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  • Wife will probably be getting 3-level cervical fusion

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    Old 08-13-2019, 11:45 AM   #1
    ohaya
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    Wife will probably be getting 3-level cervical fusion

    Hi,

    My wife (age ~60) has been having (mainly) right shoulder pain for awhile, and more recently (earlier 2019) some pain in the lower left back and tingling and pain going down her left leg.

    She got both cervical MRI and lumbar MRI and she saw a surgeon (a neurosurgeon who had operated on my lower back a number of years ago) and after looking at her MRIs and the nerve test report, he said that she needs a 3-level fusion.

    Neither I nor my wife had expected that, and I've been trying to get information about that procedure.

    We've canvassed our friends and local relatives, and none of them have had this, so I was hoping that I could get some information on it. Like I said neither of us are too familiar with cervical fusions, but she (and I, I guess) have just thought that they were "really bad", but now that she is faced with having one, I am trying to get information to try to help her get through this.

    From what I've read so far, it sounds like with a 3-level fusion, she will have some (a lot) changes in her ROM? How much does that amount of change affect lifestyle? Is it terrible (I know that is relative)?

    What is the recovery like (how long and how painful?

    The doc said like 2-3 months, but we are kind of (very) doubtful of that.

    Sorry for some very generic questions, but this whole thing is kind of a shock to both of us ...

    Thanks,
    Jim

    EDIT: Also, one of the things the doctor said was that it was "possible" that the pain/tingling that she has been having from her lower left back down her leg and foot may be "coming from the neck". I think the reason he said that was that he said that he didn't see anything in the MRIs that would indicate lower back pain/tingling. How likely is something like that (neck problem causing tingling/pain in the lower back and leg and feet)?

     
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    Old 08-21-2019, 03:30 PM   #2
    teteri66
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    Re: Wife will probably be getting 3-level cervical fusion

    Welcome to the board. I am sorry no one responded sooner. I hope you are still here reading. You can use the “search” feature to find other posts pertaining to cervical spinal fusion.

    I will attempt to answer your questions....First, It is always a very good idea to get more than one opinion...and I suggest seeing both an orthopedic spine surgeon as well as a neurosurgeon...unless you are totally committed to having “your” spine surgeon do the procedure.

    When I had my first fusion, the opinions varied from needing one level fused to 5 levels! So, often, spine surgeons have varied opinions on the best way to proceed.

    To make sense of what the spine surgeon said about the leg pain...the cervical vertebrae surround the spinal cord. If the spinal cord is impacted by an issue within the cervical spine, it can result in symptoms that are felt at the level of impact or anywhere below it. It is not unusual for a spinal cord compression to cause leg pain and accompanying tingling or numbness. (Think about when someone suffers a severe cervical spine injury and is suddenly paralyzed from the waist down...even though the lumbar spine is undamaged, the person cannot walk.). So it is entirely possible that your wife has some cervical cord compression that is impacting her legs and feet.

    A cervical fusion isn’t any worse than a lumbar fusion. It isn’t a picnic, but we all manage to get through it. You do need to evaluate the risks of the procedure vs. how serious is the problem...is it impacting the spinal cord, how is it affecting or limiting your wife’s level of activity and quality of living, etc.?

    Sometimes there are no other good options, and surgery is deemed necessary. Most do well with the procedure. Recovery can be long and does require patience as it doesn’t happen overnight!

    In terms of ROM, it depends on what vertebrae are being fused. There will be some limitations, and she will need to avoid activities that require either lots of twisting or repetitive twisting. Again, it is a matter of trade offs! And always keep in mind, there are no crystal balls. Surgeons cannot predict the outcome of a spine surgery. They can only provide you with past statistics and averages!

    Not very encouraging I know...I waited three years to decide to decide to have my first spine surgery...which was a lumbar fusion. I waited until my lifestyle was so severely impacted that I had to do something! In hindsight, it was foolish as I suffered some permanent nerve damage while I was waiting!

    I’m happy to try to answer any questions you may have. Good luck in making a decision.

     
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