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C5-6 herniation, stenosis, reduced disc height, desiccated disc and spurs - Should I get surgery?

I’m 37. Within the last year my neck pain has gotten progressively worse. Not doing anything too active and avoiding certain movements, along with massage and scapular exercises manages the pain pretty well. But I’m getting more and more limited as time goes on. I can’t exercise anymore without aggravating the nerve. Any tensing at all of my neck is bothersome, so I avoid all exercise aside from walking. I really want to be able to exercise again. I want to be able to spar with my son and go bike riding. Basically I’m getting sick of avoiding so many things and the occasional flare ups drive me crazy. I consulted with a surgeon a friend of mine recommended. My friend had the same issue and swears by his fusion surgery. The surgeon said most people in my position who aren’t in constant pain try to manage without surgery. He said I am a candidate for fusion or potentially artificial disc. 

I’m looking for advice, pointers, anecdotes that can help me in my decision to get or avoid surgery. Have you have a good outcome? A bad outcome? Would you recommend surgery? Is the risk of the surrounding discs getting worse down the road bc of loss of flexion a real risk? If I get surgery, do we have any data that it won’t completely blow up in my old age and leave me worse off than if I hadn’t gotten surgery? What is worst case scenario of a bad outcome? I have a lot of concerns. I really want my life back but don’t want to make this all worse in the long run. 


Please as many people as possible weigh in on this. Thanks!

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Comments

  • G’day John Smith 1234,  there are a lot of us here with dodgie necks. For me personally I am holdIng off on surgery as a last case option. Probably closer than I am willing to admit. I have just started injections in my neck. I am so hoping they give a little relief, I get another this week. I have exhausted all other options. Though still am having very regular osteopath treatments. The migraines my neck causes are unbearable. Goodluck I hope some chimes in soon with some helpful hints for you. Harpy

  • Welcome JohnSmith1234 we’re glad you’re here!

    I have had cervical fusion surgery, C4-C7, I was one of those that didn't have a choice about surgery, the disc had ruptured and were compressing the cord, so my decision was easy. It sounds like you have options, I have had several spine surgeries and have been given options before also, I will tell you the considerations my surgeon pointed out to me, is it affecting your life in a negative enough way to consider surgery, is the herniation bad enough that it could cause permanent nerve damage if not repaired, are you better of going ahead and doing the surgery now as opposed to down the road, all considerations that need thinking about. My surgery went really well, pain was gone upon waking up, recovery was a breeze, but there's always a chance that the disc above or below could cause problems down the road, none of us can say if or when that could happen.  

    While you’re waiting for a reply to your first post, please take a few moments to review the Code of Conduct and FAQ section, located under Forum Tools. There you will find important information about posting in the forum and helpful tips for new members.

    Here’s a great article about ACDF surgery on Spine-health that you might want to check out: ACDF: Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion. The article outlines what to expect before, during, and after the procedure. I hope you find this information helpful.

    Again, welcome to the Veritas Health Forum.

    Chip 

    Veritas Health Forum Moderator

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  • @challenger

    The doc said that he’d more strongly recommend surgery if I had signs of nerve damage. For now I only have signs of nerve irritation: numbness (but I can feel the pin prick), tingling and pain. He didn’t recommend or not recommend surgery, he just said that many at my current state choose too manage through massage, PT etc. But he said many opt for surgery as well so they can reduce the pain and have their normal life back. So that’s where I’m at. I just need to hear more of the good and bad outcomes and risks and benefits so I can make this decision on my own. 

  • John

    My only suggestion would be to get a second opinion so you can compare what the doctors say, I am not saying there is anything wrong with the doctor you saw, but I always like to compare.

    Take care and keep us posted

    Chip

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