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Should surgery be considered?

sonomomssonomom Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am a newbie with hopes that I can get some advice here from others who have been in my shoes...

Here's my story and questions:
I have had terrible headaches for 7 years now (Called "Migraines" by doctors who didn't want to further investigate when my brain showed to be flawless). Two years ago I was taken to ER with the worst pain I have ever experienced-I woke up from sleep in middle of the night and couldn't move my head a single millimeter in any direction. ER told me it was muscle spasms, likely stress because my sister was having surgery for a brain tumor, and to take pain meds, muscle relaxers, etc until it loosened up.

Long story shorter...the pain isn't always to point of locking up my neck, but I am in pain every single day. My neck, especially at the base of my skull on both sides, is worse than my headache usually. The tightness varies, but I never have full neck motion. Sometimes, it causes my lower jaw to shake uncontrollaby from the intensity of the pain. My quality of life is gone-I am worried if I can continue to work like this. (I am an ultrasound tech.)

MRI was finally ordered last week and here's what it found:
My neck has lost the normal lordosis (natural curve) and is actualy kyphotic (has begun to curve the wrong direction). I have a mild disc bulge, facet osteoarthritis, mild degenerative disc disease, and there is intrusion of the spinal canal, but no cord compression....extremely close in one or two spots, but not touching the cord yet. I have severe (and almost constant) muscle spasms, I am told are probably related to the facet arthritis, that are likely contributing to the deformity of the c-spine.

I am awaiting an appointment with a neurosurgeon at our local spine center. Does this sound like something that should be surgically corrected??? I am only 37 years old and I couldn't imagine covering up the pain for the rest of my life or getting RFA's every 6 months-1 year. I don't just want pain management, I want a solution. Any advice is GREATLY appreciated!


  • The report also indicated a disc-osteophyte complex also encroaching the ventral thecal sac, as well as mildfacet hypertrophy. This is so overwhelming! I hope to hear from some of you soon.
  • I would say that at the very least you should be seen by a Neurosurgeon or two to get some much needed advice. Together with thier advice you can make a determination on where to go from here. I had other problems that caused me to have my fusion surgeries, but there does come a time when surgery is the best option. I wish you all good luck and hope a pain free future is going to be yours.
  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find others with cervical spine issues, and going through the same as you. As far as are you a surgical candidate there is no one here whom can say that or not, we are all just patients ourselves. I can tell you most doctors will try all forms of conservative therapy first before trying any surgery, unless your at risk for paralysis. What you have written doesn't give any indications of that, but I am no doctor, and that is assuming the films don't show anything different. As Gary pointed out, I would get more than one opinion. There have been many members come use conservative treatment and out living a normal busy life. Surgery comes with risk, and not always are they successful at removing the pain. Typical surgery is ACDF(anterior cervical discetomy and fusion). The chance you take at your age is if a fusion is done, needing further surgery down the road, from adjacent disc disease, or for that matter at any age. But also fusions fail and repeat surgeries have to be done.

    Which is why a good surgeon will try conservative therapies to avoid surgery. Hopefully they will work for you and you will have a normal busy life again. But if not then surgery is always available if you should need it.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health.
  • First off, Welcome to Spine Health!!!

    Sorry to hear you have all this going on - I hate headaches to no end! Being one with a train wreck of a neck I offer this...

    I see you're seeing a Neurosurgeon, is it possible to also see an Orthopedic spine surgeon for an opinion? I bring that up as it might be that conservative treatments can still be of benefit, and a spine surgeon that is big on the bone aspect might find you can do manipulations to reduce the spasms, shots sometimes help, massage etc.

    The surgeons will use (as a tech this isn't new to you) MRI's, EMG's, exams, maybe even blood work to help put your puzzle together for a proper diagnosis and plan. I wouldn't jump into surgery as the fix all yet. But again, that is going to come down to a lot of tests and exams, and maybe additional opinions.

    I know you want the pain to go away, but they look at "weakness, function, numbness, and pain" pretty much in that order. Sadly headaches can be generated from almost any level depending on the area affected. Please keep us posted on how it goes. Again, Welcome aboard!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I didn't mean to suggest that surgery was your best option, only that it may become an option down the line. I myself had no choice with my first surgery because there was permanent nerve damage being done.(my original surgery was as a result of an accident at home)Given the choice, I would opt for any option short of surgery first.

    As you can see from my signature line, I have since had further problems and had to have more cervical surgery. Unfortunately this is quite common.

    Please make sure you explore all your options, everyone is different and many recover without surgery.
  • VickiBVVickiB Posts: 1
    edited 09/04/2015 - 8:14 AM
    Has anyone with curvature going the wrong direction ever experienced brain swelling, shooting pains in head (like cluster headaches) or pain behind one eye. Does this make you extremely tired and sometimes sick to your stomach?

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