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should I have ACDF C4-5,C5-6,C6-7

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:22 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Been having neck issues for years did MRI in Feb 08, it showed moderate canal to severe right neural foraminal stenosis on the above mentioned levels,disc bulging etc and straightening of the neck. :W Got a 2nd opinion and was advised need multilevel fusion. :S

I am 42 female. I dont have constant pain , but for the past 2 months my right thumb is completely numb and my arm has the falling asleep feeling 24/7 verry annoying, tinglin , numbness and shoulder pain. I wanted to know if I don't do the surgery or if I keep prolonging it will I get worse? I asked to have just a 1 level done (C5-6) which looks the worst on MRI, but the Neurosurgeon said that that would be bad because the other disc will wear off also.

Will I have no movement in my neck at all with a 3 level fusion? And does bone grafting really hurt that bad? Pleaaaase help I am really scared. :S Anyone who had succesfull multilevel ACDF Pleeease respond.



  • butterflye, welcome to spine-health. You've come to the right place for support and encouragement. :H

    I can't tell you if you should or should not have surgery, but I will try to answer your questions. I had a 3 level fusion (C5 to T1). At first mobility is quite restricted, but this improves with physical therapy and time. I can't put my chin to my chest, but really the only problem I have with mobility is not being able to turn my neck far enough to look over my shoulder when driving in traffic. It does get stiff, but it did that before surgery too. In my case having surgery was definitely worth it, even though I had some pretty severe complications with my first one. Pre-surgery, I had given up all activities. I still continued to work, but my employer was very patient and understanding. That last couple of weeks before surgery were the hardest, and I knew if I didn't have surgery, I would have to give up my job. Ended up doing that anyway, but that is another story.

    I am assuming you are asking about taking bone from your hip when you ask if that hurts. I used cadaver bone the first time around, and unfortunately did not fuse. 2nd time the surgeon removed 2 vertebrae and he was able to use that bone and grind it up for my graft. I have heard that the hip is painful, but my opinion is that since you are having a multi-level fusion, using your own bone would be a very wise thing to do. Multi-levels have a higher chance of having a non-union, so you'll want to make sure to do everything you can to improve the fusion process.

    It is a scary thing, but it also is something that many of us end up needing. Please be sure to ask many questions, check out your surgeon making sure that he is highly experienced doing the same surgery he is recommending for you, and make sure you have 2-3-4 opinions. Good luck to you, and feel free to ask questions here.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Have you tried non-surgical treatments? Surgery is scary, and wow, can it hurt, but we get through it if the benefits outweigh all that. I'm 42 also, and did multilevel ACDF this year, but with cadaver bone, which fused right away. My bigger problem six months out is mobility in my neck, and not being able to look to the right. Hopefully with enough PT and recovery time this will decrease. I don't regret the surgery - whatever pain or lack of mobility I'm working my way through now is way more manageable than the pain I experienced before. And some days, I really feel great. Good luck with your decisions - ask a lot of questions, and know that there is a community of people out here going through similar experiences - you are not alone.
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  • Welcome and I also would not recommend surgery one way or the other and also agree with the others to get 2nd and 3rd opinions. I would exhaust all conservative measures first. I was one of the unlucky ones that had severe complications with failed hardware and have been left in worse shape than before surgery. In my experience surgeons can minimize the possible side effects so educate yourself. I had a re-fusion done in May of this year and they used bone from my hip. Yes it hurt!! but it was worth it. I had to use a walker for the first four days and it still aches but I have a much better chance of fusing this time. My doctor compared it to a broken bone, the pain and healing is the same.

    I had a fusion c5-7 and my worst level was also c 5-6 with many issues down my right arm as well. Have you tried epidural shots? I've had several over the years and always experienced great relief of symptoms.

    The best advise is to make sure you talk to several neurosurgeons and be very comfortable with the one you choose. Ask a lot of questions especially about the hardware they use and how they track the fusion process. Best of Luck to you, and I'd be happy to answer any other questions. I'll say a prayer for you.
  • I think we have several of the same things, and I have not had surgery. My problems began with severe arm/shoulder pain. I was shocked to find out my neck was the problem! I have pain ever now and then. My ROM is also effected. But, I look at surgery as a last resort. I am more careful than I used to be. I will need multi-level, but the nuerosurgeons advised me to wait. I'm 54. Be sure to get several opinions and do lotsa research. There are plenty surgery success stories here on SH, and I have learned so much from the folks here. Welcome!--Mazy
  • Hi,

    Thank you for your message. Yeah, I am thinking about a 3rd opinion, but the Neurosurgeon I saw this time is pretty good, he explained everything and even offered to explain it again, wanted me to talk to friends and familie, people that have had the surgery and he even told me that about one one guy that he operated on that woke up and could not use his right arm :jawdrop: He encouraged as many opinions as I wanted.

    I liked that a lot , He was very honest and he has been doing this for 18 years, so I guess he is pretty good.

    I am making a list of questions and will fire them at him when I go for a 2nd consult with my Husband.

    Thank you so much.
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  • Hey Jan,

    I actually had 2nd opinion, I should have put in my message that I have been dealing with back and neck pain eversince I was 12. I don't know if i was born with these bone issues. My neck is straight and no lordisis and been like this for years
    I think that I've had spondylosis for years but no one discovered it until the MRI I did in '04 at that time I was 38.

    I have had physical therapy seen a chiropractor,jada jada jada but was told by the first NS not to have any manipulation done to my neck.

    This is because I have these electrical shocks down my spine sometimes. The GP said that it was good but the NS said that it was very bad for me to have those :W Go figure.

    I know God will work this one out for me. Thanks for you prayers. :)

  • Hi Mazy,

    Thank you, I am a lot more confident now by reading every ones response. I did the sane thing when I had to have my Hystorectomy. It really helps.



    Cervical and lumbar DDD,Cervival spondylosis,Stenosis,.Mild Myelopathy,severe right neural foraminal stenosis level c4-5, c5-6,c6-7,moderate canal stenosis, Osteophytes. Surgeries: Hysterectomy '05, carpal tunnel left and right 1/08 and 4/08, Trigger release 4/08
  • I had a cervical fusion of C5-C7 two years ago and they used bone out of my hip, after the surgery I felt hardly no pain in my neck, stiffness from having it in the brace for so long. The hip area hurt while it was healing, but the pain meds and taking it easy helped, I also walked with a cane for a couple of weeks which helped alot. In April I had to have a 2nd surgery on level C7-T1 due to a leak in the disk causing problems, so my opinion would be to let them take care of all the issues now or you will probably be looking at another surgery shortly.
  • Thanks snuggles.

    Do you still have pain in your hip? Do you know if that is the only place they can take bone from?
  • i had the same levels as you done.had stenosis as well and mylopathy.i was told because i had cord compression that i needed surgery soon or i would be paralyzed. stenosis can only be fixed with surgery there is no conservative method to fix it. i'm only four months post surgery and i have a lot of movement in my neck.i've lost almost no movement and what i have lost i believe i will get back right now its because its painful and i don't push to get it farther. :)))
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