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C4,C5,C6 Fusion/Discectomy Surgery - HELP!

Started by edged on 03/09/2010 11:31pm

I'm scheduled for this surgery April 2. I've seen an Orthopedic Surgeon and a Neurosurgeon - both agree that this surgery is necessary.

I have not been in an accident - there was nothing obvious to cause this; it's clear from X-ray and MRI that C5 is collapsed, C4 through C1 completely straight. I have numb fingers and numbness and tingling down my arm, but no arm pain. Neither doctor has said that the surgery will completely remedy the pain; they have agreed that arm and finger numbness will go away.

If I was just dealing with numbness, I wouldn't have this surgery. So I am looking for information/feedback from others who have had similar symptoms and the surgery - to hear about outcomes and what recovery looked/felt like.

Do you find this discussion helpful?

34 Responses


Thanks for responding Bonnie it means ALOT.
Was yours degenerative? I'm wondering about future sx above and below. What pain did you experience prior and what did it remedy, do you have ANY pain now that requires meds? I know just one more I'm sorry, working, do you work? If so are you able to lift if I it's required?
Thanks again for your time and help Bonnie


Denise, I had herniated discs along with degenerative disk disease. Like you, I had tried all sorts of non-surgical treatments for several years, but nothing helped much. Then the pain got worse, with numbness and tingling in fingers of my right hand. I had terrible, stabbing pain between my shoulder blades, as well as a sharp pain in my rib cage on the right when I breathed. Headaches daily! My chiropractor referred me to a physiatrist who ordered an MRI and EMG. Within a week after that I was in dreadful pain (9 out of 10), and she sent me to the ER. She arranged for a neurosurgeon to see me at the hospital. He took one look at my MRI and said I needed to have surgery. I was in the hospital two days with "intractable pain." Then sent home on muscle relaxers and pain meds, while I arranged for the surgery. A few weeks later, I had the two-level discectomy and fusion. While I was in Recovery, the doc asked me if I still had the hand numbness and tingling - I was surprised that it was gone!

My surgeon did warn me that having this fusion would increase the chances of needing more surgery above or below. Since I didn't really have any options to reduce my pain, I took the risk!

There's a lot of discomfort from the surgery. You'll need to take your pain meds regularly and muscle relaxers for a few weeks, or longer. Nerves takes quite a while to heal and recover from being compressed, so don't expect instant all-over relief!

Recovery is slow, but I could see definite improvement with each month post-op. I went back to work (office job) at 12 weeks with the only restriction not to try and lift over 80 lbs! Going back was no problem, though I was pretty tired for a couple of more weeks.

By that time, I was taking only Tylenol and muscle relaxers (at night). By 12 mos., I was probably 90% pain-free. By 18 mos., I was having no pain at all and a great feeling of stability! I still don't lift over 30 lbs. (I'm 64 and don't really need to!)

I hope this is helpful as you consider surgery. Everyone is different, but I am so glad I had it!


I am going to have in two months posterior cervical laminectomy and fusion in three levels. I am terrified. The outcome is not good.
I have been told I have 50% chance of being in more pain for the rest of my life. I am going to Johns Hopkins for surgery.