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Arthritis in neck question

greg702ggreg702 Posts: 30
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Arthritis, Osteoarthritis
I have really bad arthritis in my neck and I was wondering can bone spurs in your neck be shaved down or something else to clean it up? I am 44 and every doctor has told me that I have it really bad for someone my age, but no one has said that there is a way to fix this condition.

I realize that it will keep growing, but I'd like to know if there is a way to get it down to a normal size and when it gets bad again I would do whatever it was that works again.


  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    hey Greg,
    I too have really severe OA in my neck, spine, and entire body. Research, ask a lot of questions, get a few more opinions from either orthopedic spine surgeons or neurosurgeons, and then decide what is best for you.

    Best of luck,
  • Who have you seen - have you been through PT, massage, shots, meds for the pain? My neck just kept getting worse and worse, but shots did help for quite a while which was some relief. I had been told I was not operable for over 10 years as the neck got worse. Then once there was spinal stenosis that was the time I was told I should have surgery soon - within a few months.

    Like Ranger said, ask your doctors a lot of questions so you understand thoroughly what your medical issues are and what you may be able to do to help.
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • I had a laminectomy, removal of bone spur narrowing nerve root exit at c4/c5. In order to reach the level the NS had to drill through part of the vertabre,whole surgery took 4 hours, scheduled for 2. surgeon said it was worse than looked on mri. Anyway that was 2008, now 4 years later new MRI shows significant deterioration at c4/c5 and worsening issues c5-c7. NS said that once you remove bone you are causing instability and the other discs take on added stress. My only long term option may be a 3 level fusion.
    Sometimes it may be better to leave the spurs alone unless they are affecting the nerves.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • I had a bone spur on the ball of my right shoulder that came back with a vengence and will now need a replacement in a few years. The body treats any injury/surgery as damage to the bone and causes calcium build-up, so (in simple terms) it only lasts until the body puts it back.

    BUT, I have OA and degenerative disk disease that is really wreaking havoc on my body - my spine in particular. I had L3/L4,L4/L5,L5/S1 fused in 2005 and L2/l3 fused in 2011. Now I have to get C3/C4,C4/C5,C5/C6 and maybe C6/C7 fused in the fall to stop impingement on the spinal cord. It's not fun, but I have a good orthopeadic surgeon and I have to say that every surgery significantly relieved my pain. My problem is the constant NEW issues.

    Hope this helped . . .
  • I have numerous bone spurs in my neck. I also have OA, degenerative disc disease, straightening of the neck vertebrae, 3 bulging discs and stenosis. Possibly some spinal cord compression - doesn't show on MRI but both PT and neurosurgeon think symptoms indicate it although it's not major.

    I am actually at the point of considering surgery because I have done PT, meds, injections and nothing has worked. I know that sometimes when my neck "catches" it's probably on those bone spurs. BUT it's the stenosis (compression of the nerves) that is the significant problem at this point in time. I continue to have numbness, tingling, aching pains in my arms/hands/wrists/fingers and the risk of nerve damage is when surgery can really come into play.

    Neck surgery (and any treatment) is really based on pain. If you're not in pain, it's not worth the surgery as any surgery near your spinal cord should not be taken lightly! My neurosurgeon is recommending a 3-level posterior laminectomy. The first neurosurgeon recommended an anterior 4-level fusion. I am 46 years old and the problem with fusions is that they often create the need for surgery again within 10-20 years.

    And sadly I'm also having relatively major (getting worse) symptoms in my legs/feet probably from the lumbar region (and well I can touch certain levels and can guarantee that I probably at minimum having bulging if not herniated discs, DDD and all of the above. But dealing with the neck first and then I will have an MRI done on my spine and go from there.

    So agreed with Dave - do your research, see a few Drs. But personally if you're not having pain, I wouldn't worry too much about it and wouldn't do anything to deal with it if you're not in pain. My pain level stays around the 6-8 level - there are people far worse out there. But it is really affecting my quality of life, I've tried the less invasive approaches and so that's the only reason I'm even at the point of considering surgery.

    I hope that helps from my limited experience!
  • I should've mentioned that I had a 2 level fusion from C4 to C6 a year and a half ago and on the xrays it showed how big the bone spurs was. I had gone to a chiro then pain management doc and had multiple injections then fusion because nothing worked.

    My neck pain is now mostly gone, but I now have burning pain in my left shoulder and sometimes in my right shoulder and I am starting to have burning pain in my left arm. My surgeon thinks if he fuses C3 to C4 that would solve my remaining pain, but would prefer me to hold out as long as possible.

    If I do decide to get surgery again I just hope that my insurance will approve it. Previously C3/C4 was borderline bad on the MRI, but now I think the 2 level fusion I had pushed the C3/C4 over to the real bad category. Sometimes I wonder why no one can invent a material to replace the cartilage if its worn down or compressed instead of going the fusion or disc replacement route.
  • This is the problem with fusions - they tend to make the vertebrae above and/or below go bad and require future surgeries. And you can't undo them. But it's what most surgeons jump to unfortunately.

    Have you asked if he could do a laminectomy and/or foraminotomy? Less invasive but once you've already had some levels fused I don't know if that's an option but worth asking about. Per my neurosurgeon the reason a lot of surgeons don't do these from the posterior is that they just aren't trained to do so. Oh and per my neuro also if for whatever reason this doesn't work (which he thinks is very unlikely) is that I could have a fusion if need be at a later date. I guess sometimes you can't depending on the procedure.

    Good luck - it's so hard to know what to do! As soon as my insurance approval comes through mine will be scheduled. It's also a 2-week recovery, no cervical collar vs. 6-8 weeks in a hard cervical collar 24/7!
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