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I am 37, a large male (Power Lifter, not anymore it seems) and am uncertain about an upcoming surgical appointment. I used to get "Stingers" as I called them, after a particularly poor lift under heavy load, they used to subside after a few days... They were basically a dull pain that really made it uncomfortable to turn my head (usually worse on one side). In any case, about 2.5 months ago (end of Aug 2013) I received what I assumed was another of these stingers, except, as what seemed to be overnight, a had shooting pain down my left arm, and it was getting worse. Also, I was unable to raise my left arm above my shoulder line... The arm weakness had happened once before, but went away in about a month. So after a night or two of increasing pain and the inability to sleep, I went to urgent care... The doctor said "I see this all the time, you have a bulging disc, let's get some pictures to confirm and go from there". I was on travel (work) at the time, and away from my wife and kids... The MRI came back, sure enough C4-5 and C5-6 were bulging I think 6mm and 2.5mm respectively (not certain)... The urgent care doctor wanted to do a cervical epidural and tried to schedule me an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. I declined, and told the doctor I would go home, and get it taken care of by my PCP (Primary Care Physician)...

I got home, saw my doctor, and he had the same message. He sent me to a Pain Clinic, in the meantime I was taking around 2-3 vicodin pills during the day and 2-4 percocet at night... Finally got into the pain clinic (it is amazing how slow the medical community moves, when you are only in pain). I had the Cervical Epidural, and like clock work the PAIN was GONE!!!. However, I still had little use of my left arm. I am left handed by the way, so it was a little concerning... I can write, I can type, I can bend at the elbow, but my front deltoid and some weird muscle or tendon on my left shoulder blade didn't seem to function, and hurt to the touch (pressing beyond the flesh, with fingers)... I went down to taking maybe 1 vicodin during the day IF NEEDED, and maybe 1 perc at night if needed... The pain didn't completely go away, but it was manageable... I then saw an orthopedic surgeon, at the request of the pain clinic dr, and that guy wanted to wipe his schedule and get me in for what he made it sound like, was an EMERGENCY ACDF 2 Level... (I was in shock, and told him "no way could I decide on that now")... I started getting other opinions and found a wonderful surgeon in Seattle... He wanted to exhaust all non-sugical options first (I liked that), but stated I was a candidate for a level 1 fusion. I had another Cervical Epidural, and saw ANOTHER ortho... I wanted to rule out any shoulder injury, that could cause these symptoms... I also got a shoulder injection, as being a power lifter, I expected my shoulder to have problems...

I know this is a long story, thank you for taking the time, I am almost to my question/dilemma... I also did my own research, and figured and EMG would also aide in telling the whole story, EMG confirms nerve is still not functioning properly, whether pinched or damaged, I don't know if they can tell... So here it goes:

- I am in barely any pain (pain pills are NOT taken daily)
- I personally feel like my arm is getting better, when I first hurt my arm, I could not throw a ball. Now I can throw, but it is still pretty weak (Progress?).
- My arm has much more movement (although I have to engage my shoulder carriage to keep it above my shoulder)
- I am scheduled for a level 1 C4-5 fusion in a week (nervous as all hell)

My problem is, if I feel like I am getting better, should I proceed with the surgery? I have been reading posts here, (dont take this the wrong way), but I don't want to deal with what it seems a lot of you are dealing with post surgery. I have read the stats... The lie is a 95% success rate, when in reality it is like 70% (success is relative, so I wont say much more than that)... I am really blocked over this... Any insight or help is much appreciated...


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 11/17/2013 - 10:44 AM
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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    Ron DiLauro


    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Pink2lipPink2lip Posts: 123
    edited 11/17/2013 - 10:48 AM
    Have you tried pt before surgery. Any surgery carries risk of success, failure, or bringing out other problems. Pain isn't the main reason why people have fusions you have to have a functional defect over general problems with pain..
    40 year old mom
    Tlif July 18
  • I have not tried PT... I was told, surgery for pinched nerves and bulging disks is usually done at the point before the patient is ready to jump off a bridge... However, I do have congenital narrowing of the space for my spinal cord..
  • I was also told, we are doing the surgery (for me) to prevent any further weakness or damage, and in order to have the best chance of arm weakness recovery...
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