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Really Confused

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,002
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I have been reading the posts here for several weeks and I am more confused than ever. I have been having shoulder and arm pain, tingling and numbness in my arm and a little tingling in my leg since June. My FP ordered an MRI and then sent me to an OS who offered epidural injections, PT or surgery. I of course chose PT and had about 16 appointments which included traction. I went to a NS at a very well respected teachng hospital for a second opinion and he scheduled me for surgery the very next week. I cancelled the day before the surgery was scheduled. I have some pain most days but usually don't take anything for it-when I do, it's just ibuprofen or aspirin. Use a heating pad at night. I read about the terrible pain many of you have and often it seems surgery is discouraged. I worry that since I am refusing what the NS suggests, I may be making a big mistake and yet I am functioning well and don't have anything more than what I would call mild discomfort, although still have tingling in my arm. Any suggestions?


  • Welcome to spine-health. Surgery is a very personal choice, and only you can decide if it is the right thing for you. What was your diagnosis that scheduled you for surgery and what procedure were they going to do. We can't tell you wether you made a good choice or not. I choose surgery cause i was no longer functioning. But each individual is different. If you are functioning with minimal discomfort, then perhaps pursuing the alternative treatments is the best choice now rather than surgery. Surgery is permanent and no turning back. If it was me and I could have gotten by with less invasive measures that is what i would have done. Surgery often is the only choice for some if there is cord involvement, loss of bladder and myelopathy. Your the only one that could make the choice as to what is the correct course of treatment for you individual circumstances. Good luck and keep us posted on how your doing.
  • Since you have conflicting opinions why not get a third opinion? Most of the time the main concern of surgeons is not the pain that we feel but the other symptoms such as tingling or loss of sensation in the arms, loss of bladder or bowel function, or loss of strength. These symptoms could indicate nerve and/or spinal cord damage.

    You didn't say what the diagnosis was but I believe that if you are living your everyday life in relative ease then it's a personal choice. If it were me I'd want another opinion to set the record straight anyway.

    Good luck to you and keep posting on your progress.

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  • Dx from MRI was:

    1. Focal disc protrusion at C6-C7, causing marked encroachment on the leftneural foramen and mild displacement of the cord posteriorly.

    2. At the C5-C6 level there is moderate encroachment on both neural foramen secondary to disc osteophyte complex.

    3. At the C4-C5 level there is diffuse disc bulging, extending into the left neural foramen. Fairly marked encroachment secondary to disc osteophyte complex. Mild encroachment on the right neural foramen at this level as well.

    4. There is an abnormal area of signal identified withint the spinal cord in the upper thoracic spine, seen only on saggital images. Dedicated MRI of the thoracic spine is recommended.

    That 4th impression is what caused me to seek the second opinion. Both the OS and the NS said this was not really a problem as they could see a small syrinx likely present since birth and too small to do anything about anyway.

    My husband and I are big boaters-last year we were on our boat for 10 months and would like to do so again next year. Not sure if surgery would make this more likely or less!

    Tomorrow I am trying acupuncture for the first time. Since I don't feel terrible, I'm not sure how much better it can make me feel!! I suppose the 3rd opinion is probably the way to go but I have a lot of confidence in the NS who suggested surgery. If I could stay like I am, I wouldn't even consider surgery but I am afraid that it could get way worse over night.

    Thanks for all the help.
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