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Why are they so reluctant to operate??

gandalf456ggandalf456 Posts: 16
edited 02/03/2016 - 2:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Last year, I went to the doctor about a weak left hand. Prior to that, I had had some shooting pains which I brushed off as a trapped nerve as the pain wasn't that bad. I work in a supermarket so thought I'd just pulled something while pulling a stock cage.

I had had an MRI and EMG. The MRI revealed degeneration at c5-C6 and a bone spur at c7, causing problems with the ulnar nerve in the left hand. The EMG confirmed this and the cord was OK - at least, it was in July.

I have had a course of physiotherapy. By this time, I was getting pain on my right side, which occasionally goes all the way down to my toes. The pain in my right arm has now transcended into weakness but the physio seemed more worried about the pain and said that they would be reluctant to operate and I would need to live with the weakness for now.

I have heard varied stories of how operations have turned out so I understand but I have also read that not doing anything could mean a worse outcome.

Anyone want to share their experiences?



  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,159
    It seems that the main trigger point for doing surgery is that the patient asks for surgery. So ask you surgeon.

    I believe that waiting can make the recovery longer because nerve damage seems to heal slowly. It took two surgeries to get it right for me, and I don't regret it a bit. I think the surgeon was conservative and didn't fuse one that just kind of looked bad, it as bad...

    Spine-health Moderator

    Read my story at Bruce - My Story
    ACDF C4-C5-C6-C7, and getting better every day
    It has been a process of healing, learning, exercising, and resting - and figuring out when to do which.

  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Thanks for your replies. The pain is manageable and I could cope but the weakness and numbness is really scaring me.
  • PlumbTuckeredOutPlumbTuckeredOut Philadelphia, PAPosts: 325
    My MRI shows several issues with my cervical spine but, for 2 years I did PT, steroid injections, pain meds. I really didn't want to do the surgery route. So now I'm going the surgery route. I know- makes no sense!

    I think, that for me, the bigger issue is that the spine is deteriorating and the stenosis between foraminal joints is increasing. If there were no change or improvement, surgery could wait. I've lost a lot of use in my left hand and it's rare to notice the change because usually it's a slow process.

    But now it's the pain in the butt of meeting with and talking to different surgeons. Surgery, or the actual operation may be pretty easy but often there are other issues for people. I had a neighbor who wanted surgery in the worst way to deal with her pain in her shoulder, back, arm.... I was the person driving her all over the state and I was the one trying to get her to hear the doctors telling her that she was a horrible surgical risk. She was 200 lbs overweight. She smoked 2+ packs a day. She ate 2 pounds of bacon a week. She was not medication compliant. She was diabetic.

    I'm definitely not saying any of these apply to you but doctors need to consider all these issues when they consider surgery. Anesthesia is dangerous stuff so a person needs to be healthy in most every other way- heart, lungs, liver, kidneys. We're pretty complex beings.

    Not the same thing but back in the 90's I worked for a vet. We needed to operate on a cat to amputate a toe that had been infected for too long. The cat never woke up from anesthesia. None of the bloodwork indicated there would be a problem. The cat just never awoke. I'll never forget that despite the hundreds that did!


    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by...... (Robert Frost)
    I still don't know if I should have taken the one that said, "Caution! Dead End" (Me)
  • Thanks, plumb. I am a non smoker, slightly overweight but I don't think I fall into the category where they'd overly worry. 

    I might try the injections next if I ever can get  through to the hospital. I have left a message and they haven't called back.

    Today, I have an awful pain all the way down my right side, right down to my toes, which is worrying because I don't know if it indicates that now my whole spine is involved. 
  • SukhreSSukhre San Diego, CAPosts: 181
    It can be frustrating. If you have seen only on surgeon and he asked you to wait, you can see another surgeon. If you have seen multiple surgeons and they all asked you to wait and try conservative treatment, may be, thats the best for you. 
    MRI shows C4-C7 severe steonosis. Pain in hand.
  • I have been referred to a neurosurgeon as my neurologist thinks surgery is the only answer now. 

    My problems are chiefly the c8 junction and my ulnar nerve has neuropathy. C5-c6 and c7 have degenerative changes.

    I have weakness but no pain in left arm from elbow with the two little fingers feeling slightly numb. I drop change, keys and break zips. I can't carry anything heavy or bulky without dropping it.

    My right side is a bit stronger but is growing weaker. I have slight numbness in my little finger and cramping pain from neck to upper arm. I also get pain right down to my toes - a sort of burning - and slight numbness down my right side. My right leg feels heavy and crampy too.

    So, my question is, has anyone had cervical fusion here? All I can see are horror stories on the Internet. What's the recovery like? And will I be able to.go back to my old.job ? I work in a supermarket and the work is either heavy or repetitive
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