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Is it time for surgery?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,208
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:28 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Okay, I know that this has been beaten to death, but I figured I'd bring it up again for another topic devoted solely to it. I'm looking at an ACDF for C5-C7, but I don't really know if it's time yet. I'm pretty miserable, but I'm just not convinced that the surgery is really going to be the answer given the chance of recurrence, and frankly I have a large head, as well as a slight bulge at c4,c5 already which I can see giving me problems at adjacent levels quickly given my luck. I've also got slight bulges at t7-t10 (although I'm pretty sure I herniated T10 more dramatically after that MRI), and DDD @ L4-S1, but they're not terrible all things considered compared to other people. Honestly, before last week, I really wouldn't have even considered the surgery, but I'm just falling apart all of a sudden. I've gone through ESIs, chiro, PM, PT, and while it did work, it's clearly wearing off, and I certainly have been overdoing it a bit lately. At what point is it bad enough for surgery though? I'm 29, 30 in 2 months, and rather than that being detrimental as it seems to be in some threads I've read, the doctor seems to think it's a positive as far as recovery goes. I just hate the fact that I walk in the door and it's automatically time for a fusion. What about all of the other surgeries that aren't fusions? Why do people get to have those and not a fusion? I can't find the criteria on why you can get a laminectomy or a microdisectomy or a laminaplasty, etc as opposed to fusion. Fusions are just so permanent and damaging to everything around them (preaching to the choir I know). My doctor is one of the best in the area for sure, so I respect his opinion, but short of getting a discography to make sure we don't need to do a 3 level fusion, it didn't sound like he wanted to do many other tests. Sorry this is so long and rambling, and I've waited almost a year now without rushing into surgery, but I just don't know if I can continue to live like this, even if my pain just hovers around a 3-4 if there's a chance I can live at a 1-2 for the next 4-5 years just because I'm young, or is that complete BS?


  • I should note that between my back and my neck, I feel crappy all the time, but I get around pretty well. I can pretty much go do anything I want as long as it's not going to last more than a few hours. I've got plans for Saturday that I'm dreading though, but hopefully I'll be able to medicate through it. Of course, my old PM doctor (I just moved) kept putting me on morphine even though I got no relief from it (opioid tolerant big time, MSIR 60 mg/day, 75 mcg duragesic patches, pretty much no help except to take the edge off a ltitle) and I wonder if some effective PM might be the answer for me. I guess I need to take it a step at a time and not rush into things just because I've taken a few steps backwards all of a sudden.
  • Except in the cases of emergency surgery this question is always so tricky.There are so many things to consider.

    I would never tell another person what to do-and I've had some negative reactions and feedback from other members when replying to posts like these-which is usually why I don't often reply-lol,but you asked so...

    I made the decision,and told my PM and other Drs that I wouldn't have spinal surgery unless it became a life threatening situation--but that's just me.Otherwise if a person chooses to have surgery it's called elective surgery.Well,I'm not going to elect anything on my spine unless it's gauranteed,which of course nothing in life is.

    You mentioned that you are "opioid tolerant big time",and that is another issue that bothers me.Recovery can be pretty painful from what I've heard and all that I've read.If a person is taking a fair amount of pain medication before surgery I've heard that it can be hard,and at times,for certain patients wasn't possible to control their pain during their recovery.

    Also-the chances of your pain actually getting better are about 50%,and there is the possibility that it could even get worse or stay the same.I just haven't talked to anyone who has actually gotten 'better' and has no pain.I did see one person-ONE person post here on S~H that they were pain free after surgery.Of course-most people having successful surgeries move on with their lives and are out enjoying themselves,not sitting at home posting on S~H too much,but maybe just checking in occasionally-so that may be why we don't hear success stories on here.But in RL,I've known of several people having spinal surgeries and they didn't seem to be too happy.

    On the other hand-you Dr is right in that your age would be a factor in your healing,and you would certainly bounce back quicker than someone who is older.I believe that completely.Attitude is important too.

    So-there are a lot of things to consider.I've considered living in pain forever versus everything I've mentioned,but the decision was easier for me because I already had chronic pain for years in other parts of my body,and had 7 operations on my feet plus other areas.So,my neck was just one more..or so I thought at the time that I made my decision.

    The pain does progress though doesn't it?

    I'll be interested in watching your progression here on the forum and learning of your decisions.I know it can't be easy.
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