I have moderate to severe stenosis at C5-6 and osteophytes. There is also moderate loss of disk height. C6-7 has mild stenosis with some disk protrusion. I had arm pain and numbness in finger tips but physical therapy helped alot. I still have some neck stiffness/pain. I have not seen anyone but a chiropractor and pain management dr. How many Neurosurgeons did you see? Minimally invasive yes or no? How long can I put this off safely?
It largely depends on your lifestyle, how you make a living, whether or not you can live with the pain, and whether or not you have a "neurological" deficit. Another factor is whether or not you have cord compression, or if you do how bad is it.
My understanding is that if you still have some form of neurological deficit (i.e., arm weakness, paresthesias, etc.) after you've tried conservative treatment then you may want to go ahead and consider getting it done (surgery) sooner rather than later. This can potentially prevent nerve damage from sneaking up on you.
If you have a lifestyle or make a living in a manner that will continue to aggravate your symptoms you also may want to go ahead and have the surgery.
Keep in mind, however, that 90+ percent of people with neck problems (so I've read) are able to control the symptoms without surgery. Your best bet is to get yourself an appointment with a neurosurgeon and discuss the options with him. I just recently had surgery (last Friday) for a herniated disc (C5-C6) after trying to control symptoms for 2 and a half years. The fact is the symptoms reached a point that I could no longer control them and I was also having some increasing neurological problems (weakness, tingling, etc.) that my neurosurgeon felt could not be solved any other way. Indeed, I reached a point where I was doing more with my left arm than my right even though I am right handed; yet it happened so subtly over time that I didn't even realize it!
Good luck - maybe you'll be OK without the surgery! Talk to a doctor is the best advice.
(also in Georgia by the way, and if you need a recommendation on a GREAT neuro in the Atlanta area, let me know)
Oh poor you, me too. I had C4-5 and C5-6 taken out, osteophytes cleaned up, and around where the nerve roots exit. I have congenital stenosis with the other developed problems of disc bulge, one herniation, cord compression. I tried to avoid surgery for 6 months. Did the whole routine, rest, drugs, pt, epidurals, ultimately quality of life changed so much I had no choice. That's when you do it, when you want function like you need or want to, or immediate danger for permanent nerve damage or paralysis. Depending on your case minimally invasive route may not work. Talk to the surgeon. I had two, one neuro, one ortho. both had the same opinions. i chose the ortho spine specialist to do surgery because we had prior experience with the practice he is in, his associate treated my son, and we were extremely impressed with their office.
Who knows how long you can wait there is no timetable. Both neuro and ortho did tell me that they have best success earlier you treat nerve problems. THat is you go years agravating it, they could do surgery and it may not be helpful. They told me my case was good because I was having it within 6 months of onset of my problems. they know if you are a good candidate to do it or wait, ask their opinion. How do you feel?
Just came from my neurosurgeon to day,I have compression and stenosis in the L3 and L4 he wants to do a laminectomy, said because I already have alot of numbness and the nerve is really compressed might not get those nerves to work again but that I need to have it done because it will get progressively worse, thankfully he doesn't want to do a fusion. I think I might have waited to long, some really scary stuff has been starting to happen..
Does he have a spine fellowship? I didn't want a fusion but my OSS said it had to be because of the instability of my spine. The laminectomy, which was done because of severe spinal stenosis, would have made it even less stable.
I have severe stenosis Dr. said it was genetic, extra small canal, he said that they would do a simple laminectomy to open it up, I asked if this would cause instability he said he didn't think so, but if it did would have the fusion later down the road. I am heavy so this is a concern of mine, because most of my weight is in the stomach area. Which would put added stress on back in area of operation.
I have been on the web and found a couple of NS and OSS that do what they call port-hole decompression which leaves the spine intact and is decompressed through these port holes, say they have a high sucess rate, anyway one of the OSS that does it is board certified and has spine fellowship he's in the St Croix Orthopedics. Iam going to call him tomorrow to see about an appointment.
If the OSS wants to do a fusion at the same time that could be good. My OSS used the scrapings from the laminectomy to mix with BMP which was laid on either side of my spine. He didn't have to touch my hip. I also had grade 1-2 spondylolisthesis so he stabilized my spine while he was in there.
I just made an appointment to see an OSS with spine fellowship, talked to him on the phone and asked if he did laminotomy's he said yes, that's less invasive then a laminectomy, keeps from having to take out bone. They make windows along side the spine and except for small hole in bone don't remove any of it. I don't want them taking out the bone and certainly don't want a fusion, realizing that the damage could be more extensive then thought to be. Am hoping for the best.