I'm 41 (42 next week), father of 2 (8 & 2 yrs) who is athletic, active and top of the world. Well, 3 weeks ago I was being treated for what I figured was Bursitis/Tendonitis in the left shoulder...possibly a small tear. Then my perfect world experienced a glitch...
Go back to 3 months to April/May and I was in the middle of a very intense exercise series (fairly fit) and had some problems with left shoulder pain. Great - I've had continually bicep and shoulder pain in my right arm leading to surgery in 2005 and multiple recent cortisone shots. Now my left was acting up? ...and yes, pain tolerance for me is quite high - been told that is not always a good thing.
Went to a good old school ortho doc. I go through a cortisone shot in left, PT for 1 month. Not really better...so I go back and as soon as I mentioned in passing that the swelling in shoulder must be bad enough to impede circulation because my hand and thumb were tingling / numb quite a bit....he said "Go down the hall - need to get an X-Ray of your neck".
Shows me the x-ray, and I see in profile (both sides) a big cloud of what I assume is bone...where there should be holes like in the vertebrae above and below. My Foramen C5/C6 is closed up, "bone-spurs"/pinched nerves. I take Prednisone and continue PT - but focus on neck for next few weeks (opted out of MRI - didn't really believe him). PT made it worse by quite a bit. Nagging neck stiffness/soreness increased a lot, bouts of numbness and tingling got bad/have to "think" hard to control left arm/hand. Time for that MRI. Go on a Friday, get my MRI disc and read from Radiologist that afternoon (good hospital - in Boca). Pics are...scary and "read" is Spondylosis (DDD), AP Diameter reduced, Spinal Stenosis and Foramen Stenosis.
Doc cals me Monday first thing, refers to me to local Ortho Spine Surgeon - see him less than a week later and we discuss. Apparently...fairly black and white. This is bone growth, a "mechanical problem" and there is damage that will continue to get worse as this progresses. Test show I have some limited nerve damage already, but not in pain requiring meds so can minimize future impact with surgery now.
Now the options...well, there are none. At some point, will need surgery:
1)I can reduce activity, make major changes in my life (no boating, no club car racing, no sports) and treat the symptoms - then have surgery likely within 1-3 years. Risks? Nerve damage and pain that won't go away (surgery won't fix that) and risk that injury causes even more problems.
2)OR...surgery now with a good prognosis because it is treatable now, in good shape, recovery will be easier because pain now is minimal.
Neuro symptoms progressing, well the road just got very narrow and if I want to enjoy my life and family...I really only have one option. I chose surgery now (getting second opinion this Friday to confirm - (guy who started SpineUniverse) and today...I am waiting for Surgical Coordinator to call and schedule me in for an ACDF with plating (my choice is cadaver bone) of C5/C6.
I feel like I have been handed a life sentence, and still digesting. 2 weeks ago I might have this innocuous sounding problem "bone spurs", but didn't buy that - figured my shoulder/bicep hurt, that was the problem. Now I know for sure, have been educated and am scared for my future and family's future beyond belief. Basically I have no options and while next 10 year prognosis may be OK (I hope) - this type of problem leads to continual "correction" and issues over the years....Oh yeah, watched my younger brother spend 6 years and 13 surgeries, prescription drug addiction (worse) for a problem fusion with cage in his lumbar....but that is OK - Dr. says Cervical fusions "very different"
OK - I'm done, just needed to get this down and out. I'll be adjusting to this in the coming weeks and months...but right now the mental side of this is the most challenging. So, for my 42nd birthday (next week) I get to go on my family vacation...one last "hurrah!", then mid-August submit to the docs with their lancets and leaches
. C'est la Vie, I'll be a member of the "Pez" club (think Pez dispenser). Gotta check on disability, life, work, will, etc. Normally I'm fairly cavalier...but reality has hit like a ton of bricks. Just need to find the lite side of this new reality and will feel better. Long and rambling introduction, and know many others on here face even more serious issues...but hey, I'm selfish and this is about me
Good luck to all.