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To op, or not to op?

I'd appreciate any advice from people who might have been in a similar situation to me.

I'm a 50 year old active male. About 18 months ago I fell off my mountain bike and landed on my head. I had some tingles and numbness in my arms for a short time (20 seconds maybe) so my riding buddies played it safe and called an ambulance. 

I was given the all clear in hospital, but the x-rays showed up some bone spurs compressing the spinal cord between c5 & c6. The doctors recomended that I have them removed and the disks fused, and also suggested NOT doing any contact sport (including biking). 

18 months on, I have no symptoms that concern me and I'm leading a normal, healthy, active life, including mountain biking. But finally I have been given a date for the operation, and I'm having second thoughts.

It seems most people have the operation to relieve symptoms, and it does seem to be very invasive and have a long recovery period.

For me, it's purely a risk issue - I know that if I have an accident, I have a higher risk of spinal damage with the bone spurs being there than if they were not there. But in day to day life, I have no issues. 

After my initial consultation, I was all for having the operation as the risks worried me, but now I hardly give it a second thought. After all, I was probably living with these bone spurs for several (many?) years before they were noticed. Hmm, sometimes ignorance IS bliss :)

I know there's no right or wrong answer, but I just wanted to see if there was a balance of opinion, or some other thoughts  that I may not have considered. Thanks



  • I would suggest speaking with the doctor again and let him/her know your concerns.  Any kind of surgery is a big deal.  Fusion is one heck of an assault on your body.  I wouldn't go through with it without talking again with your doctor.

    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • Thanks for your response.

    I'm not sure if by 'doctor' you mean my local GP or the specialist. I don't really have a GP - and as the problem was diagnosed in a hospital visit, I've never seen any GP about the issue, only the specialist.

    However, the specialist / surgeon has a long waiting list for appointments. I rang the other day to see if I could see him and it's a 3 month wait. However, the operation is booked for 6 weeks time. So if I wait for an appointment, I'd need to cancel the operation. And if, after talking to the specialist, I decide to go ahead after all, I might have put myself to the back of the list and have to wait another year!

    So that's why I'm putting the problem 'out there' to see what sort of feedback I'd get from people who may have been in a similar situation.


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  • Are you in the UK or Australia?   If I were in your shoes, and this is strictly my opinion...if I was not in pain, I'd cancel the surgery.  There are so many things that could cause you further pain as a result of a fusion.  I understand there is a substantial waiting time to get back on the list, but would extra waiting time for a reschedule outweigh the potential negative outcome from a fusion?  Please understand that there is the greater possibility of a full recovery and you would feel fine afterwards.  Just understand there are risks with any surgery.

    I wish you the best!  Please keep us up to date with what you decide to do.  If you have surgery, you will have a ton (or kilo) of support from everyone on the forum!


    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,488

    hello mike_h
    welcome to spine-health

    i agree with ems guy. keep your appointment to see the surgeon. you will have 3 months to see if things change. when you do see him and he mentions surgery again, ask a lot of questions. below is a great list to go by.
    40 questions to ask your surgeon

    please click on the welcome link below as well as the tutorial for more information on the forum.

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator
    Please read my  Medical History
  • Thought it only polite to come and update the thread after people were good enough to reply.

    I managed to get a cancellation appointment at short notice with the surgeon and discussed the pros and cons of going ahead with the surgery. The bottom line is that as I'm no longer experiencing any adverse symptoms the 'balance of necessity' for the operation has changed and he felt that it was no longer the right thing to do. 

    Of course I'm still slightly concerned about the bone spurs, so will probably be a little more risk adverse than I would otherwise have been - although at age 50, that's probably not a bad thing! 

    But overall I'm pretty happy with the decision - the more I looked into the surgery, the more it looked like a long hard road. Good luck to anyone who hasn't got the choice and NEEDS to go through with it.

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