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ACF C5-6-7 scheduled for 12/14

PH MomPPH Mom Posts: 80
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi...so happy I found this sight, has already been helpful. I am a 49 y/f with pain, numbness and tingling in my right arm for past 4 months. I had prior lumbar stabilization surgery 5 years ago December, so when I got the results of my MRI I went back to my neurosurgeon. Diagnosed with moderate to severe central and foramenal stenosis, with osteophytes, disc degeneration, etc. Had an epidural, did pt with traction, did the EMG nerve conduction, had CT Myelogram...so have gone through a lot to confirm diagnosis.

I am scared to death of the surgery because I know how hard it was to come back from the lumbar surgery. Already know I will have hard collar upon wakening, and bone growth stimulator for 6 months. Hoping that the pain is not too horrible post-op.

Here is my problem...Now I have friends/family telling me I should get a second opinion, but everything I have read tells me that the ACF is what I need. I completely trust my doctor, whom I've known for 6 years. Do I go see someone I don't know? If so, do I trust them? If they tell me I don't need ACF, then what do I do?? I'm so conflicted.

I've already done some of my pre-op and pre-registered at the hospital. I really want to have the surgery prior because I have met my out of pocket maximum. I appreciate any input or advice.



  • Second opinions are always good. It is not that uncommon for someone to get a second opinion and the opinions be different, but then again they can also be the same. One thing that can happen is the second opinion surgeon could say a different type of surgery is needed and why. But to me the more information you have the more power you have. You could also get a complete confirmation of the first surgeon, and then you know your making the best possible choice. In the end it is up to you. At the end of the day you have to live with the choices you make regarding your health care decisions. I myself always get a second opinion. I can tell you even with the bad luck I have had, and having 6 surgeries, the second opinions always confirmed my surgeon. I like you have full faith and confidence in my surgeon. I think I do it more as a confirmation to myself that I am not jumping the gun so to speak.
  • Sorry to hear of your neck issues! It's up to you if you want a second opinion or not. If you know and trust your surgeon and are comfortable with the operation then don't get one.

    Plus... I can't speak from experience but I have heard and witnessed with other family members, that lumbar surgery is a lot more painful than cervical.

    My ACDF was not extremely painful- the pain was controlled pretty well by meds. But it is a long recovery process. I would do it over again if I had to. The post op pain was bad- don't get me wrong, but it was not as bad as the pain I had pre op.
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • I know it's scary to think of having cervical surgery, but I personally think that having complete confidence in your surgeon is imperative. Since you're having nerve problems down your arm(s), then your surgeon could very well be right. You don't want to risk having permanent nerve damage.

    Like Donna said, if you're comfortable with what your surgeon said and have tried all conservative measures, then maybe it's time for surgery without a second opinion. It's really up to you, not what friends and family say. They're probably scared too.

    As Donna said also, cervical recovery is much easier than lumbar recovery - I've had both. Of course recovery takes time, but it's faster and less painful than lumbar recovery.

    One thing we stress on here is to go with your gut feeling. If you feel strongly that your doctor is right, know in your gut that you've tried everything and surgery is the only answer, then don't second guess yourself.

    Take care and please keep us posted.
  • Thank you all for your comments and concern. I am encouraged to read that cervical surgery is possibly going to less painful than my lumbar surgery 5 years ago. From what I've read, I understand that it will be 4-6 months of healing (and wearing a bone growth stimulator 4 hours a day), but I am at peace with my decision about the surgery. I cannot continue with the numbness and pain in my right arm...and I don't want to risk permanent nerve damage.

    I anxiously await December 14...T-9 and counting!!

    I will let you know how things go.
    Thanks again for your encouragement.

  • i had acdf c5-6 aug 2, 2011. post op pain isnt that bad...but listen to your surgeon and do even less than he tells you you can. im still having neck pain and unable to work...looking for the right meds to control the pain...by the way i only have to wear my bone growth stimulator for 30 minutes a day. its got a timer on it and wont come back on until the next day.

    best of luck...acdf is a very common approach for relief of your symptoms
  • hi everyone!
    I'm 5+ weeks post-op and progressing nicely. I saw my NS about 9 days ago...he released me to drive, start PT, and go back to work part-time (I substitute teach in elementary school). Yesterday was my first day teaching (6th grade) and I realized I'm not ready for a full day. :) But, that's good for me to know.

    PT has been great, but I am amazed at how weak my arms are. Especially the right arm (and I am right-handed). The deep tissue massage is awesome, working out those knots in my shoulders. I am so grateful that I have not had one episode of numbness/tingling since I woke up from surgery.

    Thank you to all who have posted on this site...you definitely encouraged me in many ways, and the information/insight I gained was invaluable!

    I go back to the NS toward the end of Feb (10 weeks) and will have x-rays to see if I am beginning to fuse.

    Blessings on your day,
  • Hi Jan! I'm so happy to hear your surgery & post-op went so well! Did you have the numbness & tingling of hands prior to surgery?
  • Hello Laramis,
    Yes...that was actually my only complaint...numbness and tingling from my shoulder blade to my fingertips. Since I woke up from surgery, I have not had one episode of the 'pins & needles'...the tips of my thumb and forefinger were numb, but that is increasingly less as the weeks go by.

    Have you had surgery? Considering it?? I had a lot of nerve compression, bone spurs, central and foramenal stenosis. I could not be more pleased with the result from my surgery.

    Thanks for posting!
  • Hi all...
    I saw my NS this morning and had xrays taken.The doctor said everything looks good – no fusion yet, but he doesn’t expect any for 6-12 months. I told him that I get worn out so quickly...he said fatigue from this procedure is normal for 3-6 months! I’m so glad I’m normal...hahaha.

    My x-rays are so surreal - to see the hardware in there, just mind boggling. My scar looks really good (I still can't believe how small it is) and I am progressing nicely. Still wearing that annoying Bone Growth Stimulator (but hopefully for "only" 4 more months!). So thankful for my great surgeon and a successful outcome.

    Thanks to you all for your encouragement prior to surgery - you helped me more than you can imagine. What a blessing!

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