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it it time for 3 level cervical fusion?
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it it time for 3 level cervical fusion?

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pengwn

11/28/07
   I have recently been diagnosed with DDD at levels c4-5,c5-6 & c6-7, have gone through all of the recommended non surgical treatments with no success.  I have consulted two orthopedic surgeons who recommend three level cervical fusion.  Both physicians said, "when you can't stand the pain any longer, we'll do the surgery", or "are you in enough pain to go through with spinal fusion?"  I have been suffering with this for 10 months, have lost my job of 6 years, do not sleep through the night due to the pain, am losing strength in my hand by the day, and refuse pain meds (for fear of dependency)  My pain 24/7 starts at my neck, migrates to my right shoulder blade, then down my arm, burning to my wrist , where I then have shooting pains in most of my right hand. On the pain scale, 1 being nothing and 10 being unbarable, I am at an 8 now, where as I was at about a 6 in september.  So, am I in enough pain and misery to go ahead with this?  I do not treat this surgery lightly and it is causing me  much anxiety and stress.  At this point, Im not sure if I am in enough discomfort to justify the surgery...and most importantly, will I be better off or worse afterwards.Any advice will be much appreciated!
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Avatar_n_tn
How many times are you going to post this, and how many times do you want us to answer it?

Let's recap:  You are in constant, unremitting pain, and it's getting worse.  You can't hold a job and you can't sleep.  You are losing strength in your hands, so you are less able to perform the normal tasks of life.  Can you still hold a gallon of milk firmly enough to pour your children a drink?  Have you started to lose bowel or bladder control yet?

Some of your symptoms (pain, sleep problems, job) might be relieved by surgery.  Other problems (like the loss of strength) might represent permanent damage to delicate nerves that cannot regenerate themselves -- ever.

How long do you intend to wait -- until you have partial paralysis in one or more limbs? Until your kids have to wipe your butt and change your diaper? If you wait long enough, you might end up a quadriplegic (think Christopher Reeves) and the problem will be solved -- because there won't be anything left for the surgeon to save.

The choice seems pretty clear to me.  

I had four-level spinal fusion on C3-4 through C6-7 just one week ago, and already the improvement is remarkable.  

I hope this helps.

Fred
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178107_tn?1315951230
Could we please have a little more compassion here.  It's wonderful that you have improved after surgery, but that's not always the case.  I had a 2 level fusion (C5-C7) 13 months ago and have been in worse pain since the surgery, so I understand why one would want to put it off. I agree at some point you have to do something and some people have a lot of success with this surgery.  But lets not kick someone when their down, we can give advice in a more supportive and compassionate way.
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Avatar_n_tn
...thanks for your first response...but my question appeared 2x's because I was attempting to post the question on another forum...as for your second response?, well lets just say Im glad it wasn't your first.
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Avatar_n_tn
thank you! Your response regarding your surgery is exactly the reason why I am questioning how long I should wait.  I am sorry your results aren't what you had hoped for and wish for you a positive solution to your medical condition soon. And mostly, thank you for your words of suppport.  I turned to this forum in an attempt to get some good, solid comments and advice overall...not something that will turn me away from what can be a helpful tool in someone's research of medical conditions.
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Avatar_f_tn
pengwn,

  I had cervical fusion in january 07, C5, C6, C7 i had 3 colapsed disk that was mashing my spinal canal, also stenosis. they had to put a cage in my was so bad wild looking but believe me when i tell you it was not bad. I went home the next day I had 3 dr that told me lady do you realize you had major surgery and i told them yes i got my balance better, my arms had strength in them. The incesion is kinda scary to look at but not so bad. You will sleep in a recliner for a couple of weeks, i was on oxicodone i wrote down the time i took it and how many each day is better. The only thing that bothers me was the recliner. after 2 weeks i was weening off the pain killers. Dont be so scared i know what your are going thru. My girfriend had C4,C5 fused year before me she was back at work in 3 weeks. I set my mind and went thru it nomore headaces, hands are great and arms. I was in a very bad shape. By the way in may 07 i had L3, L4, L5 S1 fused ----just be glad its just your neck!!! its ben 6 month and i am still in alot of pain. Get it done!!!!!!!!!!!!!

pstone
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Avatar_n_tn
All drama aside, I had the same symptoms and had it done on Dec 19. Surgery went well. and im not in pain. My left hand is still impaired and may or maynot get better. At the point your at I was told it is no longer elective, You will lose control of your arm/hand. I know its scary but try to have faith and find a great surgen and get it done. Im getting stronger every day and am so gratefull that its over
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Avatar_n_tn
I had a 3 level cervical fushion...the surgery in it's self was a sucess but now i have a whole new set of problem....trouble with shallowing, choking episodes, and a weak voice......at times i don't know which is worse...the strenth has come in my hands and arms  but these other problem are very bothersome....i will have to get that hardware out asap...I'm not sure I would have had this done, if i would of known that i would have to have another surgery to remove hardware and possibly cause more damage to my vocal cords...i would recommend that you postpone surgery as long as you can...then use surgery as the last ditch effort for relief.  I hope all of you suffering out there will find something that works for them...whatever it made be...thanks...Patty
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Avatar_n_tn
FRED..YOU ARE CRUDE AND RUDE....YOUR A REAL INSPIRATION FOR ALL LOOKING FOR SOME KIND OF POSITIVE FEEDBACK...THANKS GOD YOUR NOT A DOCTOR....WE'D ALL BE IN TROUBLE....HEAVEN FORBID!!
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Avatar_n_tn
FRED..YOU ARE CRUDE AND RUDE....YOUR A REAL INSPIRATION FOR ALL LOOKING FOR SOME KIND OF POSITIVE FEEDBACK...THANKS GOD YOUR NOT A DOCTOR....WE'D ALL BE IN TROUBLE....HEAVEN FORBID!!
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Avatar_n_tn
maybey Fred is a Doctor!!!...LOL
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Avatar_n_tn
And oh yes, my singing voice has been impaired.....but....Id rather not lose control of my limbs and be pain free than sing!!!! how quickly we forget how much trouble we were in before surgery...no wonder mal-practice insurance is what it is........Geesh!!!
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Avatar_n_tn
Not sure if you are aware, but a speech pathologist, especially one with excellent knowledge and experience in voice and swallowing disorders, may be able to improve singing abilities and swallowing function.  I am a speech pathologist and am trained in these areas.  I was just checking out this site, as my husband is contemplating having a 3-level cervical fusion.  He has been experiencing worsening pain since a car crash 3 years ago.  I appreciate this site.  
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Avatar_n_tn
Just as your husband, my injury was also from a car accident and my story sounds pretty much the same as your husbands situation. I had the accident in 05,  didn't really find out how badly injured i really was until a few years later...first i tried a chiroprator,  pain clinic, then neuro- surgeon...because the pain just got worse with time, as did your husbands. I think if you and your husband have a doctor in mind to perform the surgery, it wouldn't hurt to make an appointment to discuss over any concern he may have at this time.... I would have it done again, even tho my voice is alittle weak, my shallowing seems to be getting alittle better with time, so that's a good thing. I was wondering if your husband neck got whipped like mine did during the accident....everything went in slow motion right before impact, (never did believe that stuff, had to find out on my own)... once we colided my neck flew forward first, then back...3 seperate times and that is what caused these herniations in the cervical spine...is that about the same ways your husband neck was injured too?? Next week, i will be seeing an ENT doctor for my shallowing problems and voice to see what he says. The fist 2-3 weeks after the fusion is pretty though but after that he will be feeling better with time as with every surgery. good luck...Patty
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi,
I too was in a car accident about 7 months ago.  I saw 3 neuro surgeons.  2 wanted to fuse C4-C7, and one had a procedure called ProDisc-C which is a disc replacement without all of the hardware.  Its been FDA approved for one level; although my doctor has done 2 levels before.  Unfortunately, my insurance company denied the surgery because they feel it is experimental.  I am a good candidate for this procedure as I am only 41.  My life consists of meds and pain.  I have tried everything!!!  I am scared and just do not know what to do.  I have heard of a laser treatment, but It all sounds pretty scary as there seems to be a lot of people in worse shape after any procedure.  
I appreciate what you are going through and wish you the best of luck. If anyone has any feedback, please let me know.
m
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