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Old 03-14-2007, 06:21 PM   #1
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Bulging Disks in neck. Any success without surgery

I am new to the board here. Last November 2006, after two years of complaining of moderate pain in my upper back and shoulders and several negative xrays I was sent by my HMO MD to get an MRI. The diagnosis was "Degenerative Disc disease with secondary Spondylosis at C3-4,C4-5,C5-6 and C6-7.Also "there is abnormal signal within the CORD representing either GLIOSIS or EDEMA from Cord Compression". I was immediately told I would need surgery and sent to see a Neurosurgeon who examined me in early December. At that point I had virtually no pain and no symptoms of deficits at all but the surgeon said becase of the MRI I should do the surgery. I am questioning this since I have still never even missed a day of work because of the pain I do have. In late January the pain did come back but after a couple of weeks I found that using 600mg of ibuprofen three times a day and a ice pack had reduced the symptoms again to barely noticeable, at worst it is a discomfort for me. The MD insists I should not go with a conservative route of treatment. I HAVE requested a second opinion as she did suggest and will see what happens there. HAS anyone else been diagnosed and then avoded surgery by therapy or other treatments?? I would apppreciate any thoughts on this.By the way I am 53 years old and have NEVER had any surgery.

ROB

 
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Old 03-14-2007, 10:09 PM   #2
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Re: Bulging Disks in neck. Any success without surgery

Hi rob, yes lots of people with degenerative disc disease (DDD) and spondylosis, go conservative and do not have surgery. Especially if a person can function normally and there are no physical deficits.

Pain is very subjective and for one person what is horrible pain, could be quite tolerable for another, that is only one factor to use to determine how serious your situation is. the other would be neurological symptoms, weakness, balance, reflexes, etc. A thorough neuro exam needs to check all your neuro reflexes.

If after all that, nothing is showing, the thing that I would be asking my docs about is to really explain this part:
Also "there is abnormal signal within the CORD representing either GLIOSIS or EDEMA from Cord CompressionAlso "there is abnormal signal within the CORD representing either GLIOSIS or EDEMA from Cord Compression
If there is cord compression, you might not have symptoms now, but they probably aren't far in the future to begin showing up. An ounce of prevention for permanent neurological damage or perm. pain, is worth a very thorough investigation and discussion with the doctors! Get multiple opinions.

Good luck.

 
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Old 03-15-2007, 11:10 AM   #3
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Re: Bulging Disks in neck. Any success without surgery

Thanks very much for the reply! I know I am very lucky not to have worse pain or symptoms. I do think the CORD COmpression is the thing that complicates the issue becasue otherwise there is no way I would even consider surgery. Another question is can the pressure on the Spinal Cord as stated be relieved without surgery? I am currently trying a therapy here in Los angeles which involves specific stretches and exercises for the condition and this routinne seems to further reduce the pain after only one week. My pain is generally only in my left shoulder and sometimes forearm and middle finger. Thanks again.

Rob

 
Old 03-15-2007, 02:18 PM   #4
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Re: Bulging Disks in neck. Any success without surgery

Usually when you have DDD, there are multiple problems going on.

With Spondylosis, you get slippage in your alignment and the stretching and massage type things may improve it, but it will be temporary and you will probably need to continuously get treatment. They grade Spondy with numbers, you might ask how serious yours is. Lots of people use gentle traction, it helps some people, others it makes it worse. The slippage also increases and speeds up the develpoment of arthritis (bone spurs) and such in there, becase of the chronic irritation.

I had Spondylosis with DDD and central canal stenosis. My pain was bad, and its a long story, but eventually after 6 months of conservative treatment and progressive pain and symptoms, I ended up both times doing surgery. I am fused C4-7.

Exercises, massage, traction do not make DDD go away. If you have arthritic bone spurs and stuff in there, those don't get better by themselves. If these exercise things are helping, you might be a good candidate for spinal injections like ESIs, they might help calm inflammation in there for you.

Best you can do is hope to manage your symptoms and the longer you can safely go, the higher chance is that medical advances will continue and there might be something in the future better than what they do with ACDFs etc. My philosophy was to try all those measure and if failed, then do surgery, which I did.

 
Old 03-15-2007, 07:26 PM   #5
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Re: Bulging Disks in neck. Any success without surgery

I had herniated discs at C5/6 and C6/7, but I was able to put off surgery for almost two years by doing TRACTION, MASSAGE THERAPY, and an occasional STEROID INJECTION...

I did eventually undergo surgery, but I chose a minimally invasive procedure over fusion. Check out my post- NON FUSION OPTION/UPDATE.

Every condition/personal situation is different, but I'm of the opinion that if you're not in terrible pain, then it's worth your while to get as many opinions as possible, do plenty of research and exhaust each and every sensible option before going under the knife.

best of luck

BW

 
Old 03-15-2007, 08:06 PM   #6
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Re: Bulging Disks in neck. Any success without surgery

Cord compression is nothing to fool around with I had avoided surgery for 20 years until my bulges started putting pressure on my cord. In my case, that caused problems with my right leg, but everyone is different. Cord damage can be permanent left untreated. I have seen plenty of neurosurgeons, neurologists, chiropractors, physiatrists, etc. and almost uniformly, neurosurgeons are very conservative in their assessments. If an NS says you need surgery, I would give great weight to that opinion.

Also, to clear the record here, do not confuse spondylosis with spondylolisthesis. Spondylosis represents arthritic changes to the vertebrae, which is undoubtedly what you have. Spondylolisthesis is when one vertebra slides forward or backward, and hence is out of alignment. This can cause a variety of problems, depending upon how severe (Grade I through Grade IV)

Good luck in your decision.

Jeff

 
Old 03-16-2007, 02:45 PM   #7
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Re: Bulging Disks in neck. Any success without surgery

Hi all

Once there is a positive signal there is damage to the cord..this can be so slight that you may not notice it..but it probably won't get better without physically removing whatever is compressing the cord.. dont' get pain and cord compression confused.. I had what I considered to be tolerable pain (Pain is really subjective) but realized I was gradually "losing myself".. decreased sensation is sneaky because you slowly become used to it and adapt and forget what normal was like.. decreased strength you adapt and do things differently... then eventually bladder issues etc ..take this seriously...go for a second or third opinion of course but do it now... you don't want things to get worse..

 
Old 03-16-2007, 03:15 PM   #8
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Re: Bulging Disks in neck. Any success without surgery

Thanks very much for all the advice. This is all information I have to digest and at present I am waiting to GET a second opinion. I DO have pain almost constantly but so far this can be managed easily and there are no defecits. I am hoping to investigate a minimally invasive option if it is appropriate for my condition. THANKS AGAIN!

 
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