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considering surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I have been suffering for 10 months with neck, arm, pain, burning tingling and intermittent tingling in my hand. I have tried everything, accupuncture, PT, Reiki, 2 spinal injections. Mri, nerve studies and myelogram. all done. 3 level disc herniation and stenosis. I am blurring the lines of depression and pain at this point. I am a bit fearful of a fusion, but don't know what else to do.
a few questions:
Should i have a spine specialist or a neurosurgeon do surgery?
Should i use bone from illiac crest or morphogenic protein? not interested in bone bank.
How long is the recovery really?
and thoughts, encouragement?


  • HI pain in the neck,

    First let me say Hi and welcome to spine-health. We have a great member community who have or are going through the same issues as yourself. We can not offer up medical advice but lots of personal experience here.

    Surgery is a very personal choice and only you can make that decision based on the information from the surgeon and your own medical issues. To consider surgery, do yourself due diligence in selecting a surgeon and get multiple opinions. Once you operate on the spine you have forever changed the mechanics of the spine. Also keep in mind surgery is no magic pill and there is no guarantee with it.

    Have the surgeons told you that you need a 3 level fusion. More is not always better in this situation. After the age of 30 everyone will show issues in the spine, but all of those may not be symptomatic. Sounds as though you have had all the right testing so far and utilized many of the conservative methods of treatment.

    As far as using BMP in the cervical spine there are warnings on the packaging from the FDA about the use in the cervical spine. The issue comes in with the swelling and there just isn't much room in that area for complications. If you have a surgeon who is suggesting using BMP make sure you question his or her credential with the use of it in the cervical spine. I am not really sure about using it in three levels at all. That may really be to much at one time. I have had BMP used in the cervical spine and the swelling from it caused some serious issues. You may want to research the use in the cervical spine. I have also had cadaver bone in the cervical spine and I will tell you that, that incision smarts much more than the neck surgery itself. But it is surgery pain and you know it will get better.

    What type of meds are you currently using or have you tried to elevate the pain? If you are having issues with depression you may want to speak with your doctor regarding this before attempting a surgery. Surgery is a long recovery process and you will need lots of positive thinking to get you through. I have a three level fusion and If i can be of further assistance please don't hesitate to pm. Anyway just wanted to stop by and welcome you to spine-health and look forward to reading more of your post. Keep us posted on what you decide. Take care.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    Tamtam has some very wise words and is very experienced with cervical issues. It does sound like you've exhausted many of the conservative approaches and I'm not surprised that surgery is now on the table.

    One thing I'd like to add is that you might want to find a fellowship-trained spine surgeon. They can be either an ortho or neuro, but someone who only works on spines. They have the best training and you need to be confident in whatever surgeon you choose.

    Take care and keep us posted.
  • Welcome to SH where we will try to support you and share our experiences with you. I went to a spine center and after failed conservative therapy, was referred to their neurosurgeon. I had seen someone previously for another opinion but wasn't happy with his approach to my care. Very important to be comfortable with your surgeon and to check their credentials. I had cadaver bone and successfully fused after several months. If they take an autograft, your own bone, it will be taken from the iliac crest (hip bone). The graft site takes a while to heal and is painful. I have no personal experience with BMP.

    Most days I forget I had the surgery done. I did only have one level done.

    Best wishes,

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