I am in the middle of choosing whether to have a multilevel cervical fusion surgery with conflicting opinions from 4 neuro/ortho surgeons and a very conservative neurologist who wants me to wait until something better comes along. I am seeking advice on factors to consider in making my decision. I am now on oxycontin 20 mg every 12hrs after no success w/esi, nsaids, pt, yoga,exercise. I just had a C4 nerve root block this am and experienced some relief from the local anesthetic. I have at least a week to see if the steroid kicked in.
My cervical mri shows all the cervical discs worn down and at C5-g bone on bone. There is a huge disc herniation at C3-4 extending into the spinal canal and causing cord compression. I have 4 levels of ddd from C3-C7, with foraminal stenosis and central canal stenosis, bone spurs, and general arthritic overgrowth. The technical term is "you have a very ugly neck".
I also have left arm radiculophy and mild myelography in both arms, the left one being worse. I walk w/ walking sticks or a cane for poor balance and have bilateral leg weakness. In addition I have 3 lumbar fusions (L2-L7). I have incurable cancer and last year finished treatment for a second cancer. I am in remission from severe depression and continue in therapy.
I have gotten consults from 4 surgeons, 3 neuro docs and an orthopedic doc. All said I was a candidate for surgery sooner rather than later. Recommendations varied from 4-level anterior/posterior fusion of C3-7 to 2-level fusion anterior at C5-7. I am currently considering a 2-level anterior fusion at C5-7 and either a posterior foraminotomy at C3-4 or a 4-level posterior fusion at C3-7. My neurologist initially believed surgery was necessary but changed his mind after he discovered how extensive the surgical recommendations were. Less is more when it comes to surgery is his belief. Since he's a pm, he's seen many failed neck surgeries.
I have been living with the pain and worry about loss of function for 6 months now from the combined neck pain and left arm radiculopathy, a year with neck pain only. It's affected my daily activities, increased my fatigue, and led to a significant deterioration in quality of life. Driving has become problematic and, as I live alone, managing daily life has become harder. I've even had to miss music playing and singing sessions. I just don't want to live like this anymore. I'm currently thinking of going for the big surgery and have read the FAQ s, searched the forums, read the articles on this site etc. Finally decided to stop lurking and ask for support and help. It feels like a true support group here.
PLIF L1-3 6/13
ACDF (C5-7) 8/12
PLIF (L2-5) 2003/05/08