I was involved in an roll over accident 18 years ago and ended up among many other issues, with herniations and bulging at c5 to c7. Recent MRI shows that c4 to c5 is now starting. I have been in and out of surgeon's offices as well as sports medicine and PT offices, the most consistent conclusion is there is spinal compression that over the years is getting gradually worse. Most noted in my hands and feet from tripping and dropping of things which I have noticed to be getting gradually more pronounced. Surgery advice are these: one disc removal, two disc removal, all three discs removed as well as a advice to have a vertebrectomy (sp?) of c6 due to the calcium build up and the two disc around it.
I can see the issues in the catscans and MRI but i am not a trained surgeon to know what is the best thing to have done.
Can the calcium not be taken out any other way? and what are the recovery issues I need to be considering?
I am a very active 40 year old woman who runs 15 to 25 miles a week as well as yoga and skiing and working out, I stay very active and enjoy being active. One doctor suggests this would all change after surgery, is this true? If i am this healthy going in should recovery be better?
I am confused, frustrated and afraid.
Any suggestions or advice? Thank you.
The risks of surgery need to be weighted against the benefits. I cannot tell you whether to have surgery or not as I do not know your case or your MRIs
MRI changes of disc herniation and bulging are commonly asymptomatic so it is important to be sure that your symptoms are being caused by the MRI changes. Surgery is primarily done to prevent further permament neurological damage (such as paralysis of the arms or legs) when there is evidence that this is already ocurring. I do not know if this is the case with you. Many times in milder cases, conservative treatment without surgery is adequate. The MRI can usually give an indication whether the actual spinal cord is compressed or has some signal change within the spinal cord that would indicate that damage has already occurred. The neurological examination by a skilled neurologist will also be able to give an indication if you have a significant cord injury (for example if they find spasticity in the muscles or hyperactive reflexes in the legs)
Calcium buildup is not a reason to do surgery on its own, whether it needs to be removed or not, I do not know, but hypothetically there is no other way than surgery to remove it.
Recovery depends on whattype of surgery, there would be a period of physical therapy and pain after surgery which may last up to a few weeks. Surgery has its own risks of complications that your doctors should tell you about which could potentially delay recovery, such as failure of fixation, non-union, disc fragments, postoperative pain syndromes etc
In 1993 I had and accident also. I was fused from L2 to S1 and 6 years later had c5-6 operated on because of the spinal cord being compressed and bone material was taken from my hip to make up for the bone they needed in the cervical area being operated on. Recovery was about 2 months. I am a 55 year old female. I do have the support of a group of disabled friends. The word hurry is no longer in my vocabulary let alone "run". If I had the misfortune of someone chasing me I would have to say, oh well come and get me. Then do the best damage when he got to me. I would be too slow to get away. NOW, I am back to dropping things alot. Falling forward, its like my legs suddenly say too tired can't hold up, they let me down, let me fall while I walk forward. MRI shows I need Surgery above and below the previous surgical site. Herniations and bulging at C4-5 with spinal stenosis at C4-5 and C7. I have a strong fighting spirit, I always have. I was a runner, scuba diver, Camper, Boy Scout Leader with the Troop my boys were in. I backpacked through a lot of Florida,Georgia,North Carolina I loved horseback riding and dancing on roller skates. I feel your concern and know your fears right now. I am trying to find out more info on what these nerves handle, possible or most common things that may go wrong. Top Surgens in different states and how many successful operations they have done. Anyone can be a Doctor or Surgen who took the classes. However, was the Doctor an A or C or D passing student? How good a Surgen is he now? Food or thought. Linda J. Florida
wow Linda, you have had a lot of surgery!
The surgeon I feel most comfortable with so far was a road scholar and has many awards for his work in the nerve repair work and the like.
I feel comfortable with him but I dont feel comfortable having this done and then done again and done again ...
I wonder do i leave it until it is an emergency or do I do it while I am strong and healthy and recovery should be 100% ... so they say.
I cant imagine my life without the activity.
Unlike you I am not at the emergency stage, I am having compression and symptoms of the compression but it is not stopping me so far.
Question is do i wait?
And does waiting mean I risk something more permanent and something that gives me a disablity, currently I dont have any.
It is great that you have no disabilities at this time. What I have learned is this.- If the spinal cord is compressed or put into a damaging situation you have some time to work for a plan of action or surgery with little damage. However, if it is compromised for space, for to long it will not recover and it will stay damaged. The big question is how long is too long? Everyone is different. I have been told by Doctors that because of my gymnastics from a child till my 30's is why I can walk today. My muscles are different than most peoples and the ones that are damaged and the nerves that were accidentally cut, are taken over by others to assist in some of the workload of feeding the muscles nutrition, air, helping in walking etc. But I have very little hair growth on my legs and none on the backs of my legs.- I was told this was due to perminet nerve damage. It's a way of the nerves letting something go to assist on other areas more important. Hey, I like shaving less, God always gives me a little ray of Sunshine somewhere. I even look back on my past experiences and say "look what I have done, God in helping my recovery said time to slow down stop moving so fast enjoy your kids and smell the flowers." Now, I find myself saying I've done all that NOW what can I get into. Sorry I can't help you more today I am starting one of my headaches. Time for a dark room and quiet music. When my boys know Moms head hurts they try to find me a pretty flower and they stay quiet and do their homework. Linda
Hi Ladies, I read your posts and I had to let you know you are not alone. I am a 41 year old female. I was a gymnast from 12 to 21. I too was very active. I had numbness from chest down on my left side. Story cut short, they called me the next day to say they were suprised I was still walking. Very severe cord compression C4-C7. Had fusion right away in 2003. Got the feeling back only to have severe pain in low back with severe left leg pain. MRI of lumbar showed disc herniation of L4-L5. Had therapy,corisone injections and discogram before having fusion on L4-L5 in 2004. No relief from pain, but some of the leg weekness(falling) went away. I still have numbness,pain and my day to day activities are really not there. I am lucky that medications keep me active enough to work(desk job), but just had another MRI this time of thoracic. Now I have several ruptured discs in that region with one compressing the spinal cord. Diagnosis now is degenerative disc disease. I will see my Neuro in a couple of weeks. But I am tired. Not sure of what to do or where to go next. I am too young to have so many surgeries and I feel like they are not really helping. I want my active life back. If either of you want to email me we can talk further. Good luck to you both.
I was scheduled for c-spine surg on c5-c7, problems start at c4 (w/stenosis and radiculopathy -ddd/djd). Then a MS spec I had to see for other probs strongly advised me not to get the surgery, because the outcome is a gamble. (My bro had to have the surg and it led to serious consequences later). So, the neurosurg has me seeing a neuro every 6 mos to make sure I don't put off the surgery too long.
Thank you for your response.
The MRI shows mild bulging from c4 to c5, moderate + at c5 to c6 and moderate - at c6 to c7.
The tests that the three neurologists I've seen shows the hyperactive reflexes, exactly, in both my feet and my hands.
To add to that I have been tripping and dropping, something I didnt correclate to my neck but thought I must becoming clumsy.
The idea of all of the negative issues has me going for more and more opinions but only to come to a similar conclusion.
Surgery is inevitable it is just when.
I worry of waiting too long and terrified to go in any sooner for fear of my life changing drastically when for the most part I feel okay.
The pain management has been for over 18 years so I don't know if I am even aware of life without some kind of discomfort.
It's not the pain that will drag me into surgery it is this spinal cord compression that woke me up and has me looking for the best answer.
I had one neurologist that said if you go for one you better have all three done, another that says just the two but you will have to have the third done at some other point (I dont want to be one of these people in and out of surgery the rest of my life!)
I have had facial reconstruction after the accident (I use to model so that was big) I also had knee surgery and I run 15 to 25 miles on it a week, not to mention the two marathons I've done on this knee.
If I have surgery, does it mean I become inactive, I dont think I can live that type of life, completely foreign to me.
The calcium deposit is also on the back of the vertebrae and putting pressure on the spinal cord, according to the neurologist reading the ctscan.
Removing the whole vertebrae seems ... too much?
I appreciate your answer, it helped me but a common thread to all the opinions I have been getting.
Hi. I have not yet posed a question to the forum staff. I am glad I found this site. It was difficult to find one like this. My story is quite long; but, I will try to shorten it. Hopefully, someone will have some helpful advice for me. I am a 37 year old female. I have been dealing with neck pain for about 10 years. Nothing major at first - just occasional pain. I attributed it to the physical warehouse work that I did. For the past 7 years I have been working in a clerical position. About 6 years ago, I stretched my arms above my head and felt a pop. The diagnosis from that was that a muscle had contracted and did not release. I was in a lot of pain and could not move my neck. After about 6 weeks of seeing an ortho spec. and physical therapy, I felt better but not pain free. I was told there was nothing left to do and that I had to live with it. Once a year, since then, usually after doing something major like painting or landscape shoveling, I end up laid up with severe pain in my neck and down my left arm to my elbow. About three years ago, after a severe bout of pain, I insisted on seeing another ortho specialist. I got an MRI done. The tech who did the scan told me that I had c3 and c4 deformed discs in my neck that occasionally hit my spinal cord. The follow up visit with my family doc had him stating that I only had a little arthritis and I should not be in that much pain. I still wanted another opinion. I was referred to an ortho surgeon who basically walked in the room, asked if I smoked, I said, "yes," and he said there was nothing he could do for me and walked out of the room. Luckily, my insurance paid that $400 visit because I sure wouldn't have. That doc has since quit practicing. Over the past year, my pain has increased. I am in pain constantly now with a constant neck ache and headache that progresses to a migraine at least twice a week. I was missing too much work due to the headaches and went to the doctor demanding something be done. He put me on medical leave and prescribed physical therapy. After one month with no improvement, my doc could refer me to another ortho specialist. I had to wait another month for that appt. I had another MRI done. The ortho spec. told me that it looks like I was in a bad accident and C3 and C4 are deformed and have bulging and bone spurs and are hitting my spinal cord. I believe that is spinal stenosis. C7 and C8 are now also messed up and there is narrowing of the nerves or arteries leading from my spinal cord. (I don't have all of the technical terms that most of you have.) The spec said there is no surgery to correct it and referred me to pain management. I had to wait another month to get into see them. I went there last week and he saw C3, 4, AND 5 hitting my spinal cord and recommended epidural injections. It will take another month to get the insurance approval and get that ball rolling. I am scared to have anything injected in my neck. I don't even let anyone TOUCH my neck. Now, they are releasing me to return to work even though I haven't received any injections yet and I am exactly the same as I was 4 months ago except much poorer. I feel as though nobody is believing that I am in as much pain as I am in. I have constant neck, head, shoulder, upper back, upper chest, shoulder and bicep pain. It is mostly concentrated on the left side. It hurts to talk and sometimes swallow. Turning my head results in stabbing pain. Sometimes I won't even be doing anything and I will get a jolt of pain through my neck that causes me to gasp. I have to keep getting up while I am typing this because sitting is painful. On a good note, I rarely have numbness in my fingers or hands. A lot of the time I have to lay down or recline to get some relief. Moist heat also provides a little relief sometimes; but, never completely. I feel I must mention that I have always had a high pain tolerance. Broken bones didn't phase me much. But this is practically intolerable. I think it has to do with the length of time that I've had to endure it and that I am still quite young. A couple of weeks ago, I ended up in the ER with a migraine that kept getting worse. I haven't been in the ER before and was freaked out. LOL. Anyway, any advice that anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated. Right now, I feel as though I am a big baby. I never realized pain could be so exhausting. I have taken different meds but right now Excedrin Migraine works the best as long as I can recline in a dark quiet room. Has anyone else had these symptoms? How do you maintain a normal life under these conditions?
Maybe you should try to see a neurosurgeon if the epidurals dont work. A CT myelogram would probably show if theres any nerve or cord compression causing the problems. Could all be musclular too.
I dont pretend to be a DR but I know what its like to feel like noone believes you have a problem. I got put off for over a year after having a three level fusion and I continued to have problems. They took an exray and said it looked good and I should be fine. I finally had an MRI that showed failed fusion and another herniated disc. I felt vindicated but, it took alot of time to get there.
Thanks mb and jan. I do believe that some of the pain is muscular - especially the bicep area. I also know that some is not - especially the neck area. I stretch regularly; but, it hasn't relieved the tightness or pain. I can't push it because if I happen to turn wrong, I get a stabbing pain and am down for the rest of the day with a bad headache.
I am glad that someone has had positive results from the epidural injections, jan. I have heard a lot of negative comments about them. Part of my hesitation stems from the fact that the pain management specialist and my family doc said that the problems I have shouldn't cause the type of pain that I am in. The ortho spec states otherwise. Therefore, it makes me question if they really know what is going on in there and if i should I trust them to inject something in me. However, my quality of life has decreased rapidly in the past year and I need some relief.
Take care, all.
After my anterior cervical decompression fusion on 10/18/05 the pain still exhists but on the opposite side. Does anyone else have this problem? After a car accident in 2002 I immediatly had numbness and tingling in both hands and arms. Only a neck x-ray was done at the ER and regular doctor treated the reoccuring pain with Flexeril and ibuproffen till in Sept/2005 I could no longer stand the pain in LEFT arm and neck. Finally was sent for an MRI that showed bulge at c6-7 and small one on c4-5. Did the ACDF only on c6-7 on 10/18/06 and upon wakening from the surgery i was pleased to have no pain whatsoever in my LEFT arm but now my right side of neck hurt very bad and STILL DOES TO THIS DAY. Can't get a good position to sleep or anything. New MRI in January 06 showed nothing was wrong and then sent me for a month of physical therapy to increase range of motion in left muscles in neck. That was very painful and offered no relief. Saw my dr yesterday and he said it is not common. He is sending me for a mylogram. He is a well respected surgeon here in St.Louis so i have confidence in him. It even hurts to kiss my fiance'!!! Lookin for anyone or anything to help??????
I have similar complaints from whiplash and have yet to resolve my numbness stemming from a nerve impingement. I will tell you that I am able to manage certain activities with the purchase of a home unit TENS machine, it does help immensely in managing the numbness and pain! It greatly curbs the pain when on the computer, asleep, driving, on planes, movie theater, etc. It has been the best $250 spent so far. It appears to keep my neck and shoulder muscles relaxed and is great for the headaches. I was upset that not one of my doctors suggested a TENS unit as a possibility when I could not sit or sleep for 5 minutes without my upper body going completely numb. I think back at how I flew to Italy by pacing for 15 hours. Since the TENS unit is battery operated, you can wear it any time which makes it invaluable. My TENS unit is battery operated, has 10 pre-programs and 1 manual program and has 4 electrodes which I place in various locations depending on the type of my pain. good luck...
Iwas in a car accident Feb 14th of 2006.It was a three car accident.I was facing west and the other car was facing east and then the third car was going north on a very busy street and the car that was facing east pulled out onto the center lane,then pulled out in front of the truck that was going north the truck that was going north hit the car facing east and lost control of her truck and hit me head on going about 50mph.I had MRI'S done at C6-7there is a disc buldge and a posterior central herniation effacing the ventral subarachnoid space.The neuroforaminal are patent. Just wanting to know what does all this mean? And do you think surgey is the right thing?
Was reading thru eveyones spinal problems and thought it would be informative to tell you that I had spinal fusion 20 years ago, when I was 40, due to ruptured disc. Have been in pain since. First the surgeon used a pedicule screw that was not designed for spines at that time. I got involved with a class action lawsuit against the company that made them which in turn was a long drawn out process but worthwile. That isn't the point but I think that is important to know what kind of history goes into your pedicule screws when doctors insert them into your back and do doctors really know what they are purchasing. For the last 6 years I have been undergoing steroid injections to help alleviate the pain. One helped for 2 years and then started up with all the pain again. I now have 3 herniated disc and disc generative disc disease. I still work and it was difficult until recently. I discovered that I had sleep apnea. I knew that I wasn't sleeping well and just thought it was due to back pain. Well, for all the people out there, if you go without sleep, you do not heal. I am on a breathing/humidifier machine and I haven't felt this good in 20 years. I have not had a spinal epideral for 1 year now.
Hope I help somebody, Franniemae
Please check out DrSchiffer.com. He performed a multilevel CED on me one week ago and I feel much better. The surgery was on Thursday and Friday evening my husband and I went to San Fransisco for St. Pattys Day. I woke up from the procedure symptom free.
My NS here in austin wanted to do a 3 level acdf and I was not up for that. I went to Dr. Schiffers website, sent him all my films and he called me and spoke with me personally. My trip to CA only had to be three days. I would recommend you check him out.
I also had an accident 0ver 18 years ago and now I am finding out my 6-7 disc is herniated as well as my 5 th. I drop almost everything I try to hold,mostly light objects in my right hand. My doc says the 5 disc is the reason for the dropping and we are considering the next step. I cannot work as this has become very problematic.It has come on over the last 5 years or so.As my ID says,"this stinks" Does anyone have any similar issues and any positive results?
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