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whats the truth folks ???



  • Tony,

    In 2008 I had horrible arm and shoulder pain along with what I call "old man neck" (at 46 at the time). I had a 2 level ACDF on C5-C7. Woke up with no pain and almost no surgical pain. Over next two years, things got worse again. Found out one level previously fused had cracked and the ones above and below were bad. Plus the foramen on several levels were blocking or rubbing nerves. Just did a 4 level posterior fusion 8 weeks ago and was scared to death. My ortho told me the same thing that this one was going to be rough. Ultimately did it and now 8 weeks later I still have some arm and shoulder pain, but not enough to take pain killers for. And that says a lot since I was on 80mg of Oxycontin plus 5 to 10mg of Oxycodone IR every 6 hours for breakthrough pre-surgery. Could I justify still taking some of the meds at my pain levels? Yes, but I want to give my body a chance to not only detox off of the drugs, but to tell me what really still hurts and what doesn't. Ultimately I had to sit down with my wife and weigh the "what's most likely" options of doing or not doing the surgery. For my part, I'm glad I had it done. But I will admit with a 4 level posterior fusion, the first 2 weeks were tough. But then it improved quickly. Best of luck and our prayers are with you.
  • I'm basically in the same boat as you. The surgeon offered surgery...a fusion for my cervical discs, but he gave me 50/50 odds. That's just not good enough for me. I hope you figure it all out and God bless!
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  • In the US, there has been an upswing in the number of fusions, especially multilevel, done. This is coincident with the change in the US psyche to the belief that higher intervention levels are universally better.

    Anyway, there were recent studies here basically showing the increase in fusion numbers were NOT linked with better outcomes (in other words, stating the obvious, that fusions are NOT helpful for people who are not good candidates, and is in many cases harmful), and suggesting that doctors should be more careful about choosing their fusion patients, especially for multilevel fusions.

    Anyway, I think the answer is- no, fusions are not safe. No operation is safe. But is it as or more safe than living with your damaged back? When the answer "yes" and the surgeon can offer some hope of improved functioning, it's time to start planning the surgery.

    Because that is the scary truth- it's not safe for us to live like this either. Sedentary, with chronic severe pain chipping away at us, taking multiple strong painkillers. That's kind of a frightening life to look forward to.

    You've chosen your surgeon well, you're doing all of the tests, and you're really trying to do this right. You are not the audience toward whom those warnings are aimed.

    I have my fingers crossed for you!
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