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finally saw a neurosurgeon, c4-c5 issues

theresettherese Posts: 13
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:01 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi everyone. I haven't posted here in many months but I'll just recap my situation. I'm a female college student with chronic neck pain that started about 3 years ago. I've been diagnosed with a c4-c5 and c5-c6 disc protrusion, the c4-c5 being the worse.

MRI's show spinal cord impingement at c4-c5 and I have corresponding symptoms such as weakness in my arms and hands, brisk reflexes in my arms, dropping things, etc. I had only seen an orthopedic surgeon about a year ago who basically told me i was not a candidate for surgery. I finally saw a neurosurgeon this year, about a month ago and they sent me for a new MRI and this one again shows "moderate disc bulge at c4-c5 that effaces the anterior CSF space." I was again, told that I am not a candidate for surgery. I assume it is because of my age, and not my actual condition. But I'm not sure.

I don't understand why I am not a candidate for surgery when I have spinal cord compression and symptoms of myelopathy. I'm looking for some insight. Should I take these two surgeons word for it, or seek a third opinion? I'm in pain every day and really am having a lot of trouble with my hands. I can't even play my guitar anymore because my finger movements are so jerky. I'm only 19 and don't think I should have to be a walking accident ready to happen. Advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


  • Hi! Do you also have nerve impingement (foraminal stenosis)? My disc was herniated beyond repair, my surgeon said it was shredded apart.

    I am 24 and had neck surgery (on c4-5). I know your pain!

    Remember, surgery is not a quick fix. Have you gone to physical therapy, got any injections, medications things like that? They don't do surgery unless you try those things. If you have and nothing is working try to find a physiatrist (Physical medicine and rehabilitation) doctor specializing in neck and back pain issues.
    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
  • A disc bulge is generally not a reason for surgery. I'm not a doctor, but surgery is usually the last resort. Like Donnabe said before, you have to try the conservative treatments before a doctor will suggest surgery. Good luck!
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • bumping this up

    Yes I did 3 months of physical therapy when I was first diagnosed which was 2 summers ago. The pain has gotten much much worse since then and is constant. I'm pretty much disabled. I am only going to school part time and can't work. I've not had any type of injections or pain management, i.e painkillers. None of these have been offered to me by doctors I've seen.

    My most recent MRI I was unable to keep still for the whole time because of how much pain I was in.
    This resulted in them only getting a few clear pictures and the technician was unsure if they would have enough clear pictures for adequate assessment. I'm pretty sure that's why this MRI is not as in depth as my previous ones. My previous MRI's had said I had a 5mm disc protrusion flattening the anterior spinal cord as well as mild foraminal stenosis.

    I've had 2 EMG's which have been negative which I really cannot understand because of how much pain I am in. In addition, one of my MRI's says I have spondylolisthesis at c2-c3. And another X-Ray says I have spondylolisthesis at c3-c4 as well. I've asked doctors about this, and they just gloss over it like it is not an issue.

    From my interpretation, spondylolisthesis means the spine is unstable and this can cause ALOT of pain. I'm sorry this is so long. Anyone who has any insight at all please feel free. I'm concerned that my situation is being neglected and downplayed by the doctors I've seen. I don't know what doctor to go to next because the ones I've seen have been so dismissive, and will not even listen to me.

    Thanks, Therese
  • Chiming in along with Donna and Lili,
    A surgeon is strictly gonna look at your condition from his standpoint, which is surgery or not. He will leave rehab and pain management to other docs.

    Do you have a family doctor you see? With your condition and not being candidate for surgery right now, they need to refer you to a pain management clinic, which can offer you a comprehensive plan of pain management, including medication and injections.

    Surgery is usually not performed until all conservative treatments have been tried too length, and is not working anymore. Of course surgery will be performed if there is an acute situation with risk of permanent loss of strength or sensation from nerve or cord damage.

    Good luck with finding what works for you (perhaps it is surgery), and let us know how it goes! If you have questions about pain management, me and most people here at Spine Health, have tried them all - ask away :).

    Cause: car accident & genetics
    Effect: herniations C4-7, stenosis, osteoarthritis, myelopathy, neuropathy
    Non-invasive Treatment: everything under the sun
    Invasive Treatment: 2 level ACDF, C5 & C6, May 2012
    Moving Forward: SCS
  • i had pre-op appointment today, all systems go for acdf on c4-c-5 on monday. I know how much pain you are in from the level, stay strong, get a second opinion.
  • I will try to get referred to a pain management clinic. I've seen a pain management doctor but he was very rude and suggested that my herniated disc was not causing my pain. I really don't understand why the doctors I've seen have all dismissed the herniated disc as a source of pain. I never had any kind if spine pain in my life until after I was assaulted. That was 3 years ago. I feel like I'm getting to the end of my rope and I'm too young to have to deal with this. it's taken over my whole life... I don't know what to do.
  • We dont need no rude doc acting like there's no issue!
    Find a new clinic, a place that will take you seriously and work with you.

    Pain management clinics can be heaven sent if they are good! They know what might work and they have many things for you to try.
    In the end you might end up having surgery, or you might find yourself being able to manage your condition with the help of a good clinic.

    Let us know how it goes!
    Best wishes,
    Cause: car accident & genetics
    Effect: herniations C4-7, stenosis, osteoarthritis, myelopathy, neuropathy
    Non-invasive Treatment: everything under the sun
    Invasive Treatment: 2 level ACDF, C5 & C6, May 2012
    Moving Forward: SCS
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