In November of 2011 at the age of 25, I herniated disc c5 / c6 when I fell asleep on a bus. I woke up with bad neck pain that got increasingly worse over the next week to the point where I couldn't turn my head and had numbness/pain into my right arm. After chiropractic care and physical therapy I was able to get to functioning again, but I have had constant minor to moderate pain since then.
The pain is at best a 1 and at worst a 5 or 6. Most days it's a 3 or 4. I would describe it as a constant soreness/aching/burning. It is mainly on my right side - neck, shoulder, back, arm, elbow and 4th/5th fingers but it doesn't go numb any more.
I have tried chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture and massage. It only helps for a few hours or maybe a day. I've discussed spinal injection with my doctor, but he doesn't think it will help based on my MRI and the history of the injury. I finally went to a surgeon for a consultation today and he recommended ACDF surgery and seemed very confident that it would be successful and resolve the issue. 1 hour surgery, estimated 1-2 weeks to heal. No restrictions after that. Doesn't sound like that big of a deal.. but the internet is making me feel otherwise.
I'm not sure what to do. Conservative treatment only helps temporarily. I am 29 and can't imagine living the rest of my life with this constant pain OR spending tons of time and money the rest of my life going to therapy, massage, etc.
I am an active person and love running. I took time off from exercise for close to a year when I was going through physical therapy and felt my symptoms were worse. I resumed running and even did some HIIT, Plyo, yoga etc over the last year. I'm not sure if it's helping, but it doesn't seem to make it worse.
Anyone been in a similar situation? Should I do the surgery or live with the pain? Other treatment ideas that have more lasting results?
28 years old, active, distance runner
Herniation in C5/C6 2011