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

Neck issues at 28

jenb13jjenb13 Posts: 27
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hello, I am 28yrs old and have had pain in my neck for years. I was a very active athlete in high school and went on to pitch for my softball team in college and for the last 5 years I have been competitively playing volleyball. Every so often I would go to pass the volleyball and I would receive a "shocking" feeling that would radiate from my neck to my finger tips. It would only last a couple minutes and then I would continue to play. I have always had issues with my neck, from stiffness to pains in my shoulders, and lately tingling and numbness through my arms to my thumbs/fingers. I went to a Chiropractor which after 2 months my symptoms seemed to get worst. My Chiro ordered me to get a MRI and here are the results:

Mildly increased signal noted in the cervical spinal cord at the C5 through the C6-C7 levels. The spinal canal diameter is narrowed down to approximately 5mm at the C5-6 level due to disc bulging discussed below. There is also narrowing of the spinal canal down to approximately 7-8mm at the C4-% and C6-7 levels. The increased signal in the spinal cord as discussed earlier is the most consistent with mild myelomalacia.

At the C4-5 level there is central and left paracentral disc bulging. The left paracentral disc bulging is approximately 5mm. This results in moderate left-sided neuroforaminal narrowing.

At the C5-C6 level there is a disc bulge of approximately 5mm centrally and towards the left paracentral aspect. This results in encroachment upon the anterior thecal sac and to a mild degree the spinal cord itself.

At the C6-C7 level there is mild central disc bulging of approximately 1-2 mm.

Significant disc bulging at the C4-5 and C5-6 levels as discussed above. There is narrowing of the spinal canal at these levels which results in encroachment upon the spinal cord. This results in mild myelomalacia of the spinal cord at this level.

I see a neurosurgeon on Tuesday and I am wondering what I should be asking and what I can expect. Any advise would be wonderful. I am so scared that they are going to say I need surgery or I have to become inactive. :(


  • I was told this morning that I need to have a 2 level ACDF at C5-6 and C6-7. When he said that this is the route I need to take I was very surprised as I was fully expecting a recommendation of Physical Therapy or something of that sort. The Dr. stated that I am to the point that if I had any type of accident or was hit in the head with a volleyball I could be paralyzed. I have loss if feeling in my pointer and middle finger and Thumb. I am really trying to grasp what this surgery all entails and what I should be asking. I am seeing that there is also a Artificial Disc Replacement surgery out there with no fusion....anyone have an idea about that? Also it seems that a lot of articles and posts about ACDF surgery there is some type of bone graph, that was not mentioned to me.....can anyone help me out and give me some info if you have had either of these surgeries?
  • Welcome to Spine Health Jen. As I was reading your first post I was thinking the NS would recomend surgery soon.

    I am 3 weeks out of c5-6-7 acdf that I was suppose to have in October. I actually have more range of motion than I did before. My Insurance co forced me to go through several weeks of painful PT. The minute I woke from surgery the muscle spasms in my upper back/shoulders were gone as were all the other symptoms.

    I now have a small host of other symptoms from the swelling/healing but expect them to go away in the next few weeks. I am expecting to be out from work for 6 weeks total.

    I had a lumbar fusion about 1.5 years ago and can say that the recovery from this is much easier for me. Several of my friends that had ACDF (anterior cervical discectomy & fusion) have had no problems. There are a few people on the board who did not have a smooth fusion and had to refuse posteriorly (not fun).

    You might want to get a second opinion from another NS or OS. Just to see if you are a candidate for AD. I was not- my NS said 6-7 doesn't have a lot of movement any way and then at 5-6 I had too much going on. If 3 or 4 go I may consider it again.

    Good luck,

  • Hi Jen,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. My guess is your surgeon is talking about doing a ACDF(anterior cervical discetomy and fusion). As far as the disc replacement(adr=artificial disc replacement), I personal don't have much information on them. That procedure was approved in the US July 17, 2007. But it has been in practice in European countries for sometime now. I can comment on the grafting material. Some will use your bone(autograft) or cadaver bone(allograft). There are also synethetic materials available. One of those being BMP, however the FDA has warned against the use of it in the cervical spine. You should discuss with the surgeon the type of grafting they will be using and the success ratio with multi level fusion. What I would suggest is that you seek a second opinion just to give yourself more confidence in surgery, and to see if there is a difference of opinion. We have had many success stories in reference to cervical spine surgery, although you don't see them posting to often as they are out living normal busy everyday lives. You might want to check out the FAQ section and look at the 38 questions to ask a spine surgeon. See how many of those questions you can answer for yourself regarding surgery. If you still have questions make another appointment and seek those answers out. Some of we maybe able to answer for you as well.

    Surgery is a very personal choice and often a bit hard to grasp as to what is going to happen. Just be sure to do your research and gain understanding so you know what to expect. We are here all the time to provide any help and guidance we can. If I can be of any help don't hesitate to pm me. keep us posted on what you decide to do. Take care.
  • Update: Thanks for sending me information and your thoughts, it is very much appreciated as it is nice to know I am not alone :)! I found out today that I am not a candidate for the Artificial Disk replacement because of my arthritis that I have. My surgeon said that I would not even notice the loss in my range of motion as he said it would decrease 5-7%, is that really true? With the compression on my spinal cord being considerable I have booked my ACDF for April 8th. I feel like it is very soon, but I also am slightly excited at the thought of 4-6 months down the road not having any neck pain as I have had pain of some sort since I was about 14. My next questions would be about what I can do to fully prepare myself for surgery? Are there any type of exercises that could help to strengthen muscles to make recovery easier or faster?
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859

    For a Spine-Health Site introduction, Click on :

    Welcome To Spine-Health

    If you have any questions, feel free to contact (PM) any one of the Moderators here Priestess , Jeauxbert, Bruce , DiLauro
    In addition, you can always contact any one of the members of the Authority team haglandc , tamtam , Neck of Steel , Cath111

    The Spine-Health Web site offers so much more than these Member Forums.
    Check the various tabs at the top of the Spine-Health page and you will find so much that is offered here.

    Please remember that all information you receive from members on this forum is NOT
    formal medical advise. You should always consult with your doctors.

    To get back to the Forums, you can always click on Forum Home

    Please feel free to contact me at rdilauro@gmail.com or send me a message

    I think one of the things you should do is go for a second opinion. Most doctors would try to use the conservative route first to see if that can help with the problem. When a doctor is suggesting surgery right at the start, its generally because a disc is impinging a nerve root, so that sooner the surgery the better to avoid long term nerve damage.

    Reading many of the posts here, you were also find so many posts where people at your age tell us that their doctors do not want to operate because they are so young. Personally, age shouldnt play that important of a role. Spinal injuries do not discriminate regarding age, so why should surgery.

    I had two ACDF surgeries covering C4/C5 C6/C7.
    Both times I had a bone graft. That was a chip that was taken from my hip. There are other options, such as cadaver bone or artificial.

    The best thing for you is to become the 'expert'
    regarding your condition. Research.
    You can start here:

    All about Neck Pain

    Spinal Injections

    Pain Management

    Cervical Spine Surgery

    Wishing you the best.

    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
  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I've had a 3-lvl ACDF (like tamtam said, that's probably what you're surgeon is suggesting) and had a lot of symptoms in my arms and hands, such as numbness, tingling, weakness, pain, and muscle spasms in my back and shoulders.

    When I woke up after surgery, all those symptoms were gone and you'll find that many here experienced the same thing. My ROM isn't too bad considering I had three levels fused. The biggest problem is keeping my head in one position for too long causes pain.

    If you go ahead with surgery, you'll want to get things ready for your recovery at home. Some things depend on whether you'll be wearing a brace or not, but regardless you'll have restrictions such as no bending, lifing or twisting. Your throat might be sore for a while because of the way they do the surgery so having some soft food around is a good idea. Bendy straws, a grabber tool, and having a rolling table next to where you'll be "camping" will be helpful. A lot of neckies find that sleeping in a recliner post-op for a few weeks is the most comfortable, as laying flat can be difficult.

    One thing that's very important is to have complete confidence in your surgeon. If you have any doubts about him or her, it would be a good idea to see another one to get a second opinion (like was suggested above). I'm not surprised that surgery was suggested, as you have impingement on your spinal cord and that's very dangerous. With that in mind, I probably wouldn't do any exercises at this point to be on the safe side.

    I know how scary it is to be facing spine surgery, but you have a very good attitude regarding looking forward to feeling better and that will help you in your recovery. Please keep in mind that with any spine surgery, recovery is a long process so be prepared to be patient and follow your doctor's orders.

    Take care, Jen. Feel free to PM me if you have questions or just want to vent to a fellow neckie. We're here to help you get through this and I'm sure you're going to do fine.

  • I can't add much, but I have been suffering from neck problems for three years and have terrible times somedays and ok other days. I too am 28 and it is a bummer :( .
    Hope you feel better.
  • Sorry to hear about your neck. I went thru a similar issue last year. Thought I tore my rotator cuff playing basketball. Turned out I herniated two discs. Had ACDF 5-7 a little over 6 months ago. Saw two surgeons who both gave same treatment opinion.

    You should be glad your surgery is so soon. I had to book mine 8 weeks out. Between the extreme pain and the pre-surgery anxitey it was rough.

    My recovery was very smooth. I was lucky compared to many others. All my radiating arm/shoulder/back pain was gone immediately. Stayed in hosptial two nights. Wanted to leave after first. Missed two weeks of work (desk job). Wore a collar for four weeks. Started spin classes 6 weeks post-op. Moved to light weights after that. I am now cleared for anything that doesnt involve heavy weights over the shoulders or jumping. Lack of playing hoops is rough.

    Slight range of motion loss. Still get lots of questions about the scar (annoying). Otherwise feel like I am back to normal. If I never get any better, I will be very happy with the outcome.

    Good luck with your surgery.
  • Jen - Your account is not set-up to receive private messages so I cant respond.

    It is not a matter of not physically being able to play. Its the risk of blowing out the discs directly above and below the fused vertebrea. Risking permenant injury and additional surgery is not something to be taken lightly. I know two guys in our rec league that have had ACDF and still play semi-regularly. Dont want to say its not possible but I would be very open with your suregeon about both the risks of post-op V-Ball and what your goals post-recovery are. You guys both need to be on the same page to make sure you get the best outcome.

  • Hi Jen,

    I am 30 and had ACDF C5/C6 11 months ago. Almost exact same thing as AaronC, injured playing basketball, initially thought I injured my shoulder. I had pretty bad nerve root impingement, had three opinions, all saying the same thing. Before surgery, I spoke with my surgeon about my desire to continue to be active and we formulated a plan. My PT's brother had the procedure done by the same surgeon that I went to. PT didn't work for me, and my PT had worked with many of this surgeon's patients pre and post op. He assured me of 2 things-this surgeon was the best in our area, probably our state, and that he would refuse to do surgery if he thought I would receive little benefit from it (unfortunately some surgeons see dollar signs and can be cut-happy). This gave me some peace of mind. I had little to no feeling or strength in my left hand by the time I had the procedure done. Overall, I was happy with the outcome. I was back coaching football in 4 months, and have been fully cleared for any activity. Have actually been playing tennis and shooting baskets 4-5 times a week. Also have played quite a bit of golf since the 6 month mark. I should point out that I can tell I am not the same and probably never will be, but I agree with Aaron that I am happy with the outcome overall. Am a little concerned about the possible need for future procedures at adjacent levels.

    Aaron, do you think you will play basketball again? I am at the point that I feel good enough physically, but definitely don't want to go through all this again. I was playing every day of the week. Nearly a year out of surgery, I miss it pretty bad!
  • Not sure about paying hoops again. This was a fairly tramatic event and I definitely dont want a repeat, especially if I am unable to recover as well as I did this time. But I havent made up my mind officially.

    I am continuing to increase my physical exercise, including tennis. Assuming that continues to go well....who knows

    I dont see ever playing hoops regularly but perhaps once a week if I can figure out how to dial back some of the intensity/competitiveness that i used to have on the court. Cant decide which I miss more, the physical part of the game or the mental fun of pushing yourself to win in a competitive environment. You just dont get that with individual workouts.
  • Thanks for the input guys. I have been playing volleyball 3 nights a week and on the weekends for the last 6 years and it is hard to see my life without it. I do understand that I have to put it all in perspective.

    I am 1 week away from surgery and at this point have not been on any type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for 2 weeks and i find it amazing how bad the pain is and the headaches just will not go away. My left leg went to "sleep" last night and never really felt fine all night. I feel like this surgery cannot come sooner and I hope I have a good recovery like you guys and will have an option about my activity. I think the worst is just no knowing. 1 more week.
Sign In or Register to comment.