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Has anyone regretted having neck surgery??

I have been recommended by 2 neurosurgeons to get a 1-level ACDF due to severe spinal stenosis from a disc herniation pushing on my spinal cord. The pain is currently minimal, with some minor weakness in my hands and feet. I am a relatively healthy person in my late 30's and was hoping that my herniated disc would just heal naturally. The neurosurgeon told me a disc with this much herniation will never heal; at best the herniated disc material will resorb back into the body, the disc will eventually dry out, and I will have further problems later. I still can't digest going though with this surgery when I currently feel only minimal pain and only a little bit of weakness.

Has anyone gone though a similar situation? What did you end up doing? Do you feel it was the right decision, and why?

For someone terrified of going under the knife, I would appreciate any thoughts on this.


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  • Hi
    I wasn't aware of my cervical issues went in for lumbar issues.. Found out I had a severe spinal.cord compression with very light problems that did not really point to a compression.
    The compression was so bad I now have spinal.cord injury at the C5/6/7 area. I wish this on nobody. If you have cord compression and wait you may wait to long like I did.
    This is one thing we should not wait on.
  • I had a one-level ACDF surgery two weeks ago, C5-C6. I, too, began my journey with lumbar issues, and the cervical compression was discovered in the process. My neurosurgeon was always more concerned with my neck, but it wasn't causing me any pain, unlike my back which was constantly screaming for attention. My neck caused me to have some tingling in my right forearm and fingers, and occasionally some mild shoulder/neck pain, but nothing that made me feel I needed surgery right away.

    Then a few months ago I began experiencing numbness and tingling in my tailbone area. Both my pain management doc and my neurosurgeon felt that my new symptoms were related to my neck, and a new MRI showed significant changes in the spinal cord compression. At that point surgery was highly recommended, and I went ahead and had it done.

    All of that to say, I was never in much pain from my neck, and I, too, kind of struggled with having surgery when I wasn't really in any pain. But cord compression is serious, and it doesn't always manifest with pain. Only you and your doctor can determine the seriousness of the symptoms you are having, and it is a good thing that you have begun to investigate all of your options now.

    Bottom line - I'm glad I had the surgery. Cord compression isn't one of those things that gets better over time on it's own, and it can cause permanent damage. I still have some of the same tingling I had before surgery, and that will either clear up some more as I continue to heal from my surgery, or it could be permanent because I waited too long. But even if I do have these symptoms for the rest of my life, it will not progressively get worse, as my spinal cord is no longer being compressed, and that is a good thing!

    I wish you luck in determining what the best course of action is for you!

  • Rick, I'm sorry to hear of your cord compression injury. Can I ask what kind of pain or nerve injuries you sustained? Did the cord injury happen during the time when you were only dealing with very light problems? And how long did you wait from start of cord compression?

    Also, are you scheduled to undergo surgery to your C5-6-7? I have heard of some stories where some paralysis was reversed in some patients after surgery.

    Becky, thank you for sharing your story. It is encouraging to hear someone who went through a similar decision and chose surgery early even though pain was not much of an issue. I know it might be too early to tell right now, but did you have any weakness or muscle tiredness issues prior to surgery, and if so how has it changed post-op? Is there anything you would have changed if you could go back and do it over again?
  • To answer your first question, prior to surgery I did have some muscle weakness on the left side - left arm, leg, and foot - but I also have lumbar issues, and that could also be a contributor to that weakness. I do think it is too early to tell if this has helped that, since I'm only 2 1/2 weeks post-op, and it will be interesting to see if there are any changes as I continue to heal.

    With regards to your second question, I honestly can't think of anything I would have done differently. Three years ago my neurosurgeon said I was borderline on needing the fusion and that I would need one eventually. At that time I didn't really have any symptoms - aside from some very seldom arm tingling - although the MRI and myelogram showed there was cord compression. My NS said it could be months or years, and that when symptoms began to present more frequently we would need to consider surgery more seriously. It took a few years, but when I started having symptoms - tingling and numbness - it progressed and worsened rapidly. I'm glad that I didn't ignore them or put it off.

    I'm really very impressed with how well my recovery has gone so far. I know mine was only a one-level fusion, but my NS did not have me wear a collar, and I feel that my range of motion is excellent. I go in for my three week follow-up appointment on Tuesday, and I fully expect him to give me clearance for driving. At least I hope he will!

    Keep us posted on your situation!

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