I was in a car accident on 12-11-05 in which I fractured my c5, c6, and c7. I consider myself very lucky to not to be paralized or dead. I spent the first 5 hours after the accident at the ER with no neck brace and was walking all around the room waiting to be released, before they discovered the fractures.
The neurosurgeon that came to talk to me that night said I needed a MRI and then go in for surgery. I had a MRI the next day and then heard nothing else. The next day another neurosurgeon came in said it was ok to sit up at a 45 degree angle and scheduled me for a xray. Later that night I went down to xray and they did xrays while I moved my neck to see if the fractures moved. They didn't so I was released the next day.
On 12-20 I went in for my appointment and saw the first neurosurqeon. He still wants to do surgery. The main reason he says this is that my left arm is weaker than my right and every once in a while I have pain in it. The pain is getting less and less as the days go by. It has never been real painful probably around a 6 on the day of the accident and a 4 the last time it hurt which was the 19th.
Now the questions.
1. Before I schedule the surgery should I get a second opinion?
2. If I do get the surgury which the doctor hasn't even explained what he wants to do except to say fuse them. How long will it take to heal.
3. If he does fuse the c5, c6, and c7 together how much range of movement will I lose.
The whole thing is very scary to me. I have never had any surgery done. I'm also having to pay for this out of pocket. No health insurance, disability, and was at fault in the accident with only liability insurance. So the longer I can't work the more in debt I become.
First of all, yes yes yes! Get 2 or 3 opinions before surgery. I am also curious as to why this Neuro is not trying less invasive approaches first. And if you are not in pain, I wouldn't recommend it. I have had 2 and it depends on your surgeon, but it costs around $37,000 - $40,000.
A fracture vertebrae and a ruptured cervical disc are two different beasts. i don't think you fully understand the anatomy to the point you are ready to make a SURGICAL DECISION. bones generally heal in 6 weeks, no timeline on discs.
Hi, I am sure there is someone out there reading this thread who has had more closely an injury like yours. I fractured in 4 places my C1 on 4/09/04. I did not have surgery. This was a very bad fracture, like what people get who dive into shallow water (it's called a Jefferson burst fracture). I also suffered mild spinal damage and a significant head injury.
I am a year and 9 months post injury and I am still out of work...I am still greatly debilitated. one thing different with you and me is I could not hold my head up at all when I broke my neck, I had to bend over and walk and let the head hang down (I came off a horse and walked to the house as I was all alone, after I "came to"). Sounds like fractures lower in the neck are sure different than higher. I probably should have had a halo, but I didn't, I had a cervical collar for 8 weeks.
My thoughts to you are: first, go to the state office and get on disability and also get onto something that will help you pay the bills. You cannot afford to pay for all of this yourself, and your injuries are very drastic and you should be seen by all the docs you need to see. You can't struggle thru this yourself. You will need more MRIs and tests, etc, because the further you get from the accident, more issues will arise (in all probability). Get onto some funding...hospitals also have plans for those who have no insurance...get on Medicaid, whatever it takes. You also might need to go to physical therapy and you should perhaps see a psychologist for awhile. As was mentioned before, you cannot make surgical decisions based on your own limited knowledge and also on your finances!
Also, you are still in shock and you will understand what I mean when you are a year down the line looking back. You are not in a position to make any big decisions, so I agree also with the post that said get several opinions and be sure to find docs you trust. From what I have seen, people on Medicaid get excellent treatment, even better than those of us on insurance (or in my case, work comp). So, don't be shy, and remember to be your own advocate because no one else will!! It will be hard given your condition but try to get things lined up. Also, if you are on Medicaid, you will have a case manager who will also help you and you don't have to go it alone.
I hope this helps, and I can't stress this enough. this is a very rough road, and you have to take precautions to do what is best for you, not based on what you know and not based on your finances.
Don't worry about loss of range of motion. I lost a lot, can only move my head about 3" each way, but you get used to it and it's the least of my problems right now.
oh, one other thing. Since you broke your neck, it is possible you also suffered a concussion. Can you believe I was sent home from the hospital without anyone mentioning a concussion or head injury to me? Also sent home with NO visiting home nurse or anyone to check up on me. It took me over a month to realize that I was experiencing symptoms that lined up with a concussion, and I researched on the net to learn more. If you hit your head, please do research on that ... look up "brain injury." And see if any of the symptoms there ring a bell for you.
Thanks for all the replies. My main reason for asking if I should get a second opinion was out of the two NS that saw me. One has been wanting to do surgery from day one and the other one looked at my all my Xrays, Cat scans, and MRIs and then sent me down to see if the fractures moved when my neck moved. He then sent me home. Both of them work out of the same office. It's just strange having that much of different opinions on what to do. Even if I decide that surgery is best I won't be letting the one that wants me to have surgery do it. He hasn't once explained exactly why he wants to do surgery and what exactly he wants to do. It's always been you will have surgery and you have no choice about it. It will be with someone that I like and trust. Very important to me when I have to put my life in their hands.
The money thing doesn't really bother me that much. I'll be going in to talk to the VA tomorrow. Since I'm a veteran they should be able to help on this.
Just an update on my condition. 11 weeks post accident and the fractures have healed fine. No surgery was needed. Left arm is close strength wise to what is was before the accident. Neck muscles are stiff after wearing a neck brace for so long. Get to go back to work and work as much as I'm able to. I most defiently will be getting health insurance when I go back. Now the long road of paying off all my bills that have piled up while not being able to work. Good luck to everyone and thanks for the help when I needed it.
Hey, I just read your post for the first time or I would have resonded before. I wondered right away where the fractures were that they could just send you home. Must have been in a good spot. Where? Good to hear your ok. Keep updating........Mike