Well I've never been a part of a forum before so please bear with me if I am doing something wrong lol. Also please excuse my lack of medical terminology I am horrible at remembering all the technical stuff because back when this all happened it wasn't just my neck that took damage and I was pretty out of it for the most part. I made my profile picture my current hardware setup so yall could see what I am working with at the moment.
Just to give yall some back story, I broke between my C1 and C2 back in 2007, my doctor started me with a halo but less than 12 hours after the procedure he decided that wasn't going to do anything. He then put in the set up you see in my picture. He fused my C1 - C4, and placed a piece of my hipbone in between my C1 - C2. I was 20 when this all happened.
Now about a year ago my right arm started tingling and going numb. I went to see a chiropractor and he managed to stop the numbing after 10 sessions. I couldn't afford to keep seeing him and about 3 months after I quit the tingling came back, only this time it brought with it a burning pain. I finally manned up and went and saw a neurosurgeon.
Now all my tests are done and just yesterday I was given my results. I will have to have some form of surgery. He said that all my problems and pain is a direct result of the hardware that the other doctor put in. He explained that if I had been a 60 year old woman with that hardware then it was fine but for my old doctor to of done this to a 20 year old is wrong. And that the bars are too long and basically they are stabbing me in the C5 area everytime I look up and they are forcing my head forward.
He layed out my options which are as follows:
1. Acdf? On the C4-C6
He doesn't recommend this one because he said the hardware on the back of my neck could possibly force the front plate to fall off?! And he said eventually C6 - C7 will disintegrate.
2. Go in the front and back, bend the rods up so I am not being stabbed by them, and fuse C4 - C6 and eventually down the road I would need C6 to C7 done as well. He really wants to go down to T1 but he said the choice is mine. This is the one he would go with but he said I will not have any ROM in my neck.
3. Disc replacement C4 - C6
He said this is another ok option but he said I would have to get them replaced at some point in my life and they could only last 15 years. (Which means best case scenario I would be back at 45) and it of course would also be a total fuse so no neck movement.
So those are my options. He sent me home to think about them and again I apologize for my wording I am horrible at remembering medical terminology. They just talk to fast for me.
I really am torn on how to handle this situation. On the one hand I want to be pain free, I'm tired of popping pills all day just to survive and I'm also tired of arguing with doctors just to get some hydrocodones. On the other hand I don't want to loose all of my range of motion in my neck. From what I have gathered there are alot of people on here with more hardware than I have ever imagined. So I am hoping yall can be honest and upfront about what I'm really facing here. And keep in mind I am very active and 30.
Now for my questions...
1. If I get option 2 and he fuses down to my C6, will my C7 and lower just mess up and start something else down the road?
2. If I lose all of my range of motion would I even be able to fire a gun? ( I live in texas and I hunt deer every winter, I shoot a 30.06)
3. Will I be able to look up and down or will that all be gone too?
4. Is disc replacement a good option? Will I loose all ROM or will I have some movement?
5. Couldn't they just shorten the bottom bars to keep them from stabbing me in the neck and forcing my head forward? Or has the damage gone to far and now I'm just screwed?
6. Is it worth dealing with the pain in hopes technology will get better later down the road and maybe I won't have to sacrifice all of my ROM?
7. Can they remove all the old metal and replace it with better hardware? And would that do anything to help me?
That's all I can think of for now, I am sure my post seems scattered, and I apologize if it is. I really wasn't expecting all of this to happen, I thought injections were an option but my doctor is saying that it's a 50/50 and I would have to get them often. I don't know anyone personally that has or is going through this, so I feel very alone in my situation. Most people don't understand how I can look so normal and yet be in so much pain, until I show them my x-rays then they look at me like I'm Frankenstein's monster.
Thank you to anyone willing to answer my questions, I know a few might seem dumb or silly to worry about but I really just wasn't prepared to deal with this. I have spent the last 10 years praising the original doctor, only to find out that it's because of him that I am going through this now.