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  • Was told I need to have a 5 level Cervical Fusion

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    Old 10-26-2014, 08:23 AM   #1
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    Unhappy Was told I need to have a 5 level Cervical Fusion

    Hi Im sorry if this is a Little long I will try to keep this as short as possible.

    I have had neck problems since I was in my 20's, I am now 51.

    WHen I was in my 20's I had went to at least 10 different Doctors about neck pain. Every Damn doctor I went to never did an X-Ray or an MRI. They all in not so many words said (Or at least I took it that way) that you just want drugs, and it's only deep muscle pain. I got so frustrated I just said ****** It and dealt with the pain. Now I am an Airline (Plane) Technician for a major Airline and also have been and still do a lot of contractor (Construction Work) work.

    In 2001 my left arm went totally numb and to shorten this up I had Ulnar Nerve Release in my Left Elbow and Ulnar Nerve/Carpel tunnel release surgery at the same time in my wrist, but I was told the Ulnar Nerve is also pinched in my Neck. 4 years later my Arm went numb again and in 2007 I had C-5 and C-6 Fused. My Mom was VERY VERY SICK so I couldn't be incapicated until she passed away. Someone had to care for her.

    Since then I have NEVER BEEN RIGHT -- I got the arm back but the pain was different and much worse. Pain Management here I come. I have had at least 50 injections and a lot of different Opiate meds Including 20MG Methadone. The methadone after 3 mos just Knocked me on my ***. I now take 60MG Oxycontin twice a day and 6-8, 10MG Norco Daily for breakthrough pain.

    Well because Im so used to being in pain and different things happening with my arms and neck, I never really thought about the changes I was feeling about a Month ago. Well My left arm is numb again so off to another MRI. The MRI says and shows that C-3 C-4 C-5 C-6 C-7 and T-1 are ruptured (I don't understand the C-5/C-6 being that way but it is) C-4 C-5 and C-3-C4 Discs are pushing on my Spinal Chord and My Doc told me I need from C-3 to T-1 Fusion Surgery.

    1 Has anyone here had this many fusions done??
    IF SO
    2 How much Neck movement have you lost or how much neck movement do you have??

    3 Is there still pain, if so do you still need pain meds.

    4 Are you working like this and do you think I will still be able to fix Airliners? ( I make almost 40 per hr and my life style and bills are budgeted to that)

    5 What is the recovery time?

    I see an Ortho Surgeon tomorrow and a Neuro Surgeon on the 10th. Although they may be ablr to answer these questions I would rather here for people that have been through this extremely serious and scary surgery. Yes Im a 51 yr old man and Im scared out of my wits about this. I have a Wife and Child to support and take care of.

    Anyone with any answers or suggestions would be greatly appreciated

    Thank You All So Very Much

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    Old 10-28-2014, 01:49 PM   #2
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    Re: Was told I need to have a 5 level Cervical Fusion

    I have had a two level lumbar fusion and am back to probably 75% capacity. I was doing better, but L2-L3 are now going out on me.
    Pain management might be your only answer. I am so shocked you are able to get the levels of RX you are currently taking, but certainly understand that they won't work for someone as active as you are. I work in a field where I talk to lats of people with back issues, and have gotten a TON of help form the back board here on Healthboards.
    07/2006: A/P fusion L4-S1; DX DDD
    09/2009: started PM
    04/2011: Right rotator cuff tear
    09/2011: re-tore shoulder in PT- lost 30% function in shoulder
    06/2013: diagnosed with failure of L2-L3-L4

    Old 11-29-2014, 07:23 AM   #3
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    Re: Was told I need to have a 5 level Cervical Fusion

    Choose your surgeon very carefully, and weigh out the options. I have had two fusions and the last one went horribly wrong. My life is ruined as a result, hope you make the right choice, and best of luck with everything.

    Old 11-29-2014, 02:03 PM   #4
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    Re: Was told I need to have a 5 level Cervical Fusion


    Many people live with cervical disc protrusions causing cervical spinal stenosis. This does not mean that you need surgery. Surgery is indicated only when the severity of the stenosis jeopardizes the patency of spinal cord or is damaging the nerve roots.

    If surgery is indeed necessary fusing all 5 of these discs, you will lose 5/6 or over 80% of the mobility of your head and neck. I'm afraid that your ability to do your job, if it involves twisting your head to see or looking upward, may be greatly impaired.

    Degenerative disc disease comes with all kinds of disc irregularity -- bulges rated from 1 to 5 in severity, hernias which can protrude broadly, focally, or extrude into sequestrations and free fragments. Not every disc anomaly needs surgery. On the sagittal view of my lumbar and cervical MRI, my spinal cord resembles a sin wave from disc protrusions at 4 cervical and 3 lumbar levels. Yet, the patency of my cord at each indentation is secure. I too live with pain, but know that surgery can exacerbate pain.

    As for your previous surgery -- it could be that you had a partial discectomy at C5/C6 and not a total discectomy with fusion, which is why they're recommending fusion at that level now. Or it could be that this surgeon is knife happy.

    My advice would be to seek a second opinion if there is any doubt as to the severity of all five levels. There are very experienced spine surgeons who are in the exclusive business of performing diagnoses for second opinions. Find one and send him your MRIs.

    You may have heard it said that "when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." With few exceptions, a surgeons only treatment option is surgery. As I said, there is no guarantee surgery will fix pain. However, if your spinal cord or nerve roots are in jeopardy, then go for it. But get a second opinion to be sure.

    I also recommend you have an evaluation with an interventional pain and spine specialist to see how much of your pain can be treated without surgery. Often, a lot of the back pain for people like us experience comes from facet joint disease and is not from disc pain. These pain specialists, who are board certified in interventional pain treatment, can help with this kind of pain.

    Best wishes.

    Last edited by rtfirefly; 11-29-2014 at 02:07 PM. Reason: grammar

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