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    Old 10-08-2007, 11:45 AM   #1
    chablis3
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    Questions on Neck Surgeries

    Am posting again and hope this is the right board! I was on the Back Problem board and had some good answers from two board members there concerning my neck problems, and would also like to obtain some info from everyone else. First, to explain my problems a bit: Had X-Rays taken about a year ago and the results were: Severe degenerative disc disease at C4 through C6 intervertebral disc levels with bilateral neuroforaminal narrowing at C5/6 level. Moderate degenerative facet joint change at every level with the cervical spine column. No soft tissue swelling.

    All this sounds very scary to me, and I don't know exactly what it all means except that my neck seems to be a mess! I get strange headaches, mostly at the base of the skull, as well as a tight feeling in the neck area. I also have constant ringing in the ears along with a "squishy" sound when I turn my head. I am interested in hearing what other members symptoms might be, and what kind of treatments did everyone try?

    I have tried chiopractors and shots, but that didn't help a heck of a lot. Just wondering if I should be thinking of surgery at this point, or is there something else I could try? Haven't been to a neurosurgeon yet, but thinking that might be a good thing to do soon. Hope to hear other's experiences, and hope to hear from Tulip and Sage again to see what they think.

    Thanks everyone!

     
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    Old 10-08-2007, 12:33 PM   #2
    alex12
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    Re: Questions on Neck Surgeries

    Hi
    I sympathize since I am in pain too.
    You mentioned an X-Ray did you mean an MRI? If you haven't you should get an MRI and make sure there is no cord compression, if you are having that tight feeling at the base of your neck and it is radiating down your shoulder blade and arm sometimes, you may have a cord compressed which happends from bone spurs growing.
    Most of us here have disc degeneration and narrowing of the canals so you are not alone there.

    My symtons are exreme pain in my neck that radiates to my shoulder blades...weakness in my arms and headaches.

     
    Old 10-08-2007, 01:08 PM   #3
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    Re: Questions on Neck Surgeries

    Ok...I followed you!!!! Just wanted to check up and make sure you got here!! The headaches are the worst I have ever had...more than a migrane...when I went to the ER with one....HORRIBLE headache...the Dr. said it was a cervogenic headache... Thank goodness, once I had surgery,,,they went away.. I used to have different sounds in my neck and head...like a rushing sound...not very pleasant... Once I finally got to a good neurosurgeon, he diagnosed me...did a mylogram/ct...then a few weeks later did the ACDF... I did not wear a collar...my neuro. said the plate and screws would hold my neck together...not to worry!! I did do a couple of weeks of thereapy after the 6 week mark...but it wasn't really anything major...just got me loosened up a bit.. As I said before, the neck has been pretty good...I do have a couple of other things wrong in there...but I can live with what I have for now. Just wish the lower back could find a diagnosis!! (Remember I fell 5 yrs. ago...and caused all of this for myself....neck and lower back...)...
    I do hope you can find some resolution.... BUT, remember if you do go for surgery...get the straws...and only drink very small sips... The throat will be better within a week or so...two at the most.... you may loose some weight...awww too bad on that...(15 pounds for me)...but go for small bites and soft stuff if you can... Good luck to you..

    Sage

     
    Old 10-08-2007, 06:28 PM   #4
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    Re: Questions on Neck Surgeries

    I reccomend you get an evaulation by both a neurosurgeon and an orthopedic spine surgeon. Even though they are surgeons - they will reccomend less invasive treatment if it's appropriate.
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    Old 10-08-2007, 07:12 PM   #5
    chablis3
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    Re: Questions on Neck Surgeries

    I am so glad I got on here tonight and found 3 good replies! Alex; I haven't had an MRI, just the X-ray. I imagine when I go to a surgeon he would recommend an MRI, which I would think will show more. I don't have any shoulder pain or arm pain, just the terrible kind of numb feeling at the base of the skull, and I get what I describe as "hot flashes" in the head/face area. What have you tried so far for your pain? Thanks for your reply!

    Kross; your suggestion is a good one and I will check on both a neuro guy and an orthepedic guy....as soon as I get up my nerve to go see somebody! I sure am hoping my problem can be fixed by a less invasive treatment. Thanks so much!

    Sarge; Glad to see you found me, and your posts have been very helpful and informative. Yes, the headaches are terrible, and I too, have gone to the ER...before I knew I had the neck thing going on. All they did was give me some headache pills, not knowing about the neck issue at that time. The sound you described as a rushing sound is exactly what I have, and it is so annoying. Can you tell me what a mylogram is and how do they do that? And, what does ACDF stand for? What scares me the most is that they have to go through the front of the neck to operate; I almost think I could take going through the back of the neck! You sound like me, Sarge, I have a herniated disc in the lower back, and that hurts, too. Sorry to hear about your fall, that is a darn shame. Was the pain after the surgery real bad? I could stand to lose a good 20 pounds, so that won't bother me. The straw tip is excellent, and I will keep that in mind.

    Thanks everyone, and hope to hear more. All information will be appreciated and I know it is going to help me make a decision.

     
    Old 10-09-2007, 05:28 AM   #6
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    Re: Questions on Neck Surgeries

    Chablis,

    So far I havn't had any success with pain management. I tried epidural injections 2 weeks ago and had a bad experience... they didnt take since my stenosis is to bad and the pain managment doctor doesnt want to do anymore...she said surgery is all that is left for me.
    I don't take any codien related pain meds because I can't really function on them. I take Klonopin to ease my anxiety and if the headaches get out of control I have Fioricet.

    Actually I am about to post a question on dealing witht he pain myself, hopefully I will get some hits.

    I am seeing my Neurosurgeon Monday to schedule ACDF, I have been having nightmares about this...ugh! I am only 35 and just don't know how I will handle the recovery with 2 little kids...this is a total nightmare!

    Good Luck to you!

     
    Old 10-09-2007, 05:58 AM   #7
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    Re: Questions on Neck Surgeries

    Hi Chablis see you made it over here, it scared me also and freaked me out to know that they had to go through the front of my neck but as my surgeon described it to me it's less painful that way then going through the back of the neck cause when they go through the back they have to cut through muscle and that is what is painful afterwards. The pain afterwards I know for myself wasn't nearly as bad as the pain I had before surgery, it was just the swallowing difficulties that I had trouble with but it eventually subsided I did a lot of popsicles and soft easy foods and lots of cold liquids and I rested a lot and every day I tried to walk a little bit my surgeon said that walking helps the healing and the fusion process but you cannot overdo this either a little bit at a time and I think I waited 2-3 weeks to start the walking.

    Yes you should get an MRI, and x-ray will only tell so much, and also seek out two opinions just don't go with one that is if your insurance will cover it all.
    I know from my experience I had a neuro-surgeon, and others have had ortho's, it's all who you are comfortable with and ask a ton of questions, in fact as your thinking of questions now right them down and take them with you.

    As I think of more I"ll let you know.
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    Old 10-09-2007, 01:16 PM   #8
    chablis3
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    Re: Questions on Neck Surgeries

    Hi Alex and Tulip, Yes, Tulip, I did find the right site! I didn't know there was one for neck problems, glad you told me! I am really going to have to go see somebody soon about my problem, and at least that way I will know what my options are and what to do. But, with my luck (not usually that good!), I am afraid a doctor is going to tell me all kinds of scary things. But, it seems that you went through your surgery fairly well, and that gives me inspiration. A friends daughter had some kind of neck surgery (not sure exactly what), and her daughter was operated on and went home the same day. Amazed me....were you in hospital just one day, or longer? How long did your operation take? Thanks for all the info; it helps!

    Alex, oh, you are so young to have to deal with such pain and problems. I am 64, so I kind of expect things to happen to me as I age. I am active, love going places, doing things, but this neck and my back has really put a damper on my lifestyle. It has to be very tough for you, especially having to take care of the two little ones. I have had the epidural shots also; started doing that last year when it all started. They did help then, but just had another one two weeks ago and it didn't do anything. This time I had a very bad headache that evening, and a "flare up" of pain. Not sure if I want to go back for the second one; trying to make up my mind! I don't take anything on a regular basis.....just pop an ibuprofin or half of a pain pill at night if I can't sleep. I have all kinds of pills, but I try not to take them. Maybe I should; my hubby says I should, but I don't like the side effects. Let me know what your neuro guy says. I wish you luck; hope he eases your mind and helps you make a decision.

    Thanks for the info and help!

     
    Old 10-09-2007, 02:29 PM   #9
    Tulip15
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    Re: Questions on Neck Surgeries

    Hi Chablis, I was only in the hospital over night my surgery was scheduled for early morning 8:00 am took 2- 2 1/2 hours the in recovery for several hours, and then was home the next day in the afternoon, I forgot to mention that both surgeries I did not have to wear a neck brace I know some people do but my surgeon said that the plates and screws will hold me together, I just had to be very careful, no bending over, no lifting my arms above my head, and no lifting anything over 10 pounds for several months, I was also lucky that I started to fuse at 6 weeks post-op and was completely fused at 6 months, I know some people it takes them longer. The one thing that is not good is if your a smoker it really slows down the fusion process, eating healthy helps and like I said before walking also helps, this is what I was told, and I just really took care of myself only, my husband managed the kids, and I got someone to clean the house for awhile for me, and I just sat back read a lot of magazines and watched tv, and just really slept alot the first couple of weeks.

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    Old 10-09-2007, 03:13 PM   #10
    chablis3
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    Re: Questions on Neck Surgeries

    Tulip, from what you are telling me, the recovery period sounds more stressful than the actual surgery! Not that the surgery isn't something to be concerned and scared about, but having to put a limit on doing things and watching every move you make seems like it had to be very hard. I could deal with a week, but then after that it would drive me nuts, I think. I do understand the reason, though, and a person has to do it....and take care of themselves. I really thought this type of surgery would put a person in the hospital for at least 3 days. Much surprised that it doesn't! I would have to definitely work on my bad habit of smoking, though. I was on the way of quitting, down to 6 a day, but now I find myself lighting one up at night when I wake up in pain. Bad thing to do, but I get so frustrated waking up every two hours in pain. I even put the pack out in the other room last night, but after the 3rd time waking up, I finally gave in and got them and had a few puffs. Not very wise, I admit. If I think of anymore questions, I'll be back looking for you! Thanks again for all your help.

    Judy

     
    Old 10-09-2007, 03:28 PM   #11
    Janatee
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    Re: Questions on Neck Surgeries

    Hello Chablis3, Welcome and join the club....I m just going into my 6th week post op. I had a 4 level partial discectomy, plus 1 corpectomy.. This is where they remove the entire vertebra and insert a cage. I had this through the neck. I will tell you that my symptoms caused my legs not to work! Yes, I was hobbling and walking with a cane for a few years. This started many years ago, after falling OUT of a bathtub, after I slipped and landed hard on the rim. I was all soaped up and slipped off the rim and landed on a tile floor, with my neck facing one way, and my torso, another.. After a few years, things started to happen to me, like not being able to lift my left leg very high, and when walking I started to stumble. Not to mention the leg becoming heavy numb and tingling. After a Decompressive Lumbar Laminectomy in 2003, that helped one problem, but after 2 years it started up again. Finally, I had to find out what was going on.. So after many MRI's with contrast, I was told this was the problem. If I chose to do nothing, I would end up in a wheelchair, because of all of the compression on my spinal cord. Scared??? Not even close... I prayed a lot, and was blessed with a wonderful surgeon. After listening to what he thought I should do, and him answering my many questions, I went home to think things over. I did not rush into this, yet I did not want to be in a wheelchair the rest of my life, I made the choice and in I went. Going in the front, was the best way for me, and I hardly had any pain. After 2 days in the hospital, I came home with a sore and scratchy throat, and slightly swollen on the inside, (to be expected) and a big Aspen Collar. It has become my second skin...lol lol lol I did drink with straws, and you learn to take small bites, because somethings don't go down like they should. I did stay propped up in a recliner for a few nights, but was able to lay very flat on one pillow in my bed, and it felt great. After many many sponge baths, sitting on a medical stool in the tub, I finally took my first full stand up shower by myself, with out my husbands help... One small step at a time... I do everything they tell me to do, for I do not want to have another operation again. I will go next week for my first set of x rays to see how the fusion is.. I started to walk about 3 weeks ago outside, as long as I was on level ground. If I feel up to it, I go with my husband on some errands in town, and get to walk around some there also. You just can't over do it, believe me your body will tell you if you do. My surgeon said this surgery will give me 95% outcome, that I WILL NOT GET WORSE.... and at least a 65-70% I will get better. The compression on my cord, might have caused some damage, but, will only know in time. As long as I can avoid the wheelchair, it has been worth every little thing... I would do it again. I hope you don't wait too long...it could mean things could get worse. Get all the info you can and ask lots of questions....knowledge is POWER... Good luck and let us know how things progress... We all seem to be in the same boat... Janatee

     
    Old 10-09-2007, 07:50 PM   #12
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    Re: Questions on Neck Surgeries

    Janatee, thanks for the welcome! Phew, after reading your post, I am sweating and having a major hot flash.....my nerves got all jumbled up reading what you have been through. I have read a few posts so far that said the pain isn't too bad after the surgery, and glad you told me that also. All my problems are just from degenerating disc's; never had an accident or injury. What an awful thing to happen to you; but it sounds like you are doing well now, and I hope you continue to improve very quickly. When people talk about going through the neck, I have this picture in my mind that the whole front of my neck will be split wide open, and that makes me very nervous. Just how big is the incision? I don't have any pain or such in the shoulder or hands, etc. I am hoping that means that I am not too bad off...yet. Have a little leg and pain on right side, along with lower back pain but that is from a herniated disc in the lower lumbar area. You sure have been through a lot, and your decision kept you out of a wheelchair, so you did make a good decision, for sure.

    I like when people say they would "do it again" as that makes me feel it wasn't too bad and was well worth going through. I will remember all the pointers you gave me on recovery. I am remembering all the ones I get from everyone! My sister-in-law keeps telling me, "oh, you don't want to have surgery; it's so risky, etc.! Like I don't know that...and, if she had this pain, she would think again.

    Thanks, Janatee, your post was so informative, and I appreciate you advise. Please take care of yourself, and get stronger and better fast! Let me know how your doing cause I am going to wonder how it is going for you!

     
    Old 10-09-2007, 07:51 PM   #13
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    Re: Questions on Neck Surgeries

    I had a laminectomy 7 years ago - through the back of the neck. My symptoms at the time were severe numbness and tingling in the arm and fingers. The docs tell me I have an unusually high pain tolerance - good in some aspects, but it also means that I usually don't seek help until it's really bad. Anyway - Chablis - they should run a lot more tests on you before anyone even suggests surgery. The neurosurgeon that I finally ended up with was wonderful and the first thing they told me when I went was that he does not like to operate on young women. At first I thought that was wierd but as time progressed I realized that meant he only operated if there were no other choices. In my case I have spinal stenosis which has narrowed the spinal column down considerably and on top of that I had 2 bone spurs - one that pointed into the spinal column and one that compressed a nerve. The recovery from the surgery was painful but worth it. The bad thing is that this surgery doesn't cure it forever....usually it lasts about 6 years. So about a year ago I started up with the symptoms all over again, but of course I knew this time exactly what was going on so I got to avoid all the misdiagnose's I had before. I had another MRI and it indicates the same problem again just in a different spot. It really hit me hard since I have already been through all this before and quite frankly, just how many times can my body go through this? I am about to turn 50. I went back to my chiropractor and we talked - he is the one who knew enough to diagnose me correctly the first time. I am happy to say that he has been able to keep me relatively pain free. At first I had to go to him a couple times a week but now I go about once a month. I know this is not a cure but it is keeping me from having the surgery until I really have no other choice. He does no adjusting - it is called active release technique which in some respects seems like a very deep tissue massage with certain movements. He was not trained in this when I went to him prior to the surgery. See if you can find a good chiropractor who is trained in this and give it a shot.

     
    Old 10-10-2007, 10:35 AM   #14
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    Re: Questions on Neck Surgeries

    Hi Again... To answer your question about my incision, its only about 3-1/2 " long. Not bad at all. What wonderful things they can do today in surgery and how well they work in tiny places. It is healing really nice. When I go back to the docs on the 16th, they said I could start using Shea Butter on it, to reduce the scarring. Chablis3, please don't let all these post scare you! I know, I've been there. Just get yourself a really good doctor, one you trust, and one that will guide you in the right path. I know this could be a long journey, but if you research, and ask questions, you will be able to make the right choice for you, and what you really need. So many of us want to share our stories with others like ourselves. Nothing wrong with that. But I know some things can be very frightening. Just remember to go one step at a time, and to do only the right thing for you, and not anyone else. I really waited and did my homework, and I was very sure, thinking I could live with this limp the rest of my life. But for me, things just went way down hill. And believe me, I did all the other stuff, but nothing really helped me. Maybe for you, things will be different and you will be one who will benefit from NOT having surgery. We can only hope...But if you do, just remember all who came before you, and all who will come after!!!! Good luck and let us know what you find out... Be strong....we are all in this together....Janatee

     
    Old 10-12-2007, 05:38 PM   #15
    chablis3
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    Re: Questions on Neck Surgeries

    Hi Janatee and Sadie, Thanks for the messages! You two have sure been through a heck of a lot! Janatee, when I read all the posts about people going through these operations, I sit here all tense and nervous, but, I have to say, from reading everyone's experiences, I am learning a lot. And, I also am gaining more confidence in the fact that if I do have to have surgery, well, I can make it through it, from all the guidance and knowledge I have learned from talking to you all. I hope your feeling better every day, and thanks for all your support!

    Sadie, yes, I would definitely have more tests run, and also have two opinions. I haven't been to see a specialist yet; I am trying to wait it out until the first of the year. I would like to get through the upcoming holidays and then concentrate on ME! I figure I have been in pain all this time, so I can wait a bit longer. My last X-Ray didn't show any pinched nerves in the neck or back, so I think I can wait a bit longer. I am being real careful and not doing anything real streneous, so I don't make things worse, I was going to a chiopractor last year, but I didn't feel that he helped much. He did the "cracking stuff", where he twisted the neck, and the back, and you could hear things cracking. Also, did some neck traction and some exercises. Funny thing, after a few treatments, my hands did start falling asleep at night, and they did have this tingly feeling at times. Well, after I stopped going to him, those symptoms all went away. I have to wonder if it was the treatments that caused that? I do have a traction thing here at home that you hook to a doorframe, and I use that about 3 times a week...helps a little bit. I will have to do more research in that active release technique....sonds interesting.

    Hope you both are having good days, and I will keep in touch on an update here and there. Thanks again!

     
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