Cervical Herniated Disc Story

I'm 46 and dealing with a recent recurrence of cervical disc problems. About 6 years ago, I was struck with horrible pain resulting from a sudden "snap" in my neck. I had suffered neck burning and pain on and off for years, along with mid upper arm pain for years, but always briefly. This time the pain intensified and became unbearable. I described it as a steamroller rolling back and forth over my arm.

The course of treatment went as follows: multiple narcotics (didn't work), x-ray (showed arthritis), physical therapy (not good/not bad), 25 chiropractic treatments (felt great at the moment, but later realized they were exacerbating the injury).

After almost 3 months of this, we finally got an MRI. What was thought to be arthritis was actually a herniated disc c5-c6. I then went to a neurosurgeon, who suggested surgery. He prescribed a Medrol pack and Percocet (yeah, much relief). I believe the surgery was a microdiscectomy from my memory, but not positive.

I planned the surgery for mid May of 2004 and treated the neck area with ice and took Tylenol. Within a week I experienced almost complete relief of pain, numbness and weakness. I cancelled the surgery.

In the past 6 years, I had 3 full term pregnancies and no recurrence of the issues. I've had small bouts of pain, but nothing that isn't usually cured with ice and Tylenol until a few months ago.

We've had 4ft of snow this winter and stupidly, I shoveled a lot of it. That coupled with a lot of stress and my neck pain came back in a bad way. I also know that I'm connecting the dots, that I've been experiencing some balance, grip and gait problems for some months.

The main issue I have is cycling arm pain (both, mainly right), loss of grip, leg weakness (both, mainly right) and overall weakness causing movement problems. I have stronger days than others.

I had two days in bed, due to lower back spasms (sort of a new symptom). During the past few weeks, I've done a steroid pack, started physical therapy, had cervical and lumbar MRIs and saw the neurosurgeon again.

I still don't know exactly what the radiology report says, but the neurologist "strongly" suggests a discectomy with fusion surgery. I just got off the phone with the primary's office and they spoke to me about paralysis. So, I'm a little freaked.

The main issue I have, though, is that I'm not in a tremendous amount of pain. It is mostly discomfort and tingling and in my mind, it is evolving forward. I don't have total feeling back, and throughout the day the sensations change, but I feel that I may get back to what I had over the past 6 years of relative pain-free  and sensation-free living.

I really support internet patient forums and want to thank you in advance. I participate in a fertility support group and have done so for almost 8 years. Your page reminds me of this.

If it were not for finding patients like myself when I was trying to conceive my children, they would not be here. If I listened to the medical specialists, I would have had unnecessary, costly surgery, been pumped full of dangerous fertility drugs and statistically had very little success. Instead, I took a mind-body-spirit approach and conceived all 3 naturally.

This spine surgery advice and techniques I am receiving from the medical community seem incredibly similar. I don't want to cut and bolt metal to my body, if it is not absolutely beneficial. Am I being naïve? If this disc herniation is hitting my spinal cord, is it dangerous? Is this surgery critical? Any advice would be appreciated.

- Missy

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