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Before I commit to surgery, I would appreciate experienced comments

RandiferRRandifer Posts: 1
edited 02/07/2015 - 9:34 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Fellow Forum Folks,

While I am new to the forum, I am very well aquainted with the conditions described within. Although I have always had a more limited mobility in my neck, I never knew why.

At about age 38 or so, I started to experience radiopathy on the left side, to which the chiro simply said "Oh pinched nerve.. Lets just apply some traction" and it worked for a while. After about 6 or 7 years with the names of trusted Chiroprators in my phone at all times, their process simply stopped working, and a visit to the doctor and an xray later I found out about the congenital cervical fusion at C6-7 no one had previously noticed. An MRI later and the recommendation was Physio, and a cervical traction device for the home.

5 years and two more traction devices later the pain came back once more and this time with a vengeance. I have since April been forced to work from home because the office has run out of ideas to accommodate my situation that would include a couch like chair with lower back cussions, all my computer monitors at eye level and adjustale, and a quiet place for traction every 4 or 5 hours. At least I have not been forced to take any of the opiated pain meds (pain has varied, mostly a 5, 6, 7 but there are moments of clarity where it drops to a 2 and other times that the devil himself has taken control and much like Spinal Tap, (the movie, not the procedure) while pain scales are from 1 to 10, mine wil regularly go to 11.

At this point, exercise is almost not an option, walking is PAINFUL for days after. I work from home and leave my house twice a week to enjoy my only athletic activity, Curling, where I skip (captain) teams in two leagues on Tuesday and Thursday.

After 10 months of trying physio and then spinal Lydocain / Cortisone that didn't do much (it would help the day after for about 3 days, and then go away for about 10 days, coming back for another 2 to 3 weeks. I had 4 injections in 7 months and the last one was misery, causing me to pass out on the table.

I asked to discuss surgery, and I must say I do have a high level of trust with both the doctor and the surgeon, but I would like to hear from folks on the other side of the knife.

My current situation is:
C6-7 fused since birth
C5-6 Noticable stenosis and intrusioin onto the chord. slight impingement but not causing radiopathy at this point
C7-T1 does not look impinged but it is misalighed and stenosis however slight is a factor Pain from bulging disk is basically constant at a 6 to 10 leven with as mentioned above

The doctor said that disc replacement was not a good idea because with the existing fusion, the stress on the device would be outsie of the current longer term test parameters and it ran a risk of requiring additional surgery in the mid to longer term in order to repair the appliance if it fractured. Seeing as he has a masters of mechanical engineering from MIT (Yes he actually does!) I have to find that statement credible.

Based on that his recommendation was C7-T1 discectomy and fusion
C5-6 discectomy and fusion
or C5-6 laminectomy and a bit of additional dremmel work to make the holes bigger.

The discectomy would be done from he front (Not all that fond of as the doc said, having my throat moved over to the side a=while they worked around it, but it is what it is)

If there was just a laminectomy on the c5-6 area, the issue is that there is already an asymptomatic impingement, and will this be enough to keep it from getting worse. Also, it would need to be done at a different time as the path to the location is not the same, being done from behind.

I am currently scheduled for 9 weeks from now (my choice, Curling season is still going on, and I have a league to be mediocre in ;-) ) Does anyone out there have any experience with the end result I am looking at?? I am an otherwise fairly healthy 52 year old male who is married and active, until last year was at the gym 3 days a week with minimal body fat and solid lifting weights, I sail, Curl, and I am an avid amature photographer and I would like to continue with those activities but at this time I cannot drive more than 30 minutes without being in horrible pain and now have no hope of reducing that pain without what I cannot help but contider a bit of a drastic concept. If anyone has an alternative solution that I should be considering, please feel free to offer up a suggestion for me to look into.

TIA all

Boston MA

Everything in moderation.
Including moderation


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Welcome to Spine-Health

    Use that above hyperlink to help you get started with Spine-Health and navigate through the system.

    If there are any questions, you can always post them here, send Liz or myself a private message or contact Ron rdilauro@veritashealth.com

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Similar to yr case, my c6-7 were congenitally fused which led to DDD at c5-6. I age 38. I had ACDF done last April. I earnestly wished to have artificial disc done instead of acdf. But my neurosurgeon told that my cervical lordosis was too forward leaning that only fusion could allow rebuilding proper curvature.
    The range of motion was restricted. So, I do hope that you can choose the mobile disc if circumstances allow.
  • Realize that FEAR is our worst enemy. Get up & get out in that stormy weather of the real world & kick fear in the teeth. Stare at it dead in the eyes & walk right through it into the storm; because once you're wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore
  • I'll keep saying it til it reaches everyone! The biggest misconception is that surgery will take ALL the pain away. In some instances it can, but often it does not. Please only have this procedure done if it is to correct a problem. If you put your #1 focus on pain relief, you just might be disappointed.

    If you are dealing with cord impingement/compression, I'm sorry, but surgery is typically required. I have read far too many horror stories on the ones that have waited too long. This is not something to put on the back burner. You need to keep an eye on this condition. Ask questions; get answers. See a BOARD CERTIFIED NS or OS + get a couple of opinions and ACT. Knowledge is power, especially when your health is involved.

    Realize that FEAR is our worst enemy. Get up & get out in that stormy weather of the real world & kick fear in the teeth. Stare at it dead in the eyes & walk right through it into the storm; because once you're wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    edited 02/18/2015 - 1:07 PM
    Cervical spine surgery from the front of the neck is very common and surprisingly easy on the patient. Minimal post op incision pain. . My question is if you have problems at all those levels why not do the fusion from C5-T1 for a comprehensive approach?
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
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