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bone spurs and disc degeneration in cervical area - options?

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  • bone spurs and disc degeneration in cervical area - options?

    I've had neck pain and headaches for the past decade, although not continuously. Recently the neck pain worsened and I started to get pain and involuntary muscle spasms down my right arm, with some numbness in the fingers. I also was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danos Syndrome earlier in the year. I had an MRI and they found 3 5mm bone spurs (osteophytes) in the cervical area, plus some disc degeneration. I also have some disc degeneration and annular tears in the lumbar area. I'm only 42, so young for this degree of degeneration, but it may be due to the EDS, although I'm sure my history of high impact sports doesn't help (martial arts, eventing). The doctor I've been seeing doesn't do surgery, and he wants to do epidural steroid injections to see if that helps. We've already tried several types of medication, including Lyrica, nortripyline, Savella (helped some, but bad side effects). We've also tried trigger point injections. He said many surgeons would operate on me, but he wouldn't recommend it. I probably will get a second opinion from a neurosurgeon, although surgery makes me nervous. I've seen some doctors have done PRP injections in this area, and there is some stem cell type injections that have been done, but thus far in the lumbar area. I've been doing Pilates based physical therapy, which as helped with the lower back pain, but not the neck. Chiropractic is contraindicated with the EDS and the bone spurs. Anyone with experience with this type of problem?

  • #2
    Except for the EDS you sound like me.

    I had surgery last Fri. Intervertebral Diskectomy and Spinal Fusion. C5-6, C6-7. I believe I exhausted all alternatives before surgery. I've always had a consistent work out program. Not over the top, but along with riding almost everyday, and yard work, I think I stayed pretty fit. Like you, I've had neck pain for years but it got really bad last summer. Extreme nerve pain in my left arm, numbness in my fingers, severe pain under my left shoulder blade.

    Starting last Sep. I had a series of epidural injections, saw a PT, a Chiropractor and Accupuncturist. The epidural injections (series of 3 2 weeks apart) gave relief for 3-4 days. The Chiro fired me after 2 visits. Said he couldn't help and I should see a Neurosurgeon. PT just gave me exercises to do at home and they were similar to what I was already doing. After the 2nd visit to the Accupuncturist I felt worse, so didn't go back.

    I did see a Neurosugeon in Nov. and he treated me like a hypochondriac. I've never been so upset with a health care professional in my life! It was 4months and several excrutiating episodes later before I finally went to another Neuro. He reccommended surgery, but I did get a 2nd opinion (I don't count that 1st a-hole) and they totally agreed with each other. I also had a myelogram before they made a final decision.

    Fast forward to now. I don't have the nerve pain in my arm, but still have pain (although not severe) under my shoulder blade and still have the numbness in my fingers. Along with that I, of course, have the pain that comes from the surgery. My doctor said the shoulder pain and finger numbness will take a couple of months to subside. S O told me to lighten up, I'm expecting too much, too fast, and I'm sure he's right. It's just very difficult for active people like us to sit around and do NOTHING. Gives you a lot of time to feel sorry for yourself

    I wish I could tell you I woke up and felt like a new woman, but not yet. I'll get back to you in a few weeks

    Oh, and BTW, 1st (good) surgeon I saw thinks the injections are totally worthless. The other Dr. said he thinks they are more successful for lower back problems.
    "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George


    • #3
      Scary I know, but can be worth it!

      I had this surgery in 2003.A discectomy and spinal fusion with titanium plate a c5-c-6.I had exhausted all other options as well, with YEARS of trying. Mri's showed minimal damage. But when my arm started the involuntarly movement thing my orth sent me straight away to a neurosurgeon. They did surgery within 3 weeks. ANd I have to say, I wish I had gotten them to do it 10 years earlier.It was sooo much better right away, not completely gone mind you, but bearable. and it did take awhile for the numbness to go away in the arm and fingers.I did HAVE TO change alot of things about my lifestyle afterwards. No more lifting things over 20 lbs. which I do on occassion,(shhh!, don't tel DH) and I had to sell my horse.Because he was a strong horse, and the pulling put too much stress on my neck, so does pulling weeds...I did not ride for years, but have started again, even started my 2 young horses who are both comfortable, but very soft in the bridle and I can ride them all day long( I don't, but I COULD, and that's the point!) I am even jumping up to 3' again, not sure I can get back up higher to were I was, but maybe I am too old for that now anyway, we will see. I am 48 now and had the surgery at age 40, so younger than you.My surgeon said that once they got in there to do the surgery things looked much worse than indicated on the MRI. I look at it this way,you have lived with this pain for x number of years and it has obviously affected your quality of life. You have tried every other therapy available with little success.You are the one in pain, pain is a symptom.There is obviously something wrong. I was always told that surgeons don't want to do this type of surgery because it will weaken the discs above and below the one they fix. There is truth in that...but have readjusted my life since the surgery to accomodate that from not happening for as long as possible. I told my surgeon, horses and farm life are not something I do, it is who I am, and without it I might as well be dead. So do what you can and I will do the same..I have not been disappointed.Yes, I still have pain, but NOTHING LIKE before!Find the best possible surgeon that specializes in neck surgeries, get their opinion, weigh your options and go from there. But for me, it was the best decision I could have made...I wish you lots of luck and a rather pain free future!!!