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What do I do?

DressageQueenDDressageQueen Posts: 4
edited 10/10/2015 - 11:35 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am a 47 year old attorney, mother of two (11 and 12), and my great love is riding dressage with my Lipizzaner and Hanoverian horses.

I have been through a laminectomy for right arm pain (with all the usual complaints of numbness, tingling, agonizing spasms, etc.) A year or so later I had C4 - C5 and C5 - C6 fused. Well I am back again with a herniation at C6-C7. Same pain. Agonizing. They have scheduled me for surgery on November 4th. I've looked into alternatives without much success. I even considered going to a chiro (which as an attorney I am more than skeptical) and I asked my neuro and he would not recommend. He of course won't tell me what I should do.

I am surrounded by skeptics. My trainer/coach says I should look into this guy in Texas who injects a biologic to repair disc. However, my husband researched and the guy is working on lumbar area. It really hasn't been approved for cervical use. My mother says I did this to myself by having the fusion and that back in the day she suffered from this kind of pain and after years she got over it. Well - she is not the model of health or sage as it relates to medical advice so although I try not to "hear" her I still listen. She creates doubt.

I have never had surgery with an ENT involved? Is it likely at this level that I will have problems swallowing and voice issues for the rest of my life? Will I ever get to ride in dressage/compete again. I can't stop crying. Can't stop the pain meds right now because of the pain. I feel like I have no alternative but I don't want to live like this for six more weeks let alone years.

Then there are my kids......

Sorry about the word vomit but I am pulled in a million directions...I know my issue is not special. There is just so much noise in my head and ears. I come home from work a shambles from pain. What to do?

Welcome to Spine-Health

One of the most important things that members can do is to provide the rest of the community with as much information about themselves as possible. It is so very difficult for anyone to respond when we do not have enough information to go on. This is not meant to indicate that you are doing anything wrong or violated any rule, we are just trying to be pro-active and get the information upfront so that people can start responding and your thread is more effective.

So many times we read about members who have different tests and they all come back negative. The more clues and information you provide, the better chances in finding out what is wrong, The fact that your test results are negative does not mean that you are fine and without any concerns. Many times it takes several diagnostic tests and procedures to isolate a specific condition.

Here are some questions that you should answer:

  • - When did this first start?

    . Year, Your age, etc
- Was it the result of an accident or trauma?
- Are there others in your family with similar medication conditions?
- What doctors have you seen? (Orthopedic, Neurosurgeon, Spine Specialist, etc)

  • . Which doctor did you start with? Ie Primary Care Physician
    . Who are you currently seeing?
- What Conservative treatments have you had? Which ones?

  • . Physical Therapy
    . Ultrasound / Tens unit
    . Spinal Injections
    . Acupuncture
    . Massage Therapy
- What diagnostic tests have you had? And their results (MRI, CTScan, XRay, EMG, etc)

  • . Summarize the results, please do not post all details, we cannot analyze them
    . How many different tests have you had over the years? Similar results?
- What medications are you currently using? (details, dosage, frequency, etc)

  • . Name of Medication
    . How long have you been using this?
    . Results
- Has surgery been discussed as an option? (If so, what kind)
- Is there any nerve pain/damage associated?
- What is your doctor’s action plan for treating you?

Providing answers to questions like this will give the member community here a better understanding
of your situation and make it easier to respond.

Please take a look at our forum rules: Forum Rules

I also strongly suggest that you take a look at our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) which can be found at the top of the forum menu tab or by going to FAQ There you will find much information that will

  • - Help you better utilize the Spine-Health system
    - Provide pointers on how to make your threads / posts
    - Tips on how to create your avatar (your picture), posting images, etc
    - General pieces of valuable information

Please remember that no one at Spine-Health is a formally trained medical professional.
Everything that is posted here is based on personal experiences and perhaps additional research.
As such, no member is permitted to provide

  • - Analysis or interpretation of any diagnostic test (ie MRI, CTscan, Xray, etc)
    - Medical advice of any kind
    - Recommendations in terms of Medications, Treatments, Exercises, etc

What could be good for someone could spell disaster for another.
You should also consult your doctor to better understand your condition and the do’s and don’t’s.

It is very important that new members (or even seasoned members) provide others with details about their condition(s). It is virtually impossible to help another member when all the details we have are

I’ve had this for years, it hurts, I cant move my shoulder – what could this be, what treatment should I get?

Diagnosing spinal problems can be very difficult. In many ways it’s like a game of clue. Especially, when the diagnostic tests come back negative – no trouble found! Then it’s up to the patient and the doctor to start digging deeper. The doctor is like a detective. They need clues to help them move along. So, you as the patient need to provide the doctor with all sorts of clues. That is like it is here. Without having information about a condition, its impossible for anyone here to try to help.

Specific comments :

Personal Opinion, not medical advice :

--- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator : 10/10/15 17:35 est



  • I have had 3 fusions so now I have a C1-C3 fusion since they removed my occipital-C1 fusion last surgery. I do still have pain but I can tell you that you will be able to ride again. I have been riding horses since around 4 1/2 months after surgery with my surgeons permission of course.
  • Hi, I do not know about riding dressage, but I can tell you something of my experiences. I have had fusions at 4 C levels, in 2 different surgeries. I bought a snowmobile after the second, and proceeded to spend hours on that much to the chagrin of my surgeon. I understand your pain, and your reaction to your mothers' statements. The pain is all consuming, making you slow down so much you barely get through each day. Pain medications take the edge off the pain, but can not touch the deep depression that comes with so much pain. Try a mild anti-depressant. Many well meaning people told me that I caused my subsequent surgeries by having the first; but they do not have my spine damage so I keep that in mind along with my goals of (1) continuing to walk and (2) keeping my pain under control while staying healthy all over my body. Remember to get a second opinion before any big surgery. And take care of yourself while you thank the people who are helping you.
    Still Walking
  • I think (*think*) the voice issues tend to be the higher vertebrae with your previous surgeries. They may have you do a swallow study first to make sure you don't have damage from the first surgery, and what side they should approach from on the second one.
    Have you gotten a second opinion? Based on your pain issues, and familiarity with symptoms, it does sound like you need surgery, but doesn't hurt to get a second opinion.
    None of the other options work, from my research. From having a chiro work on my neck before I knew my problems, I would absolutely NOT recommend going to one, unless you want to make it a whole lot worse. A chiropractor would be great at making a bulging disc completely herniate. By the way - it's pretty "normal" to get adjacent segment syndrome - which is what you have.
    I think if you go ahead and get it done sooner than later, and it sounds like you're in great shape otherwise, you'll be fine.
    Good luck! Keep us posted!

    ACDF w/Corpectomy C3-6 12/8/14 ; Laminectomy C3-6  5/19/2016

  • I have lumbar spine issues but wanted to chime in as to how I can relate. I also was very a very active runner and Open Water Swimmer when my L spine injury started last year. It has been devastating. it is also very difficult to get actual guidance these days from physicians as they now seem to just present options as all equal and tell you to choose one. Also as I am sure you know, they don't typically have any idea of the stuff involved in our sports. They all told me swimming anywhere was great, but then were dismayed when I felt my pain had gotten worse after a rough ocean swim... they just don't always get what's involved, so of cours you have to explain it and then some don't have the time to listen!
    My opinion is that chiropractic is not a good idea. you have instrumentation already in your spine, and most chiro do not really work with folks who have had actual spine issues. None will work on me because I have a Pars fracture in my low back. I actually think they shouldn't work on you if you have fusions....
    I would suggest you TRY to ignore you Mother. It's super hard though. A lot of people have told me that I "ruined" my back by running so much. (including my Mom as well, she has a lot of guilt because of the pars fx which probably happened when I was like 10) Luckily all 5 of my neuro opinions concurred that it wasn't running and more likely just some interesting genetics that caused all of my issues.

    I totally understand the Will I ever do this again feeling. I felt that way about running. It's been a year now since I've been able to run. At this point, I finally found 2 neurosurgeons who believe there is a possibility for it about one year after surgery. It's a chance so I'm going for it. Since I can barely walk I also know that I have no other option, as it's just getting worse with no treatment. The Neurosurgeon I chose was the one who finally told me he could write me for all sorts of alternative treatments, but that it wasn't really going to heal it...and that only surgery was going to stabilize it enough for full recovery. and nOW... I can't wait. I am hoping for the same date you have!
    Hang in there, it's a horrid feeling, like your entire life has been snatched away... but it will get better....
  • Thank you for all your insight and sharing your experiences. I have a good day and I think I don't need the stinking surgery but then the feeling comes back. I, of course, had a cantering accident today and landed - yes on my shoulder and neck. It's so hard to have something you love - that's in your blood - like riding and it may not be the best to continue. And with the weight of the surgery hanging over me (and whether to go forward with it) it does make me depressed. Not sleeping well. Black circles under my eyes. Oh well. I have a bunch of pre-op appointments with the ENT. I guess I will just keep riding the train towards surgery.
  • DressageQueenDDressageQueen Posts: 4
    edited 10/12/2015 - 2:03 PM
    One day after two months you feel asymptomatic? Would you cancel the surgery? Does this happen to anyone? I know I sound naive but I think it's clear I'm trying to avoid surgery.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,832
    Position to answer that. The decision to have the surgery or not is between you and your doctor
    You need to understand all the pros and cons of having the surgery, waiting for it or to cancel it all together
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • LauralauraLLauralaura Posts: 27
    edited 11/09/2015 - 2:46 AM
    Anything that you do where there is high impact(running, horeback riding, motorcycle riding, jogging, tennis,etc..) or you have the significant additional weight of a helmet is risky.

    I am in the same position regarding tennis, riding motorcycle as a passenger, and jogging. I will wait until I am fully fused per the doctor and then if that is sooner than 1 year, will also wait 1 year. Then I will ask the orthopediatric surgeon his opinion at 1 year anniversary. I have been through managing this neck since 2006, and only in 2015, did it get to the point where without surgery would be paralyzed. To me, I owe my successful management for those 9 years to a great physical therapist, who showed me, explained, about setbacks by my going back to those things too soon (of course had to learn the hard way ), but really understood after that about doing too much too soon and the months it can set you back. Now that surgery has happened, I just cannot forget that lesson and what that physical therapist taught me 9 years ago.

    Post this surgery, am not required or recommended for pt, but my surgeon did tell me to go to the chiropractor in his office at 1 month post surgery, as she has his specific instructions and all my records, xrays, post op, to work with as well.

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