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Cervical Myelopathy

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am a 40 year old man and I have had neck/spine problems for many years (various herniations, disk and bone degeneration, arthritis, small fractures)due to sports and work.
I have typically seen a chiropractor for my pain and along with massage therpy it has worked well(or at least has kept me relatively pain free).
About 6 months ago I was in a minor traffic accident where I was rear ended. Since that time I have had excruciating pain in my left arm, severe pain in my right arm, headaches, neck pain, and my left eyelid has a slight twitch.
I went to a physiatrist and and Orthopedic surgeon both of whom diagnosed me with myelopathy due to a severe herniation. Both (along with the insurance company doc) have said I need surgery/fusion or this will get much worse.
I have thus far been adamant in my refusal to have the operation done and am looking for alternatives. There seem to not be any coming from these surgeons and I believe it is simply a "when all you have is a hammer everything is a nail" syndrome. Are there any less radical approaches to this or less invasive surgeries? I have no confidence in spinal surgery as out of the 15 or so people I know who have had spinal surgery not one was happy wth it.
Also no one can seem to concretely tell me how long recovery from this type of surgery is. I would rather risk complications than be out of work for 4 or 5 or 9 months (estimates I have been given). My office is 2 hours from my house and I typically drive 200-300 miles per day but is a management job.
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Comments

  • Sorry, but if it myelopathy, you will need surgery, so it doens't get worse, I suggest you read up about it on this site, on the main page, there is a doctor who wrote about it,,,,, the longer the damage, the worse it will be. I see you have had a few opinions, that is what I suggest, but you have gotten your answers,,, Good luck,,and Welcome to SH
  • I have read that article and hundreds more. I assure you that I am quite literate. As someone who is very familiar with marketing and self promotion I tend to look at information with a critical eye. The authors of everything I see online are invariably surgeons hence their "solutions" always seem to include surgery, particularly the type of surgery they do. Doctors do not publish articles to be magnanimous; they publish articles because it is good buisiness. I am seeking alternative options as I currently find the idea of this surgery unacceptable.
    I of course admit bias against surgery and I have thus far had a very disagreeable relationship with my doctors and insurance company. As I was injured working my normal insurance (top shelf) is not covering me and I am in a worker's compensation insurance. In New Jersey that means my care is dictated by the insurance company and I have little say in my treatment. As I am used to being able to see the top specialists in any medical field as often as I want with no referral for $10 I am infuriated with this system.

    I reposted my original discussion here as it did not seem to get much response on the other one and this forum appears to get more traffic.
    Three opinions not my "answers" and frankly I do not appreciate the tone of your post. My health and the financial well being of my family are at stake and I was hoping for intelligent, thoughtful discussion on the situation from others in similar situations.
  • Hi...my name is Cathy and I am in a similar position...being a single mom too...I am sorry that htis is happening to you.

    I like you I have searched for alternatives...this past year! What you have been told are the facts...IF you have been diagnosed with mylomalacia or myelopathy.....AND...your condition is not corrected...IN TIME...you will sustain more damage to your spinal cord...If...your damage is due to disc herniation causing compression...and...you have done 4-6 months of physio without resolution...and if there is spinal cord compression...an operation is the only option...Believe me...I explored everything too...even zero gravity chairs. Right now... I dont want any more damage to my cord...and I want to move on with my life. You are still young like me and you need to give your family another 40 years...being off work for 4-6 months is hard...i've been off 1 year already with no resolution. I have scheduled surgergy ACDF because...I have personally seen patients like me...eventually end up in a wheelchair.

    Best Wishes

    Cathy
  • My husband was also rear ended, but didn't have any symptoms until after the statute of limitations in Michigan had expired. He didn't want surgery, but was told he could become paralyzed if he was rear ended again, or perhaps fell the wrong way.

    We are not "sue happy", but after this experience, I wish we could have done so!! My advice is to call one of those fee after settlement lawyers.

    My husband had a workman's comp case where he was able to go to Doctors/Surgeons in his health plan. You might want to do more research. I can understand not wanting to go to just anyone.

    Linda MI
  • Linda,

    I was told the same thing, but once again I am not comfortable with the "surgery or nothing" option. I am also not sure how much of it is the Chicken Little Sydrome: use my services or you will be a quadrapalegic. No one has as of yet given me any statistics on the probablilities. Heck, I could become paralized if I was rear ended hard enough and had no previous spinal issues.

    The accident exacerbated already existing conditions for me so if I reach medical terminus with the compensation I should be able to use my own insurance. Of course that simply may be too late.
    NJ has a very odd compensation law where the insurance company has all the authority so using any outside doctors when they are offering me providers with the same specialty is not an option.
    I have a top worker's comp attorney and he sees this all the time.
  • Hi Ullvin,
    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Without a doubt there are huge issues within the work comp settings. As a fellow injured person and dealing within that realm i completely understand. As well have the top notch insurance and not able to pick doc's according to the laws of my state. With that being said I have consulted with my primary care physician on my situation. All be it he can't help with the work comp as he doesn't take work comp patients. I have a great relationship with him and we just used another reason for my appointment with him. If i were in your shoes that is the avenue I would take if not trusting the surgeon's. He or she should be able to tell you what you could do to avoid surgery, since not in that business.

    Also since your dead set against surgery, work comp can't force you into that care. Your attorney should have advised you of this as well. Of course should you incur further damage they can't be held responsible either. You can tell the physiatrist that you will not do surgery, and how he can control the pain and what else he has to offer. Although he may have you sign waiver that you are going against medical advice.

    You said you have a top notch attorney? The attorney that i have paid up front two independent medical exams(IME's) to determine what was really was going on and my choices. Those doctors had nothing gain in those as they would not be treating physicians one way or the other. The other solution is to pay out of your pocket for a independent medical exam. choose a physician who does not except work comp so they know they could never be a treating physician.

    As far as why you can't nail down a specific time line is it don't exist. There are time frames on the net for any type of operations but never a set time. Unfortunately patients don't all heal the same and it depends on the varying degrees of factors going into surgery.

    How many levels do you have involved? What type of surgery did they suggest they would be doing? What percentages did the surgeon give you that they could alleviate the symptoms? Is there a stability issue in the cervical spine and if so at what degree? By not having surgery what are things that You will be able to see happening to you? Do you have base-line measurements from the previous injuries as far as grip strength that can be used as a guide-line. What about traction, aroma-therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture, bio-feedback, drugs to control the nerve pain? Anyway good luck and I hope all goes well and find the answers looking for?

  • Quite a welcome here. I was tempted to actually reply to the points in your post individually but I will simply say that you haven't done or thought of anything I have not.
    For a "support" type forum this is certainly a hostile environment for someone who does not like the idea of surgery. I must say that I am quite disappointed; this is the first time I have ever done anything like this and I am sure it will be the last. I did not post a question to be spoken down to only to have my intelligence and literacy challenged.
    I am however intelligent enought to realize when I am talking to a group that has a social dynamic I find rather unappealing. I was asking about options, not looking to justify myself to you or anyone else.
    I apologize for trying to actually ask other people with similar health issues questions about a matter of such gravity.
  • Ullvin. From what I read I thought tamtam was offering what your original post was about alternatives to surgery. I think the questions were more to try to find a suitable alternative. I wouldn't have rushed under the knife if I hadn't decided for MYSELF that it was right for ME. That may not be right at all for you. I have a real aversion to back surgery and there is NO WAY I would let anybody work on my back no matter what. But when you're talking about myleopathy that's different. I was offered physical therapy and passed because I could no longer hold a cup in my hand but that was ME. NOT YOU. We are all responding to you based on our own experiences. That's all we have to draw from. We had surgery. That was what we thought was best for us. But hang in there a minute and see if there isn't someone else here who is more like you and went the conservative route before you go jumping ship on us. I'm betting there is someone here who might be able to lead you down another path. Just give us a chance.
  • I'm one who is quite happy that I had my surgery. I can hold my grandson without fear. (He's quite heavy!) I can drive a car and if I get rear ended I would most likely not end up paralyzed because I at least did what I thought was best for me to eliminate the worry of that part. I am almost pain free except for the nagging little muscle spasms between my shoulders. I know you didn't ask me what I thought about surgery but thought I would at least let you know there is at least one success story that you haven't heard. But just keep watching this post and see if someone else has the answers that you truly seek about alternative therapies.
  • Are you having weakness in legs, arms etc? Are you having pain? I have not had surgery. I don't rule it out but consider it a last resort. I do think some surgeons/patients jump into surgery to quickly. Once you have surgery, there is no going back. I had one surgeon tell me that odds are 1/300,000 vs. 1 in 1 million. Of course each person has to judge for himself. And of course, I'm not a doc- this is just my opinion.---Mazy
  • As a fellow myelopathy person, I would like to say welcome to Spine-health. If you find any suitable alternatives, I would be interested in hearing about them. Unfortunately I have already had surgery, and I'm one of the unlucky ones who continues to struggle. Surgery is not always the answer, however sometimes there isn't a choice.

    If your myelopathy is being caused from stenosis, it is doubtful if it will get better on its own. if it is a herniation, there is some research out there that says herniations will sometimes be absorbed by the body, thence releasing the pressure off of your cord. I hope that you are able to find a treatment that is satisfactory to your circumstances.

    Please post back if you find something that is a good alternative treatment. many of us would like to know more about it. Sorry I can't be of more help to you.

    Cindy
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • As a fellow myelopathy person, I would like to say welcome to Spine-health. If you find any suitable alternatives, I would be interested in hearing about them. Unfortunately I have already had surgery, and I'm one of the unlucky ones who continues to struggle. Surgery is not always the answer, however sometimes there isn't a choice.

    If your myelopathy is being caused from stenosis, it is doubtful if it will get better on its own. if it is a herniation, there is some research out there that says herniations will sometimes be absorbed by the body, thence releasing the pressure off of your cord. I hope that you are able to find a treatment that is satisfactory to your circumstances.

    Please post back if you find something that is a good alternative treatment. many of us would like to know more about it. Sorry I can't be of more help to you.

    Cindy
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • I do not have myelopathy -- and I did undergo surgery . . . after I had exhausted all of my conservative measures of treatment. I dealt with what I had for 2.5 years. They say that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.

    I've read this thread. Since it's not directed at me, I truly throught that peoples' responses were garnered with your best interest at hand. Nobody on this Board wants to see you (or anybody else) experience significant difficulties that might've been averted with surgery.

    That being said, I honor your fortitude and respect your decision to proceed with your care without surgery.

    Peace and blessings.
  • I have struggled with back and neck problems for years. I have a 50% spondylolisthesis at L5/S1 with ongoing problems with my middle back and neck. Recently I've started to experience a lot more problems with my legs and arms. Yesterday the orthopedic surgeon told me I need surgery. He said that the way my spinal cord is being flattened if I don't have surgery to free the pressure that someday my spinal cord will become flattened and die and then I will be a quadriplegic. He said it could happen in 3 months or 30 years - there is no way to know how fast it could progress or what type of injury might happen. But once it happens, it will be final. I really don't want surgery - I have been putting it off for almost 30 years on my lower back but can't face the thought of losing the use of my arms and hands. Has enyone ever known or heard of someone who has become a quadriplegic from not having cervical myelopathy surgically stabilized? My surgery is soon and would like some discussion on this if possible. Maybe this isn't the right place for my questions. Should I start a new thread? This is my first time on this site.
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