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deciding whether to have cervical fusion
I'm new here. I recently had a cervical MRI requested by my new primary care physician. I have dealt with neck problems for many years, and had an MRI 12 years ago which revealed HNP at C5-6 and C6-7. I've never had even an epidural, as my pain has been controllable with Naproxyn twice a day. I have occasional tingling in my left lateral deltoid, and at the base of my neck. I have atrophy throughout my right arm, but had an EMG when I noticed this, and it was normal according to the MD. My most recent MRI reveals HNP at C4-5, predominantly central and to the right. This material completely effaces the ventral thecal space and flattens the adjacent spinal cord. There is suggestion of a small amount of edema or myelomalacia within the spinal cord. Extruded disk material extends below the level of the interspace to the right of midline almost to the C5-6 interspace. C4-5 interspace is moderately narrowed. Osteophytes result in mild to moderate narrowing of the right formamen and minimal narrowing of the left. At C5-6 there is marked narrowing of the disk space with dessication. Spondylotic changes about the ventral aspect of the spinal cord without deformity. Uncovertebral disease results in moderate narrowing of both foramina. At C6-7 there are similar changes producing mild/moderate central canal and moderate foraminal stenosis bilaterally left greater than right. When compared to my MRI's of 12 years ago, C5-6 and C6-7's herniations look smaller than they used to.
Sounds like I'm suffering, but I'm really very functional! I work as a physical therapist assistant, and I'm not at all excited at the prospect of the surgery recommended by my neurosurgeon. I see what people go through and my experience has been that once you have surgery, it seems to create a cascade of problems.
I'm curious to know if anyone has avoided surgery in a situation like this. I'm into acupuncture, exercise, etc., and wonder if there's a possibility of waiting this out and seeing if my body will reabsorb some of this herniation as it has at the 2 lower levels.