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Future "neck tie" c6/c7

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:21 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi all, Need your advice! and sorry my story is so long!

Hopefully I am on the right message board. My name is Pam. Just turned 42 a couple of weeks ago and just 12 weeks ago was doing great. In May I decided to rejoin my old gym and start water aerobics again. I did it for about 1 year, over 2 years ago and I loved it. Granted, I've gained more weight since then (already overweight, which I know isn't good for the ole back, have been parked at desk jobs for the last 20 years and hadn't done anything that could be considered upper body work out since then (just walking and biking.)First class involved using weights underwater and I promptly pulled what I though was my bicep in my right arm. I gave it 2 weeks to heal, but by then my arm was numb and achy. I just thought that was muscle related and kept on with the classes until mid June when I woke up with throbbing shoulder pain. By then the tingle stuff started down my right arm into my thumb and 1st finger. By then the ole lightbulb went off and I realized I had a pinched nerve. I took an xray (which shows some beginning narrowing on the c4/c5, but otherwise was ok), got my flexeril and started p/t a couple of weeks later. I gave it a couple more weeks and treated myself to an physiatrist appt for my birthday present to myself. He ordered an MRI and I did it first thing last Weds am and had a call by that dr 3 hours later telling me the MRI was "impressive." I had been hoping he meant the clarity of pictures :) He also stated that I had a walk in appt with the office's spine surgeon on Friday am. They were going to fit me in and be there 1st thing in the am. Hmm, not good I figured. Thank goodness for my muscle relaxer and Lyrica (prescribed because of bouts of referred forearm and bicep pain, which have pretty much stopped)to help sleep or the pure anxiety of it all would have had me up all night. That's the weird thing, other than the occasional nerve pain down the arm,a little hand numbness and just being tired and sore by the end of the day, overall , I have felt pretty much ok. P/T has really helped me stretch my neck and shoulder muscles and my guy helped break down a few tight trigger points that were in my shoulder. So I met the ortho surgeon Friday am and he says "your here because" and I go "I'm the impressive one" and he goes, "OH, you're the one?" Apparently I won the "we haven't seen a herniated disc your size in awhile award" :)Anyways, I have a badly herniated C6 and it's pressing on my cord. He was very nice and he comes very recommended. Has a conservative reputation and has been doing this for 15 years, etc, etc. He tells me I can leave it as is and live with the pain the numbness but that my right arm will eventually atrophy and I'll be pass the point of no return and he did say very gently that if I were to have an accident and/or fall I could be facing paralysis. Ok, he's got my attention. I figured he was going to tell me to keep doing the p/t and check back in 6 months. He said I need a c6/c7 ACD fusion pretty darn soon. Just a single level. Said he saw a slight bulge on the c4 but that he didn't for see this being an issue in the future. The rest of my neck/bones looked good and strong. I've debated going to get a 2nd opinion, but I saw that MRI. The herniation is huge. I seriously doubt I'd find anyone who was going to say not to do surgery. I'm just kind of ticked, since it seems probably within another year or 2, ADR will be standard and accepted and easier to obtain insurance approval. What I don't like is the whole domino effect that is talked about. It just makes me wonder how long before I hear that the c4 is now herniated and I will need to go fuse that to the 5 and then 5 to the 6. I figure the only thing I could hope for is that ADR is standard by then and maybe I won't need a 3 level fusion. Of course, then there's the whole issue about the donor bone not fusing, hardware falling off, etc, etc. I keep telling myself to turn the computer off and that there are plenty of successful fusions that don't create future problems (which, of course you regular posters know, because they don't come back to post, because things are good.)I actually have an old co-worker who did a c4/5 fusion approx 3 years ago and I'm hoping she'll call me this weekend so we can talk. She was in a lot of pain and never regretted her decision to go ahead with surgery and as far as I know, has no major issues. My biggest fear is that since I'm not suffering too much now, is that I'll end up in pain after surgery. I've already had a brain tumor removed 15 years ago and figured that would be the hardest thing I would ever go through. Back then, I had my mom and more family members for support. Now, it's just me and even though I still have family and friends for support, it just feels harder. I just hate the thought too of being dependent on any medications. Now, I debated posting, because I've been reading a lot of your posts and I know there's a lot of you who have been to hell and back and keep plugging away and that gives me a lot of faith that I should be thankful that I'm only hearing that I need a single level fusion. I ok with the thought of just walking and biking for exercise with some good stretching and light weights for upper body exercise. Walking has always been my choice for exercise and relaxation and I do give thanks that I have no lower back issues (or none that I'm aware of yet :)
I just thought it would be nice to hear back from some of you. I have to talk to the dr's asst tomorrow am and set a surgery date. BTW, he said if I do it on a Monday, there's no reason I can't be back to work by the following Monday. Sounds good to me, but I see a lot of people had to take a lot more time off than that. I have my oh, 25 more questions to ask list ready for that.
So if anyone has advice or words of encouragement, I'm open! I just still can't wrap my arms around the fact that 12 weeks ago, nothing going on and here I am now. Needless to say, I regret rejoining the gym or not realizing that my arm numbness and aches had been a sign of issues all along. If I would have just laid off at that point, the herniation might have never gotten to this level. It's hard to forgive yourself for stupidity!

Thanks for taking the time to read my posts. I feel better for getting my words out and onto paper, so to speak.



  • Hello, Im sorry to hear about your situation, I also have a big problem at c6-7, and some other ones too, Im new at anything to do with puters, but the people here are great,I have gotten alot of great info,Im sure you will too.
  • Hi Patsy,
    Saw all your issues under your name. Goodness gracious! This is why I'm trying to not feel sorry for myself. How do you manage everyday? Are you in a lot of pain? Do you have to take a lot of meds? I was always a great sleeper. I mean the head hits the pillow and no sign of life until about 7 hours later. If I take no meds, then I generally still get 6 hrs before my brain goes into overdrive and wakes me up. I'm just taking some Mobic during the day to help with any inflammation and if I'm trying to knock myself out, then a flexeril or soma with a lyrica does the job.

  • Hi Pam,Im hangin in there, the pain is not to bad, I have some weakness,numbness and tingles.I take ultram during early hours of the day(they keep me awake)Ill take vicodin if i need, ambien, lunesta or trazadone for sleep.Idont sleep good even with the sleeping pills,(last two nights have been a tad bit better thou)
  • I guess a lot of people just live with their issues. I can't even count on 2 hands the people who've told me they have neck or back pain, have herniated somethings or another and have learned to live with it. I figured if the tingle stuff just stopped, I would too. Truth is, since I'm so vocal and like researching everything, I've probably scared some of these people with the whole what if I get in a car accident or slip and fall issue. I can see their heads going "hmm, is mine that bad too" Shoot, I didn't even know that my brother starts every am with a vicodin to get through his lower back pain. I work 2 jobs as it is and just keep seeing imaginary scenarios that aren't even there yet. Are you going to do anything about your large c6/7 herniation?
  • I have an appointment with another NS in Madison Wis.and another NS.on the 18th for a 2nd and 3rd opinion,the NS I seen a couple of weeks ago says i need 4 level fusion and decompression,soon. I have myelopathy and it is really affecting my legs, my balance is not to good these days and my legs are pretty weak
    do you have any numbness in your fingers?

  • Only in my thumb and pointer finger, which lines up to the whole c6/c7 herniation. Heck, I diagnosed myself with a herniated disc after seeing so much on the internet, but when my xrays came back ok, I thought I just had a trapped nerve in my shoulders due to a couple of trigger points and sore muscles. After another month of it not really improving, that's when I decided to see the specialist and he said he couldn't diagnose anything without an MRI and the rest is history. I was just suprised that it's this bad. I figured I would have to do the conservative p/t for awhile and the tingling would stop on it's own and I might always be a little sore or occasionally the neck would hurt, but I got my rude awakening on Friday. So, they want to fuse you from the C3-7? I can't even imagine how overwhelming that is. Will that help with all the other issues? and how old are you now and how long ago did this all start?
  • In april 2006 I had my first mri done of my neck at that time i had a little pain in my neck, shoulders,arms. the mri showed some stenosis and bulging from c3-to-c5,not nothing to serious,that is what NS said, i did have a set of three epiderals in the cervical spine. it helped alot no neck pain and no headaches for about 6 months. but about 3 days after getting the first shot i started to get swallowing problems that really got bad,and about 6 months after the last shot i had all the neck pain headaches and shoulder back, i also started to notice my balance getting bad.my rhumatoligist sent me to neurologist, my reflexes were hyper, my balance was crazy and so on. long story short(er)they called it Multiple Sclerosis i had many many brain mri's done,spinal tap done swallow studies and so on and so on,well now they say no not multiple sclerosis.about 6 months ago i started seeing a new neuroligist because of all the pain i was in and she did mri of my whole back from top to bottom.the cervical had changed so much in last two years and that is what has been causing the problems not M.S. myeolpathy usually cant be reversed but surgery can usually stop it from getting worse.I just turned 45,how old are you?
  • Im going to keep a good positive out look things are just gonna get better
    I had to stop working almost 2 years ago, i tried to go back about a year or so ago but that didnt work out to good I used to work alot of hours and I just loved my job.
    I have two kids my son is 27 my daughter is 25 she is married and has 2 children they are the BEST grandkids you could imagine they keep me going, well my husband is pretty special too,my hubby has to work so hard and long hours to keep this house a float,thats the really hardest most painful part of all of this,both the kids live real close, so i get to see every body most every day and the grandkids stay with us quit often.Taylor is 4 years old and austin is 5 years old exactly 1 year apart from each other by 1 day okay ill stop i will go on forever bout thoose kids hehehehe
  • patsy,
    how often do u have leg issues? mine have increased 3x a week. it's scary, isn't it? my doc says my legs will get somewhat better but there's no guarantee. it can't get worse than this. r u collect disabiity??
  • my balance is poor all the time i can walk around the house okay, i havent been driving for awhile, my son or husband will take me to the store i just have to hold on to them when i walk in and then the cart i get and im good to go for awhile i will walk around the store pushing the cart for like half an hour or so then thats about it for awhile,because my legs get to heavy and tired my hubby and have been talking about getting started wbutith trying to get social sec.disability but we really dont no were to start? do you have any idea how to go about any of that stuff?
  • I'm just going to talk about my experiences... I to have a very small bulge at c3-c4, but no symptoms. I also worried about how a c6-c7 ACDF might bother that, but I was told by three doctors that it really shouldn't.

    Of course, I was also informed that my chances of another disc or two having problems down the road above and/or below could increase, but I was told only like a 15% increase in my odds. That's not all that bad, well, that's my take. Regardless, with my condition, my cervical spine is what it was... My lumbar spine is perfect (textbook), but my cervical had some DDD and some arthritis.

    Mine started out very slow, shoulder pain, stiff neck every now and then, then it all went down hill fast, and after I slipped at work. The tingling started, the thumb and pointer finger numbness... You know how that is.

    Two months of PT made me worse... At first the traction gave me some relief for a day, then only hours, than nothing but more discomfort. ESI injection, only a slight difference for a day or two, and then my great insurance issues started up.

    Anyway, fought with the idea of surgery, wife said no freaking way, but now that I had it done, I am so very happy that I did.

    My recovery has gone so great... Not much pain afterwards, was eating good within a two days... No need for pain meds basically after a week or so... Had slight discomfort in my other side of my neck up by ear, most likely from wearing the collar, but that was only a few days, gone before I could even see the neurosurgeon. However, that did move up my x-rays and all, so I lucked out by losing the collar almost two weeks earlier then I was originally going to.

    I'm not going to lie to you, my doctor said out of work for 6-8 weeks, but I am working on 12 weeks, with everything going well, and starting to fuse! I manage a busy national restaurant, so my work is very physical, so that is why it was must likely longer.

    I was lucky, only a soft-collar for 6 weeks, just came off over a week ago. I feel great, only that little "weird" feeling in my throat sometimes when drinking too fast, but not bad. of course now that the collar is off, I do notice the throat thing more and more as I move my neck.

    Like you, I was told that the longer I waited, more nerve damage would set in, and even with surgery, you only get so much relief if you have too much nerve damage.

    For me it was a question of my quality of life... Weighting the risk vs the possible gains... I felt like gambling, and so far it has paid off as I am doing real well. I had talked to many people who have had, or know someone who had this stuff done... The ones that didn't wait too long, and followed ALL their doctors orders did very well afterwards.

    Right now I am thinking about changing jobs, my old employer wants me back, so a less physical job will also help me out in the long run.

    Whatever you decide, always keep positive, as I truly believe that can only help... It has been great for me so far - Best of luck to you, may you get comfort soon enough!
  • D-howard,do you no anything about how to get started with s.s. disability? i haven't worked for 2 years except for 2 days a little over a year ago when i tried to go back. my sister said the longer i wait the less i will get cause it goes down every year i don't work, im not good in that area i think its been a touchy subject for me, but i know ill have to do sumthin soon, maybe some body might be able to point me in the right direction.
  • You need to get ahold of your local social security offece or even the main branch and let them know what you want to do and they can help you get started with all of the paper work. The reason I know all of this is because my daddy had to do all of this when he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and other problems and I used to work for a Medicare Part D insurance company. Hopefully this little bit of info I gave you can help. Oh and just so you know it can be a rather lengthy process before the government decides whether or not to approve you for disability. Just keep in mind if they do deny you you can appeal their decision and you can also get a lawyer to help you as well.(My daddy was denied until he got a lawyer to help him get approved.) Good luck with all of this!!!
  • Thanx alot, I have alot to learn i think with S.S. Im confused thou with having to get a lawyer,that would cost alot of money.hmmmm I have an appointment with my Primary doctor tomorrow do you think that is something i could ask him about, or is that not a good idea? thank-you for all your help
  • You can talk to you doctor. The reason I said something about a lawyer is because the government and their doctors kept denying my daddy disability for quite awhile.(Yep they send you to their doctors too for their dotors to take a look at you as well) That is why he got a disability lawyer to help him finally get apporved for disability. Yes, a lawyer can be expensive, but my dads lawyer was one that said "if you dont win your case you dont pay me at all", but since he won the lawyer only took a small percentage payment wise.
  • Patsy,
    Funny you said that cause I just downloaded the form. You can DEFINETLY collect if you've been out for 2 years regarding your health. I don't think I qualify cause they said you have to plan on being out of work at least a year. and it's true, the longer you wait, the less you get. hurry!!!

    i lost my job in march. so i can't collect unemployement nor disability. it stinks. my hubby and i are getting worried we will lose our house.
  • thanks alot, this is some good news (im smiling)I will talk to my family doctor tomorrow,i do feel most comfortable with him, this is a big step for me,Im not sure if any body understands.....but that could be alot of money,
    my hubby has been the greatest,with all the extra hours he's had to work and then just make it well enough of that, thankyou Terri and D-Howard
  • Patsy anytime you need a little bit of info if I know the answer I promise to help. Also, the social security website is www.socialsecurity.gov. I mean with this website maybe you can do a little research if you feel up to it. Plus(and please forgive me for this next bit of info---the old job I had is kicking in)if you do get approved for disability you will automatically get Medicare, then if you wanted to you could get a Medicare Part D (prescription drug plan) and that will help with your medications. And, I dont know your financial situation but if need be you can also apply for low income assistance for a Medicare Part D program. You have to apply for this assistance through the social security adminstration too. If you apply for this and get approved for it it could greatly reduce medication copays for you and even your monthly premium for the prescription program.(Depending on the amount of low income assistance they approve you for.) Sorry I used to love that company I worked for.(Old habits die hard :).)
  • Thanks SO much for your email. I talked to my friend, who's been fused at her c5/c6 approx 4 years ago. Her's was so bad that she has metal for fusion, not bone. She also has a slight bulge at her c4 and it hasn't caused her anymore issues. She stayed away from work for 6 weeks and followed his orders to a T and she feels pretty good and works out at the gym and leads a relatively normal life. She made me feel so much better after hearing that. I'm waiting for my OS office to call to set up another appt for more questions and see when I can set up my surgery date. I did call a well known NS office this am and they said if I forward my MRI and radiology reports, he would look at them and call me for an appt in a week to 2 weeks. I'm not sure what office of my OS even has the MRI. They have 3 offices spread out and NS said no cd's, must be orig and quite frankly, I'd like to get the ball rolling. I know how beat I'm going to be by the end of the week and wouldn't mind knowing that I'm going to get this done by the end of the month. I still can't believe the OS was saying I'd be back at work in 1 week? I haven't seen anybody that managed that. I'm going to tell him that I'd be more comfortable with the thought of at least 3 weeks. I'm so thankful that I'll have 90% coverage with my short term disability coverage.
    I feel more comfortable with my decision to move forward with surgery (not that I feel I have many choices anyways)

    Thanks Pam
  • I feel for you. My mother was a type 1 diabetic who was a double amputee and she had been a nurse her whole life. It was her long term disability insurance co that provided her a lawyer to go through her appeals. It still took her no less than 2 years and 3 appeals before she was approved. Good luck and God bless.

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