First, I'm new here but I've been reading over many of the posts in an attempt to educate myself. I figured I'd reach out to get some personal interaction. Hello!
I'm a 34 year old male. I've had neck/arm pain/numbness/tingling with no weakness for almost a year, starting out very mildly and progressing to what it is now. I had an MRI 5 months ago and, to make a long story short, I have a diffuse disc bulge with a prominent broad-based left paracentral and foraminal disc herniation at C5-C6 (I don't know exactly what that means). I can't pinpoint a specific cause but I am a casual smoker, sit at a desk for long periods of time for work, and probably don't get enough exercise; although, my diet is pretty good (plenty of fruits and vegetables) and I'm not at all overweight.
I generally only have bad pain when I bend my head down and in some other directions, but I don't even take Advil on a daily basis even thought the pain is pretty much constant, during all waking hours. I definitely wouldn't say it's bearable and absolutely not for long-term. It's not as bad because I'm constantly aware of my posture and avoid movements that aggravate the symptoms. But, I don't feel like I'm improving.
The neurologist did an EMG test about 4 months ago and everything was fine. He told me I didn't need surgery, just physical therapy. I have no muscle weakness in my arm. The orthopedic surgeon said I should get an ACDF for quality of life due to my age and he didn't think PT would do anything for me. The neurosurgeon said the surgery is totally my call since I don't have muscle weakness. I did 3-4 months of PT with no noticeable improvement. Acupuncture and chiropractor did nothing.
I'm so lost at this point. I'm worried that an ACDF would fail or require surgery in the future, but also that I might end up waiting to get better only to have it never resolve on its own. Choices ....