Hello, I am hoping for some guidance to aid in my decision. I am male, 36. I herniated C6-C7 a few years ago, the pain eventually went away. I was pain free until May/08, it returned and lasted another month or so. MRI revealed same herniation, with cord compression. I was referred to a neuro-surg who advised ACDF, a second opinion was the same. They base this on the cord compression, and some minor shrinkage of my left arm (I'm left-handed). I have surgery scheduled 2 weeks from now. My issue is that all of the pain has left, and despite some very minor numbness in my fingers and arm, I feel good. I feel like I'd rather go walk or excersize at this point, rather than undergo this major procedure and recover. I addressed this with my surgeon, and they tell me they are preventing future issues, not stopping pain. I read about the ACDF, and all I find is the potential for issues WITH surgery, like further degen of the other discs, long post-ops, etc. I could live with how I feel now. I am hoping for some advice on how to proceed. Thanks!
I can not advise about proceeding with surgery based on an internet inquiry. If your doctors are recomending it because of nerve problems it is reasonable to proceed. In most cases a single disc fusion (C67) is not considered "major" and I often be performed as an outpatient. Find a doctor you trust and trust his advice after weighing the concerns you mention.
I can certainly understand your position. I probably misled you with my post, as ultimately I will decide this on my own. I'm just trying to gather as much info as I can while I wait out the days. A doctor/friend once told me, your body has the ability to heal many things, you should let it heal as much as you can before you ever consider procedures. Ironically, as the date gets closer, I'm feeling better. So naturally I'm asking myself- do I really need to do this now, or at all.
I've had to have operations since i was 11 years old because of meningococcal meningitis. I've had both legs, & some fingers amputated, so many skin grafts if i told you the actual number, you'd say "yeah right!", fusions of a couple joints, three Nissen fundoplication, & those are some of the major operations I've had over a 15 year stretch (11 thru 25). After having my first son, i quit seeing doctors because it seemed like I was always in the hospital. I wanted to spend all my time with my wife & son. One day, I get a nagging throb in my center back. I ignored it thinking i twisted my back wrong getting out of the car. After about two weeks of throbbing pain (and it got worst as the day went on), the throbbing changed to sharp stabbing pain like someone was sticking needles through my back. Someone at work gave me the name of her back doctor. I didn't call him because the pain stopped the following day. About nine months later, i was getting out of bed to go to work, & noticed that throb again as soon as a set up to put my legs on. I managed getting both legs on, but when i stood up.. the throb turned to the stabbing pain, but this time it was 50 times worst. I have a high pain tolerance, but i was actually screaming at 4:30am, & my neighbors half way up & down the block heard me. I tried to make it to the car, but every time i tried moving one of my legs, something stuck me with a hot dagger straight through my back. I wish i could describe that pain in a way that would do it justice, but i doubt thats possible. I kid you not. If the ambulance (and police) had not gotten there when they did, i was considering something i had never thought about in my life. To make a longer story short, i had to have a fusion of t-10 thru t-12.. my spine was deteriorating rapidly because of an infection i had gotten in then spine, from a knee ulcer that had been open for almost two years they took out one of my ribs to use as bone.. then screwed on a plate. They decided to cut me open to do all that on my left flank (S shape from the armpit to hip).. I was told that if i had sought medical attention earlier when i noticed it, i may not have had to have such an extensive 8 hour operation. I was over weight at the time, so that made healing a longer task.. Because i've had to take so many pain killers over my lifetime, the pain was hard to control. I know this is not even close to whats happening to you, & i'm not trying to talk you into, or out of having this operation. What i am trying to get across (rather poorly)... its not a cake walk for sure. I don't know if your surgery will be through a scope (no long incision)..not that it matters much because spine pain is unique unto itself. I've never experienced anything like it since & pray every night it never happens again. I'll keep you in my prayers..
I initialy had two herniated disc's from work in construction, the first several months of pain was bad so I started taking Ibuprofen, which worked for several years at which time I forgot about them, did something stupid which flared them up again, this time I went to a pain clinic where they injected novacaine, three time over a two month period that has lasted for quite a few years, then I went back for more injections,All that time though, I made sure I lifted, turned abutly etc. and never did anything stupid. This was twenty years ago, I am now retired and finaly going to have surgery. I AM saying, let the pain and your body tell you where you are at and what you should do.
I had ACDF done in Sept of last year for three herniated discs with nerve compression. The procedure and post op was actually pretty smooth. They replaced my discs with plastic ones and fastened them to a titanium bracket. My doctor explained that because I had 3 discs involved it would be best not to use cadaver bone. The plastic and titanium cuts the healing time immensely than if you were to use a cadaver bone. I wore a neck brace for a week and was able to drive without a problem soon after. I don’t regret having the surgery, although I do have aches and pains from time to time, and most of it is probably because I’m still healing. I have an appointment next week for a problem that I’m having but I believe it may be something that can be fixed with meds or maybe a little PT.
No surgery is easy,,, but your lucky it’s only one disc and not three. Continue to do your research that’s a good step in the right direction.
Best of Luck
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