I have been on this website reading for days and to be honest you guys have me scared out of my mind...Well, okay, I was scared out of my mind before I even got on this website.....lol However, this website has just added to my fears. I have had neck problems for years. Back in 2003 I was told that someday I would have to have surgery (started having problems back in 1990), but I didn't think it would be this soon. I have been through physical therapy twice since 1990. I have always had neck/shoulder pain and some tingling in my fingers/toes since 1990. However, in the past 6-8 months I have noticed stiffness/tightness in my legs, can't walk for long distances, can't really run, and losing my balance quite a bit. My legs feel so heavy. I decided to start looking into it. I received my first opinion so far and of course it's fusion surgery at the C5/6 area. I am scared to death. I am doing a lot of research and have scheduled a 2nd and 3rd opinion in February. I also found online a place in Tampa, Florida called LaserSpine Institute. There is no fusion there less evasive of a surgery. I don't know what to do.....Please help....
Like you, most of us were scared to death at the prospect of surgery. You would be surprised at how many people have actually gone through this surgery. It is a lot more common than you would think. If you do need surgery use your research to find a doctor with a good reputation. I have needed more than 1 surgery because I had a number of disks with problems. After each surgery my symptoms gradually went away. I had to learn what my limitations were as far as activities are concerned, but I feel so much better than pre surgery. I'm not saying that I don't get aches and pains, but most of the time it is from pushing my body to hard. Just like with any other surgery there are no guarentees. It will take some time for the symptoms to improve...just like a broken leg would take time to heal. Whatever path you need to take, have faith and keep us informed.
Thanks, I appreciate your comments....I really don't want to fuse my vertabraes together at this point in my life. I am only 36 years old, and disc replacement is right around the corner. They have been doing those in Europe for 15 years. My first opinion with a NS said it could be a matter of months right now before it's being done here. Have you heard of LaserSpine Institute in Tampa, Florida? Has anyone heard of this place?
I would suggest you go the Florida State Department of Health website. At the top of the homepage you can pull down a subject list and select Practioner/physician profiling. This is a state government website. You can find out is the physician licensed in Florida, education, lawsuits filed against them, etc. Every time I go to a new doctor in Florida I go here to check them out. It won't tell you everything but it is a good starting place.
I'm sorry that your in so much pain and having to deal with all the effects of nerve problems. It's not a fun experience to go through.
Do you have a herniation at C5-6?. I know it's a scary thing to go through, but the results can be great. I was suffering with bad pain in my neck, arm, shoulder and numbness in my fingers. I had a large cervical herniation and had to have a C5-6 disectomy and fusion. From the moment that I awoke from surgery, the pain was gone. The only pain that I had was surgical.
I was very lucky in that, I never had another problem until a few months ago, and that was because I took about 4 different falls. I have since found out through x-rays that my fusion hardware is all good and that I am fused. Bad thing about x-rays though, is that they don't show disc bulges or herniations. So for now, I will wait it out and try conservative measures.
Getting more than one opinion is a great idea, because it helps you in your decision making, knowing that your doing whats best for you. I would like to say though, that the longer you leave this problem and do nothing, the more chances for permenant nerve damage. Maybe that's why your starting to have problems with your legs and gait. Or it could be that you have a back issue going on to. I'm not a Dr. and don't work in the medical field, just been there and done that, and am just offering what I do know.
Good luck to you in your very big decision, and please let us know how your doing.
QTANT36 - One level fusion probably isn't so bad, but I agree with your thinking. I was looking at three levels and opted for a laminectomy which is done from the rear and involves opening up the vertebrae to free up the stenosis. My opinion is that your should contact laserspine and at least send them your MRI's for their thoughts.
Thank you so much for the website Melindafm. I will definitely look it up. I had no idea that information was out there. I have seen websites for physcian profiling but you have to pay for each one. So, thank you.
Sunshine----So, you didn't have fusion done then? I'm still learning all of this lingo so please bare with me. What were your symptoms? What was your diagnosis? Where did you go? If you don't mind me asking all of these questions?
Melindafm--I have tried finding that website--Florida State Department of Health, and I believe I found it, but can't find the doctor profiling you were talking about. Can you give me specific directions? Thank you.
i don't know if anyone has said this yet, but be careful how much you read into what you read on the web.
These types of sites will always have more negative stories than positive, because people come here because they have problems. Those who have successful surgeries, go on with their lives and don't need to come back.
Also, the front end recovery people, may seem quite intense, but they are trying to find help as they go through this...it is somewhat difficult in the early weeks. That's one of the really great things about this site, that people with identical problems and symptoms can talk to each other and reassure themselves that everything is going okay. It was so helpful for me that is why I come back here 2 1/2 years after my surgery, to pay back what this site gave to me.
My surgery was totally successful I had 2 level ACDF with donor bone and BMP (bone growth hormone). I am able to do pretty much anything I want to, and am 99% pain free. I do an excercise program that I was given by my PT, and that is a big part of why things have gone so well. I am 54 years old and feel like I did when I was 30.
Good luck, and hopefully this post will ease some of your fears.
I waited 9 or 10 months before I just couldn't stand it any longer. I read this board. Yes, sometimes that made it worse.
When I started reading this board, I think the tone was very negative. Lots of bad surgeries, post op problems. The overall tone has changed. I find it to be loaded with knowledge. Alot more successes then failures.
For me the surgery has been like someone thru a lightswitch and the majority of the pain has been switched off.
I believe that we have all done a boatload of research on the people cutting on us.
In the end its "Your Surgery". This board can only be a guide, and support!
I too didn't want to do fusion at my age- 39. I chose a minimally invasive option, check out my post- NON FUSION OPTION.
Fusion is an interesting animal, lots of people on here swear it's the best thing they ever did, and others have had problems. That's why I chose to make it a last resort for me. Thankfully so far I have found relief from my pain with the non fusion procedure.
No matter which choice you make, I would suggest you get several opinions, and that you continue to learn as much as you can before making a final decision.
I am around your age, and very active. I like to extreme Ski and Race Karts and Motor Bikes.
I just had my fusion this past August. I spent this past Xmas Skiing with zero pain. I have just re-insured my Harley. I am 100% better. You must take into consideration that most people on this site have had issues with their surgery and are looking for support. Most people that have great success, move on with their lives and don't post as these great sites.
My neck has never felt better.
My advice is find a great NS and get it fixed before you create a problem that cannot.
My advice is find a great NS and get it fixed before you create a problem that cannot.
This is an important point.
Not accepting or delaying a surgical solution can have as much if not more of an impact on an individual's outcome than any other single factor. Fusion, laser, chiro, massage or herbs? That isn't necessarily the question.
What exactly is the condition being treated?
The goal of some ACDF surgeries is to arrest a deteriorating condition.
Sometimes, that goal needs to be achieved ASAP (my case).
I would suggest that you inform yourself as much as possible with respect to your particular condition and the proposed goal of any suggested treatment.
From what I have seen, most poor outcomes have little to nothing to do with ACDF or other treatments; they have to do with the underlying condition itself. Understanding your individual circumstance is critical.
I had a C5-C7 fusion about a year ago and am doing great.
"Use your health, even to the point of wearing it out. That is what it is for." George Bernard Shaw
Last edited by ThoreauFan; 01-26-2007 at 06:18 PM.