Surgery & c5/6 foraminal stenosis

Posted , 22 users are following.

Hi all.

I'm new to all this so please bear with me.

I've recently been diagnosed with cervical stenosis with intermittant radiculopathy. I've seen a neurological surgeon who said if they operate it would deal with the tingling in my arm but not the pain in my neck, shoulder, arm and back. The pain is my main problem as its really affecting my life. He seemed to give very little solution to the pain. I'm on gabapentin, amiteiptaline, cocodamol etc but these are having little effe t. Does anyone know if surgery could cure the pain? If there is a cure I would rather look into it than continuing in pain and on pills that aren't working.

Any feedback would be hugely appreciated as I'm at a loss as what to

Thanks Lori x

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74 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Lori:  Sorry to hear about your diagnosis and pain problems.  Is the pain constant or intermittent?  Is it aggravated by cold climate, physical or emotional stress, or all of the above?  How long have you had this condition?  Do you have other trauma or related injuries, such as whiplash or falls?

    I got the same diagnosis as you in October.  I did not have as good a palette of medications as you describe, but do take Tylenol or NSAIDs, Tramadol (as needed, Hydrocodone (5/325) as needed, muscle relaxers (Methocarbomal aka Robaxin, or SPZM, an herbal formula), lorazepam for anxiety as needed, and Ambien for sleeping issues when the pain keeps me awake at night.  I also used an inflatable cervical traction unit I found on Amazon that costs $30 US (Instapark brand, Amazon part B00573S4KI).  It helped a lot at first.  I also have an inversion table, too, but it does not seem to help with issues related to C5-C6, but is great for lumbar and mid-back issues.

    Spent hundreds of dollars to get a new mattress and pillow and then went through mattress pads on Amazon trying to get one that did not aggravate my symptoms.  Finally got there after several tries.  Sleep is that important, IMHO.

    I am getting a little better since my peak symptoms in October, but the pain is more chronic, so I would personally disrecommend surgery unless your pain is constant and unbearable.  This was the recommendation of the two best neurosurgeons in Florida for me - I went to both, as I had good insurance.

    Everything helped some, including the sterioid injection in my cervical spine, but what helped me the most was ACCUPUNCTURE.  I have now had about 21 sessions.  I started with sessions 2 times per week, then reduces it to 1 x per week.  Insurance paid for the first 15.  After the very first session, I only had about 4 hours of pain relief.  But it was 4 hours of real relief... 8 hours after the 2nd and 3rd, but it got more consistent after that, like peeling layers of a pain onion, if you will. 

    It does not make the bone spur or the stenosis go away, so physical activity, which was almost impossible before, is now possible but then aggravates my condition.  So, I now go to the accupuncturist one time per week to manage my chronic symptoms.  And, I try to take a muscle relaxer every night before I go to bed, as I find that reduces my symptoms.

    If you dont have a good accupuncturist in your area, then I would suggest deep tissue massage therapy instead, starting at 2X/week, focusing on the upper back and neck.  Again, think "pain and spasm onion".

    If your pain is constant and intolerable, then I would suggest you try the cortizone injection or accupuncture or deep tissue massage therapy  BEFORE surgery.   Surgery is not always the best option for this problem, as about 35% get no relief or more pain afterwards.  Given that, it makes sense to try everthing but surgery unless the pain is unbearable.  

    In my case the surgical option was remove the disc and either replace it with an artificial one or fuse the two vertabrae together.  If I am faced with that choice in the near future, I would opt for the artificial disc first, as you can always get a fusion if that does not work, but once fused, there is no other option.

    I even asked, "cant you just go in there with a laser and get rid of the bone spurs"?  The answer was "no" - that works for the lumbar region, but not for the cervical spine.

    There is this little known treatment, which is an alternative therapy, available here in Florida and the US, called PROLOTHERAPY, where they inject the affected areas of your cervical spine with an irritant to cause it to heal from injury, but even though it is available in my area, I am not sure of its effectiveness; most insurance companies wont pay the thousands required for the multiple treatments, and it requires 10 or more treatments, across a couple of months.  

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  • Posted

    I sent you a lengthy post.  No links in it, with loads of helpful suggestions.  yet, for some reason, even though I have been a member of this forum for weeks now, and no links were in the post, it still got routed to the moderator.

    Can someone explain why this is the case?

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    • Posted

      Hi j91297. I was diagnosed with cervical sponynosis my question is i had a sprain in my left shoulder 2013.job related. i was complaing but the doctors never seem to care only consintrating on my left shoulder now my right shouder has tears as well compinsating for left shoulder i wonder if my neck issue's are related from my left shoulder accident in 2013?

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  • Posted

    Hi Lori

    THere are 2 or 3 different types of surgery which they employ for stenosis.  Mostly they are concerned with stabilising the vertebrae with fixings whioch ultimately restrict movement.  There's no guarantee of pain relief because there's no way of predicting how the neck will react post-surgery.  I believe,  but I could be wrong,  that a 50% to 70% success rate is claimed.  However,  sometimes the beneficial effects are only temporary,  and the same issues can start reappearing within a year.  I was offered surgery ,  but I declined because of the unpredictability.  However, that option is still available if needed (open appointment at Neuro Hosp ).  I have found that the C/S condition changes itself,  and sometimes symptoms improve,  but again,  that's also unpredictable.

    Perhaps something to bear in mind is that surgery cannot be undone,  so whatever the outcome,  that must be managed.  My choice has been to stick with the symptoms I'm used to rather than take a chance on new symptoms appearing,  but it's different for everyone , and it's a difficult decision to have to make.  One thing I was particularly aware of was that I didn't want to resent having made a bad decision.if surgical outcomes were not favourable.

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    • Posted

      Hi Gerry. I read your post and had a couple questions for you.

      1) what is the threshold where a surgeon will operate to fix spinal stenosis?

      2) what are your symptoms of spinal stenosis?

      Mine are....

      C6-C7: There is disc desiccation and broad-based disc bulge. There are

      bilateral uncovertebral joint hypertrophy and moderate neural foraminal

      stenosis. Compression on exiting bilateral C7 nerve roots are possible.

      C7-T1: Facet joint hypertrophy bilaterally.



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  • Posted

    hi Lori, I too have the same thing as you and I too am a member of the closed facebook group Cervical Spondylosis Support Site, it's been a godsend, good luck hunny x
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    • Posted

      Hi Angela, I was curious about the closed FB site you referenced? Just curious as I am currently sitting in my car, just leaving my pain management group in tears! Is anyone welcome to join that group? I have severe back problems and feel I'm getting nowhere with my doctors! sad I just spent 60 full copay to only see the nurse of my doc. Haven't seen him since Aug!sad my MAIN problem is lumbar, however just received my cervical results and for 5 month's of begging for pain relief all I get is "you'll need to speak with the doctor about that", yet he's in surgery today and hasn't been available to speak with me, as I said before, for 5 month's! Hope to hear back from you. I didn't know if anyone could join the support group you mentioned or if I needed to already know someone to send an invite? Thank you in advance for your time! !smile

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    • Posted

      I belong to a Facebook support group called 'Cervical Myelopathy Support Group, ACDF, All Spine and Muscle Conditions' it has over 1,400 members who have the same lumbar and cervical issues - anyone can join and it is a closed group so only you and members can see the posts. Hope you are feelijg better 

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  • Posted

    yes Gerry I'm in agreement I think I'd rather try and manage what I have rather than have surgery and make matters worse....
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    • Posted

      Seems the safer choice,  unless the symptoms are unbearable.  Also seems the service providers can lessen their sense of engagement by turning it into a lottery of difficult choices for us.  Basically,  I think there's a point where,  perhaps because of their lack of focussed investigation of C/S,  they only feel comfortable when they have handed the problem back to us for decision making....and I understand that approach because I'm aware of how their hands are tied by a lack of good research and proven methods of treatment.  The reluctance to delve deeper into the dynamics of C/S has always been a sore point with me.  I've read the research,  and it's 99% inconclusive because they always only test the treatments on offer,  rather than think 'Well, that doesn't seem to work.  Maybe we should try a new approach'.  Far as I'm concerned,  professionalism should mean knowing everything about your subject matter,  and not overlooking any possible solutions.  Rant, rant  rant !

      Perhaps the biggest sense of unfairness to come out of it,  particularly in regard to the 'choice' issue raised on this thread is....if we don't opt for the recommended treatment because of the risks (which seems like a sensible thing to do ),  are we then being nudged out of the care system by virtue of having made a 'possibly' good choice.  Some little 'catch 22' stuff going on in that set up !

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