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NS says ACDF won't rid my neck pain...is that true?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:24 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I'm really confused now. I went and saw another NS who has 26 years experience. He said my neck pain to him is insigniciant in regard to "surgery". What would concern him is my arm pain. He says "you need to know the reason you would want to pursue surgery to rid of your ARM pain and arm pain only". He cannot guarantee my headaches and neck pain would be gone.

My questions, how many have had one levels ACDF and their headaches and neck pain went away ALONG with their arm pain?

My arm pain is significant, but my neck and headaches I feel is worse. So, without that guarantee, do I even bother with surgery, or should I say YES JUST to get rid of the arm pain?
Iam so confused. He's leaving it up to me to decide what I want to do. He certainly sympathized with my situation and could not believe that no one had not referred me to a NS before thispoint since my 05 MRI results.

I get another opinion on Monday.



  • You have to be the one who decides. At least he was honest with you and that is good. I knew going in with surgery that I would still have pain, the surgery stopped further damage. When my surgeon said bowel/bladder problems that caught me off guard and there was no question as to if I should have surgery. I still have arm pain along with the neck pain and headaches. If done sooner would it have helped? Hindsight is 20/20. I hope you find the answer and get the relief you so need.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hey CindyLou,

    No surprise what your n/s said, I heard the same from my n/s prior to my surgery. Although mine was a little different than what you are having done I had no choice. If I did not have the fusion I would risk possible paralysis and/or incontinence. My left hand and arm went numb and I have shoulder and arm pain of the same side. BTW I had a corpectomy, discectomy, multi-level fusion of C3 thru C6 with a strut, cage, plates, rods, & screws installed both
    anterior and posterior. Yes I still have arm & shoulder pain with tingling and numbness, but I still am doing the things I did pre-op, I'm not in a wheelchair, and I'm not wearing a diaper. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!
    Be strong, take care, and I wish the best of luck to you!
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  • I am going to have an MRI and they think I have some bone spurs with a possible herniated disc. The Dr. told me that the surgery is a 90+% success. I looked online and found the same statistics. But then I get on these forums and read these horror stories and I'm ready to run out of my house screaming because I'm thinking Ill never be better again for the rest of my life!!! Is the choice have surgery and live in hell pain or dont have surgery and live in hell pain???? Help!!!!!!
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Not all are horror stories, in fact most are successful, such as mine. Listen to your Dr, do your homework, make your decision, and don't look back.
  • I hope you have more things clarified by your second opinion Monday. Keep us posted. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
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  • I had a single level ACDF with titanium plate and screws, using cadaver bone. The surgery went well, and most of my arm pain and numbness in fingers is gone. I was back to work in a month. I was concerned that waiting longer would increase the possibility of permanent nerve damage.

    That said, I still have headaches, neck pain, and upper back/shoulder blade extreme pain and muscle spasms, but not as bad as before surgery. I have the level above my C5-6 fusion going now. Will put off another surgery as long as possible, only because of the cost. If I can make 4 1/2 more years, I will be on medicare, which will help me afford it. LOL, if there is any left by then :))( . That said, I would do the surgery again, no question about it. Hope your second opinion helps you make a decision.
  • I Have to agree with Ranger and Maggie on this. My doctors never promised me I would be pain free after either of my surgeries. The thoughts of being in a wheel chair made my first surgery a no brainer. The second surgery was to help stop the progression of Myelopathy, which so far it has done so. I have some lingering numbness in my left arm/hand that will probably be with me forever, but again the other option was not that great. Only you, through learning more about your condition, and talking things through with your doctor can help with your decision to have surgery or not have surgery. Good luck.
  • I went into my first surgery with severe arm and scapula area pain. Immediately upon waking my arm pain was gone. So on that respect, my surgery was successful.

    I'm glad your surgeon is being up front with you. I would hope that the surgery would relieve your headaches too, but it is wise that the surgeon isn't making those promises. If the headaches are being caused from disc protrusions or nerve root impingement, and he eliminates those problems, theoretically it should help the headaches. there are no guarantees. You just have to do your research, and make a decision based on what you feel is right.
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Well said!!!

    ...and just think....100 years ago (just my little estimate, nothing documented ;)) ) the option of surgery wasn't even available. So some of us could be potentially sitting in a wheelchair right now. No doubt...mine is a success story.
  • I had a one level ACDF done on c6-c7 on 6/9, and I am feeling great!

    I had neck, upper/mid back, shoulder, armpit, forearm and finger pain. My right thumb and pointer fingers would be numb and actually hurt sometimes. I also had a weird "tightening" in my one side of my face, that all my doctors said had nothing to do with my issues, but disappeared since my surgery.

    To make a long story short... I am extremely happy that I had the surgery, and my recovery went very well with only a few days of pain that went away before I was able to see my NS.

    I manage a restaurant, been back to work since 9/3, and I feel just fine working up to 11 hours a day. I even can pick stuff up again, and leave work feeling very good.

    Like it was pointed out, there are many "success stories". However, people that no longer need help and support normally move on and stop posting on these forums. People that still have issues, continue to post on these forums looking for any help/explanation they can get.

    That is the one reason why I do check back from time to time, just to let people know sometimes people get more relief then the ever thought they could get.

    Best of luck to you, but only you can determine what is right for you!
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