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Canadian Newbie - probable C5/C6/C7 ACDF in my future

edited 04/09/2014 - 2:36 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi everyone,

I'm from Ontario, Canada. I'm a 37 year old female who was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease (DDD) around Christmas this past year after a fall on the ice. It was a mild fall...straight down...nothing dramatic, but after a day or so I started to have shooting pain down my left arm and some tightness and squeezing in my left upper back and shoulder area. This feeling went away when I would lie on the floor. Within a week the pain went from annoying and uncomfortable to excruciating, where I would be uncontrollably vocalizing outloud when a surge of lightening pain would shoot through me. My family doctor put me on Lyrica for neuropathic pain. I'm on a very low dose and it is helping make things tolerable so I can function throughout the day. My family doctor sent me for a MRI as she knew the lyrica was simply a bandaid for the pain and wanted confirmation of what was happening.

MRI confirmed DDD from C4 to C7 with reversal or normal cervical lordosis (in otherwords, kyphosis).
Central disc protrusion at C5-C6 resulting in moderate spinal stenosis, mild cord impingment and mild cord edema.
Left paracentral disc protrusion at C6-C7 causing severe lateral recess stenosis as well as stenosis at the origin of the nerve root.

I met with the neurosurgeon last week who was wonderful. He spent an entire hour with myself and my parents (who wanted to come and hear everything first hand). He said that if we were simply dealing with a disc bulge he would recommend that I continue with the lyrica, physio and "gentle" chiropractic adjustments to help things. His concern is the disc pushing on the spinal cord. He said that if I were to take a fall or get into a car accident that this area is already weakened/compromised and that it is THIS area that would take the brunt of the impact and I would be at risk for a severe spinal cord injury. That of course is terrifying to me! Please let me say that he was not a pushy doctor trying to frighten me into surgery. I was actually expecting a hard sell when I saw him, but he was wonderful, explaining the risks of everything and actually suggesting that since I am currently not writhing in pain that I should see how things go for a couple of months find out as much information as I can and book another appointment to see him and ask questions if need be. (which doesn't cost ME money directly as we are covered by OHIP here). He was great and understanding but his bottom line was that he would be concerned about that one area of the spinal cord and the risk of a serious injury.

His recommendation is ACDF with artificial spacers. We would only graft from the hip if I required more bone than he was able to get from cleaning up all of the bone spurs in the area.

I'm nervous as you can very well imagine. I'm terrified I'm going to fall down the stairs. I've almost fallen about a dozen times now since seeing him....potholes in the road, ice, pine cones, dog toys,...you name it and I'm tripping over it!

I'm also very active with my dog Jovi and compete with her in agility and I don't want to have that taken away from me. (that's where you run your dog through a course of tunnels and jumps and weave poles, etc. and compete against other dogs). This is often done outside...rain or shine and we have run in muddy situations before where I have of course fallen. Can you tell what's on my mind?

Any advice or personal stories would be BEYOND appreciated! Thank you to everyone in advance for taking the time to read this and reply. Oh...and just so you know, I don't have a computer at home so I can't check this until I'm at work tomorrow...so don't think I'm being rude if I don't reply back right away. :o) Thanks again!
Canadian Sheltie Agility Freak!

PROPOSED double ACDF surgery on C5/C6/C7.
Upper disc herniated and currently pressing on spinal cord.
Lower disc bulging and pressing on nerve root.


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