I just saw my "third opinion" doc today. Now I'm totally confused about my potential neck surgery. Here is the run down:
(1) First doc is an Orthopaedic Surgeon. She said that I should get a fusion and/or artificial disc replacement. She said that I don't have to get in there right away but that my situation will get worse.
(2) Second doc is a Neurosurgeon from a highly regarded hospital. He said no way to artificial disc because he says they aren't good long term. This point is pretty much moot since my insurance won't cover them anyway. He said multi-level (2 levels) fusion ASAP. He said that the longer I wait, the greater the risk of permanent nerve damage.
(3) Third doc is an Orthopaedic Surgeon and president of orthopaedics from a different highly regarded hospital. He said he could do a fusion (3 levels) or artificial disc with a fusion, but that there is no difference long term as far as he thinks. He also said that he would not recommend surgery unless my symptoms get unbearable enough that I need it. He also said that he absolutely does NOT believe that I will be doing unreversable damage to my nerves if I wait... that he hears that all the time but it's not true. I believe he literally used the phrase "one in a zillion chance of doing damage to the nerves".
I've run the course of conservative treatment (epidurals, PT, massage, chiro, oral steroids, Lyrica, NSAIDs, etc.). My symptoms are NOT unbearable... I can deal with them fine as of right now. I'd like to believe doc number 3, but I don't know. I don't want to get surgery now if I can put it off without doing more damage since I can tolerate the symptoms. I also don't want to put it off if I'm making it worse long term.
WHAT NOW??? :-(