I'm looking for help about surgery - in a nutshell I have 3 bulging discs, osteophytes, foraminal narrowing from mild to moderate, from levels 4-7, DDD and straightening of the normal lordosis and while the MRI didn't show it, my neurosurgeon (and my PT) thinks that I do in fact have some spinal cord compression based on symptoms in the C7 area. I never had an injury so it's most likely osteoarthritis and a lifetime of bad posture.
I did PT on my own for 10 weeks as I initially thought that I had impingement syndrome in my left shoulder. My friend who is a PT had me come in to start exercises to see if I could avoid another shoulder surgery. In the process, figured out that the pain was coming from my neck, and my symptoms increased dramatically. Over time and with neck traction, it improved, but then I had it on both sides instead of just the left, just not quite as painful as it was before. I kind of reached a plateau where I just wasn't getting any better. Most of my pain is in my arms/hands/fingers although my neck itself is sore and I get shocks of pain in various places including along my spine. I now have the exact same symptoms in my lower back/legs/feet/toes. I am sure that I have lumbar issues too but at this point I don't want to even know until I have my neck taken care of then I'll go have the offered MRI on my spine.
My first neurosurgeon had me try a number of the less invasive things first and he sent me to pain management since I'd already done PT. I have had Oxycodone, Valium, Gabapentin, Meloxicam with little results. I have a terrible time sleeping and was given Trazadone and hated it. Last night I tried Lunestra that he gave me some samples of and I actually slept really well for once. I have had foraminal injections on both sides of C6-7 and then I had a cortisone epidural and neither did anything.
The first neurosurgeon said that if it got to surgery he would do an anterior fusion from C4-7. Recently I saw a 2nd neurosurgeon who I like the best and feel the most comfortable with so have switched to him.
My new neurosurgeon wants to do a posterior laminectomy at 5, 6 and 7. Something else at 7 (worst bulge is there) but can't remember exactly. He would then use plastic sort of spacers in between the vertebrae. This is the part that I can find no information on. He said that he did at least a thousand of this same procedure as an intern/resident at the Mayo Clinic as his chairman when he was there was the guy who invented it (the plastic part I would assume). He said that the reason that a lot of surgeons don't do it is because they haven't been trained to do it and the ACDF is well the gold standard and most just jumpt to that.
This surgery he said would have a 2 week recovery - no cervical collar. The initial week's pain would be worse because of the posterior approach. This Dr. has a very good reputation (as does the other who I saw). He was the one that my PT really wanted me to see and as a friend I greatly respect his opinion. The neurosurgeon said that I'm a perfect candidate for this procedure and that personally if he had to have it done, he would go this route and not have the anterior fusion. I'm 46 years old and he said that very likely I'm looking at another surgery in 10-20 years with the fusion. With the posterior approach it's unlikely he thinks that i would need another surgery but if I did, then I'm looking at a 1 level anterior fusion.
I am having a nerve test on 6/4 but the neurosurgeon anticipates that it will be negative for carpal tunnel but that has to be ruled out before moving to surgery.
So just wanting to hear I guess experiences from those who had posterior laminectomies versus anterior fusions and if anyone knows about that "plastic part" of the surgery. I have googled and haven't come up with much. I'm a teacher so if I am going to have surgery, it would be best for me to have it sooner rather than later so that it's the summer and I have plenty of recovery time.
Thanks for any information! Carmen