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

Spreading Pain and Numbness

themadrushtthemadrush Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm trying to decide whether or not to have ACDF surgery at C5-C6. I've tried very little with pain management, but my nerve root is compressed at this level of my spine. I should try the conservative approaches before surgery. I greatly fear though, by waiting I run a high risk of permanent nerve damage. Anyone know about nerve damage and risks of permanent damage???
My pain started 9 months ago as a stiff neck and shoulder, right side. 6 months later, I began experiencing shoulder pain and numbness down my right arm to the thumb. About 2 months later, the pain and numbness in right shoulder and arm increased, and I lost a great deal of strength in this arm. Now, the pain and numbness has traveled to the left shoulder and arm, as well as pain "under" my shoulder blades. It's difficult to write legibly (right handed).


  • Hi thema! Have you seen a neurosurgeon yet? If so what does the doctor say, my ns said lets do everything conservative before we do the acdf which I did have done on my c4throgh c6, same symptoms as you have. I did two cervical epidural injections with my ns pain management doctor. I would say try everything conservative first, I went through a lot of pain and different pain meds and tried lyrica for the nerve pain then went on topamax for the nerve pain and I remember when I saw my ns and asked him what I should do and he said to me you will know when its time to have surgery. And boy did I!! I called to make a surgery appt from my bed. I was just in so much pain and couldnt take it anymore. You will know when its time. Hope this helps some, let us know, Lela
  • Sorry if I mess up on posting replies, I'm new here. Anyway.....to Lela1122: You had your surgery on June 8. How's recovery? I so hope it's going well, after 3 weeks. Let me know.
    Now, I'm not bedridden, but pain and numbness symptoms are increasing at an alarming rate, specifically the past 2-3 weeks. I'm referring to the spread of numbness and pain to the left shoulder and arm. How much did your symptoms recede or go away following surgery?
  • You say the pain and numbness is spreading. What does the neurologist think? Your MRI should show how the disk is pressing out. Sounds like you had compression of the nerve root to the right and now it is compressing to the left.

    Unfortunately there is not alot that will heal this kind of herniation. If you could stay in traction long enough your disk could return to the normal position. But this is an if and not practical for most people.

    I'm curious why they want to do a fusion and not a microD. A microdisectomy would remove just the portion of the disk that is pressing on the nerve root. There is a risk of reherniating but that is small. Unless they have explained this already I would ask your doctor about it.

    You do need to report the new symptoms to your neurologist. And ask about the microD. With problems on both sides it might not be the best solution but it can't hurt to ask.

    Good Luck and let us know what you decide.
  • Hi Thema,
    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and be sure to check out the doctor written and peer reviewed literature along with the forums.

    Conservative therapy is always the preferred means that you should take before doing surgery. Spine surgery is not like having surgery on say your knee. You will forever change the mechanics of the spine. Now with that said cervical fusion surgery does have a high rate of success. Your a one level so the success rate is even higher. It is possible for the disc to herniated in both directions sitting on both the left and right nerve roots. They call mine a central herniation and mri's and the myelogram clearly show it is on both nerve roots.

    Surgery is a difficult choice for anyone to make. As long as you don't have cord involvement you can try conservative treatments. Often times your insurance company will require that before going to surgery. I would definitely contact the doctor whom is treating you and let them know it is getting worse. Have you had a emg study and if so what were the results? ACDF is the gold standard in fixing herniated disc in the cervical spine. There isn't much space to move around or open things up to make room for the nerves so hence the ACDF or artificial disc. Now if it is bone spurs causing they can just remove those and leave the mechanics of the spine alone. Some will opt for frominatomy of the cervical spine but will often lead to fusion in the future. Also the anterior approach to the cervical spine is a much easier recovery that the posterior approach with less complications.

    Once again just thought I would welcome you to spine-health and if there is anything i can do don't hesitate to pm me. Take care.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    You definitely need to contact your treating physician (hopefully a spine surgeon) and report your increasing symptoms.

    I also had the severe symptoms (numbness, tingling, arm pain, etc.) that you're describing and they increased rapidly as well during the time between meeting my surgeon and my surgery (one month). On my first visit to my surgeon, when he looked at my MRI and read the report, he said that I needed surgery and that there was no time or need for conservative treatment, it was too bad and far along for any of that.

    So you really need to talk to your surgeon and get the ball rolling, whichever ball the surgeon deems necessary. Having numbness and having such difficulty as even writing warrants that phone call.

    As for your question about symptoms after surgery, all my symptoms were gone when I woke up from surgery, with no residual effects. I was amazed, really, considering the severity of my symptoms.

    Feel free to PM me any time if you have questions or if I can help in any way. I understand what you're going through.

  • Well, I did what you guys suggested, and I talked with my NS. c4-c5 is pinching left nerve root; c5-c6 is pinching right nerve root. Hence the spreading of symptoms to my left side.
    So, my surgery is on July 28, both discs. Thank you so much for helping me with this decision.

  • Hi and welcome. You will find a lot of information here and lots of support and understanding from a friendly bunch of people.

    So, you have your date for surgery. :SS
    Do ask any questions that you may have.
    Have you taken a look at the list of useful items for after surgery? It is at the top of this group of threads.

    Do keep talking to us. We will help you through this.
    Hopefully, after surgery, you will feel much better and can tell other newbies of your success. :-)
  • jellyhall: You've already helped me mountains. I cannot begin to tell you.....
    Surgery is July 28. I'm in Washington DC from July 8-12 (prepared for pain management while doing all the walking required of a tourist). After that, I'll prepare for pre and post surgery STUFF. How nice to have friends who know..... :)))
  • Hi Thema,
    I am doing well after 3 weeks, from 2 level fusion! I noticed right away that it was all gone! Like a miracle. I do have some pain down my arm but its a different pain, my ns said it would be. I was having headaches from last saturday until yesterday those have let up. I saw my ns today and he said the headaches and residual nerve pain was not to be unexpected at this time. I would do this surgery again in a heart beat, but like you it was a hard decision to make. I am glad you decided to do it! July 28th, let us know as you get closer and after how you are doing!
Sign In or Register to comment.