Hi! My name is Felix, I'm 47, Male and from Canada. I'm new to the message board thing. I just had an MRI last Monday. My Dr. phoned yesterday said I have a severe herniated disc in the C3 C4 level. He suggested the neurologist will be contacting me and it will more then likely mean surgery. I have numbness and tingling in both hands and forarms, stiff neck, but no real pain. This has been going on for about 2 1/2 years now. I am very active in all that I do. I love running, biking, backpacking, canoeing and am very worried about surgery and being laid up for any length of time. I'm also worried about after surgery will I be able to do the things I enjoy. What is the success rate of surgery? The little that I have found on the internet suggests only 50% success rate and 80% don't need surgery. Are there any alternatives to surgery? Is physio therapy a possibility? Or traction? or massage therapy? or? I'm generally pretty positive, but at the moment paranoid and depressed. Where can I go to find more information? Any help would be appreciated. It is good to see by the message board that I am not the only one in the world with this problem. Thanks.
[This message has been edited by Felix (edited 03-17-2002).]<p>[This message has been edited by moderator3 (edited 04-21-2002).]
Hi, the other alternative you may want to try is physical therapy. I was told by my therapist that therapy can relieve alot of the symptoms caused by the herniation, then avoiding surgery. If the herniation is extreme though, therapy may not work, but you could give it a try first for a few sessions, because you will know after only a couple, if it is working. I wish you luck. Kamden
Thanks for your reply. I'm certainly going to push for all the alternatives I can before surgery. A young woman that used to work for me and a good friend of mine is now a Physio Therapist in the neihboring city. I e-mailed her last night to ask her proferssional opinion. So I await her reply.
I have yet to meet with my neurologist. My GP has mentioned surgery. I had an MRI done last Monday. I have a lot of questions and am not so sure I'm going to like the answers the neurologist will give me. I just wish there were people out there that could share their info. What they tried? What is the success rate of surgery? How long is the recovery time? how invasive is the surgery? There has to be things that can be tried before surgery! I've had the numb tingling hands for 2/12 years, but I can live with it as long as the problem doesn't get worse. Will it get worse and to what extent? I really don't want surgery.
If you got a severe herniation in the cervical neck I'd suggest no more running or anything of high impact, think about it and how the spine compresses each time you land on your feet. I've had cervical 2/3 4/5 and 6 degeneration and facet joint disease and running is out of the question. I also have thorasic degeneration as well and just went through another battery of tests for spinal stenosis. I would definately seek pt before any one takes a knife to my neck, I've had 2 friends who had it done only to make matters worse, get a second and third opinion. Once you've been cut into it seems like a dominoe effect, try epiderals, pt, nerve blocks etc before the biggy. JMHO!
Have you had a chance to see your MRI yet? This is what helped me to understand everything the most. I did a lot of studying about the vertebrae before I went back to see the neurologist, and this time, I knew exactly what he was talking about. (The first time I broke down in the parking lot as I was leaving
because I felt so overwhelmed.)
Since I'm brand new here, I really have no advice.
I would definitely get some PT prior to agreeing to surgery. In my case (C6-7 herniation, possibly also at C5-6), two months of PT did not remove all the numbness and pain in my arm, but certainly freed the shoulder muscles and made the situation much more bearable. From what I've read, the majority of herniations do not require surgery, but with a severe one you may be like me. 3 of 3 surgeons all indicated that is my best option.
I'd recommend getting at least a second opinion, though I don't know what the Canadian health coverage pays for (I'm in the US). Ask around-I've been amazed how many people I talk to can mention surgeons that they know had good results for a relative or friend.
I'm with you about wanting to get active again, now that the weather is breaking. The bike is beckoning (recumbent-got it due to lumbar spine problems and it meant a lot more exercise for me. I recommend them to anybody!)
Thanks everyone for your comments! I will be seeing a neuro surgeon on Thursday for consultation. This will be the first time that I get to see the MRI image. It's interesting in that I am leaving for Maoab, Utah right after the consultation to do some great Mountain Biking for a couple of weeks. So what do you think the neuro surgeon will say when I tell her that I'm planning on biking, will she say no way or it's OK?<p>[This message has been edited by Felix (edited 03-24-2002).]
I guess the biking depends on your condition. When I saw the neurosurgeon the first time, he put me in a neck brace and I'm still in it. Not because I had pain, it's to stop the bruising of the spinal cord and to allow the swelling to come down. Suddenly, I wasn't allowed to do much of anything. The strange thing is it wasn't due to pain. I really don't recall any pain and I have a severe herniation. I've tried to look back over the years at times when it felt like I had a stiff neck. They were few and far between, and nothing a good massage wouldn't help. Maybe that's why I'm suddenly in this surgery boat. My spinal cord is flattened and widened at the C5,6 area where the herniation is, due to severe spinal stenosis. The rest of my cervical spine is fine. I'm terrified about my spinal cord now. The surgeon wants me to schedule the surgery, and I want to, but the fear is draining me. All I want to do is sleep. I just had my MRI at the end of Feb so all of this is still a shock. Hopefully, yours won't be so bad and it'll be o.k. to head out on that trip.
Well thanks again for the replies. As I said before I really don't have any pain, stiff neck and numb tingly hands that sometimes extends up to the elbow. I don't believe I am insane. I love life and I enjoy the outdoors. I have been doing these things for two years while they have been taking their sweet time figuring out what is wrong. I can't see why I should quit, unless the neuro on Thursday tells me that I will do alot of damage. I am hopeful that all this will be fixed and life will continue as good as ever. But then if it isn't fixed, should I not do whatever I can to continue doing what I enjoy doing. Namely running, biking, canoeing, skiing, backpacking. Life is to short not to do whatever you can to do the things you enjoy. If I was in a wheel chair I would still be able to do many of these things. Anyways we will see what happens on Thursday.<p>[This message has been edited by Felix (edited 03-25-2002).]
Hi! I haven't been on here in a while, due to inner ear problems...Anyway, I had neck problems for years, but didn't really want to find out what was wrong until finally last Sept. the pain was too much to bear any longer. (Although, unlike you, I NEVER had any of the neuro symptoms UNTIL the bad pain came...). Anyway, had the MRI last Sept., found out I had a badly herniated disc at C5-6, with nerve root compression and mild cord deformity. And, I also had bone spurs at the same level, causing osteophyte (bone spur) fomaminal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal). I tried physical therapy, but at the point I was at it was too late to work. (Also, after I had the surgery, I found out that the herniated disc had calcified, further cutting off the spinal nerves, so no amount of p.t. would've worked for me...) But, OF COURSE you should try p.t. first, and any other therapy your neurosurgeon suggests, as none of these therapies could hurt you (But, chiropractic could...so don't do that...) I read in one of my books that you'll know you're ready for surgery when you are willing to crawl to your surgeon's office and beg for him to do the surgery...I got to that point...But, until YOU do, I think you'd be okay to try the other options...Also, in some cases, herniated discs resolve themselves somewhat, in that once the water is reabsorbed back into the body, the disc can shrink, taking pressure off the nerves, etc. But, if it has begun to calcify, your chances of needing surgery to relieve it is much higher. I had minimally invasive posterior surgery, and am extremely happy with the results. I hope this helps you somewhat...As far as the mountain biking goes, I don't know what to tell you. You'll need to talk it over with your doctor...Good luck! Lizzie
Thanks Lizzie. Glad to hear things are working out quite well for you. It's great to hear everybodys comments. There seem to be so many people that seem to have the same type of problems. Everybody with somewhat different symptoms and results from surgery etc. Just a couple more days to hear what the neuro surgeon has to say. Even if they say to take it easy until after surgery and recovery. I'm looking forward to a couple of weeks in the Moab sun. I can always hike the arches if I'm not supposed to bike. Can anybody tell me what the length of recovery is after surgery? I'm optimistic that all will work out well.
Well I leave to see the neuro surgeon and then straight off for a couple weeks holiday. I will look forward to responses when I get back especially about the length of time for recovery from surgery. Hope everyone has a good Easter.