It's been a while since I've been on the Spine-H forum and actually posted my status with DDD but not that I haven't logged on to know I am not alone in this horrible disease.
In 1995 Challenge #1 of three bone spurs encroaching spinal cord at C-3/4 C-4/5 C-5/6 and my first cervical spine surgery = ACDF, and unfortunately, with progressive degenerative disc disease on the five levels immediately below those levels now becoming Challenge #2 for most seven years.
As many of your know living with DDD and the painful symptoms of nerves, muscles, ligaments taking the heavy burden of movement of a dysfunctional spine, disc and fusion is ongoing.
After sustaining two motor vehicle accident injuries (a rear-end collision in 2004 and then a broadside t-bone in 2007 which miraculously did not cause direct injury to the spinal cord)the final verdict came in 5 months ago that levels C-6/7 C-7/8 T-1/2 which have been creating much havoc and pain is now moved from "advanced degeneration" to "severe / chronic degeneration" with kyphosis and spondylosis conditions needing correction for the advanced and the no longer tolerable nerve pain resulting in chronic nerve impingement on two levels.
Where things are now I've known for the past seven years I'd be having another reconstructive surgery, BUT I didn't know I'd be facing such a complicated dilemma.
Re: Anterior and Posterior Surgeries needed
The surgery would require a front (anterior) approach for reconstructive space for the nerve root openings and anterior plates and screws and a posterior (back) approach for the reconstruction /stabilization of plates and screws C-6 down into T-2. The posterior surgery has been assessed for some time now, and it was deemed serious and with added risk because of it doing instrumental fusion of two distinct and different areas, the cervical and the thoracic spine and posterior surgeries are longer to recover from (muscles, nerves contractured during the process, etc). But now this anterior surgery, which is priority now because of the severe symptoms of chronic nerves (brachial branch, peripheral to the median and ulnar nerves) all affected and the severe loss of strength, feeling, disability of shoulder, arm and drastic pain and loss in wrist strength, hand and all fingers, is really a bigger problem. After recent MRI, CT Scans and flexion x-rays, my surgeon assesses the anterior surgery should be done first, however, because of the high risk of it being considered a "revision surgery" second anterior approach surgery being done (first was 15 yrs ago) the risks are extremely high for laryngeal, esophageal and voice box nerve and muscle damage. And a high risk for non-fusion to the immediate fused area just above at C-4/5/6.
Last month it was a lot to comprehend and digest and to be up for not just one but two surgeries, but then to take in the "high risk" complications losing voice, swallowing problems and 70/30 incomplete failed fusion. Then I got a phone call / voice mail message from my highly experienced, renowned surgeon he had reviewed my studies (MRI CT and X-rays) and because of the whole scope of things "in his best interest and mine he would not consider me being a surgical candidate and him doing the surgery".
I had two surgeons one out-of-state prime #1 ortho surgeon where I used to live, and another surgeon close to where i live in Florida, who is almost equal to skill, credentials and experience. The surgeon close to home basically agreed explaining the risks involved and that my impression and awareness of those complications and damage being done by lesser experienced surgeons is not the case, even the good surgeons such as my out-of-state surgeon and himself have those complication/damage occurring.
So....the only recourse I had this past month was to get cervical spine nerve blocks done which we excruciatingly painful and nothing like lumbar spine injections which after three series I am pain-free. In fact, after 3 days my nerve pain and spasms is much worse and I believe, which can happen, I have sustained worse inflammation to the nerves directly from the bi-lateral (two injections given on both sides).
I've gone from totally intolerable mid-back and shoulder pain to now off the charts intolerable continuous nerve spasms, deep aching and burning hands and fingers. The disability of my hand is to not being able to use when the spasm is going on, my arm is weak with constant neuralgia.
AND I have hydo-codeine doubled now to some how function and the only way to stop the source of all of this two surgeries (which I dreaded having but realize was the only open door to resolve) is now taken off the table !
I know others have gone through more than one surgery - - I am bewildered and being in a catch 22 of not being able to live with this - - but being told I have to is almost as unbearable as the actual physical pain and my whole spirit and vision is totally darkened although I try to stay positive, pray and keep the faith and try to remain hopeful of covering all bases on this. Another opinion....pursue neuromuscular specialists (neurologist who specialize with thoracic outlet and brachial and cervical plexus nerve disorders) but knowing the severe advanced DDD kyphosis and multiple bone spurs in C-spine is the culprit.
Help - - appreciate any guidance or support any of you can lend. My waking hours are very hard with being dependent on cervical traction collar, hydrocodeine double-dose every 3 hrs making it barely tolerable. The nerve spasms are excruciating and happen whether I am moving my body / head / arms - - this nerve pain is the worse ever....and then to have "no light at the end of this"....omGod !