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OS said it was up to me. What do I do?

junipurrwindjjunipurrwind Posts: 53
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had an ACDF in 2000 at C5-6. In 2008 a disk herniation at C6-7 was discovered. My tests are showing nerve impingement which is causing pain & numbness in my arms/hands. I have severe neck & shoulder pain as well.
My OS says it's my decision whether to have surgery or not. He says regardless of what I do, I will be in pain for the rest of my life.
I don't know what to do. On one hand, if surgery will alleviate even SOME of the pain I am having it will be worth it. On the other hand, what if surgery causes me even MORE pain?
Any thoughts? My quality of life right now is already greatly compromised.

ACDF C5-C6 01/2002
ACDF C6-C7 12/2011
Prognosis: Permanent nerve damage in hands/arms, all treatment options exhausted-- lifetime CPP


  • That's a decision only you can make and it is one we all face at some point. Every surgery has the risk that things can turn out worse than they started. I've always "known" when I just couldn't handle it anymore and was willing to take the risk in hopes of getting even some small measure of relief. I always have discussed it with my spouse prior to making my decision, because it will effect him as well.

    Have you gotten more than one opinion on this? That's also helpful in making this type of decision.

  • Thanks for your reply, C.
    I have gotten 2 opinions & both are saying surgery. I discussed it with hubby & he doesn't understand why I am even considering surgery if I'm still going to be in pain. I tried to explain it to him, but I'm still not sure he understands. Maybe the OS can explain it to him better than me.
    All I know is I have been suffering for 3 years & the pain is getting worse. I move a lot, (6 times this year alone) and if I have the surgery, I need to do it soon because we will be moving again in March. If I don't have the surgery, I guess I will be depending on PM doctors for the rest of my life.
    I just miss not being able to do my normal everyday tasks. I dusted & swept the house for a bit this morning & now am an horrible pain. I hate being like this! I feel like a lazy person.

    ACDF C5-C6 01/2002
    ACDF C6-C7 12/2011
    Prognosis: Permanent nerve damage in hands/arms, all treatment options exhausted-- lifetime CPP
  • My surgeon told me that he couldn't promise relief, but my pain, numbness, etc. should not get worse. I was most concerned about preventing further damage.

    You are not lazy. It is tough when we have an "invisible" disability.
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • Jinipurrwind:

    I have been where you are in the decision making process. My pain/ailment was down low (lumbar), your's is up high (cervical). However, the "issue" is the same - once surgery is discussed as an option, do you act upon that recommendation. This is especially challenging when the surgeon defers that decision to you, and tells you to evaluate the quality of your life. Every time I heard that I laughed. Evaluating the quality of your life is comparable to grabing a ghost!

    However, after decades of this type of life and medical evaluations with that recommendation, it finally got to me. I physically reached the point where my quality of life SUCKED. You will know it when it arrives. Could be that you can no longer perform those insignificant tasks in the house or in the yard. Or the big things that you don't have to do very often now become a "no go" and you must rely upon someone else's help (this was and still is an issue with me because of my male pride). Another unit of measurement is your social attitude. If you just say to heck with it and no longer socialize then you may be stepping across that quality of life line.

    Outcomes of surgical intervention are an unknown. It's a crap shoot. Some benefit immediately and permanently; others recover slowly while some do not see any benefit. There in lies the unknown. What to do? Each one of us is unique and special. Our response to surgery mirrors that uniqueness. I could share with you my post surgery experience, but it would only cloud your mind while YOU make YOUR decision.

    As others will tell you, get second/third opinions and if you elect to proceed with surgery then prepare yourself (and family) for that event. Preparation includes the physical, fiscal, emotional, mental and even spiritual domains. There is ample information on this website that details this topic.

    Good luck in your decison making process and continue to seek advice from members of this forum.

  • I agree with what other members have said. No surgeon can guarantee that you will be pain free.

    I'm a lumbar person and I'd got to the stage where life wasn't worth living in 24/7 pain. My surgeon didn't give me any guarantees, but his secretary said that he aims for 80% - 90% pain relief. I've got good pain relief, especially the nerve pain, but am I pain free, no. I can live with what I've got and enjoy life. I'm 2 years out now. I may need surgery on the level below the fusion at some time, and I would be prepared to take the risk because I have a top surgeon.

    Recovery is hard work and and takes a long time, and there are bending-lifting-twisting restrictions. You may have to wear a brace. There's lots of preparation to do beforehand. Have a look at the thread at the top of this page called Post-Op Must Haves, and the one on How Long Will it Take.

    Good luck with your decision.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Thanks for the caring responses Karen, Jim & Trish. All of your feedback really helps me get things into perspective. The more research I do, the more I am leaning towards having the surgery. I really don't have anything to lose at this point.
    I have never been more miserable than I am right now. I am tired of constantly being in pain & not being able to do anything without suffering painful consequences. I am becoming very depressed & anti-social. I can't believe how much my life has changed. It's like I'm a completely different person. I hate that person! I don't think anyone else likes her either.
    I still have plenty of time to decide what to do, but I know I can't go on like this. Something's gotta change! I welcome more advice, comments, & feedback. Thanks everyone.

    ACDF C5-C6 01/2002
    ACDF C6-C7 12/2011
    Prognosis: Permanent nerve damage in hands/arms, all treatment options exhausted-- lifetime CPP
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