Been reading the discussions and can't find anyone with a case resembling mine. Desperate to get some thoughts/suggestions.
I'm in my mid 40s and had a lifetime of severe lumbar issues (college and semi-pro soccer in my teens and 20s really messed up my back). Last year I finally had an L5S1 Laminectomy and it was successful. This is the best I have felt in over 20 years. I got back to soccer, tennis, mountain biking, skiing, etc. Feeling great. I still have other lumbar issues, but they don't bother me as much anymore. Nothing 2 Advils and a hot shower or ice pack can't solve.
About 6 months ago, I noticed an occasional tingle on my right index finger. It would go away after a few seconds or after I shook my hand. Occasionally, I would get a mild burning sensation around my right elbow. This was in the summer, so I assumed I missed a spot with my sunscreen and had a mild sunburn. I also had soreness in my shoulders (that my PT suggested was from muscles finally working after most of my back being so rigid for 20+ years). Just before Xmas, I went to a leading Sports Med Ortho because the shoulders were starting to be annoying and I was about to go on a big ski trip. He thought I had a pinch nerve and gave me some prednisone but ordered MRI and CT just in case because I had so many spine issues. When the imaging came through, he called me and said "Don't you dare go skiing. Cancel your trip and see a surgeon IMMEDIATELY!"
Turns out I have SEVERE cord compression at 3 levels and minor compression at 2 levels. How severe? Two surgeons suggested a big sneeze might cause paralysis. Every surgeon I have seen (5 so far) were amazed that I had no pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness. They ran all the tests and said my strength, reflexes, etc., were all perfectly normal. Occasionally there was a hint with the Hoffman Sign, but even that was not consistent.
I've seen so many doctors because, I live within easy driving distance of some the best spinal centers in the country and each doctor i see has proposed a different solution. Some suggested posterior but most want to go anterior. Some suggested 4 level fusion, 1 suggested 3 levels plus corpectomy, and one suggested a hybrid - 2 levels plus a replacement. All of these are complex (a lot more than just a single level).
I know I need to do this... sooner than later. However, as I sit and type this out, I am feeling perfectly healthy. Aside from the compression, I am literally in the best health of my life right now. All the doctors said that since I have no symptoms, there is nothing that will be improved... just "securing my spine" and there is a fair chance that even if the procedure is 100% successful, I may actually develop new symptoms.
I'm going crazy. I'm not afraid of surgery. I can't get my head around the fact I need to do this despite how great I feel. Has anyone gone through a similar situation? If I had pain or numbness, I would have been under the knife by now.
I do have one more question... Neurosurgeon or Orthopedic surgeon? I have seen both and of course the Neuro guys say that this close to the spine you want a Neuro. The Orhto guys are saying it's a mechanical bone and disk issue and you want an Ortho. The guys I have seen are all tops, so I am struggling to pick... especially since they all propose different solutions. I don't need a warm doctor to give me a hug, I want the most badass expert in the field who will just do an amazing job.
Thanks in advance for any thoughts/suggestions.