Cervical disk issue

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 02, 2013 1:32 PM GMT
    After 4 MRI's, GP appointments and finally a Neurologist I have been told I have a herniated disk at C4 and C5 that is putting pressure on my spinal cord. This was one of several things they were throwing around and is after loosing almost 60 lbs over 2 years through diet and training.
    I'm experiencing skin numbness and some loss of muscle control in my legs. It's been going on for about a year.
    The Neurologist says "good news, they can remove it!", and is making an appointment with the Neurosurgeon
    The Chiropractor told me to do exersises to try and move it back into place.
    Anyone else been through this or experience with a similar situation?
    The surgery wont be for some time I would imagine and can try the excersises while I am waiting.
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    Aug 02, 2013 1:54 PM GMT
    I work with a bunch of Neurosurgeons and I'm very sure that the surgery you will be going through is called an ACDF. It stands for Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion. Just about every patient I've come across who had this surgery said they were glad to have had it done. The success rate is high considering that the Neurosurgeon doing the procedure is really good.

    How big is the herniated disk? If the physicians are going to put you through surgery, then that means the disk is big enough to warrant removal. A Chiropractor telling you to do exercises to move it back into place is such a bad idea. Doing such a thing can put you at risk for more pain and more pressure on your spinal cord. Is the Chiropractor telling you that you won't need surgery if it's move back into place? If your goal is to stay fit by exercising, you need to go back to your doctor and ask what exercises are appropriate prior to surgery. And we're talking about exercises that will not make your disk worse.

    Otherwise, if your goal is to follow the advice of your Chiropractor, then good luck and hope it works out for you!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 02, 2013 2:03 PM GMT
    The excersises are basically bending your neck to regain the curvature, nothing too invasive. Not considering it in replacement of surgery I don't think.
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    Aug 02, 2013 4:45 PM GMT
    They basically told me not to exercise at this point.............icon_cry.gif
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    Aug 02, 2013 7:26 PM GMT
    I've had two ACDF surgeries...result of a bad mtn bike crash. The first repaired C5-T2, and the second surgery two years ago repaired C3-C5. The first was successful, but they told me at that time I'd need additional repairs. I had bone grafted from my hips in both surgeries; although it was more acceptable at time of second surgery to use donor bone, but I wanted the greatest percentages for good outcome so I went with my own bone. I lasted 10 years before needing the second fix and I'm really, really happy with the improved quality of life. I wouldn't go to the chiropractor any more if I were you. Good luck.
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    Aug 02, 2013 9:07 PM GMT
    Don't plan on seeing him anymore. Thanks for the input and well wishes.
    Do you find you can workout still?
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    Aug 03, 2013 9:56 PM GMT
    My last cervical reconstructive surgery really, really improved my quality of daily activities. I'm cycling at levels above any in the past 10 years. I still have troubles, but it's manageable. I don't do weight training; however I was told if I did not to do anything too excessive when lifting over the shoulders.
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    Aug 03, 2013 10:21 PM GMT

    I was diagnosed with C4-C5 and C5-C6 disc herniations in July of 2009 after developing acute weakness and numbness in the right arm after a workout. I saw an orthopod who recommended the ACDF procedure. I got a second opinion from a neurosurgeon, and he advocated conservative management with physical therapy. I opted for the physical therapy route and completed 8 weeks of treatment, which included neck traction sessions. The neck traction felt sooooo good, and they ordered me a home traction device which works really well. 4 years later, the only thing that never resolved is a mild residual numbness in my right thumb. I know I may need the surgery in the future, but I'm satisfied with waiting.

    W58351_01_Saunders-Cervical-Traction-Dev

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    Aug 04, 2013 12:04 PM GMT
    I've read all about conservative treatments before operating but no one has suggested this. I have been stretching 2 or 3 times a day. I like the thought of the traction. Perhaps the surgeon will have more insight.
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    Aug 05, 2013 11:29 AM GMT
    You definitely want to follow the conservative treatments until surgery is absolutely the last resort. I got through 10 years managing the problems before three discs finally let loose compressing my spinal cord. Do the PT, decompression exercises, and in my case also do the epidural injections. The injections alone got me another five years before needing surgery.

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    Aug 05, 2013 5:44 PM GMT
    Hospitalized for weeks with ruptured discs after a construction accident in the 80s, I interviewed people who got fused and decided instead on alternative therapy under the guidance the U of Miami's head of neurology.

    Rehab included swimming (I swam laps anyway), other back-specific exercises, light gym work, pelvic/chest traction (I think it was twice weekly but might have been every day for a while--was a long time ago so not sure now), electric stimulation and full body massage. I avoided surgery and chiropractic manipulation.

    At my worst I'd lost bowel control (constipation, not incontinence), I'd lost muscle control such that I couldn't run, walk without a limp, lift myself up on my toes, and the pain was excruciating.

    Given proper therapy, I've recovered to probably 90% or better, though I'm careful with moving my body, aware that the area has been injured, so not risking re-injury. I no longer ride horses, no activity on ice or snow, no butterfly stroke, I'm even careful to brace myself when I sneeze. But I'm 20plus years without pain (flairs up every so often, not a problem) and have only remnant numbness, a lost reflex I'll never miss and some range of motion issues.

    Though I'd imagine operations are now much more successful than when I was injured (& in part I was thinking back then that I'd rather wait for improvements), the people I'd interviewed were in way worse shape after their operations than they'd been in by injury alone. So I am prejudiced by that.

    If you lose bowel or bladder control, you might need an operation, otherwise many of us have fixed ourselves without cutting. If you do lose bladder control, don't let that go long or you risk not getting it back.
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    Aug 05, 2013 10:55 PM GMT
    I would highly suggest conservative measures, I.e. Physical therapy, before getting a discectomy or fusion or both in the cervical spine. Stretching won't really do much, and although cervical traction helps you feel good, evidence for long-term benefits is poor. Of course, I have not seen you MRIs to ascertain the radiographic extent of the herniation; however, I've had a bunch of patients with diffuse cervical herniations who improved significantly enough with PT to not have to undergo surgery. Big things I did with the patients included cervical stability exercises, postural reeducation, thoracic HVLAT, and some cervical manual therapy. For the more involved patients I used a combo of traction while on the arm ergometer as a warm up to PT. Not that this is generalizable to you.

    Again, this all depends on the extent of your herniation, what your physician and PT recommend, and the skill of the treating providers. In no way is what I said up there to be taken as medical advice. Simply giving examples of what could be done. And those heat packs or cold packs they may use on you in the clinic? Waste of time. Old school PT. You could be spending those 10-15 min on something beneficial. Has its place in some cases, but not all.

    A good thorough evaluation by a "good" PT may be beneficial.
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    Aug 08, 2013 11:46 AM GMT
    Thanks guys for the input icon_biggrin.gif
  • BAHBAA

    Posts: 122

    Aug 08, 2013 12:31 PM GMT


    I agree, surgery should be a last resort. I get the epidurals in my lower back and they are a huge help to me.
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    Aug 14, 2013 1:07 AM GMT
    I have a small herniation between C3-C4 and a pretty sever one between C5-C6 (spinal column goes form 11mm to 8mm at that point). Both with degeneration (arthritis). My neurosurgeon suggested chiropractic care and therapy. My first chiropractor of 4 years wasn't bad, but wasn't as good as I needed. I developed an unfortunate pressure point in my right shoulder blade last October from a hard check. I switch to a different chiropractic office. After a year it's almost gone.

    I go to a chiropractor every two weeks for adjustment, massage and e-stim on my neck and right shoulder. On occasion he will do traction as well. It all works well for me.

    Due to the herniation and pressure point, I occasionally experience pain down the right arm and my right thumb, index and middle fingers will go numb. Especialy if I had hard check or fall in a game or practice. It's just part of the condition.

    I do neck and rotator cuff type therapy exercises. These really have helped to keep things in alignment.

    I still play hockey once a week, practice twice a week and work out. I don't use pain meds. It's a manageable condition if you get the right group of physicians and therapists. I've even had two minor cases of whiplash from checks and my head hasn't fallen off.

    I hope you find the right team for care.
  • SportsRI

    Posts: 27

    Aug 14, 2013 1:13 AM GMT
    Hi

    I had a ruptured cervical disk a few years ago. I shared several of your symptoms. I received a series of epidural injections which was successful. My neurosurgeon said surgery was a last option. Email me if you would like to discuss further by phone.

    Jim
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    Aug 22, 2013 11:30 AM GMT
    Well, still haven't heard from the surgeon. Despite calling once a week.
    The Neurologist and my G.P say no to chiropractor. The Chiropractor says it's O.K to do adjustments.
    After calling every Physiotherapist in town finally found one willing to see me. She did some tests then said she would have to consult with her colleagues and would call me. After two days I called and they asked if I could come in for further assessment. They really don't want to touch me!
    Oh the frustration............!
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    Aug 22, 2013 11:42 AM GMT
    Exhaust all options before you submit to surgery. I had a herniated disk... 2/3?...pain for two-three months until the neck traction machine at PT. Never mind hand-pedalling or pulling on a red rubber band icon_rolleyes.gif At my second session with the cervical collar, I told them to crank it all the way up! Done.

    I was medically/insurance authorized for about eight more sessions but I cancelled the rest. Got a nasty call from PT...lol...back then it was $150/hour...
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    Aug 24, 2013 12:39 PM GMT
    Got to see the last MRI report:
    C1,C2 fused
    C2,C3 bulging disk with slight compression on spinal cord
    C3,C4 herniated disk bilaterally with moderate compression on cord and disk is dehydrated
    C4,C5 bulging again with slight compression on spinal cord
    C5,C6,C6,C7 normal
    Sounds like a mess to me. Got a call saying Neurosurgeon appointment will be Novemberish but not confirmed icon_rolleyes.gif
    There has to be something I can do in the meantime.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Aug 24, 2013 7:41 PM GMT
    Consumer Reports was doing a series on non-traditional medicine a while ago. In their article on chiropractic they concluded that it's utter quackery; no scientific basis whatsoever. Its history was a real eye opener.

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    Aug 24, 2013 8:04 PM GMT
    hockeyfwd saidI have a small herniation between C3-C4 and a pretty sever one between C5-C6 (spinal column goes form 11mm to 8mm at that point). Both with degeneration (arthritis). My neurosurgeon suggested chiropractic care and therapy. My first chiropractor of 4 years wasn't bad, but wasn't as good as I needed. I developed an unfortunate pressure point in my right shoulder blade last October from a hard check. I switch to a different chiropractic office. After a year it's almost gone.

    I go to a chiropractor every two weeks for adjustment, massage and e-stim on my neck and right shoulder. On occasion he will do traction as well. It all works well for me.

    Due to the herniation and pressure point, I occasionally experience pain down the right arm and my right thumb, index and middle fingers will go numb. Especialy if I had hard check or fall in a game or practice. It's just part of the condition.

    I do neck and rotator cuff type therapy exercises. These really have helped to keep things in alignment.

    I still play hockey once a week, practice twice a week and work out. I don't use pain meds. It's a manageable condition if you get the right group of physicians and therapists. I've even had two minor cases of whiplash from checks and my head hasn't fallen off.

    I hope you find the right team for care.


    You'll have to make your own decision (obviously) but I'm with this guy who says keep hunting for the right team of care professionals.

    Really while you're waiting, the only thing you can do is to keep educating yourself. Lots of PT's and sports med people have articles and YouTube videos on specific conditions. And you can continue to call/email people who you think might be able to help. I wonder if you'd have any luck contacting sports coaches (university level might be most approachable) to see if they have a recommendation of a PT or DC.

    Other ideas for right now: Tai Chi is gentle (there are videos from a company called Gaiam, and a book by Justin Stone and some forms of Yoga are (there's a hand yoga modality called Mudra and there are some websites and books about it.)

    Another thing to consider is acupuncture because it's noninvasive and won't cause you harm. I've had a great acupuncturist in two cities where I've lived. One charged less than $20 for an hour long appointment.

    If you stumble onto something or someone helpful during this time, then the delay might be a blessing in disguise. I'm hoping you will! Keep hunting for people and information!
  • madsexy

    Posts: 4843

    Aug 24, 2013 8:37 PM GMT
    The dad of one of my closest friends was almost incapacitated 12 years ago with a severe multiple-disk herniations. He has had two ACDF surgeries - they did the worst part first then after two years he went the rest of the way with the second surgery. He's like a new man. They have access to outstanding care, and they "shopped" with multiple opinions and approaches as it got worse at the beginning before finally having no other option but the surgery. But the immediate result was to be back on his feet again, without pain for the most part, but impaired as far as his endurance still and extremely limited in his ability to engage in physical activity. The non-surgical methods didn't resolve that, ergo the second surgery, which took him over the hump. He's in his late 50s, but he's back in the gym, has to watch the lifting which impacts his neck and shoulders, but he's running and lifting lightly for his upper body and heavily for his lower body and, generally, just has a totally new lease on life in the seven years since the last surgery.

    Best of luck to you.
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    Aug 26, 2013 10:42 PM GMT
    I too lost a lot of weight (80 lbs) but was diagnosed with a herniated C5-C6 in June. Symptoms started with pain in my right shoulder blade and progressed to shooting radicular pains down that arm, consistent with the arc of the golf swing which caused it. Thinking I knew best I tapered down my workouts but wound up aggravating it during yoga when squeezing my ears with my knees doing a plow. The neurologist advised that I get cortisone shots, avoid strain and in the near term go cold turkey exercising or I'd wind up like many of the weightlifters and runners he treats who played out all their options and only had surgery as an alternative. Since neck surgery is riskier than most I've been very conservative. I may have gained back 20 lbs but so what if that strategy's working. I've been greenlit to resume swimming and elliptical and in six weeks we'll see if I can resume weights. Transformation's much easier the second and third time around.

    It's frustrating but explore your alternatives and don't overdo - try to do what's most sensible for you.
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    Aug 27, 2013 10:11 AM GMT
    eagermuscle saidI too lost a lot of weight (80 lbs) but was diagnosed with a herniated C5-C6 in June. Symptoms started with pain in my right shoulder blade and progressed to shooting radicular pains down that arm, consistent with the arc of the golf swing which caused it. Thinking I knew best I tapered down my workouts but wound up aggravating it during yoga when squeezing my ears with my knees doing a plow. The neurologist advised that I get cortisone shots, avoid strain and in the near term go cold turkey exercising or I'd wind up like many of the weightlifters and runners he treats who played out all their options and only had surgery as an alternative. Since neck surgery is riskier than most I've been very conservative. I may have gained back 20 lbs but so what if that strategy's working. I've been greenlit to resume swimming and elliptical and in six weeks we'll see if I can resume weights. Transformation's much easier the second and third time around.

    It's frustrating but explore your alternatives and don't overdo - try to do what's most sensible for you.


    Thank you for that.
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    Aug 28, 2013 10:19 AM GMT
    I started back at the gym. Isolated machines only with very light weight and nothing over my head. It does feel better to be doing something and there is slight symptom relief.