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Old 11-11-2008, 09:52 PM
lizm1118 lizm1118 is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1
Default New here...can't decide what to do...

Hi - I am new here---and I am hoping for some advice. In June, I hurt my neck...playing in a giant blow-up alligator. (Which has definitely been a great story to explain my "non-mobile" neck...have to remember that I am 44!) I was diagnosed with a herniated disk at C6 - C7 - with numbness, nerve damage, weakness...and that horrible radicular arm pain. After spending the following months in physical therapy and taking painkillers, the orthopedic dr. recommended epidurals. The epidurals did help...and the pain is a better - but, I can not get through the day without at least one painkiller, and I can hardly move my neck to the left side without severe pain.

With the recommendation of the orthopedic dr., I saw an orthodpedic "neck doctor" surgeon on Friday. He said I should have improved more since June, and he recommended surgery. He also noted that I have bone spurs in C5/C6 and C6/C7; however, he and I both think they are not the source of the current pain/problems.

He said I could have the traditional bone fusion surgery, or I could have the Prestige artificial disk replacement (if my insurance company will approve it.) I honestly don't know what to do - I am interested in the Prestige, and I think it sounds like I will have more mobility, and it will put less stress on my other disks. But - I am terrified of the swallowing issue. Do a lot of people have problems swallowing after surgery? How long does it usually last?

And - what is the typical time for healing? I know everyone heals differently, but what would be an "average" time. I know this will sound crazy, but, I am scheduled to run a 1/2 marathon at the end of March, and I want to know if it would even be possible to walk/run it four months after surgery.

And---most of my friends/family have told me they are relieved I am finally getting surgery - I am truly uncomfortable most of the time, and I can not sleep at all without painkillers, and even then I wake up a couple of times a night with neck or arm pain. However, one co-worker has told me that there is no way I should be having surgery because I am "not in enough pain", and that if I can run every day, I am definitely not in enough pain to have neck surgery. I explained that all my doctors and my physical therapist have all told me that it is ok to run, as long as I am not in more pain. In all honesty, the only time it truly doesn't hurt is when I am running - and usually for a couple of hours after that. She also told me it would take at least a year to feel better, and I would be basically bed-ridden during that time. (She had lumbar spinal fusion a couple of years ago.)

Anyway - to sum up my rambling email...

Do I need to be in worse pain to think about neck surgery?
Should I be able to begin running in 3 months, barring complications?
How bad is the swallowing problem?
And...I guess - does anyone regret having the surgery?

Thanks in advance from a very nervous person... :-)
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Old 11-11-2008, 11:43 PM
Terry's Avatar
Terry Terry is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 1,210

I have Prestige discs at the same level you are inquiring about. My surgery was done November 2006 in Germany. I am doing well. The swallowing difficulties lasted a few weeks. They were nothing serious. I actually had 4 level ADR surgery which included two lumbar discs as well. The surgery took all of twenty months to heal from. The cervical area is better suited to a quicker heal time as there is not as much weight placed on this vertebral level. I do not regret the surgery as my life was a nightmare prior to it.

I did have Blue Cross/Michigan cover the entire surgical costs. They have taken good care of me before the surgery and afterwards.

Welcome to the forum.

Terry Newton
1980 ruptured L4-L5
1988 ruptured SI-L5
1990 ruptured C5-C6
1994 ruptured C6-C7
1995 Hemi-Laminectomy C5-C6, C6-C7 Mayo Clinic
Bicycle Accident 2004
MRI, EMG, Facet Injections, Epidural Blocks, Lumbar Discogram.
Stenum Hospital Surgery November 4, 2006
Prestige Disc C5-C6, C6-C7
Maverick Disc S1-L5, L4-L5

Last edited by Terry; 11-12-2008 at 11:57 AM.
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Old 11-12-2008, 05:31 AM
kimmers kimmers is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 554


I am a lumbar surgery patient, so haven't experienced neck surgery. Did I understand you that a co-worker said you would be bedridden for a whole year?
That is not what you want after ADR surgery.
I wasn't bedridden at all because they make sure you get up in the hospital and you are encouraged to walk when you get home. And I did a few steps in the hospital too with their PT guy. The first two weeks were difficult but things got better pain-wise as time went on.

If you cannot live with the pain, it is probably a good time to have surgery. I would listen to people on here and listen to your doctors rather than your co-worker.
I understand fusion takes longer to recover from and there is less mobility. A couple people on here have had fusion and then had to have a surgery or treatment on adjacent discs. You can shout out to them and get some answers.

Whether to have surgery or not is a tough decision.

hurt back lifting, herniated disc at L4/L5. DDD
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Old 11-16-2008, 10:35 AM
petermo petermo is offline
Junior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 4

The surgery decision is a big one. Is your pain at a point where you cant cope with it? For me the decision to go under the knife was made when it got to the point where my life was being defined by the pain. I had a cervicaql fusion and a follow on foramentomy the year after. No initial swallowing problems, but had problems later, which lasted for a few weeks. Never heard of anyone being bed-bound as a result of their op...I was up the next day. What ever you decide, good luck
1998 Diag Deg Disc Diesease
1999 L4/5 Nrve Block
1999 Cord Compression
1999 L3/4/5 Laminectomy
2001 MRI C3/4/5 nerve compression
2002 Nerve block injections
2004 Nerve block injections
2005 CT scan and nerve block injections
2006 Cord compression at C5
2006 C5 Copectomy, fusion cage and plate
2007 C5 Formamentomy
2008 L4/5/6/S1 CT Myelograms
21/11/2008 L5 fusion L4 & L3 ADR
26/07/2009 C4/5 Fusion and plate
12/03/2010 C5 Nerve Block
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Old 11-16-2008, 10:59 AM
Cirobi's Avatar
Cirobi Cirobi is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 415

Hi Lizm,

I'm also a lumbar patient like kimmers so I'm not nearly as familiar with the recovery aspects of a cervical procedure. Your coworker who had the lumbar fusion sounds like they just had one of the recovery periods on the worse end of the scale and there's probably more to it than they let on. Also, keep in mind, fusion takes longer, in general, to heal than ADR and the lumbar region takes a lot more pressure on a daily basis than the cervical area. If you're in tons of pain and not happy taking pain killers regularly to relieve the pain AND your doctors are saying surgery would help you, then I wouldn't throw out the possibility of surgery due to one person's bad experience. My doctors had me on my feet within 24 hrs after surgery. Post-op recovery isn't always easy for everyone because everyone's bodies react differently, but a lot of folks find it worthwhile if there's a chance to get your life back. My own lumbar surgery was a great success and I thank my surgeon every time I have a follow up appointment because I still think it's amazing that I've been able to do a lot of what I couldn't do pre-op

The biggest factor in my opinion is where your quality of life is currently. If you think you can deal with the pain longer and try other conservative measures, go for it. If you're completely at your wits end, give the surgery a serious consideration versus other potential procedures and research research research. The forum here with everyone's post-op threads was a major help to me in figuring out what the range of recovery possibilities were and ask tons of questions. The crew here is awesome when it comes to helping give advice based on their own research and experience as well as helping to calm fears as best they can. Good luck with your decision and we'll be here in support whichever way you go.

31 yrs old
Lumbar herniation L5/S1

- Did mild PT, some chiropractics and self regulated pain management since initial sports injury in Spring 1997.
- XRay and Bone Scan Jan/Feb 2007
- PT March to May 2007
- MRI Jan 2008
- Disco positive at L5/S1 Feb 2008
- ADR surgery at L5/S1 on June 23rd 2008 - Prodisc
- Recovery - so far so good!

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Old 11-16-2008, 11:11 AM
berry berry is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 280

Hi there Lizm

Welcome to the forum, there's loads of info here for you to peruse.

Making the decision is the hardest part of the operation I think but only you can make that decision to go ahead with the surgery. I have no regrets about my double cervical replacements which I had in February of this year. For me it wasn't a particulary painful operation and the recovery was much easier than I expected with no real swallowing issues, although, as I am sure you are aware it can be one of the complications.

My post op story, which includes some photos or the healing stages and may be of interest to you can be found on the UK sister site:

Good luck, whatever you decide

Cervical Activ C, C5/6 & C6/7, Feb 2008
Craniotomy and excision frontal lobe brain tumour, May 2006
Lumbar ProDiscs, L4/5 & L5/S1, Feb 2004

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