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Risk from taking no action

Post total right knee replacement, therapy was going well when left leg began to atrophy and left foot became numb. EMG done by Neuro and MRI was ordered. Cervical Stenosis was present and not unexpected due to lumbar fusion 3 years earlier. My issue is determining the risk versus reward should I follow Neuro's recommendation to have C4-C7 fusion based on the number of problems listed here. The numbness is now in both legs and my ability to walk without assistance is not improving. This would seem to provide the answer, but I see so many who claim they are actually worse for having had the surgery.

My hope is the longer I am able to hold off the better the chance of a new procedure or technique that yields greater success. I have looked here but not found anyone having written anything relating to alternative treatment methods i.e. acupuncture or something non-invasive. This also presents a career ending issue for me, as well as the quandary of entering into the maze of disability applications.


  • I, for one, am much better for having had my cervical disc fusion!!! My ACDF was 8 years ago and to this day I have absolutely no issues from it-I am fused from C4-C6. I have a titanium plate, 4 screws and cadaver bone was used. Recovery time was a harder process than the actual surgery...

    I understand your hopes that if you wait to have surgery that better options will present themselves, however, by waiting with the issues you are already describing you have could, possibly, end up causing more damage than you already have--maybe even irreversible damage.

    Welcome to Spine Health--so sorry you have to be here though. I hope I have eased your mind a bit in the fact that there are success stories as far as a cervical disc fusion goes.......Good luck & take care :-)
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 12/31/2013 - 5:54 PM
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    As Taren said, the problem becomes one of how much waiting is too much when it comes to releasing the compression on spinal nerves? It depends on where the nerves are compressed, in the central canal ( spinal cord) or are they nerve roots? Generally, depending upon the severity of compression ( stenosis), if it is mild, it usually means that injections or rfa's or some such lesser invasive method might be tried and may offer some relief, but when it comes to the canal itself and those nerves contained within, and the severity of the stenosis, the longer you choose to wait, the more likely that there may be permanent damage in that choice as a result.
    If you are experiencing difficulty walking already, and loosing muscle mass to atrophy, I would suggest that surgery might be your only option. Most cervical surgeries fair far better than others, especially once the recovery period is done, as time goes on , things improve but like all surgeries, there are risks .
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