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Cervical neck surgery, please help!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi everyone!This is my first post and I really could use some help. After years of neck pain that has gotten progressively worse, I finally went to a spine doc who sent me for an MRI. I honestly thought my pain was always just muscular, but my MRI results are very bad. I have three herniated discs, c4-5, c5-6 and c6-7. They are indenting on my spinal cord. I also have severe spinal canal stenosis, and osteophytes. I am in total shock! Don't get me wrong, I've had bouts of serious pain. Well, I had an epidural injection right before christmas, and it did help, although I can feel it starting to "wear off". I saw a neurosurgeon who states I need discectomy and double level fusion. I am a RN and work in a hospital setting. I've always been afraid of any kind of "back" surgery. I am getting a second opinion on Monday. Actually, its a third opinion since my origional spine doc said the same thing the neurosurgeon stated. I am scared to death, really scared to death. Should I get this done? How long do you think I will be out of work? Is it really painful? I have been in tears ( I'm sure my hubby is ready to strangle me...LOL!)Is it serious surgery? The problem with me is, some days are worse than others....today I might have to hold my head just to get out of bed, tomorrow I may feel ok. Some times it lasts for days/weeks, sometimes i might not feel it for days. Can someone please set me straight??!!
Karen :O


  • I have had 2 cervical spine surgeries. one 4 years ago, a anterior aproach fusing 3 discs. and I had one In August with the posterior lamenectomy with 4 fusions. I have been in a hard collar for 17 weeks now. I wore it 24/7 for the first 14 weeks and now I take it off for PT and when I am doing sitting and to do some home exercises.. I still wear it to bed and traveling and such.. I have not driven since August... Because this was my second surgery and Because of no fusion with the first one, my doctor is taking not chances,,,,It so sounds like you dont have much of a choice than to have the surgery. expecially when you have indentation on your spinal cord, (that is not good)..
    Yes it is a tough surgery, the anterior being the easier and faster recovery of course, but If I had to do it all again I guess I would do it, it has been a hard and long recovery but all in all, I do feel better at least knowing that I wont do more damage to myself or cause paralysis.... Let me know if you want to talk or if you have more questions,,,Cyndi
  • I had cervial fusion at C5/6 in March '08. I did not have any problems, it went like the surgeon said to would and I went back to work in about 6 weeks. I work retail and also a deck job at times. When I went back to work I did it gradual, half days for a couple weeks then 3/4 days for a couple weeks. I had to option to go home if I needed. I'm sure you do not have as many options being a RN. As for the feel good some days, I was the same way, I could talk myself right out of surgery and then the next day, I was hurting and thinking different.
    It looks like something you will have to do, and the longer you wait you could be causing more damage and more damage means more recovery or the worst case it cannot be surgically repaired.
    You are smart to get as many opinions as you can. I am glad I did not have your RN background, so going into surgery I was scared but did not have as much behind the scenes knowledge.
    Let us know what you decide and keep posting with questions if you like. You can PM if you think of something I can help with. Take care.

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  • You and I share the same neck issues, as you can see by my signature. I hope I can help abate your fears.

    My pain began last April with muscle spasms and I tried PT, traction and home exercises, none of which helped. I got an MRI in August, took it to my PCP and she said I'd better get to a surgeon to discuss surgery. I had never been in a hospital before, much less had surgery, so I was absolutely terrified.

    I got a referral from a friend for a neurosurgeon and took my MRI to him. He told me that I could try epidural injections, but the bottom line was that it wasn't a matter of "if" I had surgery, it was a matter of "when." I had bone spurs at c4-5, c5-6, and c6-7, and c5-7 were impinging on my spinal cord, creating a weak left arm and pins and needles 24/7 in right arm. We set the date for Oct. 21.

    I didn't get a second opinion simply because 1) My pcp, the MRI tech and this surgeon all said the same thing and 2) After reading my surgeon credentials and with the referral from my friend whose surgery he did, I really trusted him. After meeting him, I felt even more so.

    The anticipation of having cervical spinal surgery, especially on three levels, was terrifying, as you know. However, honestly, I found that the anticipation was harder that the actual act of surgery. Was it painful? Sure it was. It was surgery. But as I was waiting 2 months for surgery, my left arm was getting weaker and weaker until I couldn't even lift a glass of iced water.

    In the recovery room, I had full use of my left arm and the tingling is almost totally gone in my right arm. Recovery has gone well with no complications and I'm back at work part time.

    Please, try not to worry too awful much - they'll have so many people helping and monitoring you during it all and surgeons know what they're doing. Just be sure you're very comfortable with your surgeon and I'm sure they'll provide some antianxiety meds if needed. I had Xanax to help me. I would do it again because I'm so much better.

    Take care and feel free to PM if you have questions or just need to talk.

  • I had a 2-level acdf on 10/30. My surgery went well and really helped the burning pain and weakness in my forearm. I was only in the hospital for 24 hours and had to wear a hard collar for 6 weeks (now I only wear the collar as a passenger in a vehicle).

    I am also an RN and have not been released to return to work. I have to be able to lift 50 lbs and there is NO way I can do that right now. My surgeon has not started PT and says it may not be necessary.

    I cannot imagine working a 12-hour shift! But, I feel I made the right decision in having the surgery (my Doctor states that I will most likely need another level done at some point).

    Please let me know if you have any questions. This forum is such an incredible source of support and information!

    Take care,
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 11,347

    For a Spine-Health Site introduction, Click on :

    Welcome To Spine-Health

    If you have any questions, feel free to contact (PM) any one of the Moderators here Priestess , Bruce , Paulgla, DiLauro

    The Spine-Health Web site offers so much more than these Member Forums.
    Check the various tabs at the top of the Spine-Health page and you will find so much that is offered here.

    Please remember that all information you receive from members on this forum is NOT
    formal medical advise. You should always consult with your doctors.

    To get back to the Forums, you can always click on Forum Home

    Please feel free to contact me at rdilauro@gmail.com or send me a message
    Any surgery is something that frightens everyone, no matter how simple or complex it is. Add to that, that you are a RN, you have a better understanding of surgeries. I have been saying this for a while on this site, that there is a somewhat alarming number of Nurses or other Medical care professionals that have disc related problems.
    For all spinal surgeries, I still believe the cervical are the most successful. In terms of recovery, elimination of pain, etc.
    I dont need to tell you to understand more and more about the surgery, I am sure in your professional field, you have already been asking the questions.
    Good luck.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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  • I wanted to say thanks for all the responses!! This is such a wonderful forum. The responses have been great to read, and although I continue to be nervous, its nice have support through your posts. I HAVE scheduled my surgery for the 23rd of Jan. He wanted to do it next friday but I need some time to prepare. I still plan to have my other opinion on Monday, but I figured I should get the show on the road so to speak. I'm hurting today, the epidural is definitely wearing off. I'll let you know how the appt goes MOnday!!
    Thanks again!!
  • Good luck on your upcoming surgery. You'll find that everyone here will be your own cheer team and be behind you every step of the way.

    I'm glad that you made the decision that you did. Ignoring any invasion into the spinal cord space is simply dangerous and asking for big trouble. It may be a month or a year but eventually the damage can possibly be irreversible. Our jobs are important but our health is priority #1!

    Don't hesitate to ask any questions, no matter how silly they may seem. There are a million issues that come up that we don't think about both before and after surgery and someone here is bound to be able to help.

    Keep us informed!

  • i had same problems as you and yes a hard decision. had symptoms of weak leg,wobbly legs, leg pains,arm pain starting into both shoulder to elbow,weakness,loss of sensitivity in hands and feet.
    was diagnosed with stenosis(50% cord compression), herniated disc c4-c5,ddd at c5-c6, bone spurs pushing on spinal cord.had level 2 acdf with cadaver and titanium plate nov 13, 08. i wouldnt have guessed all the problems i listed was due to my neck. but after surgery i now realize it!!
    on my 8th wk post op and feeling great!! pains gone and sensitivity are back . starting a light work out. so there is hope if you go through with it
  • And unlike you I didn't have time to do a whole lot of homework so mostly I went by what my Dr. said and trusted that he knew me and what I was going through and how to fix it. I almost ran out of the hospital right before surgery. Thank goodness the nurse got me a Valium before I found my jeans. :))) I personally was officially out of work for 7 weeks but worked from home starting the day after I got out of the hospital. As for pain real pain lasted a week or two. Lots of soft food were necessary. My sore throat was gone in a few days but I stayed with soft food out of fear which looking back now might have been silly. I've known people though who took pain meds for a few days and went back to work a week after surgery. So everyone is just so different it's hard to give anyone hard facts. I still have back spasms or shoulders spasms depending on the day. Some people get them and some don't. Most get over them fast and sometimes they tend to stick around. I started Physical Therapy at 6 weeks and that helped alot! But the most important thing is that my spine is now safe and sound and that takes a load off my mind.
  • I could hardly use either arm and had mine done the day after Christmas..each day is better..my left arm is better but my right arm is taking longer to heal..nights are still hard but getting better...they were only going to do one level but when he got in there the next level was bad so he did that one also..I fell on ice 8 years ago and suffered for so many years..I have applied for SSD and got denied but am in the appeal process on top of all of this...then I started with tremors back in August and more doctors but just so thankful to have this behind me as I was so worried about this surgery..this was not as bad as my lower back surgery...good luck with yours...you will be glad as I waited so many years to do mine and now my arms are effected from waiting so many years...cheryl
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