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c5-c6/c6-c7 herniated discs

autumntaautumnt Posts: 18
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:49 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I was in an auto accident a year & 1/2 ago-I got rear-ended. My shoulder had seperated so I didn't get my back/neck pain taken care of until recently(I had to have surgery due to a torn rotator cuff, etc. which didn't take place until April of this year, so they thought a lot of the pain I was having was due to that). After my pain didn't go away, they did another MRI of my cervical spine & found 2 herniations at c5/c6 & c6/c7. The first one is mild, but the 2nd one is severe & compressing my spinal cord, causing tingling/pain in my arm/hand, between my shoulder blades & down my back. I saw a neurosurgeon (actually 2) who have recommended surgery & I initially didn't want it, but the pain is getting worse, so I'm reconsidering. I tried ART, decompression at the chiro office, accupuncture (which actually really helps with the pain-I was on Vicodin & muscle relaxers for awhile but didn't want to take them, so this helped some), and recently have been doing massage therapy, which helps as well. I am seeing the neuro surgeon again next week to discuss surgery again. My main reason for that is that I will be 36 in 2 months and haven't had children yet. My boyfriend and I both want children and will be married in the next year or so, so I don't want to put this off much longer. There is NO way that I can physically carry a child in pregnancy or after due to the pain I'm still in. I'm afraid that if I put surgery off, I will miss my time to have kids myself due to my age & I really want to! I am new on here, so any advice is appreciated! Thanks!


  • Welcome to Spine-Health. There's a lot of great information here on having cervical surgeries, recovery and many other valuable articles and videos.

    I don't think anyone on here will tell you to have surgery. Surgery is a very personal decision and only you can make that decision with the help of your loved ones and more importantly, your surgeon. Additionally, having complete confidence in your surgeon is imperative.

    Having said that, if you have something that is touching your spinal cord, that's nothing to mess with, it can become a dangerous situation. I also had bone spurs impinging my spinal cord at three levels and surgery for me was the only option, unless I wanted to risk paralysis. Uh, no thanks.

    I think your timing is a good thing to figure into the equation with regards to having kids. Do you know if the surgeon is wanting to do a one or two-level surgery? I guess it doesn't make much difference, but if I were to have surgery in your situation, I'd ask him to remove that little bone spur at C5/6 while he's in there.

    The only thing I'll tell you with regards to the surgery itself is that it isn't as bad as it seems, assuming, like I said, that you have complete confidence in your surgeon. It's certainly a serious surgery and is definitely a last resort, but if it's needed then it's needed. My biggest concerns for you are the abuttment of the spinal cord and the symptoms down the arms.

    Take care and do some research around the site to make yourself more comfortable with your decision.

  • Thank you Cathie, your advice is very much appreciated! In the beginning I was COMPLETELY against surgery, but since things aren't getting any better & are actually getting worse in some areas, I feel it's my only option now. It's definately a major decision, but I have been seriously discussing this and trying to find out what I can about it. Thanks again!

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  • I'm glad that you're doing some serious soul searching with regards to surgery, and sometimes it does lead to it being the only option. I really didn't want surgery either, but at my first appointment with my surgeon after looking at my MRI, he said that it wasn't a matter of if I had surgery but when. So it took me one night of talking with my husband before we decided I'd better have it done, knowing the seriousness of the problem.

    Then he dangled a carrot in front of me by saying if I had the surgery done soon (Oct. 08) that he'd have me back on the golf course by April. He was only off by a month - I was back on the course in May.

    I also had arm symptoms that were progressing and once I scheduled surgery they started getting even worse. By the time I went into surgery, my left arm was so weak I couldn't even pick up a glass of ice water. So I knew that I'd made the right choice.

    Good luck to you and I'm glad you're doing all your homework and due diligence. It sounds like you've made your decision, and we'll be here to support you through your journey, the time leading up to surgery and throughout your recovery.

    Take care and feel free to PM me if I can help you in any way.

  • Thank you so much Cathie! Your letter has made me know I am making the right decision bc our issues are very similar. It's hard to find anyone in your daily life that has been in this situation and understands the pain and frustration, so everyone is very negative. It helps to hear the good things! I haven't had a lot of time to look at everyone's posts on here, so I was just wondering how people are feeling physically after having the surgery 5yrs or longer down the road? That's the most negative thing I've been hearing-that you are in just as much pain years down the road as you are now. The surgeons I've talked to have said I would most likely need surgery again in the future bc of scar tissue, so that worries me a little.
  • Autumn, first let me tell you that what you read on here are posts from people that are usually still having problems, though some stay to help others. But the members that have had successful surgeries rarely come back here because they're out living their lives and no longer need support. They're back to normal, and that's wonderful, but sometimes gives a false sense of what having spine surgery is like.

    With that said, I can tell you that for me, and I think almost all cervical spine surgery patients, I woke up with all the tingling and numbness gone in my right arm and with full use of my left arm - every one of my arm symptoms were gone. Although I don't remember, my hubby said that when I was wheeled into my room after surgery I was clapping and giggling saying that my arms were back to normal. LOL Guess I was just a little happy, huh?

    I'm over two years past my surgery, and I'm having problems above my fusion. I'm not one to judge by as those levels were bad before surgery, but they're a difficult area to operate on, so it's conservative measures for me for the forseeable future. So that's not to say that you'll have problems in additional areas also.

    I had a "twin" on here when I had surgery who was having the exact same surgery as I was within the same week and we kept in touch almost every day. I haven't heard from her since three months or so post-op and have to assume that she's out and about living a good life or she'd be back here.

    I also think that scar tissue is worse in lumbar patients because usually the scar is so small with an ACDF, generally two inches or shorter. Mine is three inches and vertical, but after the stitches came out, my PA said to put my fingers on it and rotate the skin as much as possible every day to keep the scar tissue from hooking on to anything. So I think that's not something to worry about too much.

    As far as what happens in the future, every spiney wonders about that. We wonder if because we have problems in one part of our spine, will we have problems in other parts, or will we have adjacent disc problems due to fusion...but you have to just take it one step at a time and if you never have problems again, then that's fantastic. If you do, then you deal with it when it comes.

    For the record, I had an accident 30 years ago where we were hit head on by a drunk driver at a high rate of speed, I wasn't wearing a seat belt, and got thrown into the windshield. My head hit the windshield and my jaw hit the metal dashboard - it took 6 months of ultrasound on my jaws for me to open my mouth enough to eat. I tell you that because all my doctors believe that it was that accident that started all my spine problems and they had progressed over the years to the degree where they're now serious, although I never experienced symptoms before 2008. I also did things between then and 2008 that exacerbated the problem, of course, not knowing that my spine was in the process of collapsing.

    So, I'm sorry for the long post, but I just wanted you to know a few things. And you're right, it's very difficult for anyone who hasn't been through this spine stuff to understand it. That's what's so valuable about this forum and Spine-Health in general. I and most others here understand exactly how you're feeling - others have walked in your shoes.

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  • Hello
    I have just been reading some of the experiences others are having with their surgical decisions. I was scheduled for cervical disc surgery 1/17 and just cancelled it. I am going to again try medications to see if i can live with this pain. I have 2 herniations at C 5/6 - 6/7 with slight nerve compression. Nothing incringing on the spinal cord yet. Neurosurgeon indicates - if i get in a car accident or fall things will not be good. Not sure if i am ready for surgery. Heard alot of negatives from patients on the internet that have had it and don't want to end up worse than i am right now. Has anyone had this surgery and can they tell me their outcome. I have had low back fusion 7 years ago and it is fine.
  • I had 2 level ACDF surgery on Dec 6th C/5-c/6 and c/6-c/7 - my spinal cord was compressed completely - could not use my right arm by the time I had surgery same as Cath111. Prior to my surgery my NS and my primary DR advised me if I did not have the surgery one fall could paralyze me for life. My NS told me in te hospital after surgery that when they removed the 2 discs my spinal cord was completely dented in and I was just very lucky! I cried! I do not want to scare you at all and again having surgery is every one's personal choice. I only share my story with you as it is similar to yours and to Cath111's. The moment I woke up from surgery the severe pain was gone (could not believe it) - had other surgery and muscle pain that goes away during the recovery process with therapy.
    I can also understand your desire to have children and scared about timing and age. I am now 41 and had twin boys at the age of 37 so you have plenty of time. My advice and please it is just that "advice" to take or leave - make sure you are in the best health you can be before having kids because as soon as they arrive you will put your needs last as there will never be the right time. I have been very fortunate as my surgery was my only option and I have a very supportive husband who has done everything needed for my kids as I am recovering!

    I can say even though I am not years out and still recovering I would do it all over again in a heartbeat and nothing compared to the pain I was in prior to the surgery - not even giving birth to twins! LOL!

    I have 2 cousins who also had the same surgery - one four years ago and the other one year ago and both have no regrets and back to full activity. The trick I think which is hardest for me is being patient with the slow recovery for the 1st 4-6 weeks .. gets pretty boring- still some pain and can't do much..

    Here for you if you need anything and best wishes your way - let me know if you want anymore details - hope I did not drone on and never intending to push surgery on you at all ..

    Mary from painfree at last
  • I forgot to mention some positive things I have experienced as well as this site has alot of the tough stories and those that do well most likely dont come back as Cath111 pointed out (understandable as life goes on) .. this site has helped me tremendously not just talking and making new friends with others in the same situation but also with support to kick my horrible smoking vice so stay on this site as much as you can for support ..I plan to pay it forward and come back for years to come as long as I can!
    Also I had my 1st Xray and follow up and have bone growth and all screws and plates etc are solid in place - no complications .. so even though early for me I am feeling pretty good about this surgery and just want to share - I was scared to death to have this surgery and now am a Raving Fan!
    Thanks - just had to add that!
  • Thank you all! Mary, I am glad to hear you are doing well & had the same kind of surgery I would be having. It really helps to hear these stories! I, too, have a very supportive man in my life-I don't know how I'd be right now if it weren't for my boyfriend-he has been incredible. We had gotten together almost a year after my accident & about 2 weeks before my rotator cuff surgery and he has been here for me more than anyone. He tries to understand the pain I'm constantly in and has had to deal with me not being able to do much without complaining. We are both normally very active people, so for him to love me the way he does means so much! He puts off doing things like kayaking, biking, etc. just to be with me, so I am very fortunate to have him in my life!
    4-6 weeks of not being able to do anything isn't much worse than what I had to deal with when I had my shoulder surgery, and if it takes away even most of my other pain, it will be worth it! I know it won't be easy, but it isn't easy living like this either, as you know. Thank you all very much!
  • to you Autumnt and keep us posted on how you are doing. Also just want to make sure I did not mis-represent anything - everyone's recovery is different and the 4 -6 weeks timeframe is really the timeframe most Doctors restrict you from any real activity after this surgery - your Doctor may be totally different and from what I have been told it does take months to really feel normal again. For me the fact that the severe pain is gone is the best thing ever ... once that pain is gone is when you can really focus on doing everything to get back your normal life ...
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