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Frustrated and confused with differing doctors opinions

lv2mykidzllv2mykidz Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I have a herniated disc at the c6-c7 level and it is impinging into my spinal canal and the corresponding fluid at that level is pretty much non existent. I have a history of SEVERE left arm pain, numbness, weakness that cycles on and off. It is getting progressivly worse and lasting longer. The last "episode" lasted over 6 months and resulted in a hand specialist recommending Carpal Tunnel Release surgery. Throughout my life many doctors have diagnose me with carpal tunnel "symptoms" so I finally opted to get the surgery done and over with. I had the CTR surgery done on February 23, 2011 and the recovery was extremely easy and painless. The night of my surgery, i had "sciatic" type pain that got worse to the point that I couldn't walk and had to have the paramedics take me to the ER. They did a Lumbar MRI which showed mild herniation in a few discs, but nothing that would be causing me that much pain. A neurologist examined me and wanted to further exam me with a Cervical and Thoratic MRI which showed a severely herniated disc at level c6/c7 and slapped a cervical coller on me and told me to follow up with the neurosurgeon that week. So, i did, he said I have a SEVERELY compressed spinal canal (or cord, not sure)and he recommended surgery sooner rather than later. Told me if I were to have a fall, car accident or lift something really heavy, I would become paralyzed. Of coarse I was scared but scheduled the ACDF surgery anyway. In the meantime, I felt more comfortable getting a 2nd opinion with another neurosurgeon. HE said that he would NOT recommend surgery, just PT. OKAY, now on to the 3rd opinion, At the spine center with an orthopedic specialist. AGAIN, NO surgery recommended. I resolved myself with the fact that I wouldn't become paralyzed if i were to take a fall or lift something wrong and I could handle the pain. SO I found a neurologist that I felt comfortable with that was a specialist in the brain and spine to follow my case and give me a script for PT. I started PT and went to my appt with the neurologist and he suggested I visit the neuroSURGEON in the practice and discuss the pro's and con's with HAVING surgery. UGH, now I am totally confused. If I have to live the rest of my life with "restrictions" and always having the thought of becoming paralyzed if I fall or lift wrong looming over my head, I'm contemplating having the surgery just so I can stabalize the disc and free me of restrictions after I am all healed. I was wondering if someone could help me with some pro's and con's to having or not having the surgery???? Thanks in advance for your time and help, sorry this was so long....


  • Have a look around here you will find many including myself whom have had surgery. Surgery is a very personal choice and only you can make that choice. I would suspect they will be doing a ACDF(anterior cervical discectomy and fusion) as far as the surgery goes. There is a very good animated video here which shows the surgery. Also have a look in the FAQ section and there is a link to a list of question to ask the surgeon. I am not sure of what type of symptoms you are currently having, but many say they wake up and the symptoms are gone, and then some take sometime to heal. Of course there are risk to the surgery as there are with any surgery. There is one condition to consider is myelopathy that you could get and then surgery is only done to stop the progression but the symptoms you will have the rest of your life. We do have many members whom go with conservative treatments first, such as PT, injections and medicines and some others and they do just fine. Then others surgery is more imperative and is done to stop paralysis from occurring.

    As far as the recovery depending on what type of job you do will depend on your return to work. Some have gone back as a few days to 10 weeks. About the biggest issue is your throat will be some what sore. Depending on your surgeon and why they are doing surgery will depend on wether you will need a collar/brace or nothing. There is a great majority that have surgery and are very glad they had it and have moved on to a normal busy life. So you won't see many of them posting as they are out living life again. Of course there is always the possibility of adjacent disc disease which you should discuss with the surgeon.

    Anyway I hope that helps and if i can be of any assistance please don't hesitate to pm me. Take care and keep us posted on your decision.
  • It seems as though for every doctor there is another opinion. Do research so you are comfortable that you feel comfortable that you can ask all the questions you need to ask. You have to be your own advocate, and decide what you think is best from the various opinions.

    It is not easy. If you are not comfortable with the doctors and what they say - push them or go for another opinion.

    Best of luck.

    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • Have you had a myelogram or discogram to see where the pain generator is or you could ask the Surgeon this? I'm glad you have a Neursurgeon you can trust. Take care and let us know how your appointment goes. 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
  • Sorry you are having these problems. Most people who go to different doctors will get different opinions. My neck issues started years ago and I went to 3 surgeons, 3 pain specialist (ended up getting nerve blocks which did not work) a physiatrist, physical therapy, accupuncture, chiropractor, you name it.
    The MRI results didn't correlate with my symptoms on my arm and back and hand so one of the surgeons ordered a myelogram which showed the impingement of the nerve causing some of my symptoms. A two hour lamenectomy turned into a 4 hour surgery as the surgeon had dificulty freeing the nerve. I didn't get any relief from the surgery.

    I also have knee problems (5 total operations in last 2 years) I saw 4 surgeons before the last operations and got 3 different recommendations. I woke up from the last surgery with a partial knee replacement which two of the surgeons had recommended.
    I hope you find a surgeon you are comfortable with enough to ask every question that comes into your head.
    Good luck to you.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
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