I can only give my personal experience and hope others share theirs so you can make an informed decision.
I had a two level anterior cervical fusion in 2001 on levels C/5-C/6 and C/6-C/7 using my own hip bone and NO plates or screws. It took away my neuro symptoms of numbness and tingling and most of the pain for about a year. (Mine was not caused by an accident, I have had pain off/on and was tubing behind a boat during vacation and had pain the next day but thought it would go away)
Starting in late 2002, I started having pain in the neck and right shoulder. It kept getting worse and worse and went to Primary Dr. I was also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia back in 1995 so she thought that I was just having pain from this and it was aggravated by lots of plane travel for my work. So, we tried all sorts of pain meds from Ultram, Percocet, Oxycontin,Morphine, and Duragesic patches. The patches helped with pain but made me sick as a dog.... And, I didn't want to be living on pain medicine and knew something else was going on and wanted to get to the bottom of it.
So, after years of trial and error, she sent me to a pain mgmt. Dr. in July of 2005. I begged for an MRI and it showed a total NON-fusion on level C/6-C/7. I didn't have any recurring neuro symptoms of numbness, only severe pain and it was also in my right scapula region as well. So, after the MRI, they sent me to another Neurosurgeon who said it needed to be fixed promplty. Well, I do missionary work and had a mission trip to NC with our high school youth group in Aug., a 2 week vacation with hubby planned in Sept.(saved forever), and a 2 week mission trip to Africa in October. So, I asked if postponing the surgery until Dec. would injure me any further and they said no, only cause more pain. I decided to go on these trips since living with Chronic pain keeps me from doing so many things and the Dr. said that even with this second surgery, I will probably have pain the rest of my life. This made me even more determined to go and do these trips that would bring my heart so much joy and to enjoy them to the fullest even though I am in constant pain.
It was worth every second even though I paid for it dearly with extra pain I got to experience things that I may never get to do again like my trip to an orphanage in Africa and white water rafting, canyoneering, biking, hiking, on our vacation.
Ok, sorry, I digress,,,,, Reliving those great moments... Back to reality here....
I had the surgery on Dec. 12th to re-fuse the one level, they used donor bone and put in a plate with 4 screws... I am still having constant pain and can't tell any difference, even a little worse than before since my neck has started to curve the opposite way in the past years...
I haven't been lower than a 6 (on a good day) on the pain scale in 4 years. I am only on Oxycodone 7.5/325, four a day right now since my pain mgmt. dr. thinks I shouldn't be having any pain since the surgery. Isn't it nice how he can know that about me??? HA HA HA!
I am seeing a Spine Specialist on the 24th here in Northern Virginia and hope and pray they can help with my pain.
I am so sorry for the long post but wanted to share my story.... I am just one of thousands who have had this surgery and always pray that others have better outcomes than me but also want to show others that it's important to do joyful and meaningful (God-filled for me) things in your life despite the pain. Although the things I did are a bit extreme
but doing things that give back to others and fills your heart with love are crucial to living a life with pain.
I truly hope you come to the best conclusion for you and I am sorry that you have to be going through this and have pain. I suggest that you find a spine specialist to take over your healthcare to monitor your neck and help you with your pain.
Can you hold off on a decision until you see a specialist and get a medical opinion on what would be best??? That would be my best advice.
i will pray for you and keep us posted on your progress.