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I am a 37-year-old athletic and generally healthy male who was diagnosed three months ago with a herniated disc at C6-C7 after years of chronic neck pain. I have received three cortisone injections and the pain that was once debilitating in my neck and radiating down my arm and hand has been reduced to more of an annoyance at this point. There is clearly still compression of the nerves occurring, but I am in a much better place than when this ordeal began (and I won't bore everyone with the awfulness of my pain manager and the clinic's support staff!).
I have consulted several times with a tremendously helpful and knowledgeable neurosurgeon who I have great confidence in, and based on my responses to the injections he recommended against surgery at this time (his original inclination after the first injection was ACDF, though that changed), suggesting rather that I wait and return to my active lifestyle to see how I feel running, cycling, and hiking. Right now I have fairly consistent pain in my neck when looking down or up, numbness in my right index finger, and occasional nerve pain in my right arm, mainly around my elbow. Sleeping on my right side does cause some mild discomfort as well.
My surgeon has said the decision for surgery is, of course, completely up to me. Unfortunately I'm an indecisive person! Obviously the injections worked to an extent, though I am certainly not 100 percent. I plan on beginning light cardio exercising soon. Has anyone else faced the dilemma of having made good progress from cortisone injections but not complete recovery and the decision of whether or not to pursue surgery? I'm just not sure what to do at this juncture and would appreciate the wisdom of others on this forum. Thank you so much for your time!