Neck Surgery - What Are Your Thoughts?

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SoggyDoggy

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OK, Here's the deal. My neck has been getting worse for about the last four years. I think I hurt it along with my back in a car accident, or by lifting heavy equipment at work; I'm not sure which one. Anyway I've been dealing with headaches, muscle spasms, numbness in my fingers, and shooting pains down my left arm. I finally went in for an MRI which shows a bulged disc at C2-C3 a herniated disc at C5-C6 and another herniated disc at C6-C7. The worst one is at C5-C6 which is pressing against my spinal cord. I've been in for injections two times already, but pain relief only lasts about a day and a half. After talking to the surgeon he showed me on the MRI images that all the discs in my neck are actually in bad shape and have turned black from their normal white color which scares me even more.

I have several options available from burning the nerves at these locations to control pain which is temporary, and not recommended by a neurologist friend of mine.

A discectomy with fusion which is the most common corrective action, but there are complications that could arise from placing this load on the other discs above and below the fused disc which will most likely only be the C5-C6 since that is the one causing the most pain and cord compression.

They also have a new artificial disc, but it's new and not covered by most insurance companies. My doctor has been trained in the implant process, but because insurance companies have not been approving this he has not actually implanted one. I guess if this did get approved I would be a Guinea Pig.

Basically I was hoping to get some advice, and maybe some stories from those of you who have had this done.

I appreciate an advice or comments.
SD
 

mimster

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Ouch !
You neck is in a bad shape
I suffer from a similar problem (herniated disk C5-C6) and i have "escaped" surgery by the time being, by doing some treatments with an osteopath.
Have you consulted one yet ?
 

SoggyDoggy

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Ouch !
You neck is in a bad shape
I suffer from a similar problem (herniated disk C5-C6) and i have "escaped" surgery by the time being, by doing some treatments with an osteopath.
Have you consulted one yet ?

My old doctor was an Osteopath, but not a very good one. I used to pop around on my neck, but I always felt like he hit me with a bat for about a week every time he touched it. I was in bad pain, and had spasms in my arms real bad. He was also very arrogant; always talking down to me like I was a complete idiot. Unfortunately, We don't have many to choose from where I am. I have no Idea why the shortage of Osteopaths, but we have thousands of regular MDs.

I'm glad you were able to avoid surgery though! I'm afraid I may not be that lucky. For me it's been an ongoing problem for at least the last four years, so I think I'm running out of non surgical options. My other problem is that I'm running out of insurance soon, and if I can't fix it before then; I will be stuck in pain with no insurance to pay for my meds or continue treatment.

Anyway, How did you hurt your neck?
 

mimster

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he used to pop your neck ?
Somehow that sounds wrong !
That sounds like a quiroprat thing !
The treatment i have been doing in the last 3 years consist in gently stretching the neck to relieve the pressure on disks and reducing tension in the neck muscles.
Yes sometimes i do get a bit sore from it but it never lasts more then 1 day and its a relieve after that.
How did i hurt my neck ? That still remains a mystery to be found as i dont remember hurting my neck in any accident.
The only thing that i remember is that one morning while i was brushing may hair my neck popped and i felt a sharp pain in it, i had to lay down for a couple of minutes, the pain got milder and then i resumed my day with little to no pain.
That is the only episode that i remember.
I wish you can find a solution to your problem soon
 

WBDaddy

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DONT GET FUSION. It will only create the cascade effect of putting additional pressure on adjacent discs, eventually leading to more fusion until you find yourself unable to bend over or look down.

Oh - and it probably won't relieve the pain anyway.

They wanted to do 3-level fusion on my back because I was experiencing severe low back pain. I sought a second opinion from another orthopedic surgeon, one who had a reputation for using much less extreme measures and achieving much better results.

He performed a discogram (injecting contrast dye into discs verified on MRI to be in decline and then checking CT scan to identify where points of rupture existed) and confirmed that my pain was all localized in my L4-L5 disc. He then performed IDET (intradiscal electrothermal therapy) on that disc to restabilize it, and I have been back to functional (though not completely pain free) for 9 years since. My recovery time from surgery? I walked out of the clinic under my own power the day of surgery. 3 months of physical therapy and I was cleared for work.

Seriously, get multiple opinions. Go out of town for alternative opinions. There are techniques out there that, while not as old as fusion, are still well-established and accepted by insurance providers as legitimate that are far less barbaric, less invasive, and more effective for localized back/neck pain than fusion.
 

SoggyDoggy

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he used to pop your neck ?
Somehow that sounds wrong !
That sounds like a quiroprat thing !
The treatment i have been doing in the last 3 years consist in gently stretching the neck to relieve the pressure on disks and reducing tension in the neck muscles.
Yes sometimes i do get a bit sore from it but it never lasts more then 1 day and its a relieve after that.
How did i hurt my neck ? That still remains a mystery to be found as i dont remember hurting my neck in any accident.
The only thing that i remember is that one morning while i was brushing may hair my neck popped and i felt a sharp pain in it, i had to lay down for a couple of minutes, the pain got milder and then i resumed my day with little to no pain.
That is the only episode that i remember.
I wish you can find a solution to your problem soon

Yeah, He used to push down and force it to each side, then stretch it and repeat. It hurt so bad every time he did that. Then I went to physical therapy, but that also made it worse. My biggest concern is the weakness, and other problems in my arms and hands. I too have no idea exactly how my neck got to this point.

---------- Post added at 17:48 ---------- Previous post was at 17:41 ----------

DONT GET FUSION. It will only create the cascade effect of putting additional pressure on adjacent discs, eventually leading to more fusion until you find yourself unable to bend over or look down.

Oh - and it probably won't relieve the pain anyway.

They wanted to do 3-level fusion on my back because I was experiencing severe low back pain. I sought a second opinion from another orthopedic surgeon, one who had a reputation for using much less extreme measures and achieving much better results.

He performed a discogram (injecting contrast dye into discs verified on MRI to be in decline and then checking CT scan to identify where points of rupture existed) and confirmed that my pain was all localized in my L4-L5 disc. He then performed IDET (intradiscal electrothermal therapy) on that disc to restabilize it, and I have been back to functional (though not completely pain free) for 9 years since. My recovery time from surgery? I walked out of the clinic under my own power the day of surgery. 3 months of physical therapy and I was cleared for work.

Seriously, get multiple opinions. Go out of town for alternative opinions. There are techniques out there that, while not as old as fusion, are still well-established and accepted by insurance providers as legitimate that are far less barbaric, less invasive, and more effective for localized back/neck pain than fusion.

I have the same concerns about fusion, and it's not at all on my list of preferred treatment options. I plan to call and make an appointment in LA and Cedars-Sinai to get a second opinion. They are also experienced with artificial discs, and have implanted 200+ since the FDA approved them here in the states. I feel I may not have the options available to me without going to LA of San Francisco for more other opinions.
 

WBDaddy

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I'd at least inquire about IDET before even going through something as extreme as artificial discs. The French technique (what I assume they're using) is still a pretty brutal trauma to your vertebrae.
 

Inconinmiss

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I agree that it's usually a good idea to get more than one medical opinion.

One very important thing to keep in mind about any kind of surgery: You want a surgeon with a lot of experience doing exactly the kind of surgery you're going to have. Surgery is a very complex manual skill. Surgeons get better with practice, and experienced surgeons are best at the kinds of surgery that they perform most often.
 

SoggyDoggy

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Ive been doing a little research on IDET, but everything I've been reading says it's only approved for the lumbar spine. I will definitely ask about it though when I talk to my doctor again.

Thanks for everyone's advice and opinions. I really appreciate it!
 
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