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Results are in: Am I headed to the O/R???

bay2000bbay2000 Posts: 23
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I'm desperate to find out what I'm in for. I had severe neck pain two years ago and found out I had a herniated disc thanks to an overzealous photographer who loves to get in the way of a football official! I had the injections and they didn't help! A few weeks later had a TRIPLE foraminotomy and got relief. Two years has gone by with things just feeling "weird." Officaiated two NCAA football seasons with zero problems running and no pain. In the gym this week and things got worse in less than a day. All the pain I had prior to initial surgery from 2 years ago is back and intense as it ever was! Arm numb, loss of strength, and 8+ pain in the neck. My neck is laughing at the meds: cortisone, muscle relaxers, ibuprofin, hydrocodeine, you name it...nothing helps!

Here's the MRI impression:
1. Moderate to large disc herniation on the left at C5-C6 centered about the lateral recess. The findings do represent a significant change when compared to prior MRI examination.
2. New herniated disc component to the left of midline C6-C7 with mild cord compromise. Postoeprative changes left neural foramen at this level.

Ok that's the scoop. From what I read on this forum the recovery is so long it appears as though my season is over before it starts and it's still 5 months away. Does the condition spell out the need for major surgery? I appreciate any expert sharing info. I can't see the surgeon for another 4 days. Thanks in advance!


  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    Welcome to spine health.

    Since we're not medical professionals there's no way we can say for sure whether you're headed for surgery.

    Are you seeing an ortho or neurosurgeon? The herniated disc at C5-6 could be causing your pain and if an acdf is recommended the recovery isn't necessarily so long. Everyone is different and heals differently. I had acdf 5-6 on October 4 and my recovery has gone well. Of course the first couple of months I'd have bad days usually caused by doing to much to soon. If you have to have surgery the main thing is to take care of yourself and follow dr orders.

    Good luck and let me know if I can help.
  • Seeing the neck/spine surgeon who did my foraminotomy 2 years ago in 3 days. I read so many posts (mostly Jeannette's) and now I'm scared to death. I'm leaning toward asking for another steroid injection even though it didn't help much the last time. The pain in arm isn't as bad this time around but loss of strength concerns me. Pain in the neck a bit worse than last time so I'm going to take advice from what I read here as "surgery only as a last resort." I agree that people heal differently and all have their own health situations which play a huge role in recovery. I guess that will come into play with me. I'm very healthy and work out all the time (p90x) and don't smoke. I hear smoking has an impact on bones too! When I read about people's situations (again, like Jeannette's and others like her) I put it all in perspective. Not being able to return to a football field for one season is sooooo miniscule compared to those people who can't even live a comfortable life free of pain. My thoughts and prayers are with all of those who have posted. I will post on my own situation when I meet with the doc. Good luck everyone!
  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. While your reading these boards keep in mind that many have gone through surgery and done wonderful. Problem is they did so good they no longer post either. The ones left posting are the ones that are still in pain or have on going issues. Surgery can be quit scary and is a individual choice. I will tell you going through with a anterior approach is different than doing a posterior approach. The anterior is easier on you and you don't have no where near the muscle issues. More than likely your surgeon(if he does surgery), would be doing a ACDF(anterior cervical discetomy and fusion). There is a article located under the FAQ section at the top of the page on questions to ask a spine surgeon. The article is very good and it things you need to ask. In your case the level that is of concern as I read your MRI is the cord compression. So you want to specifically ask about what your prognoses is without surgery?

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. If there is anything I can do don't hesitate to pm me. Take care and keep us posted.
  • Bay2000,

    Welcome to Spine Health!! Like was said, there is a wealth of information on here both via member posts, and too the many articles on here written by doctors. My last fusion was 'fast tracked' due to the weakness issue! That weakness if left to increase can cause nerve damage!

    The way my surgeon looks at herniated disks for his priority of importance? Weakness, functionality, pain, numbness being last. We can still function even if numb. The best thing of course is see what your surgeon suggests. You just want to be sure that delays won't cause nerve damage, NOT FUN! Been there, done that, still wearing the damaged nerves T-shirt! Please let us know what your surgeon says. Fingers crossed for you!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Brenda, I was thinking exactly the point you mentioned as a priority. The weakness really has me concerned. That tells me the arm is moving toward paralysis. I have my mind made up. I'm going to REQUEST he do surgery and get it done ASAP! My buddy is in as good as shape as me and jumped out of planes in pararescue for 8 more years after he had his disks fused and strong as ever today!

    For educational purposes (for your readers) I'm learning that I need to stay from stressful situations to the extent you can. Stress really brings it on! I can be completely painless and as soon as something stressful happens it's like a steak knife goes through my C5 thru C7 area! I have a new job and a demanding boss. My muscles literally tense up when he comes into the area and it hurts like heck. My daughter's friend breaks her arm on backyard trampoline the other day. I was feeling great. As soon as I heard broken arm it was like being stabbed again! Stress is a killer with a herniated disc; that I DO know! Avoid it folks if you can!
  • It was interesting that you said your friend continued to jump out of airplanes for 8 years after the surgery. My neurosurgeon told me that she was only giving me 3 limitations, things I should never do again, after my surgery. 1)Ride rollercoasters (this broke my heart because I love them), 2) Jump out of an airplane with a parachute (never had a desire so I was ok with that) and 3)stand on my head (not a problem because I'm not sure I could do it anyway).
  • I love roller coasters too! And, I have an 8 and 11 year old daughters and bought a season pass to the Wildwood, NJ boardwalk for this coming summer. Couldn't wait to do the coasters this summer with them but realized it may have to wait a year. I didn't think that limitation would be forever! Damn I hope that's not the case for me.
  • Bay2000,

    Before I retired, we had the Blue Knights (Army parachute team) practicing at our base. Since many of the sorties involved our aircraft, they offered tandem jumps to us. I was only 8 weeks out of surgery, so I knew better. (G) I bring these guys up for one huge reason....3/4 of them were prior cervical fusion patients!!! Most of them C5/6 a few C4/5 and C6/7, one guy was a 3 level! I of course being very curious asked a few of them how long until they were deemed safe for jumping, answer given: 1.5 - 2 years!

    My first fusion and subsequent recovery? I think I would have been cleared for such activity. I was cleared for full duty - law enforcement, and that is an activity sport many days! My next level resulted in permanent damage, and now damage within the center of both of them, so I guess no jumping for me!!

    Please let us know how it goes with your NS. Weakness is one of the symptoms you don't want. *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Maybe one day I'll clarify this with my neurosurgeon, but probably one of the reasons that she was tough on me about the lifetime restrictions is that my surgery was not the "be all end all" with my spine issues and I have other degenerative issues that will continue (already have a problem at the next level down that was diagnosed one year after my surgery). She's pretty progressive and didn't give me any other restrictions after about a month after surgery, no hard or soft collars, even when I had my SCS implanted 1 1/2 years later. Everyone is different and hopefully you'll be able to tackle those roller coasters. That one truly broke my heart, but I'm taking her seriously on it. Finally had all 3 of our kids to the point where they would ride, then that happened. Darn it!
    Good luck to you!
  • Got lucky with doc and timing. Surgery on Wednesday for a C5 thru C7 fusion. Sure it sucks but the pain is unberable and that really sucks! I feel lucky to live in the Philadelphia, PA area where my neck surgeon is. The docs at the EDITED are the Rock Stars of their respective profession. My doc was the acutal designer of the titanium plate he'll be using so I think he knows just a little bit about what he's doing. I hope this ends this pain and crap I've been going through once and for all. Will definiely keep you all posted, even if it's positive! I'll be glad to share my experience and thank you all for sharing yours! Got scalpel?

    Standards agreement and posting rules.
    Naming specific institution or doctor names is not permitted in the Spine-Health.com forums.
    Edited by Authority Member Cath111.
  • Bay2000,

    Aren't we the odd ones? Happy to be sliced and diced!! Lol! It's good to see the game plan coming together so well. Hopefully you will wake with "pain be gone" happy tears. (G) Positive thoughts and energy coming your way!! *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I didn't quite pick up that you were in the Armed Services! After 27 years with an insurance company I'm with a government contractor, General Dynamics, working for the DLA. Coincidentally, the job is very rewarding in that it's (low and behold) ensuring the agency has adequate medical supplies for soldiers in theater. Nothimg more rewarding than to work long, hard hours on software development applications to ensure those who literally put their butt on the line to keep me from harm have the supplies they need should they become wounded in action. I already told my government bosses that I will try to work from home next Friday (I get out of the hospital on Thursday) and will try to get a rider to work on Monday. I guess we'll see how the pain goes.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. As you probably already know, this site is fantastic with its extensive information throughout the site and the great members of the forum who are very kind, knowledgeable and supportive.

    I think that spineys are the only ones who are happy to hear they need surgery. It happens because there are so many that can't find the cause of their pain, thus no plan of action. I hate to say congratulations on your surgery, but am happy that you have a course of action.

    I think that you're being a little over-zealous trying to go back to work four days after surgery. There's a lot of healing to be done and recovery is more difficult than you may realize. Although I believe that lumbar recovery is worse than cervical recovery, it still takes time and the hardest part after a cervical surgery is sitting at a computer.

    But whatever the case, I wish you luck on your surgery and recovery, but just don't be surprised if you need a few weeks or more before returning to work. You don't want to do anything to hurt your recovery and should follow your surgeon's restrictions to a "T".

    Keep us posted.
  • Hopefully surgery is over or is next week, Wednesday. Anyway as far as returning to work on Friday I hope that works out for you. They put so many meds in during surgery, that actually the pain may not be to bad. Typically for myself it has been when those meds wear off. Anyway whatever you decide do yourself one favor always watch your posture and have your desk and monitor setup ergonomically correct. There are a few articles on this site that can help out with that you might find interesting. If anything I think your going to find muscle spasms more of the issue. You might even see about a Tens unit if you can't work on medications or one of the bed buddies you can put in the microwave at work to help them out. Good luck let us know how it turns out.
  • Bay2000,

    I did 10 years in the Army (aviation), 1979-1989, and then went with the federal government until I retired last May (almost 30 years total). :)

    I fully agree with Cathie and Tamtam, going back to work that soon after surgery might not be a good idea, or endorsed by your surgeon. Please don't be surprised if he/she has you wait until at least your first post op follow up appointment.

    The most important thing you need to do is "heal!!" Follow doctors orders, walk, rest, eat well, rest, and heal..... (G)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Went through with it! Got my C5 thru C7 fused yesterday and came home a little while ago. Got bone from bone bank thanks to two generous donors! Doc said the herniations were rather large and quoted to my wife saying it was a "mess." So glad I went through with this. Throat is sore and neck not to bad 29 hours post-op. I will definitely respond to this thread when I'm fully recovered.
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