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26 Year old with questions

brianalan01bbrianalan01 Posts: 12
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello everyone. I am 26 years old and have some neck problems and questions.

First off about 6 monthes ago I started getting horrible pain in my neck. I shook it off for a month or so then decided to go to the doctor.

They first did x-rays at the doctors office and said I had degenerative disc disease. Sent me to physical therapy for 3 weeks, but no pain relief. They did elec stem and exercises.

Went back to doctor and he sent me to a speialist. They ordered MRI's but insurance would not pay until I went through some more PT. So three more weeks of PT with no help.

Finally got an MRI and I have a herniated disc c5,6. Doctor had me go back to PT with traction. It seemed to help for a while.

within the last two weeks the pain got severe...it is so bad....pain in my neck, goes into my shoulder and down my arm....The pain is so bad...I am taking percocet, neurotin, flexeril, naproxen, and they ran me through a pack of steriods.

Went back to specialist and he advised I will need surgery....ordered one more MRI to make sure nothing has changed...That is scheduled for Monday 2/9/09....then back down to see him on 2/11/09 to schedule surgery. Said I will have a disc disectomy...bone graph from hip, plates and screws...

Anyway....I just need some second oponions on weither or not I should go through with this....only being 26 I wonder how it will affect the rest of my life....I am now in very bad pain....dont get outta bed much....hurts to walk...arm pain is severe and cant find a comfortable way to sleep. Not to mention headaches and stomach issues from taking pills.

i work in the HVAC field and install furnaces...a/c...ect. I have been off work 2 weeks now and my employer is working with me....very good boss.

I just dont know what to do or if I have any other options.

Any info would be greatly appreciated


  • You don't mention ESI's (cortisone shots). I herniated 2 discs in my neck in Sept '07 and never needed surgery - was able to address through epidural steroid injections (cortisone shots). Does not work for everyone (and did not work in my lumbar spine!) but I would think your doc would consider as a conservative step prior to surgery.
  • I haven't had surgery yet and I've been out a year with facet joint injections and epidurals. If the herniations are large enough and causing too much pain or nerve damage it's necessary to have surgery for decompression but always get a 2nd opinion from another Neurologist. Take care I wish you the best. Charry

    PS This is not medical advice as we're not Drs
    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 know exactly where you are coming from because I too have a herniated disc at c5-6. It began with a large bulge which began bothering me about 2 years ago. It began to interfere with my activities, and life, so I went back to my regular doc and he ordered my first MRI and that was 18 months ago. That's when they found the bulge. I got referred to a Pain Management specialist because going to the Chiro didn't give me any lasting relief, and they put Epidural Steroid Injections into my neck. I also began having lots of pain higher up in my neck as well, just felt like a crick that stuck around way longer than it should have.
    The injections helped but they didn't ease the pain higher in my neck so I began getting facet injections. They helped a lot, but it didn't last. In the last 5 months I felt my pain really change. Numbness was worse, pain into my shoulder, shoulder blade, armpit and arm. NO SLEEP, just can't lay my head down. So my Pain Doc ordered a new MRI. (it had been 18 months since my first one.) I had gone from having no bone spurs or arthritis, to SEVERE arthritis, bone spurs, and then a 3mm anterolisthesis (slipped vertebra with disc exposure of C3 on C4).
    In retrospect, I had tried very hard to do anything I could to avoid surgery, and now, I am probably going to need more to correct my problems now than I would have if I had actually considered surgery for my disc alone. I have done a lot of research on surgery, and I think that you really need to ask your surgeon about what the risks of not having your problem corrected might be as well as surgery.
    You are very young and probably better able to heal than a lot of people who have these surgeries as they tend to occur later in life and tend to have more degeneration of their joints. I'm only 39, so I'm feeling optimistic that I still have a better than usual chance of healing after surgery.
    I know it's hard to think about surgery, but I feel, like I may have cut my nose off despite my face by refusing to weigh ALL of my options. My advise to you, is do a lot of research and see what the facts tell you, because only you can know what is right for you. If you feel yourself getting worse, that means your problems are getting worse. I didn't listen to my body, and that is my mistake. Don't make the mistake I made. There are lots of people on here who have had great success with surgery. Some not so lucky. I guess you come to a point where you refuse to do nothing, except get worse, and that is when surgery doesn't seem unthinkable. Question is, do you want to let it get to that point or not? If I could choose again, I would choose not to let it get to that point. But I am saying that now that I have gotten worse, and quickly. Easy for me to say now huh? But that is my experience. Just thought I would share. Hope it helps.
    K in TN
  • Can anyone who has had this surgery done tell me what happens at the hospital....I am a sissy when it comes to hospitals..

    Do you have tubes in your nose?

    Do you have a catheter?

    Are you completely out for the surgery?

    how long generally does the surgery take?

    I need to know what to expect when I get there....Like I said I hate going to hospitals.

    I have never had surgery....only broken arms and
    stitches...so I have no clue how bad it will be.

  • Hi Brian- I don't know much about cervical surgery because I had a lumbar fusion, but I just wanted to write you because I'm 25 and being so young made me very hesitant to go through with a surgery that I now realize how much I needed. I discussed this with my doc a lot and became more comfortable with everything. Mostly I decided that I was living like I was so much older than 25 because of my limitations/pain, stuck in bed like you, and that surgery had the potential to allow me to feel good and have less pain. I am still recovering but I am back to work (not quite back to full-time, but still there) and occasionally going out with friends and doing a lot of PT so hopefully soon I can start to live an active lifestyle again. Anyway I don't want to try to convince you of anything, just want to let you know that I was going through the same questioning that you were and I am happy with my decision to have the surgery. Good luck :)
  • Hey Brian,
    I had ACDF C5-6 about 6.5yrs ago. Fortunately for me it has been a great success, I have not had any more neck pain or problems since. As far as your questions go, it does vary by surgeon and but I did not need a catheter and you absolutely will be completely out for the surgery. Surgery itself is not long, maybe 2 hours.

    Good Luck Tomorrow!!!

    Fused L2-3 to S1 and at C5-6. I have a central herniation @ T11-12 and multiple bulging discs in my thoracic. I also have fibromyalgia and suspected arachnoiditis, awaiting my results of a recent MRI.
  • I would bring up the injections with your surgeon. I was able to cancel fusion surgery on C6/7 as a result of having the injection. That was 5 years ago & so far so good. It does flare every now & then but so far has not got so bad that I have needed another injection.
    I did just have a lumbar fusion (L4/5) because after years of injections they stopped working.

    The injections are worth a try, in my opinion if you can avoid surgery it should be done.
  • Thanks for all the input and help.

    I work in the HVAC field. I constantly lift heavy furnaces, air conditioners, ect. pretty much all day. In and out of attic crawlspaces basements. I am off work and I am not getting paid. The only fear I have is if I get the injections this will come back in a few monthes when spring/summer comes and our business is booming. Then I will end up going thru this all again. I dunno? We are slow right now and my boss can afford me being away. Dont want my position taken away....too hard to find a good job like what I have....with a very good boss and pay.

    Last night was one of the worst nights I had....feels like a fire burning inside my arm with sharp pains...also felt like knife point pains under my armpit....needless to say I got about 3 hours of sleep. pain in the shoulder and arm and unbearable...ended up double taking my pills.....pain never went away but it made me groggy enough to sleep an hour or so at a time.

    I dont know what to think. Anyway....MRI getting done again today in a few hours....then back down to the doctor wednesday morning. Something has got to give.

    I am also wondering if with this surgery I will be able to perform my job again. Dont know what kind of weight limitations are set and for how long.

    This runs in my family...my mom has surgery on her back...I will have to find out the details but I know they went in from the front and the rear and put in quite a bit of hardware.

    Anywayz...arm is throbbin from typin. Ill let you guys know how it goes and what I am deciding to do...

    Thanks for the support...I need it!

  • Had my second set of MRI's done today. This MRI machine was so much better than the "tunnel" machine from last time.

    I got a CD from this one and was looking at it....looks like there is more than one....but Im no doctor.

    Just see some changes since my last one. Anywayz, headed to Columbus Wednesday to talk with the ortho and neuro doctor.

    Getting very nervous about this surgery....think I read too much on the internet! Maybe they will try the injections first....worth a try I guess...

    everyone take care,
  • Get a second opinion if your nervous.

    Its all up to you really, if it is affected your life to the point its disabling you, I would personally have the surgery done.

    I had an MRI done, was sent to a spine surgeon that same week, he told me surgery or continue the conservative treatments which have been ineffective, of course I choose surgery.

    Right now I feel its the right decision. I feel like crap right now (Useless I guess) as I can't go out, work, etc for the next few months, but in the end it will be worth it as my sciatica is gone as well as my lower back pain.

    As far as surgery goes:

    Catheters-I did not have one at first but I started having urinary retention so I did get one, most likely from being under for 5 hours.

    They used staples on me as I have about a foot long incision.

    They give you good pain meds for the first day or so and they keep your pain under control.
  • Well tomorrow AM is my appointment. I have come to the conclusion that is my doctor says surgery I am going to go for it. I really trust my surgeon and my gut instinct is to have the surgery.

    My step-son blew a brake line on my truck and I have been pretty much laying around the house on meds for the last week. I felt pretty descent, just slight pain.

    Anyway this morning I decided I had to get out of this house and replaced the line on the truck....My god, I could not believe how weak my right arm was.....could barely even pick up tools ect. got it done about 2hrs hours....normally would have took me an hour.

    Now the pain is back and worse.....stupid me.....burning pain down my arm neck pain headache.....anyways I wanna say thanks to all those who have been replying on here and we will see what doc says tomorrow.

    thanks brian
  • My surgery is scheduled for 2-19-09

    Anterior cervical decompression Fusion

    Wish me luck....Thanks all!

  • Hi Brian,

    Firstly... i'm not a doc or nurse, but have had over 30 operations lol! (only 1 for spine!! - just be grateful you're not a woman and i'll say no more lol). Anyway, as for your hospital questions.

    Getting there - typically you're admitted the day before for blood tests etc, just like being in a hotel!! only they'll give you a cut off time that you can't eat or drink anything so you can have op... some places you arrive at hospital the morning of day of your op... just depends. At some point before you go to theatre the docs come by to check on you (an anastesiologist + someone may come by from your surgeons team... ) + there's the final consent form signing... everyone practically asks if you're allergic to anything... (if you are allergic to anything you get kind of tired of answering the question so many times! lol - but better safe than sorry!)

    For hospital: leave your jewelry at home or with someone you trust --- take pajamas (loose), slippers, bathrobe, toothpaste etc...; glasses, ipod, phone... book/mags, electronic games (good to distract you while you wait for op - just be careful of security...), socks

    If you are really an anxious patient, make sure they know when you go for admission. They can prescribe sedatives so that even before they take you down to theatre.. you are less anxious! Typically you go from your room to a kind of holding area just before you go to theatre. If this happens, you'll be in the holding area until they are ready for you in theatre. This could be 5 minutes or half an hour... just depends. When you leave the holding area for theatre, typically you are awake when they take you to theatre itself. The nurses and everyone will check in on you, key people will probably introduce themselves/or their role in the op to you - believe me, they are trying to put you at ease. They'll talk you through everything in a clam helpful way. Once they have you on the op table it all happens quite quickly. They'll do your IV for meds and for your anastesia, they may hold a mask over your face briefly for your anastesia... or the sleepy medicine may come through the iv... but then you are out... completely out! I think the longest i was "awake" in theatre before the sleepy medicine kicked in was 5 minutes, so it is all quick and they try to help put you at ease. When you wake up in recovery, you may or may not have an oxygen mask on your nose/face, depends on what you need, but there shouldn't be any "internal" tubes for your breathing. You'll still have your iv line in, cause they'll still use that until your discharged from hospital, in case you need any iv meds.

    When you wake up in recovery the nurses will keep an eye on you until you're ready to be wheeled back to your room. You may be in recovery for awhile, and thats ok, they'll make sure you're comfortable and you can ask them questions. When they think you've come out enough of your anastesia, stable and all that, they'll arrange for you and your gurney to be wheeled to your room. You'll be sooooo sleepy while in your recovery and with all the meds, alot of this part is a blur... next thing you know you see your loved ones in your room and you'll still be sleepy!!

    THIS IS SOLELY BASED ON MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.... not a doc like i said... but hope some practical info helps you.

    Best of luck!!
    L4-L5 fusion 1998; ACDF C4-6 2008; DDD
  • Neck Surgery went fine....

    Now my back....having a microdiskecetomy done this coming friday on L5/S1.

    Horrible pain in lower back, butt, leg, and a numb foot for 45 days.

    Hopefully this surgery goes as good as the first one!
  • Wow, I'm glad that the ACDF went well but am really sorry that you're now having to have a lumbar surgery. I had a friend that had a microdiscectomy and she had great success with it. Although she took her entire 12 weeks off (she had a state job) she felt really good after a month or so and felt she could've gone back to work (but she was in IT).

    Good luck on your micro-d and I hope you recover quickly. I think being young is a great benefit to you in recovery.

    Thanks for the update and please keep us posted.

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