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Herniated disc C6-C7

MartyJ0203MMartyJ0203 Posts: 1
edited 02/03/2016 - 8:53 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I hope this group can share its experience with me. I developed nerve pain symptoms Nov. 29 and had an MRI that indicated left foraminal disc herniation at C6-7 level. I've have had 2 epidural blockers, which provided minimal relief, and am scheduled for a third this Friday. After more than 2 months of dealing with the pain I'm seriously considering surgery. I'd be interested in the pro/con recommendations of this group, and whether any of you have dealt with this issue and if so, what the outcome was.



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,166

    I have been there, but I had two discs that clearly were bulging, and one that was questionable.  Surgery has really helped me, but I know others that the injections helped.  I wasn't offered injections and didn't know about them until I was post op a few weeks.

    What became clear to me was that we as patients need to ask questions, lots of questions.  What are my options?  Will this heal without surgery?  What can I do to help it heal?  Will PT help?  What about traction?  Should I see a surgeon?

    I will say that this forum is a great place to start - read, read, read - there is so much experience here to help you learn what questions to ask.

    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.

  • You don't really say what your level  is of pain and whether or not you have severe spinal cord compression.

    My pain was severe and I had severe spinal cord compression, so there was no question that I needed a C6-C7 ACDF.  I wasn't interested in wasting time or money with injections.

    I am a little over 2 weeks post-op and feel better than I have in years.

    You should note that I have herniated discs at every level in my neck and one surgeon wanted to fuse two levels and another surgeon wanted to fuse two levels and put an artificial disc at a third level.  I went with a surgeon who said those suggestions were idiotic and we should only fuse one level.  What that means is that a herniated disc is not in and of itself an indication for surgery.  You need to look at the severity of the problem.
    C6-C7 fusion -January 20, 2016
  • I'm only a week post op from ACDF C6 / C7 so the jury is still out, but my pain was so severe I couldn't work and had already missed six weeks of work when I had my consult and I was anxious to get back to my regular life. The surgery definitely took care of the radiculopathy causing my severe arm and shoulder pain, but the recovery from surgery so far is a bit "yuck" for me. I seem to have a bit of an infection at the incision site (taking antibiotics) and have not been able to get off the pain pills yet. I know it will take time, but for now I'm feeling overall worse than before. Not saying I wouldn't make the same decision, but this surgery can definitely take its toll.

    I had a micro discectomy in the lumbar region about five years ago and that recovery was certainly much easier than this. Balance short term versus long term benefits with the pain you have now. Fusions can cause more problems later by forcing the other areas to work harder. I have a bulge a bit higher too, maybe 3/4, but it's not causing issues right now. 

    Good luck with your decision!
    C6/7 ACDF January 29, 2016
    L5/S1 Micro discectomy November 2010
  • Hi,

    Have a look at my post regarding M6-C. I can't recommend it specifically, due to not being an expert. But as a patient... So far fantastic!


  • I can tell you I am having my surgery, ACDF in April. I can also say that all injections have failed me and caused more pain in my particular experience. I have had facet injections, trigger point injections, occipital nerve blocks and three ESI injections. My herniation is at c5c6 with bulges at c3c4 and c6c7. 

    I have lived in excruciating pain since my injury in November of 2014. PT did not help and I have right arm radiculopathy with daily nonstop migraines. 

    I am hoping this surgery helps. I truly wish you well and hope conservative treatments work for you. I have learned that everyone is different and always ask questions! 

    Best to you. 

  • I have radiculopathy (burning) from a herniated disc (both left and right sides) at c5/6. I tried a CT guided steroid injection, but don't think it did anything (the experience was unpleasant, but not really painful - and I'm glad I tried it).
    Anyway, it's a big decision to decide about surgery, especially as I'm def not in as much pain as some people here - but at the same time my pain is low because I really limit myself - which isn't really a great future (I'm 36) (its been over a year not too) ... so I have just gotten pre-approval for surgery, but am waiting until I finish my PhD first... I'm planning on getting a bilateral foraminotomy - where the surgeon goes in from the back, tidies up the disc and widens the foramina (sp?). I will meet up with him closer to the time to check that symptoms haven't changed and another type of surgery wouldn't be better... but my main reason for not wanting a fusion is because I have other chronic back issues (specifically an old thoracic injury) that I am worried would be aggravated by my neck being working differently.... Also, the only pain I have is the burning nerve pain, normal mobility, no neck/shoulder pain, etc. -( but i think there may be some slight progression - as now get burning on left side (why bilateral) as well as the main pain right side - also i occasionally notice tingling in my right arm now too. )

    anyway, good luck. i guess it would be worth knowing whether your dr thinks time might help - or whether this would put you at risk of permanent nerve damage (my nerve conduction tests were all fine, and my pain does go to 0, which is why i am waiting for surgery)

  • @nz1025, interesting to hear about your possible bilateral foraminotomy, as I just had a one level ACDF and my surgeon said he might also want to follow up with a posterior foraminotomy (not sure if unilateral or bilateral).  One surgeon I consulted wanted to do a two-level ACDF and another one wanted to do a two-level ACDF with an artificial disc above.

    The surgeon I chose did not want to fuse my entire neck, but only do a fusion at the level where I had the most serious spinal cord compression and then finish up from the back.  Since one doesn't hear a lot about cervical foraminotomy on this site, I was interested to read your post.  According to my surgeon, foraminotomy will be a much simpler and less risky surgery than my ACDF.  I guess my ACDF was risky because he was right up on my spinal cord, but things worked out fine.  I'll get more information on the foraminotomy at my upcoming post-op visit.

    As to the original poster, I never considered injections.  I had a very high deductible insurance policy, which essentially left me self-insured, and I wasn't interested in possibly wasting money on a short-term solution.
    C6-C7 fusion -January 20, 2016
  • @L.A.Spiney
     - like you, I am interested to hear about someone else possibly having a foraminotomy. I would also be interested to hear about what else you find out about the proceedure at your post-op visit.  I thought that it was supposed to be a more complex surgery than fusion (think I read this somewhere), but then I guess that it depends what you are comparing it to! I was told that is more painful as you have to go through the muscle at the back of the neck to get to the spine. Also, there is a risk of the vertebrae slipping (stability issues) with the bilateral approach, though think this risk is pretty minimal if unilateral. (I think that because everything is healthy (no degradation of discs, etc) and the problem is isolated to just that one level, (though both sides), that this might act in my favour...). - though i guess there is also possible reherniation too...

    I was told that my case is one that could go either way (fusion vs foraminotomy). - but I guess with the foraminotomy, you can always have a fusion later...

    anyway, please let me know how you get on, thanks!!
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