was relieved somewhat so I could continue with PT.

The facet joint injection was unsuccessful but immediately after (2 hours post injections) I started experiencing what I call nerve "zings" down both arms (more left than right) when I tilted my head back. The zings radiated down my entire arm and into my middle finger, ring finger and pinky. I went back the next day due to these sensations and saw a different doctor who recommended another MRI with and without contrast. When he got the results of that MRI, he referred me to a neurosurgeon due to the severity of the herniation, the progressive symptoms and spinal stenosis.

I saw the NS yesterday and he indicated surgery was necessary, an ACDF with cadaver bone and a titanium plate for the C5C6 disc. So, on to my questions.

~When asked, the NS said that the surgery has proven successful in relieving significant neck and shoulder pain in a large majority of cases. Has this been the experience of those of you who have had this surgery?

~When I asked him about the probability of the discs above and below my herniated C5-6 disc going out and needing future surgery to fuse them, he said that it does happen sometimes. However in his experience he said that the situation arises when the patient has DDD and/or bad discs above and below the injured area. Those of you who have had the ACDF on a single level and then later needed additional fusions, did you have DDD prior to the first surgery? If you had healthy discs before, your surgery was a result of an injury, and you still ended up having additional surgeries to discs above and below, I definitely would like to hear from you as well.

~Can anyone comment on the benefits and disadvantages of using cadaver bone instead of a bone graft?

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. I'm sure I'll have more questions as I go.

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