My incredible neck surgery to fix my pinched nerves

| June 6, 2009 | 102 Replies

I am so very lucky when it comes to health care options. It’s distressing to think of the millions of people live (and used to live) with deep or searing chronic pain who did not have this kind of treatment available. I was lucky to have good health insurance and highly competent doctors. No one, however, should have to deal with this sort of pain without treatment and hope.

For the past two years, I’ve been struggling with a pinched nerve in my neck that caused serious pain in my left arm and left side of my back. On several occasions, I referenced some of the treatment I have been receiving, including this post on acupuncture, this post on the incredible fact that there is a skeleton inside my body, and this confession that I don’t do well when it comes to getting injections (a post which sprang from my need to have epidural injections for pain relief).

I’ve had all kinds of conservative treatment, including intensive physical therapy. None of my conservative treatments worked.

The most recent symptom was numbness several in my fingers (feeling in some of my fingers came back, but not in my left index finger).   It’s worth taking the time to tell you what my doctor told me about numbness.  If you have it, permanent nerve damage is being done. If you don’t jump on it and address it quickly (within a matter of weeks), you might lose that sensation permanently. Numbness is different than pain, then, which doesn’t usually cause permanent injury.

Because I had significant numbness, I had surgery, which occurred four days ago. It was an “anterior cervical corpectomy/discectomy and fusion, with bone graph and instrumentation.” What this means is that the surgeon removed two of my cervical disks, freed up my pinched nerves by carefully drilling out bone (there turned out to be four of them in the operative field), filled the now-empty disc space with my own bone and cadaver bone, and locked three vertebrae and the new bones into place with a titanium plate with screws.x-ray

Here’s a recent x-ray, where you can see my deformed lower vertebrae.  During the operation, my doctor verified that my vertebrae were covered with bone spurs, which have now all been trimmed clean to allow my nerve roots to reach down into my arms.  BTW, if you are middle-aged (broadly defined!), your spine isn’t so pretty either, but if you’re lucky you are asymptomatic.  Tongue in cheek, Dr. Riew had initially advised me that I had “gray hair of the spine.”

img_7083Here’s the incision: about 2 inches wide on the front of my neck. The sight of it makes many of my friends squeamish. The surgeon goes in at this site (using a microscope) and gently pushes the trachea an esophagus out of the way in order to see what he needs to see (that causes minor temporary swallowing problems in many patients, including me).

I was taking slow walks around the hospital floor on the night of the surgery (with a drip assembly in tow). I was released the following day—hospitals plainly tell patients that hospitals are not a good place for people–once you are able to leave you should leave, due to the risks of super-germs. Yesterday, I took two tablets of Tylenol. Today, I am not taking any drugs at all, even though I was provided with strong scheduled medications). I thus commend my surgeon (Dr. Daniel Riew of Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis). Who would have thought that on each of the past two days, I would have been able to crank hard for 30-minutes on a stationary bicycle? Really and truly, this was a medical miracle, one which happens in hospitals every day in order to relive people of chronic pain so that they can reclaim their lives. At least those of us with medical insurance. At the hospital, several people told me that the best way to prepare for an operation is to be physically fit when you go in. I worked out almost every day for a month before the surgery and I’m assuming that this was a big factor in my ability to be able to pop back up soon after surgery. I know that many other patients for this type of surgery can be flat on their backs for one or two weeks. I personally know another person — a regular at this site–who had this same surgery. Perhaps he might want to come forth an share his experiences too . . .

Here’s the bottom line: The pain in my arm is now gone, the pain in my back is almost gone. I do have some lingering numbness in my left index fingers, though it has improved a bit. I’ve been told that there is a decent chance that I will get my feeling back in that finger within the next few months (this is critical to me, because I am an avid guitarist). A surprise bonus is that my “good” hand is now improved. I was suffering some nerve impingement there too, but didn’t’ attribute that stiffness to a nerve problem.

image by JuJu Vieth

image by JuJu Vieth

Even though I’m squeamish about needles, I got over the fact that I was stuck with an IV for my entire stay. Not that I stared at this line much.

Now, all I need to do is to wear a plastic neck collar for six to eight weeks (the “Miami J Collar”). Here’s what it looks like (see photo below). I did wake up, panicked and claustrophobic, several times this week. I’m hoping that panicked feeling doesn’t return each night, or it will be a long six weeks. This panicky feeling does make me appreciate, though, how difficult it must be for many other patients who need to have large parts of their bodies (or their entire bodies) locked down for extensive periods. img_7180

I did want to give this epilogue in that I had mentioned (= whined about) my symptoms on several prior posts. But everything looks good now, and assuming that the bones all heal correctly, I will not be physically limited in any way, other than having a modest loss in range of motion in my cervical spine. To me, it was well worth it to give up some neck motion to get rid of the arm and back pain and (hopefully) to recover feeling in my left hand. It was worth it, even though I need to constantly explain to people that I didn’t have neck pain, but that they needed to operate on my neck to fix my back, arm and hand.

If you know anyone with hand numbness, there might be hope for them too, but send them this post and urge them to not put off a doctor visit or else they might suffer permanent damage.

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Category: Health, Medicine

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (102)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. michelle koza says:

    I am having the same pain as you described above. I have been out of work since 2/10/10, can not wait to go back. However, the pain is horrible! I have seen various specialist that stated it was a pinched nerve and I would be okay, given time. The pain is so bad I can not perform the simple things in life. For example, carrying laundry or typing for over 10 minutes. I feel that tingle/throbing sensation down my arm and neck. I have tried everything, including rest and therapy. I really dislike pain medication, however, I need to atleast bandage the pain. Finally, I saw the spine specialist and he said since I exhausted all other options surgery was my last resort. In a way, I am so… scard but I just want to have my life back! I am having the surgery on 3/30/10. I want to get back to work a/s/a/p. I type 8+ hours a day with my job. The doctor said I would be out of work for 2-6 weeks. I have a few questions; is the surgery minor, recovery time and pain after surgery (will I have to continue with pain meds)? Any advice would be greatly appricated. Thank you so much!

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Michelle: You'll need to refer to your doctor for your specific questions. I had a good result, and I haven't taken any pain meds since the week after the surgery. I hope you have a good result like this too, but there is no getting around it that the surgery I described is major surgery. Any time they cut open your neck and carefully navigate nerve roots in order to excise disks and fuse the bones is "major" in my opinion.

      Good luck to you.

  2. Ben says:

    I have been struggling with neck pain and numbness within my neck and down my arm to my thumb and index finger, some days it so severe I feel sick. I went through physical thearpy, Acupunture and many differant medications. I curently take codine, it helps but only temporaily. I finally have an MRI scheduled next week and hope I get somewhere with these doctors. I also have been experiancing major body pain shoulder, mid back and upper chest. The doctor thinks it's Fibermayagia. Do you think this body pain could be coming from damaged nerves else where in my body?

    Thanks Ben

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Ben: I can only comment on my own experiences, because I'm not a doctor. Before my neck surgery, I experienced severe pain running down my left arm, as well as numbness in my left hand. I was told that happened because the pinch point (in my neck) affected a primary nerve that innervated that arm and hand. I also had pain running down my back and pain into my chest–these could also be somewhat severe at times. My doctor told me that the same pinched nerve branched off into these to areas well. My surgery relieved all of these pains, many of which had become a daily problem for months. I haven't taken a pain pill for almost a year, whereas before the surgery, I took two naproxen every day, and I was sometimes still in pain.

      Do check with your doctor about these symptoms. Good luck to you.

  3. kaye says:

    I am a 36 year old female. 3 years ago I was told that I have degenerative bone/disk disease. I had a lumbar fusion on L4 and L5 within 2 weeks of them finding the problem. Around 4 months ago, I started having pain and numbness in my left arm and hand. I went to my doctor and after many x rays, I was told that I have moderate to severe degeneration of C5 and C6, with spurring. I have searched the web looking for information that will help me understand exactly what is going on and what to expect. This is the most helpful article I have found thus far and I want to thank you for writing it. Recovery from my first surgery was horrific, as it was done outpatient. I am absolutely terrified this time. Perhaps it would help if I had someone to talk to who had been through something similar.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Kaye: Best of luck to you. I would ask your doctor for the name of a patient or two who has already gone through the procedure you are about to go through. We ex-patients love to talk about our surgeries! I'm glad that this article provided information that you found useful.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    This week's big news for me: My neck bones have completely fused. I am not restricted from engaging in any activities. What a difference from a year ago. Below, I'm attaching a photo of the recent x-ray (you can see the titanium hardware) and a photo of the happy healed patient standing next to Doctor Daniel Riew, my surgeon. What you can't see in these photos is my complete lack of back, arm and chest pain. You also can't see that my left hand is not almost completely functional (in fact, I am occasionally working as a musician again). I don't take any drugs at all for my neck-related pain. It's all amazing to me that I could be repaired this well. Thank you, Dr. Riew! He advised me that in the year since he performed my surgery, he has performed 300 more neck surgeries. That's a lot of pain relief.

    <img src="http://dangerousintersection.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/x-ray-june-2010.jpg&quot; alt="Xrays" />

    <img src="http://dangerousintersection.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/daniel-riew.jpg&quot; alt="Erich Vieth and Daniel Riew, M.D." />

  5. Jim Smallman says:

    Thank you for your article. I have scheduled the surgery in August. My main concern is with any fusion the disc surrounding the fusion are going to weaken over time and could possibly require surgery in the future. Did your doctor discuss this issue with you? Thanks

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Jim: Yes, my doctor and I did discuss this. It is a risk factor. I asked whether there is any way to predict failure of adjacent disks post-surgery. He said, "You know how old the failed disks are. The adjacent disks are exactly the same age." He said that it's like driving on an old tire. I might go and go, or someday you might have a sudden flat. You just don't know, but he did mention that fusion puts some addition stress on adjacent disks.

      On the other hand, I didn't like the idea of taking big doses of strong pain killers for the rest of my life. As I mentioned in the post, my back pain is non-existent. I've had some numbness and tingling in my left hand finger since the surgery–it's much less than it was pre-surgery. That problem comes and goes, but I'm still able to play the guitar professionally.

      I figured that I was willing to swing for a home run with the surgery, despite the risks. Everyone has different risk tolerances, of course, and you might well see things differently. If you proceed with the fusion, best of luck to you!

  6. Jim says:

    I had this exact same procedure to the "t". Same disk, same titanium HW. After surgery everything was awesome…. pain free aside from some post op normal stuff that went away rather quickly….2 weeks or so. My issue is that i am now starting to feel the same numbness, tingling, and pain that brought me in to begin with. It is certainly nothing like the acute issues that brought on the surgery but each day it gets slightly worse. I have read literally hundreds of posts about similar predicaments following this fusion but with zero resolution. My question to you is do you still have the numbness in your affected arm and did it ever get worse before it got better? My doctor said it was all normal but not for it to actually get worse. All MRI's check out. I am getting the feeling from my doctor that he feels his work is done and I am now on my own to figure out the lingering symptoms via pain management doctors, pt, medication, etc… I just really wanted to see if your numbness had actually gone away or at least gotten better with time and what you did to over come it. I am not taking meds, i am getting the recommended exercise but worry that if this keeps up I will be right back to where I started. Let me know and thanks!

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Jim: My back pain and chest pain, which were severe, are still gone. My arm is almost always pain free. These are huge pluses. I sometimes work as a musician, so my left hand numbness was a big deal to me. Since the surgery it got much better, though about 6 weeks ago, it suddenly felt more numb. I had another MRI and it shows that the disk I decided to not fuse (C4-C5) has gotten worse. This was a risk that was explained to me before the procedure. I am still in good shape, though it worries me that my left index finger is more numb than it used to be. If it gets worse, I might be willing to consider additional surgery.

      Side story: There is an FDA-approved artificial disk that insurance companies generally won't pay for. That would have allowed better movement than a fusion. If I need to have an additional level worked on, I would consider doing whatever is in my power to get that artificial disk, given that my doctor said that I was a perfect candidate for it.

  7. X.R. says:

    I had a cervical discectomy with fusion done in April of 2008. I was not aware that I had 2 herniated discs in my neck until the nerves were being pinched. I used to get shoulder pain but I thought it was because of the position I used to sleep in. The pain was random and would last for a week and go away for months. I first experienced numbness and slight tingling in the fingers of my right hand, then in my arm. A couple of months later I couldn't even hold a pen to write, my hand would cramp up. Then the numbness in my legs started, my balance was bad, the reflexes in my legs were hypersensitive. I couldn't walk up or down stairs normally. I had to walk up and down stairs like a baby. I couldn't walk more than a few step without losing the feeling in my lower legs. It was bad, and then I started getting this dull pain in the lower back of my head. When I went to the Dr. they took an MRI and admitted me to the hospital the same day. The surgeon told me if I didn't get the surgery eventually I would become paraplegic. It was a very scary experience, but my surgery was successful and I was walking normally right after recovery, the numbness in my legs was completely gone. C4-5, and C5-6 were replaced with bone grafts and I had a fusion with titanium plate and screws. I still have a little numbness in my right had but it is random. Some nerves do not heal completely if they were damaged badly. I can hold a pen and write again, which is great because I am a righty. I do experience a weird tingly sensation in my arm, on the outer top part near my elbow, but that is random as well. I have had so many people ask me what the scar on my neck is. Even though the incision was clean and healed well it is still visible. I hope that everything with you is well and you're able to fix the other disc, and you can continue with your music.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      X.R.: Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm doing fairly well at the moment, though pain and numbness in my left index finger and left arm comes and goes. I should make it clear that the problems I have today are only 10% of what they were before the surgery on good days, maybe 30% of what they were on bad days. I'm a long way from the days when my arm hurt so bad that it felt that it was on fire, when I couldn't ride a bicycle and where no pain medicine would relive any of the pain. Nerves don't like being crushed or compressed.

  8. Tim Hogan says:

    I had the same surgery in March 2009. My pain continues but, only at some 10-30% of previous highs. My mobility of arms and neck are much greater but, my neck still hurts sometimes and I am going to get that checked out. I use my lower body rotation to try to compensate for lost range of motion in my cervical spine. The pain in my hands and arms continues but, is intermittent and much less than before the surgery. Mobility is way up; pain is way down, the surgery was as advertised (so far!).

  9. Jim Razinha says:

    This is too easy – two attorneys, pains in the neck, there's a bad joke in the making…

    But, I'm glad surgery could help. I have arthritis in the strangest places, worst being the base joint of each of my thumbs. The joint deterioration causes varying degrees of pain. I saw an encouraging TED lecture by Kevin Stone on advances in immunology that allow animal tissue replacements from pig and cow ligaments, cartilage and tendons to be used in humans without rejection. (http://www.ted.com/talks/kevin_stone_the_bio_future_of_joint_replacement.html)

  10. Becki Westra says:

    I was wondering how the pain or lack thereof was progressing. I'm struggling w/ multiple levels of cervical herniations, and have just this past few days developed right arm pain that is absolutely unbelievably horrible and intense. I cannot use my right arm b/c of the pain and sleep is a thing of the past. My doc just ordered an MRI "stat" today, and I am weighing the odds on surgery as if this continues, I cannot function. What was your arm pain like? and was that the determining factor of your getting the surgery? Are you still glad you got it? Was it performed by a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon?

    HELP…I'm a nervous wreck….and a single mother of three.

  11. amy says:

    hi erich

    sept.2010 woke up with shoulder pain.found out have arthritis in c5 c6 causing pinched nerve. horible deltoid pain and now pressure especially when i cough. been through 2 epidurals,physical therapy and massages…not getting better and i am emotionally worn out! i am 41 with 3 active kids and super husband…but feel like an 85 year old! looking at possibel herniated disc since i have pain and pressure when i cough….i should stop all the other junk and just jump into the surgery …right?!?! i have had people tell me they had instant relief:)

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Amy: I'm not a doctor, and I would refer you to your doctor as to what to do in your case. I'm glad I had my surgery for the reasons I described, after going through various conservative approaches, much as you have done. What it came down for me is whether I wanted to pour lots of drugs through my system or whether I wanted to try to address the source of the pains. Good luck to you. If you haven't yet consulted with a surgeon, perhaps it's time you did in order to learn more about the risks and benefits of neck surgery.

  12. Erich Vieth says:

    Because of my neck surgery, my range of motion in my neck is a bit limited. That's why this man, who can turn his head 180 degrees, is my new hero.

    <object width="464" height="376" id="2059253" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" alt="Man Turns Head 180 Degrees Funny Videos"><param name="movie" value="http://embed.break.com/MjA1OTI1Mw=="></param><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://embed.break.com/MjA1OTI1Mw==&quot; type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowScriptAccess=always width="464" height="376"></embed></object><font size=1>Man Turns Head 180 Degrees – Watch more Funny Videos</font>

    • Richard says:

      Hi Erich, my recent experience with left arm pain had me at the doctor, this is where I reckon I landed on my feet. He arranged a CT, xray and ultrasound. He suspected a bulging (not herniated) C6 disk, so lucky me finding the right doctor at the right time. First visit to diagnosis was three days. Two weeks on, I’m getting stretched at the physio three times a week and I’m on anti-inflammatory pills. My arm pIn is more like discomfort, and only the thumb is tingly. Surgery was mentioned to me by my doctor but he’s fairly sure I’m at the lower end of the severity range and physio is all I should need. Like I said, the luckiest part was having a good doctor and now a good physio. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Erich and I’m pleased to hear of your recovery.

  13. Ruby says:

    My Dad had these symptoms, unfortunately it took the doctors a long time to figure out what was wrong with him.

    He now has surgery booked in three weeks, and is very much looking forward to the outcome- I, on the other hand, am nervous as hell.

    This post has really made me feel better.

    Thank you.

    R

  14. Chris says:

    Just had c5-6 fused after severe arm and finger pain. Doc Thomas lee did the surgery. I feel great pain gone after surgery had plate and screws put in, he said disc was totally damaged and I had large bone spurs. I don’t have to wear a collar trouble swallowing though, have full range of neck motion glad I had it done great neurosurgeon.

  15. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    My mother just had a similar surgey last week.She had lost the use of her right arm, making it difficult to drive.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Niklaus. It’s quite a shock that a problem in your neck can have such dramatic consequences way down in your arm until you see how thin those “major” nerves are. Since I had my problem, I’ve gone to the Body Worlds shows and marveled at how something so thin and delicate looking (truly, it looks like a thin string) as a nerve bundle can work at all.

  16. tom brown says:

    I am 52yrs old and I had a bone spur pinching a nerve at c5-6 and flatting at c6/7 my arms would go numb when I tired to sleep on either side,then my right shoulder would start hurting and I would take pain pills and it would not help whatsoever I would stay up all night in sever pain,I couldnt take it no longer 5 years of this was enough with my neck and my low back always being weak arms and legsand after surgery by Dr.David Makalip in st,pete fla I am no longer in severe pain in my arms and I can actually sleep without worrying if my arms are gonna go numb,now its just my lower back and my legs

  17. Vicky says:

    My husband had a car wreck and they want to do the same surgery on him as what they did on you … they say his nerves are pinched etweent eh c6 and c7 and that the disc has a lot of fluid around it. His pain right now i terrible and most nights can’t sleep or get comfortable. He already is wearing the collar because the wreck also fractured a bone on the c7. We are so nervous about making the decision to get the surgery because they can’t say that his pain will go away with it. But after reading all the post on this web site it has truly made us a little more at ease about the procedure. Car insurance I know will pay for a majority of the bills and will have to figure something else out for the rest as he has not been at his job long enough to have insurance. Thank you for posting your experience.

  18. Lance B says:

    Erich,

    Thanks for the great post. I’m having a 3 level (C4 through C7) disc removal and fusion in 2 weeks, with the bone grafts from my hip and the hardware screwed into the front of my vertebra.

    Like almost everyone who has posted here, I’ve got the tingling/numbness in my fingers/hands, throbbing right arm pain (triceps going into the forearms), pronounced loss of strength and pain in both deltoids, deep knots in the upper back / shoulders, and other weird pain points now and again (e.g. heels, side of my skull). I’m also just beginning to experience loss of strength in my legs, and all of the above has been occurring for just over a year now.

    I started with physical therapy and anti-inflammatories, and then proceeded to epidurals (2 rounds). The above did relieve my arm pain somewhat, but I still had neck pain and loss of strength. (I’ve since learned that the symptoms are caused by different issues within our physiology). The point is that the PT and epidurals helped a little, and for a very short time. Ultimately I concluded that something was very wrong and I consulted with 3 different surgeons.

    So, to emphasize Erich’s advice, my note to everyone who reads this post with similar symptoms is GO SEE A DOCTOR. THEN SEE TWO MORE. I have learned through consultations with multiple doctors that they each see and diagnose things differently, and often they have an agenda that is not in your best interest. For example, the pain doctor told me to avoid surgery at all cost while he recommended epidurals, pain meds, anti-inflammatories and a nerve numbing procedure. Conversely, and not surprisingly, the surgeons told me I needed surgery.

    The reality is that I need surgery – many people with our symptoms do. And as others have noted above, the longer you impact (read: damage) your nerves, the higher the risk of permanent loss of strength and even the ability to walk.

    Key point: dulling your symptoms with meds & epidurals can make you think you’re better when in fact you could be permanently damaging your nerves. That is horrifying, and from all that I’ve learned, I wouldn’t suggest continuing with pain treatment if you don’t have substantial lasting relief within 6 months.

    I’ll update this post in a few weeks after my surgery, but I wanted to help support Erich’s great post by echoing his thoughts and sharing my own learnings and experiences. Erich, thanks again.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Lance: Thank you for your comment. I agree with everything you’ve written. I’m still delighted with my outcome, but I agree that surgery is not for everyone. I also have been told that covering up symptoms can damage nerves. Good luck with your surgery. I look forward to your update.

    • Rhonda says:

      lanceb how did urs turn out? hospital stay, pt, recovery? tia

  19. G.SanAndres says:

    Had a MVA accident last march of 2011, I did have problems in my neck, also had a TMJ and left hip pain… I thought I was getting better but 10 months after my MVA ..I woke up with severe pain in my left back shoulder, left side of neck, pain behind my ear was worse, which was always there because of my tmj but it was worse that morning, anyways to make the story short, the pains run down to my left arms, and 4 of my fingers were completely numb as if it was hit by a hammer…

    my scan showed c-3 to c-7 with narrowing of the bones, and said that because of my ages there were some degenerative issues.. he also said that the MVA cause it to give me this pain and suffering now… i am schedule to see a neurosurgeon in SEPT. 2012…

    but as i have read some of you who already had the surgery still have some numbness and tingling.. I wonder if that would ever go away.. that is what i have now 24 hours pain , numbness and tingling in my neck,back shoulder and all the way to my left arms..4 fingers are completely numb , sometimes pain is worse sometimes pain can be dull with pain killers.. , i don’t know what to do, anymore i still have bad headaches and ringing in my ears..i feel nausea when ever i have a headache but my doctor says that’s from my TMJ .

    some of you who had the surgery who is now feeling better I am happy for all of you, but for me this is just the beginning of my more suffering and I am also looking forward to what the neuro surgeon would tell me.. just don’t know if I like the idea of surgery, I am always scared of surgery.

    my daily diet is now including the MOTRIN, TYLENOL 3, BEN GAY, ABSORBINE JR. and some analgesics PATCHES like SALONPAS.. and not to forget the electric heating pad.

    I wish that my life will go back to normal, it’s been over a year after my MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT (reckless driver hit my vehicle) and I am now a wreck… don’t know if i will ever be back to normal again… I am so losing hope now.

    • Nicky D says:

      I know exactly how u feel.. I had MVA in 2009 both shoulders hurt in accident not my fault either.. Rotator cuff tears in both shoulders & left neck pain that has never ever gone.. Had my right shoulder op on .. Took a year to recover (very depressing ) decided not going through the op on my left shoulder unless I have to.. Two months ago my arm hand fingers wrist became very painful and numbing also feeling of weakness.. Scan showed my tear in left shoulder much worse.. NOW I have this in my arm and hand.. OMG I feel so so depressed.. I work in a gov job and have not been able to return back to work.. I’m petrified of having my neck op on.. Shoulder was bad enough.. I to wish my life could back back to how it was.. I can seem to do anything without being in pain or just depressed.. What would happen if I don’t get nerves op on???

  20. DIANA says:

    YES I HAVE EXACTLY WHAT YOU HAVE YESTERDAY I WAS GETTING MY PHYICAL THEOP AND MY LET SRM WENT COMPLETLY DEAD AND I WAS IN SSO MUCJ PAIN THE ARM STATED SWELLING AND THE BACK OF MY HEAD STARTED BURNING,,,THEY CALLO THE DR AND I WAS TAKEING TO THE ER…THEY DID ANOTHER MRI THA SHOWS ALOT OF NORROWING IN THE CANAL OF THE NECK…DO YOU THINK IT IS TIME TO HAVE SURGEY,,,,

  21. Rhonda says:

    ive tried all the meds, pt, injections & now its time to go to a surgeon for his opinion…ive read what ev1 on here has posted & have found it very helpful…ive got all kinds of problems in my neck going on…5 of the 7 vertebrates has spurs(3mm), calcium build up, & bulging disc…along with mild stenosis…my left arm had been going numb & i had a pinched nerve in my elbow so had surgery for it & when that didnt relieve all the problems my dr did the mri & all of this was found…the dr who did my injections said i needed to talk with a surgeon for him to put a plate & screws in to relieve numbness in my arm…ive read several things online about this but wondering what is the hospital stay,pt time & in general recovery/overall success of this surgery…i will know more once i see surgeon but wanting some info on this before i go…thanks

  22. Tim Hogan says:

    Rhonda, I had C 5-6, C 6-7 fused and another disc removed on March 9, 2010. There are neck range of motion issues but, much less pain compared to before. I think the doctor worked a miracle. The doctor was at the Washington University Center for Advanced Medicine where Erich had his surgery—after mine. I saw other docs before the surgery and recommended it to Erich and others if a physician you trust recommends it. The scar on my neck is nearly invisible, the benefits of the surgery innumerable and thanks to my father-in-law, George Schillinger, who had the same surgery, for his recommendation to the doctor.

  23. Rhonda says:

    Ty tim…the more i read about this the more comfortable i am with this surgery….i have seen more ppl saying they got relief than not…the surgeon that im being referred to for this is suppose to be really good…the mri showed that c2 & c3 is the only vertebrates that doesnt have spurs, calcium build up, or bulging disc..still waiting to get the referral paperwork all done but should have appt set up in the next few days…they said there is usually a 2 month waiting to get in to this dr, so i hope he is that good..lol

  24. Mich says:

    In Jan. 2012 I had a fusion at c-5 c-6. After a few weeks the pain came back. Not real bad at first just a hit and miss type. Then the pain was much worse. A MRI was done…it showed that things were fine with the surgery. The pain was getting much worse, its every day and the pain is so intense, it makes it hard to breathe, talk and move. After a myelogram and ct they found bone spurs that are pinching off the nerve where the surgery was done. I have had all the injections and now they are doing another one in the surgery site. Has anyone had removal of bone spurs after a fusion. Most people make sure they have thier cell phone and car keys before they leave home….I make sure that I have enough pain meds.

  25. Beth says:

    I hurt my neck back in 1996. The night before (orthopaedic) surgery I met with the neurosurgeon who was to go in with the orthopaedic doing the surgery. He was surprised I was having my neck operated on. I would come out of the operation worse than I was standing there. He cancelled the (orthopaedics)operation for me. So I’ve had 16 years of a very active lifestyle.
    This spring a nerve was pinched suddenly. So after 3 epidurals not working I had surgery with a neurosurgeon.
    I am 6 weeks post op. ( 3 discs removed, cadaver bone filled in, and titanium hardware) I have gone from the Miami collar to a soft one. I am ready to wean off of that collar as well. I was so please to the results.
    Not the scar so much. But that’s the woman’s perspective. :0)
    I was told Orthopaedic is like a carpenter
    The Neurosurgeon is like an electrician.
    I went with who would be the best near my spinal cord!!!
    He also had a doctor that during the surgery monitored my nervous system to ensure that they did not do any nerve damage.
    Dr. Stephen Dante – Great Neurosurgeon in Philadelphia!!!

    • Erich Vieth says:

      I’ve glad that you had a good result. You obviously ask good questions when it comes to your health, and that is the most important thing to do, especially given that doctors often disagree with each other.

Leave a Reply


Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.