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Neck Pain - Symptoms different from "normal" herniation symptoms

mlwmmlw Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I'm schedule for an ACDF on Oct 7 2010, but not sure I should go through with it. I started out with severe shoulder pain, nothing else. Went to PT for shoulder and my neck flared up, sent me to the ER. An MRI showed a central disc herniation at C6/7 with slight right obtrusion. My symptoms for months were neck pain, shoulder pain and terrible head aches up the back of my head. Only in the past few weeks did i start to feel pain in my arm and down my fingers. And I have slight weakness down in my triceps. However, after 10 days, my arm feels great. So today, I'm symptom free.

Did anyone else have primarily head aches and neck/shoulder pain, but no real arm problems? And did you proceed with the surgery? And did it work? My surgery is in 6 days!!! Please help.


  • HI MLW. How about your neck and shoulder? Are they also feeling good now?

    If so and it were me I would call the surgeon. One of the things I have learned in the past year of spine problems is that they treat 1-what is causing pain and 2-what might cause permanent damage if left untreated.

    Talk to your doctor about this. I had herniations in my cervical area that did shrink on their own. It's also possible that PT did something that caused the arm flareup.

    Again if it were me and the doctor has no problem with it I would wait. But you really need to have the conversation with him. No one else knows your situation. Good Luck and I can't wait to hear what happens.
  • MLW, Welcome to Spine Health! At the top of the web page is a search box, which might be of help in your research for answers.

    If you truly are "symptom free" congrats! I would call the surgeon and let him know. He might want to do another MRI, for disks have been known to shrink and therefore come off the nerves. Your surgeon will also know if putting off surgery is in your better interests. One thing to keep in mind, that disk is now weakened, and more subject to bulge or herniate again. Please let us know how it goes. Again, Welcome!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thanks for the input. I guess I can't say that I'm symptom free. My arm/hand feel different on the right. It's sort of tingly, and my hand shakes terribly. But that's it really at this point. And I do have the headaches still. But is that enough to have surgery?

    I've had two discectomys at L4/l5 and L5/S1. Is the recovery from cervical surgery easier or harder?

    I'm so glad I found this forum! It's been very difficult having to go through this all on my own.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I can tell you from my experience only that recovering from my ACDF, even a 3-lvl vs. a 1-lvl TLIF, was amazingly easier than the lumbar surgery.

    Many times surgeons will suggest surgery to stabilize your spine to prevent further problems, not necessarily based on symptoms. The cervical spine is a very critical area as it comes so close to the spinal cord and when you have radiculopathy, then clearly something is pressing on some nerves.

    Here's a great article on cervical radiculopathy:

    With all that said, it's never a bad idea to call your surgeon and tell them what's happening. They may say that it would be the best thing to continue with the surgery to stabilize the spine or like was mentioned above, they may want to do another MRI, but it sounds to me like you are continuing to have radiating symptoms if you're getting pins and needles in your right arm.

    Please keep us posted.
  • I would talk to your Surgeon about you hand shaking etc. Also why you need the surgery to stop nerve compression and to stabilize your spine? Best wishes and keep us posted. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Are you taking any meds like pain relievers or muscle relaxers that may be calming the symptoms a bit?
  • Cath, yes i'm taking 2-3 oxycodones' per day.

    I guess i'm just really nervous that what i'm dealing with now on a day to day basis is nothing compared to what i COULD be dealing with after an ACDF. Is it really worth it? I don't know. I'm having major second thoughts.
  • This is just my opinion, but my ACDF was absolutely worth it. I got to the point where I couldn't life a glass of ice water with my left hand, major pain in my left arm and had tingling and numbness 24/7 in my right arm. I also had killer muscle spasms in the middle of my back.

    All of those were gone immediately when I woke up from surgery. The additional problems I'm having at my upper adjacent levels aren't due to my fusion, they've just escalated over the last two years.

    There have been so many successful ACDF surgeries out there. One thing to remember on this site is that the members that have had successful surgeries generally don't come back to the forums because they no longer need the support they once got here. They're off living their life and don't give a second thought to their spines.

    So please don't take what you read here as the norm for how spineys are after ACDF surgery. I believe we really need to do what our surgeons suggest if it's a matter of stability and/or if there's a chance of serious repercussions if you were to fall or get in a car accident. That's what has pushed many of us to get surgery is what would happen if we DIDN'T.

    However, with that said, surgery is a very, very personal decision and you need to make that decision armed with all the information you can get. You also need to have 100% confidence in your surgeon.

    I understand how scary it is to be facing cervical spine surgery - I was in your shoes once. I never had any problems, never been in the hospital even - when I was about to have my ACDF. But my surgeon told me that it wasn't a matter of if I'd need surgery but when, so for me I didn't feel it was elective. It was imperative.

    Take care mlw and be confident in whatever decision you make. Get second opinions if you feel it will help, or have a more in-depth discussion with your surgeon. Whatever you choose, we'll be here to help you because we all know what you're facing.

    Feel free to PM me if I can help you in any way.

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