I am a 42-year-old woman. I herniated my C5-C6 disc approximately 3 months ago. It has been confirmed by MRI results. I have significant pain as well as numbness in my thumb, pointer, and middle fingers. I have been on a lot of medication for months (you name it). I was told that my odds of this resolving were very good, yet I continue to be very symptomatic. I cannot work or do much of anything without complete numbness down my arm and into my hand as well as severe pain. I was on prednisone 40mg/day for two months. I thought I was getting better. About a week off the steroids, I was in the emergency room due to pain. I am now back on prednisone. Also, I have had a couple episodes where I could not grab a door handle, not that I couldn't turn it, but that I couldn't make my hand reach it, if that makes sense. I have an appointment for an epidural steroid cortisone injection. I know that is just for pain management and that it does not resolve the root issue. My doctor feels that if the injection does not resolve things, I am probably looking at surgery. I have done a lot of research and am set on disc replacement versus fusion.
My questions is: When is the right time to pull the trigger, so to speak, to have surgery? How long should I wait this out? I don't really feel comfortable with the cortisone shot as it is just a patch, and it also carries risks. I know that I can't live like this forever without there being some significant nerve damage to my hand if I don't get this fixed. I just kind of wanted to know if there are some telltale things to be looking for, i.e., x-amount of time I've been living with this, numbness, et cetera that could guide me to say, okay, this is the right time.
This is a very scary thing, and trying to get feedback from my family is difficult because of course they don't ever want me to have surgery.
Feeling scared and alone and in a lot of pain.
Thanks so much!