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I'm scared!!!!

NumbskullNNumbskull Posts: 1,526
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I have DDD in my C4/C5/C6 discs, with osteophytes, and the C5/6 disc is protruding, with stenosis, but the surgeon figures that it has now herniated (thanks to a coughing fit while I had bronchitis a couple of months ago). PT had helped, (was doing traction, manual manipulation and stabilization on and off from Oct 07 to present) until that point, and the pain, numbness and tingling, in my neck, right shoulder, shoulder blade, bicep and straight down my arm into my thumb came back with a vengeance. A new development is feeling like I've hit my funny bone, and when the pain is particularly intense, I can't move my thumb. I've been off work for 8 weeks now... I akso have developed some pain in my left arm as well, by my elbow...

The pain has improved, I can now sit for a couple of minutes, and driving is not as bad as it was, but my doctor actually threatened to have my license suspended if they found out I was driving (is that normal?). Nothing helped with pain relief when it was at it's worst, I hate popping pills, but none of what they gave me helped anyways (ibuprofen, naproxen, voltaren, flexoril, tylenol 3, percocet, and even sleeping pills, which I still lay awake, or wake up from spasms and pain. The percocet took a little of the edge off at that time, but not enough to be worth taking them... I've tried accupuncture, accupressure, and yes, even therapeutic touch, even traction doesn't provide relief anymore, and that was my saving grace...

I'm scared, because the pain has subsided, when I'm at rest, but once I'm up and moving around, it becomes worse, although not as bad as what it was a couple of weeks ago. My dilemma now, is do I go ahead with the surgery, which is supposed to happen in a couple of weeks? I'm to have an anterior cervical foraminotomy, which is not as invasive as an ACDF, no fusion, they just go in and remove the bone spurs, any part of the "offending" vertebrae and disc, and open up the spinal canal.

Should I go ahead with the procedure, or wait it out? It's been almost 2 years living with this problem, with some periods of relief, but there is the chance that it will get worse again... What to do... It's so scary.... Any advice is appreciated!!!!!
APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,833
    all the Pros and Cons regarding surgery.

    No Surgery
    IF you dont have surgery, what has your doctor told you in terms of what to expect?
    Is there any nerve related problems with a disc pressing on a nerve root?
    Will the condition get worse without any surgical intervention.

    With Surgery
    What is the expected recovery time

    DDD itself should never be the reason for surgical procedures. Many disc problems can also be worked out through various conservative treatments. Even if you have been through them, there are always other treatments or other specialists that can handle situations

    The biggest concern I would have is if there is any nerve damage. In those situations, surgery is many times the only option.

    What sounds curious is that when you are resting you seem to feel better, but when you become active, the pain surfaces. Is that during the initial time after resting or all the time you are active.

    One of the most important things to remember is keeping positive and have an attitude that you know there is something out there that will help you in the short term and for the long haul.

    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Yes, the nerve root is being compressed by a bone spur, and my spinal canal is also being compressed by the disc. I have done everything possible through other conservative care, except for epidural shots, which I don't want. The other eipsodes I have had, were taken care of through physio, but this episode was that severe that nothing was helping.

    I do know that without the surgery, yes, the condition can get better, it already is, but I will always have this, and it may come back again at some point. At 36, even though my mom says I'm not a spring chicken anymore :P, I feel I'm still pretty young, and don't want this hanging over my head for the rest of my life. I miss being able to do the things I used to be able to do!!!

    With surgery, there are always risks, and although it won't fix the DDD per se, it will fix the radicular pain that I suffer, and that is the sweetest sound to my ears right now. The recovery time is not too bad, I'd be back to work in 2 months.

    So in reading all this, one might think, so what's the problem, go for it!!! But it's the fact that they will be messing around my spinal canal that scares the crap out of me!!!! I know in my heart that I will go ahead with the surgery, it's the fact that sometimes, when I'm feeeling not too bad for a few minutes, that I think do I really need it?
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Hi Smiley. I know cervical spine surgery is a very scary thing to contemplate, but really, there are many, many success stories. I was terrified also, but didn't have a choice whether to have surgery or not. I had never even stayed in a hospital before, much less have surgery, but I did find that the anticipation was worse than the surgery. I've heard other people say the same thing. Surgery is not a death sentence - many times it's a life saver. It was for me.

    Like PapaRon said, you need to keep in mind that if you choose not to have surgery, you could have permanent nerve damage.

    Take care and keep us updated. Feel free to PM me if you need to talk or just want to vent.
  • I would soooo totally wait it out ! That's just my uneducated opinion but I've waited out pain that has resolved itself before.
    I'm 48 and have been told not to have surgery until my pain is unbearable or I'm paralyzed - whichever happens first. It was explained to me that the body develops spurs because it's trying to repair injury done by arthritis - by re-enforcing with more bone. Surgery will create more injury and the spurs will not only come back...but come back faster and bigger. Docs have said I'm too "young" to have this happen.
    It makes sense to me.
    Best Regards,
  • I also have DDD in my C4-5,5-6,6-7. Your symptoms were just like mine before my first surgery. My symptoms got better with surgery, but I have a few more complications also. I have had 3 neck surgeries on all 3 levels. My headaches have gone away, butt I still have to lie flat without a pillow until the pain has resided. You have to keep in mind that I have had 3 fusions also. I think having this surgery with the pain you described would benefit you. Butt always know this. My neurosurgeon said that any neck surgery always takes a full YEAR to recover. Don't get inpatient. I think I'm going to try Neurostimulation. I hope everything will go great for you.
  • lol, kattoo, I am actually the last poster on your thread!!! Too funny... well, not really, due to the subject, but ironic!!! I wish you luck with your surgery, and that you do have a quick recovery!!! >:D<

    Toni and Cath, thanks for your encouraging words, they are needed and appreciated!!! :*

    jasro, I know what you mean about surgery causing more injury, I'm in a mess with my leg, as well, after a lateral release 3 years ago, which is why I have doubts about this surgery - what if another problem is caused because of it??!! aarrgghhh ~X(

    But then, after days like today, where I just can't find any comfortable position, and have a really bad headache, my neck and shoulder is more stiff and sore than usual, and my arm has been numb and tingling all day, I just want to drive the 2 hours to the hospital and camp out, hoping they can fit me in sooner... :W

    Have a good, peaceful, pain free night all!!!
    Smiley ;)
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • I have pretty much the same problems with my cervical spine. Mild disc herniations and moderate right and severe left foraminal stenosis from bone spurs. Having a foraminotomy does not really involve too much of the spinal cord itself. They may have to shave off some of the protruding disc but essentially leaving the disc in place,which to me is better than having the disc removed.

    I have had all of the conservative treatments over the past year(pt, traction, steroid shots,oral steriods, etc)with some benefit but not complete relief. Now I have extreme arm,shoulder pain and numbness and tingling in all my fingers especially when I increase my activity level.

    My emg is saying that I have carpal tunnel and ulnar neuropathy, but I have none of those symptoms, and now those same symptoms are starting on the right side of my body. I have done alot of research and I do believe I have double crush syndome.

    My neck was injured in a car accident about 20+ years ago and I have spondylosis and ddd. I want to have the surgery because I have no quality of life presently. I have to take percocet or oxycontin for pain depending upon my activity level that particular day and cannot drive on those meds. If the surgery will give me back some life now then I will go for it.

    I am an operating room nurse and have done many of these prodedures so I know what is involved. Unfortunetly, I have been in and out of work for the past year and want atleast some of my life back and to be able to work again. I am only 44 years old and have had bad neck issues for the past 6 years and mild neck issues fo about 20 years. So it is a personal decision I guess depending upon how much your life is being affected by your neck problems. Oh and yes, you are not soposed to drive if you are taking narcotics. It is the same as driving under the influence.
  • My problems started 8 years ago Smiley. I did everything you did plus the epidural shot numerous time. In the beginning the shots gave me relief, as did the PT and the Meds. After all these years I finally got a point where nothing helped anymore and had no choice but to have the surgery before the weakness in my are got worse than it already was. And 10 weeks post-op I can say I am glad I did. I had an ACDF and feeling pretty good not 100% yet but most of my presurgical pain is gone.

    And Jasro I can't believe a Dr told you "not to have surgery until my pain is unbearable or I'm paralyzed - whichever happens first", my goodness if you get to a point where you are paralyzed the damange could be permanent I'd find another Dr.....Just my opinion!!
  • I am 19 days post op for C5-C7 ACDF 2 with allografts and hardware. I had a very hard time deciding to get the surgery but was told I was heading for some serious disabilities if I didn't get it. My left arm was so weak I couldn't even open sugar packets! I had numb fingers and thumb on my left hand for more than a year and couldn't tell what was in my pocket if something was in there.
    I started dropping things as I couldn't determine if my grip was solid enough to hold something and I lost that "radar" you have when you know your body part was close enough to something so, I would constantly cut my hand when chopping vegetables or not realize a pot was that hot when I picked it up and burned myself.
    I frequently banged my hands into door jambs, drawers and the like. The pain in my arm and neck kept me awake all night and I had spasms in my torso, limbs and digits that were very painful. When my NS said things would get even worse, I decided to get the surgery. I couldn't handle anything worse than that!
    Trust your surgeon. Stay positive and think about getting back some of the things you lost or losing some of the suffering you're enduring.
    The only thing I would have done differently so far is I would have cut my hair. It's far too much to manage with the Philadelphia collar and the discomfort of the recovering body.
    I wish you the best in your procedure and recovery. Kaye
  • smiley735 said:

    !! I know in my heart that I will go ahead with the surgery, it's the fact that sometimes, when I'm feeeling not too bad for a few minutes, that I think do I really need it?
    wow I feel like you read my mind, some days I go in the sauna and swim or go to the chiropractor and feel totally fine, other days im in serious pain and ready to give up and have surgery. keep me posted on what to do, Im 29 and feel like surgery could be the start of my ending.
  • jasro said:
    I would soooo totally wait it out ! That's just my uneducated opinion , It was explained to me that the body develops spurs because it's trying to repair injury done by arthritis - by re-enforcing with more bone. Surgery will create more injury and the spurs will not only come back...but come back faster and bigger. Docs have said I'm too "young
    jasro what you said right here goes thru my head 24\7 no matter how bad my pain is...
  • I know things could be worse but I also never thought things could be this bad.
  • Kattoo you have surgery yet? if so what kind?
  • Hell, I just *now* figured out how to keep up with posts. duh.

    My pain level is consistantly worse in the winter. I think it's simply inflammation created by cold weather that is irritated by sleeping at night which creates some kind of "pressure neuropathy" for me - which either paralyzes limbs/digits or just creates intense pain. If I stay in a neck-neutral position, take my meds and wait it out then I'm eventually (days later) able to get back to taking care of me and the house. Not with much zest - but I get it done.

    Smiley, I know by now that you had the surgery and it worked great for you. That gives me hope.

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