Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Guess "Congratulations!" isn't the right response ;)

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in New Member Introductions

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 B) . 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 :D Good luck to all.


  • Hi flyingscot,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. There is plenty of information here to absorb. You may want to look in the FAQ section and look at the list of questions to ask your surgeon. Getting a second opinion is a good idea, and some even go with a third if their is any difference of a opinion. I would make sure the two are not connected in any affiliations, so as you get the true second opinion. Not all who have had spine issues and surgery, have had a bad outcome. Keep in mind the successful surgeries have long moved on in life and are out leading very productive lives. Now I won't sugar coat it either, as it is true that fusing one level puts additional stress on the remaining levels. You need to look at the odds of those that need surgery that it has happened to. Many people have herniated disc and have no symptoms or even know they have them. If you follow all the surgeons orders and do what is expected of you, should have a success with surgery. Keep in mind surgery is no magic pill and it takes alot of self preservation and determination to get better as well. Often times following cervical surgery the initial pain is not to bad and patients forget the restrictions they are on, and end up having more issues.
    Anyway wanted to stop by and welcome to spine-health and keep us posted on your second appointment. Relax and enjoy that family vacation and hopefully you will sail through surgery with a successful outcome and can post that story. Take care.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You'll find many great people here who are knowledgeable and caring and there's a lot of useful information and articles as well.

    Last May, I was living my normal life - golfing, hiking, etc - when I suddenly got some major pain in the middle of my back and went to the doc thinking I sprained something or other. She sent me for an x-ray and like you, my life changed completely.

    I had a 3-lvl ACDF and am now battling a bad lower back. It's amazing how our lives can change in a New York minute (to quote the Eagles). I couldn't think how this could've happened but my docs and I believe it stems from a bad car accident I had 30 years ago.

    Your cervical problem doesn't have to be a life sentence, but I understand how it can feel that way. My sudden onset and diagnosis hit me between the eyes as well but with the right surgeon, you can move on to live a normal (or close to it) life.

    It's a serious surgery and a long recovery but many people get through it with their symptoms gone and back to the life they had before. You won't find a lot of successful stories on these forums because the ones who have had successful surgeries generally move on and no longer post because they no longer need the support that's offered here.

    Take care of yourself and enjoy your vacation. Feel free to PM me if you have questions or need to talk.

  • welcome to SH.
    one good thing is you found out about the problem early. theres time to stop it before it gets worse..look at it this way...youre lucky....go for it now and save future troubles. youre lucky your pain tollerance is high....dont risk further nerve damage by waiting.
    worrying about future can be aggravating but youve done your research and have confidence in surgeon. after its over youll be relieved you went forward.
    thats my thinking....lets see what other people here think.
    by the way i have had 6 surgeries but my whole spine is bad...if i hadnt gone ahead i'd be paralyzed now. i'll never regret it...
  • Yep, had a long talk with both my shoulder doc that found this and my Ortho surgeon. Both made a very big point that this was found early and as such I should not have to suffer the nerve regeneration / permanent pain others do that find this late. I'm doubly fortunate that all other vertebrae look good, I'm in great physical condition, and haven't altered my posture or otherwise caused atrophy by favoring an arm.

    I'm continuing with a modified workout routine, just not running or overhead lifting. I know I am fortunate, and extra-ordinarily lucky that I had a good Ortho Shoulder guy that found this once I gave him "the full" story #o d'oh! Just shows you how important it is to communicate well with your doctor.

    Just very odd to look at my MRI and know the odd burning, weakness, electrical shocks, etc. caused by some bone essentially strangling my nerves. You can see the point and line in my MRI avatar, even as small as it is. Some ways wish I didn't know until the day they come and say "OK, let's wheel you into surgery now..." My brother is horrified since his back experience was and remains so lousy...but after spending so much time with him, meeting others with back problems so severe they are disabled, and being a family dealing with chronic pain and the fallout...I'm both very aware of what I'm getting into as well as how fortunate I am.

    It is through my brother's experience that I know to get in and get surgery done now. He ignored this for as long as he could, then did not focus on his recovery effectively. Couple that with a bit of bad luck and you have the elements of life-long chronic pain and disability. I used to have a hard time getting others to understand the impact and real pain that my brother had - he "...looked fine, even thin". Never mind the early grey hair (he is fully grey now), enlarged heart, slow walk and awkward stance.

    I used to sit in the Dr. office with him, look around and think "...I'm so fortunate not to be like these folks". Well, today I am now "...like these folks". And I get the same blank stares from my friends and some co-workers coupled with the classic..."But you look great!". If this problem could manifest as a flashing neon sign think others could relate. Good luck all, I'm likely going to start a blog in a bit - writing helps me think and work through all this.

    ..and to think, this likely all started over 20 years ago when I was rear-ended in a 1981 F150 pickup while headed to take my senior final exams to graduate college. Talked at length with my Dr. and this is the only really hard neck / whiplash event I can recall. The truck had a bench seat without head-rests and I broke out the rear window. Other than a small cut and sore neck, just headed in and took my exams in a daze (did OK, thanks ;)) So fast forward a couple of decades and that initial crunch has been slowly growing into what I have now. Amazing to think that possibly one of the most important days in my life gets magnified even more as the full impact of that day comes full turn.
  • Sounds like you have a great attitude and will do well. I think you also understand the need to take your recovery period very seriously...to not rush it and not push yourself...too much too soon, etc. Sounds like you have been through all this with your brother.

    I will look forward to hearing about your progress as you move forward through this experience.

    Hopefully, your 43rd birthday will be better!!

    Again, welcome.

    xx Gwennie
  • I just want to welcome you to SH and let you know we're glad you joined our community :H As you know, it's really tough to go from active and abled-bodied to disabled due to spinal problems. I hope that you can overcome your condition and that you go on to have a normal life. Feel free to ask any questions or to just vent. Please keep us posted if you go on to have surgery. Take care
  • I am happy for you that this has been caught early enough that you may escape permanent nerve damage. Sounds like you've done your research and have a couple of opinions. I, too, would choose to act now while you have the best odds before nerve damage becomes permanent.

    Couple of my favorite sayings stolen from Facebook Flair: "I look great? Hmm, I feel like crap." and "My disabling chronic illness is more real than your imaginary medical expertise." While you may not say those things, I like to keep them in mind and it helps me when folks tell me I look fine! :)

    Welcome here, you'll find folks from all walks of life and all kinds of experiences. Like it was said, lots of folks who get better stop posting and move on with their lives so sometimes it seems like negative outcomes prevail, but I do not think this is true.

    Keep us updated!
  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. i can understand why you are nervous and upset!! ~X( i hope you are able to reach a conclusion soon. :D good luck!! :D Jenny :)
  • I had C5/6 fusion done 1/08. Had about a 3 month recovery and left shoulder to hand pain acutely afterwards. But, it was a great success and a much easier recovery than the lumbar fusion I had last summer. BUT, I must stress the importance of not overdoing it and forgetting that your neck has problems when you do recover. Ugghhhh! Right now I am in a pain flare that has affected my neck and right shoulder to hand. It will take some time before it goes away.

    Best wishes to you and stay in touch.......

  • Well, I've heard the stories from my brother about some of the Dr.'s he's run across. Guess it was my turn.

    First - I am now scheduled for surgery Aug. 17th at 8:00 AM. But, with my original Doc's consent ("If it helps, feel free to get a 2nd opinion - this is pretty black and white..."), I found a doc....

    Well, just got back and ran into what many of you have discussed - I just had a "Drive-by" diagnosis. Go to the office, fill out the stack of paperwork, subject myself *again* to too many x-rays, repeat my description of what is going on, why I am there at 3 times to a nurse, PA, and x-ray tech...

    Then in walks the doc. Up to this point no one has cared when I asked "do you want my MRIs?"....starts to talk, I stop him and tell him I have MRIs. 30 second delay reaction and then he yells at nurse to take the disc and display. I'm called out of waiting room 2 minutes later to receptionist desk where there is a laptop with my images - he points to one after looking maybe 20 seconds and says "Here - you have a herniated disk..."

    I ask him is he sure because both the radiologist read and my Dr.'s read were very different as noted above. He gets affronted, tells me yes that is what it is. I ask him where are all the x-rays he took (he hasn't seen them - went from one patient to me). His response is "I don't need them, I always start with injections and in 95% of cases that is all anyone needs. You'll just need to be careful. With what you have, a fall or an accident could be serious but just change how you live a bit and you can live with this..."

    At this point I'm PO'ed, can't believe how flippant he is being. No professionalism, not review of the materials I brought or the x-rays his folks took ... and then continues to re-iterate I need an injection. Now, I appreciate anyone suggesting and trying to find a minimally invasive way to treat this...but at least take the time to 1)review the materials at hand 2)explain to the patient what is going on and why. The...arrogance and dismissive process infuriated me....

    ***END RANT****

    Well - this does highlight the professionalism that my first and scheduled Surgeon/ Dr. displays. His behavior - while brusque - is detailed, thorough, considered and professional. So, I'm glad he is the one scheduled to do the surgery to fix this Aug. 17th, he has 27 years in the business and a great reputation as "...the best" amongst some nurses that have scrubbed with him for this surgery. Guess today just highlighted how fortunate I am to have some good docs...and how you can encounter poor ones just like in any profession.

    Any event - off on vacation starting tomorrow, then get myself mentally prepped for the ACDF. Good luck to all!
  • Wow - isn't it bizarre how some doctors will follow their formula with every patient, regardless of the actual facts of the case? Good for you for sticking to the original opinion even though the surgery is scary. I'm glad you have a doctor who's professional and respectful, and I wish you the best of luck with the surgery!
Sign In or Register to comment.