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facing neck surgery, pain mgmt problems

okcangelookcangel Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
:H hi all. this is my 1st post. searched for message boards to find more info on recent diagnoses of neural foraminal stenoses from C4-C7, broadbased disk protrusions with extrusion at each level, bilateral neural foraminal narrowing with nerve root abutment at each level, etc. reading over other posts about similar problems, i can tell those of you asking about NUMBNESS & weakness in your legs and arms, OH YEAH. i have had 2 episodes where without any warning i just went down like a sack of potatoes, could not even crawl. i got flopped over onto my stomach like a fish, but when i finally worked my arms up to crawl, i kept falling on my face. each time it passed within 48 hrs...i mean, i could walk albeit very wobbly, but the weakness and constant fear of it happening again at any moment lingers. there are times my arms feel like a palsy victim's and it's hard to even brush my hair or teeth, or get my hair into a ponytail. buttons are the worst, as are any fine motor skill movements. an ortho surgeon suggested surgery in march, but i wasn't ready at that time & he sent me to a pain mgmt specialist. a previous ortho had me on percocet & oxycontin for 3 yrs prior to this. the new pain mgmt dr has kept me on the percocet, tried MSContin when the after all this time i happened to mention that the percocets don't last as long as they used to. (I didn't have the nerve to tell him how many i was actually taking in order to just function - to clean, go to the store, shower, just to get out of bed.) needless to say, after 9 months of trying to save enough to cover my butt in case of urine tests before i could get another 30 day written Rx, i finally got caught when i started begging for something else... preferably lortabs because i really wanted to get OFF anything with the oxy in it. the past year has just been a freaking nightmare with my every move depending on it, and trying to hide how much of it i needed anymore. but upon asking to change, i hadn't realized he'd require me to take the (far fewer than i was supposed to have) remaining pills of percocet in to be counted to make sure i was taking them 'as prescribed' then flushed. i was screwed. i didn't tell him, but the E.R. doctor did when i went in & spilled my guts 3 nights ago in full blown withdrawal. i was told to call the pain dr first thing this morning (after the weekend), which i did, whereupon i weinied out & talked to one of his M.A.s. (i had never been able to do anything but leave messages before and you guessed it - this time a man answered & when i thought it might actually be the dr, i nearly peed myself.) but as nicely and seriously remorseful as i could be, i told the M.A. that i knew i was going to be dismissed as a patient being 'noncompliant' having signed a pain contract there. i just told him that i don't need to be made to feel any worse than i already do, thanked him & his staff for being so nice (while in my defense, telling him truthfully how many times i had tried to tell this doctor that i was having serious problems with the percocets not working, & not feeling like he was listening to me.)

i do feel like my only option now is surgery. i have no family or anyone close who can take care of me. the last time i went down & was taken by ambulance unable to walk, my mother was quick to inform me that i'd just have to go to a nursing home if i couldn't walk or needed a wheelchair, because she couldn't & wouldn't attempt to take care of me. (we no longer speak, but maybe her words did help me get back on my feet.) a few weeks ago just sitting in the bathroom a little longer than usual both legs went completely numb and i managed with my arms to get myself to the tub nearby & sit in warm water til i got some feeling back. it's not unusual for those sharp electic shock pains to hit so hard it brings me to tears & makes me want to scream. i'm so wobbly on my feet i avoid a shower because of the glass door and have been halfway using a wooden barstool as a walker. i am truly at my wit's end... knowing i brought the medication problem upon myself. i am wanting the surgery ASAP (have a neuro appt dec 14th) and wanting MY LIFE BACK, but i don't know which scares me most: that they won't give me pain meds needed after surgery or that they will. i know i will ask not to EVER take anything with oxycodone in it, if i have to claim i'm allergic to it. i have NEVER had a problem with anything like that drug and it's made my life hell in recent months. (i just called the ortho surgeon i saw in march and have an appt with him & he can see me in 3 days.)

if anyone has made it thru my ramblings here & hasn't nodded off, i do have a question: i've been told that neck surgery should always be done by a neurosurgeon, not just a regular orthopedic surgeon. is that true? does anyone have experience with this & have opinions on this? i'm soooo ready to get this done, but i don't want to do anything i'll regret for the rest of my life - maybe in a wheelchair. please let me know! i appreciate you all and THANX for letting me post & vent my frustrations.


  • hi okcangel, welcome to the forum. While i'm sorry you have the need to join, we are certainly glad to have you!

    i too have heard that going to a neuro for neck issues is the best option. but ultimately, it's up to you and your doctors. so you could go to both a neuro and an ortho and ask them a lot of questions about your condition, and go with who you feel most comfortable. i had neck surgery 7 weeks ago and went to a neuro and the results are promising.

    hang in there. if your pain is real (which it sounds like it is) then your doctors should be able to help manage that pain in a professional manner.

    good luck!
  • I am really sorry about all your problems. I wish you could find somebody to offer you relief, even if it is through surgery. Now as far as the specialists, I read that it is not so important that the surgeon be a neurosurgeon or orthopedic, as long as he/she is a board certified Spinal Surgeon. When I had my lumbar fusion, I selected an orthopedic surgeon who was qualified as a spinal surgeon. That being said, if I would have to have neck surgery I think I would select a neurosurgeon, since he would have to work around the spinal cord. When you have lower lumbar surgery, that is not an issue as the cord ends by then. This is of course only my opinion, maybe you should ask your family physician for recommendation.

  • First off, a hearty Welcome to Spine Health!!! There is a search box that might also be of help to you with questions - some searches result in articles written by board certified spine specialists, and some results would bring you to forums of some of us with similar situations or symptoms.

    Orth vs Neuro... A member once said on here, and it made perfect sense... "Do you have ortho problems causing neuro problems, or neuro issues causing more neuro issues? On my first two cervical surgeries, I used a Neurosurgeon, but since it is looking more and more like a full revision plus a level or 2, and much of it though neuro, has bone issues involved...so I am leaning towards and orthopedic surgeon that is spine certified on this go around. And yes as kinpain put it, the cord is "right there" in the neck, vs ending and becoming if you will "a horses tail" of nerves below L1. And like was said, "spine trained and certified" is the key!

    If surgery is going to be back on the table, you might want to get with your insurance company (or maybe your surgeons office staff will do this), and see about after care, and some house cleaning since you are alone. Please keep us posted on how it is going, and know you have supporters here with your new "spiney family" here. Support *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hello Okcangel,

    I know how you feel. I am in the same boat as you. I just got a call from my doctor and he wants me to come in tomorrow to review my MRI. I have been experiencing numbness and burning in the entire leg that radiates up above my hip on the right side. My leg left feels like dead weight.

    The first Ortho doc I was seeing gave me 2 midline epidurals in the lumbar area and 2 different occassions with no success. He wanted to do another epidural, but this time on both sides. I said no and went to another doctor that is more respected.

    He had me do a cervical and thoracic MRI because he said the disc issue was not in the lumbar area but higher up.

    So, now back to my call with the doctor. He said that I have a Very Large herniated disc in my neck and that is what causing the pain.

    To answer your question about who should do the surgery on our neck. It really depends. Both actually do them. My doctor is a Orthopedic and well respected spine specialist. I will keep you posted. It appears after tomorrow that I will be having surgery at some point.
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