I've been lurking for a while but this is my first post. I've done lots of reading on here but can't seem to find anything applicable to my exact situation. I would appreciate any advice/input from the "experts" on here.
I'm 34. For the past 18 months (since having a baby) I've had really terrible, progressively worsening pain along the inner edges of my scapula on both sides. I've had no neck pain, no arm pain, no numbness, no weakness, and only very occasional minor tingling in my hands. My MRI shows a big herniation compressing the cord at C5-6, as well as bulges at C4-5 and C6-7. I've had one doctor recommend ACDF but only if my pain becomes unbearable (which it pretty much is at this point). Another doctor said I absolutely must get a 3-level ACDF asap even if I have no symptoms. I've tried PT, chiro, massage and a whole range of injections and medications, with basically no relief. I'd like to have another baby soon and both docs told me I should do the surgery first. I have a 3rd opinion scheduled but I don't know if it's going to make things any clearer.
My biggest concern is doing surgery at all when I don't have the typical radicular symptoms--arm pain, tingling, etc. Basically the pain is deep and aching, but pretty localized along the middle part of the inner edge of the scapula on both sides. It's like I am always craving a super-deep massage. It hurts most when I'm sitting at work, much less when I'm with my toddler all day even though I'm lifting him and moving around a lot. Morning is generally pretty good and it gets worse throughout the day. Is it possible that the pain might not even be coming from my neck after all? It doesn't seem like a muscle strain could go on this long, and my shoulders feel fine. Has anyone had ACDF for severe chronic upper back pain but no radicular symptoms?
My second question is how many levels to do. I know the fusion may cause adjacent levels to degenerate faster, but three levels just seems like a lot at 34. My inclination is to do one and worry about the future later, but even a one-level fusion is going to make life difficult with a full-time job and toddler. I hate the thought of doing surgery and feeling no better afterward. From everything I've read, scapular pain is a non-specific finding, so how do I even know which disc is causing the pain? Part of me thinks I might as well do all three so I can get better and then get pregnant.
Can anyone share some insight? I'm at a loss. Thanks very much.