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Hi - I need some advice...

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi - I wish I found this site a long time ago!
I'm 49 year old woman, single mom, and I have been suffering with burning pain in my wrists for about 4 years - I just recently had a cervical MRI and found out the pain is coming from my neck. I've seen a neurosurgeon who told me I have spinal stenosis and cervical degeneration and need fusion on c5,6 and c6,7. He told me it would be about 2 weeks recovery & I could return to work. I've had all kinds of nonsurgical treatments from chiropractic to traction that did not help. I'm terrified to have surgery, and I'm worried it may lead to worse problems, but I've been living with almost constant pain in my hands, which makes work almost impossible. My neck bothers me sometimes, but mostly its the burning in my hands that's the problem.
I was also laid off from my job 6 months ago, and I finally got a new one which I'm suppose to start in a week! Having surgery now may mean I lose this job, but I'm not sure how long I can work with the pain I have now.
I'd really really appreciate any advice or imput anyone has!



  • I can relate to the starting a new job knowing you need surgery and will be out of work for a while!

    My last job (I quit 2 weeks ago) I interviewed for and started, knowing I was going to be having surgery sometime within a few months of begining the job. I didn't bring it up at the interview, because the surgery date wasn't set yet and I didn't want to shoot myself in the foot. So I got the job and after working there for 2 months I received my surgery date.

    Along with the date, I found out I would be out for at least 1.5 months. I approached my boss and was quite upfront about the entire situation. Her big question to me was "do you feel you will still be able to do the job after surgery". To which I responded, "yes". So then she said, no problem we will just pick up where you leave off when you get back.

    So many times surgeries are "going to be scheduled" and they never happen on time. So if I had brought it up at the interview I may or may not have been hired. I still felt like I was hiding a dark secret, which wasn't much fun. In hindsight I wish I had said something right from the start. The boss knew I had spine problems and knew it was on going treatment, but still ...

    So I don't know how to answer your question other than do what feels right in your heart. Do what will allow you to go home at night and look at yourself in the mirror.

  • I think that a 2 week return to work is pretty ambitious, even for a desk job. If you have a cervical collar, not everyone wears one, you will not be able to drive until it comes off. I have, however, read about people going back to work in that time frame, it's just not very common.

    I agree with C, do whatever feels okay as far as this new job. However, if you are in need of the money right now, don't be afraid to go ahead with it and tell them about your surgery when you hav the date. It's easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission ;)

    Good luck,

  • Hi - and thanks for your replies.
    I'm really really nervous and scared to have the surgery, but I've been living in pain for a long time and I don't know how long I would be able to work without doing something to fix this problem. Fusing my discs and putting plates in really scares me. Has anyone had this done - was it worth doing it?
  • Hi - and thanks for your replies.
    I'm really really nervous and scared to have the surgery, but I've been living in pain for a long time and I don't know how long I would be able to work without doing something to fix this problem. Fusing my discs and putting plates in really scares me. Has anyone had this done - was it worth doing it?
  • I agree that a 2 week return to work is very ambitious. My husband had the same surgery done and was out for three months. Plus there was the physical therapy to contend with. Yet he still has pain and extreme stiffness at times. And that was 7 years ago. He deals with his pain by swimming, water areobics and massage which really does seem to help him.
    I have not heard about anyone having burning pain in "both" wrists as a result of spinal stenosis and cervical degeneration (although I am certainly no expert). I do have spinal stenosis and cervical degeneration myself though. I also have rhumatoid arthritis which I know can cause pain/burning in both wrists, and/or feet and hands at the same time. I think it may be worth your while to get a blood test just to be sure. There is medicine that does work to stop the crippling effects of RA if it is caught early enough.
    Some of these surgeons are what I call "knife-happy", (and money hungry). There is certainly no guarentees that surgery will correct your problem and it could possibly make it worse. So I just think it's worth your while to look at some more alternatives. Unfortunately some pain is part of our human condition. Some of us tolerate pain better than others. I personally do not tolerate it very well. Another thing you may consider is pain management for your spinal stenosis and cervical degeneration especially if RA is ruled out. The doctor at the clinic I go to has started epidural steriod injections in my neck which has been a true blessing so far.
    The best of luck to you and please let us know how things go.

    May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
  • You should consider talking to several docs before committing to surgery. (Depending on the urgency/severity of your situation,of course.) While there are many success stories here on SH, remember that once you have surgery, there is no undoing it. Butterfly Spirt's reply was a good one!--Mazy
  • If your new employer provides medical insurance Be sure to check your policy for any pre-existing clauses.
  • You might return to work after two weeks, but that does not by any stretch of the imagination be "healed". My Neuro said basically the same thing. Yes, I was back at work just a week after surgery (too soon), but I am 7 months out still having trouble with fusion and still dealing with a lot of pain. I think the sometimes because this is such a "minor" surgery for the neuros who do brain surgeries and much more "serious" stuff that they forget to tell us that this is major surgery and it IS going to take a very long time to heal (in some instances). I'm looking at a CT scan in three months because they are concerned about what could be going on. I don't regret the surgery, it has helped with the numbness and tingling in my hands (though it is not 100% gone), but the healing process can be quite long and painful for some.
  • sorry but i wrote twice already. thanks!
  • I returned to work after just about 2 wks. I was told not to drive with the Aspen collar, but I did anyway. I just loosened it up a little and drove very carefully. I couldn't take off 3 months because of the collar. I felt great. Nothing hurt after the surgery.I never took one pain pil. That was the only thing slowing me down. Good Luck!
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