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ACDF Surgery vs. Weight Loss

Spuddko53SSpuddko53 Posts: 6
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello everyone. I'm new here to this forum and wanted to get some input re: my upcoming neck surgery.
First of all I am 53 years old, considered morbidly obese (185lbs/5'tall), and have been diagnosed with progressive Cervical Myelopathy. Most recent MRI confirms multilevel DDD, Spondylosis, Kyphosis and Neural Impingement. Both my Neurologist and NS explained that it was "NECESSARY" to have the surgery in light of my newest neurological symptoms and obvious progression (and potential?) of SC impingement. I am currently scheduled for surgery August 16th but am starting to have 2nd thoughts!
I also have significant lower back pain (for several years now) with MRI showing some slight bulging and narrowing there as well. The pain shoots down into my R buttock, around my R thigh, down my leg and into my foot. This in itself has prevented me from working. This is what caused me to pursue medical help and have tried several modalities to no avail. The doctors became immediately focused on my neck instead and my low back has now become a secondary concern in comparison. I did not understand why until just now due to the SC issues. My neck has been an issue for me since I was in my early 20's, with Drs dismissing me due to my age and "mild" evidence; however, now my neck doesn't hurt nearly as bad as my low back, yet they are more concerned with the need for surgery.
My symptoms are: pain, stiffness and extreme ltd ROM in both neck and back; clonus and hyper-reflexes of extremities; pain, numbness and tingling both hands and fingers; balance issues; positive Romberg and minor bladder concerns.
My Q's for consideration are this: 1)Is it possible that significant weight loss would resolve my neck problems, preventing me from needing surgery? Anybody have positive experience with this? 2) Will recovery with my neck likely increase the pain and related issues with my back and leg?
I know this is just opinion and insight only but will really appreciate any feedback.


  • I can't comment on the neck but I got a adominoplasty to get rid of extra fat and tighten muscles in abs last year after years of back issues and two surgeries. I hoped it would add to the positive result I had from the last surgery. HOWEVER, it has not I am now in a position to possibly get another surgery. It seems weight is a factor and who knows..maybe I would be even worse if I did not get the ab surgery but there are so many factors.

    Best of luck.


  • First, welcome to Spine Health. Take a look around the conditions and treatment area to learn all you can about your neck and the proposed surgery.

    Most surgeons will try all other possible treatments before resorting to surgery. If he says that the surgery is necessary, then you can probably not avoid it.

    Although you might be having more pain in your lumbar area, problems in the neck, when the cord is being compressed, do seem to need surgical treatment, because of the risk of paralysis. Bowel and bladder problems are also a 'red flag' that treatment is needed.

    Losing weight could well help your lumbar spine and pain from that, but I would imagine that as most of our weight is not carried by the neck, that losing weight wouldn't help much with that. (I am not medically trained, just giving my opinion.)

    I know facing surgery is very scarey (I avoided it on my lumbar spine for over 2 years), but it sounds like you could have to face it. A lot of us say after surgery, that the anticipation was worse than the surgery! :-)

    To help me to come to terms with it, one of the things I did was to write a list of all the good things that would come out of it, and things I would be able to do if I got rid of my spinal pain.

    I have started working through that list now, since my lumbar fusion in March. It feels wonderful to be getting my life back again.

    I have found that everyone on Spine Health have really helped me in the lead up to surgery and also in this long period of recovery. Do stay with us, keep asking questions and get to know us a bit better. The support you will get here is great! :D

  • Hello and welcome to the forum. This is only my opinion and is based on my own personal experience.

    Although I can not relate to your neck I can comment on your lower back. I have DDD, spinal stenosis and major nerve damage in both legs from a work related accident in 2002. I was 5'4 200 lbs when this occured. I did all conservative treatments out there:pills, injections, different therapies, weight watchers, you name it I did it!! I lost 70 lbs. over 18 months and kept it off. Doc suggested the weight loss because it puts less stress on your discs, the weight loss made me healthier but did not make a huge impact on the amount of pain I was in.I was still having about 3 to 4 exasterbations a year which I would be layed out for a week or two.

    I to second guessed having surgery but doctors said it was crucial if I wanted to be walking in 5 years.I am now 135 lbs. and still had to have ADR and fusion of L4,L5-S1 in May 2009. I am still in a lot of pain but it is different, like a constant toothache istead of that stabbing burning pain. My mobility is not the greatest and I do have a lot of days I spend on the couch with the heating pad and tens unit.Now my story is a special case and I know others who have had fusion and are out working, golfing and even running. My doctor said that I waited to long to have surgery and now am faced with major nerve damage that I will never get back. I had 6 consultations with nerosurgeons before making the decision to have surgery, and stayed away from anyone who said that they could cure me!!! Although my outcome wasn't exactly what I wanted, I am greatful that I can still put my feet on the floor and walk and keep walking for as long as I can. Hope this helps.-Kathy


    Sorry if Im all over in my post, meds kicking in. Thank god!!!!
  • Thank you newhouse, jellyhall and angela for your feedback. I was actually considering the Lap Band for weight loss since I can't exercise right now but it will obviously have to wait until after surgery. I guess I'm surprised that none of my docs suggested weight loss prior to surgery so I don't know if they're even concerned with it. Once the MRI scan of my neck came back, events sped up rather quickly and the next thing I knew, I was scheduled for a mandatory surgery.

    Looks like you guys have been through a lot so I appreciate your perspective.
  • I have had fusions in both cervical and lumbar. The cervical fusion was 2 1/2 years ago and was the best decision for me. All of the pain, numbness and weakness in my arms was immediately taken care of. I can't speak for others, only myself, but it was very successful for me. As for my second lumbar, I am only 2 months from surgery and still recovering.

    Good luck to you and all your decisions!

  • Becca, so nice to hear a positive outcome with your surgery. It gives me hope. Did you have a lot of the pain, numbness and weakness prior to the surgery? Andy was it constant? Just asking b/c the neuro sx's in my arm(s) are intermittent. Right now they're not as bad as they were a few weeks ago.
    Also, were you able to drive afterward? And did the surgery actually increase your ROM or limit it even more? I have very little ROM now as it is so I can't imagine having even less.
    Did you have a lot of pain after the surgeries?
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