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Scared about having neck surgery

pamdkmppamdkm Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in New Member Introductions
Hello! I am new to this forum. My neck pain started in June 09 with just a stiff neck. It wouldn't last very long and only happens once or twice a month. By the end of Aug it was happening every week and lasting longer. I went to a doctor who tried to tweek my neck(didn't know she was going to do that). It hurt very badly so much that she had to do manual traction on my neck. Sent me for xrays and told me she was setting me up for pt. I was already going to pt for my knee (had surgery in July 09) and had an appt for the following Tues. By time Tue arrived I couldn't move my neck, left side of face, neck and arm was going numb. Pt took one look at me and sent me to er(they thought I was having a stroke). They did a ct scan and found I had some problem disks in neck. Gave me pain meds and told me to go to my doc for MRI. We are retired military so they don't like to just do MRIs without exhausting every other option. Pt helped some but stiff neck always returned. After 4 weeks of Pt they finally decided to do a MRI. By this time it is late Oct. After MRI (which they said some bulging in neck) they sent me to pain management for the shot series. First shot on Nov 11th. After 2 days stiff neck gone and was feeling great until weekend before Thanksgiving when new symptoms occur. Gave me more meds and by mid Dec when I went for 2nd shot, doctor looked at me and order another MRI of brain and spine. Finally got to go see a nuerologist in Jan 10 who told me I had a C6 & C7 herniated disk and a bulging C4. Wanted to try all options before recommending surgery so he put me on steriods for 6 days. That didn't work so he had me try pt again and that also didn't work. So I finally got to see a neo surgeon (this is mid May) and he said that I would need a 3 disk fusion. But he wanted me to try the shots one more time. Said that after the second shot, if it didn't work he would do the surgery. I had my 1st shot last Friday, June 25th. Has now been 1 week and shot has not changed a thing. Have 2nd shot scheduled for July 26th. I have been reading quite a few of the post here and found out others have the same symptoms I have and had the surgery. My question is has anyone had a 3 disc fusion, what the recovery time is and what kind of range motion do you have? I am scared about having the surgery but I want to be able to do things again.I know this is kinda long but thanks for listening.


  • HI Phyl,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and be sure to check out the doctor written peer reviewed articles as well.

    As far as having surgery it is natural to be nervous of any surgery. My guess is your doctor will be doing a ACDF(anterior cervical discetomy and fusion). You should talk to him/her about what type of bone grafting material they will use. Also I would while your doing PT seek another opinion. I have had the three levels done and yes I did loose some ROM. Each person is different on how they recover and what not. Am I happy I did the procedure you betcha but it was not a choice any longer as paralysis was at risk.

    The one thing I can say about spine surgery it is the one surgery that more is not always better, why I suggest the second opinion to you. Hopefully the shots will help and keep you out of surgery. But in the event you don't there are a few of us here whom have had three levels fused. In the FAQ section at the top of the page you will find a list of 38 questions to ask a spine surgeon. You should look at the list and see if you can answer all the questions, if not form a list of questions to take back to the surgeon.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. If I can be of any assistance don't hesitate to pm me. Take care.
  • Everything that you are feeling is perfectly normal.

    My rule of thumb is to always get 3 opinions before surgery except for emergencies.

    It is always a good idea to check your doctors success rate with this type of surgery. It always help to be very confident in the skills of your surgeon.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. so glad you stopped by.. you have been given some really good advice to get atleast two opinions if not more when considering surgery... this can be a life changing event in more ways than one many times. you don't want any surprises!! stop by the many forums and make yourself at home. good luck to you and i hope you find pain relief soon. Jenny :)
  • Phyl,

    I have ruptured discs at C5/C6 and C6/C7, and I was told to expect about 15% lost mobility in turning and bending my neck. I initially considered single-level disk replacement at C6/C7 (leaving C5/C6 alone), but insurance would not pay for replacement.

    I have been dealing with symptoms of pain and numbesss in my shoulder, arm and fingers since 2007, and tried steroid injections and physical therapy. I saw two different neurosurgeons, and both recommended the ACFD procedure. My procedure is July 13th, and I too have anxiety about long-term recovery prospects. My doctor, however, says this is one of the most effective procedures he performs. At this point I am trusting his judgment.

    Good luck, and Happy 4th of July!

  • I wish you good luck on your upcoming surgery! And please keep in touch to let me know how you are comming along.

    Good luck and take care,
  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I've also had a 3-lvl ACDF (in Oct. 08) and I'm surprised at my ROM. The main problem I have at this far out post-op is that I can't keep my head in any one position (up, down or either side) for very long without experiencing pain. But that's a small price to pay for having all my pre-op symptoms gone, and gone immediately after surgery.

    I know that the thought of having cervical surgery, and a big one to boot, is very scary and you wouldn't be normal if you weren't scared. But I can tell you, as others here can, that many times the anticipation is worse than the surgery itself. I'd never even been in a hospital before (except to visit family or friends), never had a broken bone and thought I was healthy as an ox. Then BOOM I need a 3-lvl cervical surgery.

    Just know that we'll be here for you during your time leading up to your surgery and can also help you post-op, while you're recovering. You're not alone and there are many here, like myself, that know how you're feeling.

    I'm sorry you've been through so much, but I hope you end up with a surgeon that you have complete confidence in and that you get the help you need.

    Take care and please keep us posted. Feel free to PM me any time if you have questions or just need to vent to a fellow neckie.

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