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NS says ACDF won't rid my neck pain...is that true?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I'm really confused now. I went and saw another NS who has 26 years experience. He said my neck pain to him is insigniciant in regard to "surgery". What would concern him is my arm pain. He says "you need to know the reason you would want to pursue surgery to rid of your ARM pain and arm pain only". He cannot guarantee my headaches and neck pain would be gone.

My questions, how many have had one levels ACDF and their headaches and neck pain went away ALONG with their arm pain?

My arm pain is significant, but my neck and headaches I feel is worse. So, without that guarantee, do I even bother with surgery, or should I say YES JUST to get rid of the arm pain?
Iam so confused. He's leaving it up to me to decide what I want to do. He certainly sympathized with my situation and could not believe that no one had not referred me to a NS before thispoint since my 05 MRI results.

I get another opinion on Monday.



  • You have to be the one who decides. At least he was honest with you and that is good. I knew going in with surgery that I would still have pain, the surgery stopped further damage. When my surgeon said bowel/bladder problems that caught me off guard and there was no question as to if I should have surgery. I still have arm pain along with the neck pain and headaches. If done sooner would it have helped? Hindsight is 20/20. I hope you find the answer and get the relief you so need.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hey CindyLou,

    No surprise what your n/s said, I heard the same from my n/s prior to my surgery. Although mine was a little different than what you are having done I had no choice. If I did not have the fusion I would risk possible paralysis and/or incontinence. My left hand and arm went numb and I have shoulder and arm pain of the same side. BTW I had a corpectomy, discectomy, multi-level fusion of C3 thru C6 with a strut, cage, plates, rods, & screws installed both
    anterior and posterior. Yes I still have arm & shoulder pain with tingling and numbness, but I still am doing the things I did pre-op, I'm not in a wheelchair, and I'm not wearing a diaper. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!
    Be strong, take care, and I wish the best of luck to you!
  • I am going to have an MRI and they think I have some bone spurs with a possible herniated disc. The Dr. told me that the surgery is a 90+% success. I looked online and found the same statistics. But then I get on these forums and read these horror stories and I'm ready to run out of my house screaming because I'm thinking Ill never be better again for the rest of my life!!! Is the choice have surgery and live in hell pain or dont have surgery and live in hell pain???? Help!!!!!!
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Not all are horror stories, in fact most are successful, such as mine. Listen to your Dr, do your homework, make your decision, and don't look back.
  • I hope you have more things clarified by your second opinion Monday. Keep us posted. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I had a single level ACDF with titanium plate and screws, using cadaver bone. The surgery went well, and most of my arm pain and numbness in fingers is gone. I was back to work in a month. I was concerned that waiting longer would increase the possibility of permanent nerve damage.

    That said, I still have headaches, neck pain, and upper back/shoulder blade extreme pain and muscle spasms, but not as bad as before surgery. I have the level above my C5-6 fusion going now. Will put off another surgery as long as possible, only because of the cost. If I can make 4 1/2 more years, I will be on medicare, which will help me afford it. LOL, if there is any left by then :))( . That said, I would do the surgery again, no question about it. Hope your second opinion helps you make a decision.
  • I Have to agree with Ranger and Maggie on this. My doctors never promised me I would be pain free after either of my surgeries. The thoughts of being in a wheel chair made my first surgery a no brainer. The second surgery was to help stop the progression of Myelopathy, which so far it has done so. I have some lingering numbness in my left arm/hand that will probably be with me forever, but again the other option was not that great. Only you, through learning more about your condition, and talking things through with your doctor can help with your decision to have surgery or not have surgery. Good luck.
  • I went into my first surgery with severe arm and scapula area pain. Immediately upon waking my arm pain was gone. So on that respect, my surgery was successful.

    I'm glad your surgeon is being up front with you. I would hope that the surgery would relieve your headaches too, but it is wise that the surgeon isn't making those promises. If the headaches are being caused from disc protrusions or nerve root impingement, and he eliminates those problems, theoretically it should help the headaches. there are no guarantees. You just have to do your research, and make a decision based on what you feel is right.
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Well said!!!

    ...and just think....100 years ago (just my little estimate, nothing documented ;)) ) the option of surgery wasn't even available. So some of us could be potentially sitting in a wheelchair right now. No doubt...mine is a success story.
  • I had a one level ACDF done on c6-c7 on 6/9, and I am feeling great!

    I had neck, upper/mid back, shoulder, armpit, forearm and finger pain. My right thumb and pointer fingers would be numb and actually hurt sometimes. I also had a weird "tightening" in my one side of my face, that all my doctors said had nothing to do with my issues, but disappeared since my surgery.

    To make a long story short... I am extremely happy that I had the surgery, and my recovery went very well with only a few days of pain that went away before I was able to see my NS.

    I manage a restaurant, been back to work since 9/3, and I feel just fine working up to 11 hours a day. I even can pick stuff up again, and leave work feeling very good.

    Like it was pointed out, there are many "success stories". However, people that no longer need help and support normally move on and stop posting on these forums. People that still have issues, continue to post on these forums looking for any help/explanation they can get.

    That is the one reason why I do check back from time to time, just to let people know sometimes people get more relief then the ever thought they could get.

    Best of luck to you, but only you can determine what is right for you!
  • THANK YOU so much! Yes, I think a lot of the "things we feel" they can't attribute it to our spine - they just won't say it's related cause it may or may not be.

    MY surgery is set for 11/6 - I just found out yesterday. A one level C6/C7 ACDF with Titanium plate and 6 weeks in a Vista Hard Collar. I'll find out more this week or so. My MRI was "ok" but not great. I also had other levels that were a bit unstable with tiny protrustions and as for other levels going bad after a 1 level fusion he said "just to let nature take its course and see what happens" but that he wouldn't be fusing more than one at this time.

    THANKS again for our post - what a reassurance to know what you told me!
  • First I want to make sum things clear. At this moment I'm not thinking real clear.
    But clear enough to know what I wanna say. Please excuse my words and typing as its not been one of my best days But because I do care I feel the need to type this comment.

    I have many people I have to agree on here about this topic. Ranger being one and Mark(who I have never talked to )Patricia I feel you are so right. we do hear more of the negative side then the success because, well we know why(my right arm and fingers are not working with my brain right now)
    Many Know I have myelopathy mostly being caused by larger impingement on cord c6-7 and some small impingement on other areas.and many other cervical issues.
    I will not go into details and try to stick with topic (hard for Patsy P.) because that's just me)
    I have been told by 2 surgeons that my arm pain and shoulder pain should get better after surgery
    But just the pain.
    Numbness, Loss of Balance, Coordination, Weakness and the use of my Cane and house hold helpers, will most likely never change or get better.
    This is caused by the myeolapathy and I never want to scare people because many can have severe back issues with awful pain and not have melopathay. But Who Knows I Maybe the ONE in a MILLION that get sum of my myelopathy issues back to normal.
    I believe in Miracles! And I think we have many S.H. people that are in line for a Miracles!!

    For me I just need the myelopathy to stop getting worse (those with this issue understand and its hard with the people without the issue to understand.. Please no offensive to those. It could be a blessing not knowing about myeolopathy And you may not even know it(I mean the blessing of not being familiar with myeolopathy)!! silly me with my silly words but then again that's Patsy.
    Surgery can stop myelopathy from getting worse but it usually does not make it better

    Cindy -For me and My headaches I feel I can say with all honesty I have and can share with all people that have had these awful Awful headaches I can not explain in words only us headache people can begin to understand.
    mine Stem from my Neck across Shoulders go up over top of my Head and sum time linger over Right Eye. I will get them more often when I'm in a stress full situation or just to many things going on in my head.

    I even have had to go to ER 3 times.(and) I have worked in ER so this was not want I wanted to do it was the only thing left to do. so Dear Cindy I know and I can Feel your Pain!
    I have started a new med and only been on it for 3 weeks maybe 4 but first I must tell you I Have not had a headache since starting this med not one at all this has never happened to me before as long as I can remember and upper back pain is 50% better,, this is a miracle for me. my life has changed because of this. Yes I have the symptoms of melopathy but without 50% of the pain!!! for years I had tried many headache scripts including Imatrex which did work for the migraines. but lately I have noticed with this back problems my headaches maybe muscular and not vascular headache, and these are 2 diff kinds of headache for these muscular headaches started in the back of the neck worked across shoulders and up over my hole head and down on my eyes and cheeks (if this makes any since) (I'm just trying to help)
    well this new Doctor N.S. That Specializes in headaches explained alot of things to me and there is not many Doctors like him out there. I feel like I hit A Gold Mine when I found him. Any way meds do work different on everyone and I'm a very rear person when It comes to how meds work for me and once again I will not go into that (if ever Cindy you want to p.m. please do. my favorite conversation are done p.m.
    But he put me on Klonopin for muscle pain,(thank you finally sum relief) My daily dose is a smaller dose and causes no sleepiness whats so ever. evening dose is a bit higher and helps me relax eat watch TV and in two hours after the dose I'm sleeping.I spent two years of my life not being able to sleep even with all the different sleeping pills (remember my body chemistry is a strange one and some meds work different on me.
    These are all just my experiences that might in someway help you.
    I also take neurontin 4 times a day larger dose being at night, but dose of 400 during day dose not cause drowsy but sure helps with right leg arm, hand finger pain and irritations,(Thank you to neurontin finally found sum relief) During day hours I take ultram 100mg 2 or 3 times a day been doing that for over 10 years. Helps with pain and puts me in a good mood and I'm not sad and depressed as I have been when I did not take it. so they may say it is not Antidepressant but for me it acts like one plus I get pain relief.that's why I call it my 2 4 1 med. HAHa
    Patsy AKA Ladybug

  • Reading your comment was like reading my life. You said it all. The headaches I have are so awful and always wake me up, once up they do get better but I am left with the side effects of it. At this moment the pain in my left arm is horrible and with it goes the pain out my left fingers. Only recently have I noticed that I stumble, it is like my left foot has grippers on the bottom and I stumble. I see my surgeon tomorrow and I am so very scared. I know I am getting worse and I just hopes he can do something to stop it. I know how hard it was for you to type what you did as it is hard for me to type this....thank you for not making me feel so very alone.

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