SpineUniverse Community Advice
Get help and share your story with others who know what you're going through.
Please register or log in to join the discussions!

Doctor says I'll be paralyzed if I don't get acdf surgery C3 to C7 what are my options I'm terrified any clinical trials any help reading this MRI details please I need to be scared into having this surgery second opinion anyting

Started by Aoprabreaux on 06/11/2018 4:32am

Hello I'm a 51 year old female that got diagnosed with cervical stenosis on December 7th 2015 . I've always been very athletic with a cheerleader in high school Ram truck love to snow ski ride roller coasters horses . Once I got this diagnosis my whole world changed . I have a husband no children I live in the south now for 23 years not originally from here . No connection no real support system except for my husband. Father mourning the loss of his wife sister in Florida this is a major surgery my doctor says if I do not get the surgery I will become paralyzed . I've been seeing him since I was diagnosed neurosurgeon he's giving me pain medicine I see him every 3 months we don't talk much he just asked me how my pain is it's very episodic so it comes and goes . When I first told my neurologist about some symptoms I was having a thought I was crazy. First red flag for me . You would think that if your a neurosurgeon or a neurologist you would automatically now that's just my opinion when I said I had the most excruciating pain traveling from my shoulders all the way down to my hands for about 30 to 45 minutes started maybe 15 years ago I've had three or four episodes like that where I hurting more than any other pain I've ever felt nerve pains the worst. The only thing I can imagine it must have been when my disc herniated and cervical spinal fluid irritated my nerves. But, I'm no doctor however, there were about three or four doctors in my family so that's what I'm here for. I need help I need to know what this means. I have researched and I'm confused my doctor doesn't talk to me he just asked me how my pain is ask me if I'm having any problems walking which I have fallen twice on my head. Actually I've gone 3 times the first time I fell on my head well I won't get into that. Anyway I fell at work and hit my knee fell on some very slippery very greasy pina colada mixed. Bartender anyway I love my job even though I was bullied on a daily basis because I was on FMLA. The worst thing ever. People can't see your disability which I have not applied for yet probably cuz I wanted to work I feel like if I apply on it's over. So that everything I own just to survive. Afraid everyday that I will become paralyzed but I'm scared to death of this surgery something inside of me just doesn't want to have it. I don't feel comfortable I think it's barbaric there's got to be another way they want to do anterior cervical decompression with Fusion I think you said a corpectomy a laminectomy he's going to go in through the front as well as the back and get out the bone spurs he's going to use a cadaver bone not my own bone and then make a cage with some sort of a back door thing he talked about make a cage eight titanium screws and rods he says that I will only be in bed for maybe couple weeks find that hard to believe. I'm not sure if my photo came out it's my MRI and it's pretty horrible. I don't know what any of this stuff means I also know that he allows the interns to do the surgeries. That doesn't sit well with me my stepmom and father have a plaque a kidney transplant. My father gives to various Charities 30000 to the diabetes juvenile diabetes he gives to Children's Hospitals. What, he tells me not to get the surgery he says the doctor only wants to cut he says it's hereditary my grandmother had it and I have it I don't know about my sister. I remember getting an x-ray a long time ago and they said that my x-ray was funny because everyone else is neck curves this way while yours curves that way didn't act like it was a big deal. This doctor tells me I'll become paralyzed I have episodic episodes I couldn't stand on my right leg for more than 3 minutes I would run from the bed to the coffee to the bathroom back to the bed for about a month I had my back locked up and went to sleep woke up at 3 in the morning was paralyzed couldn't move. Had to wait go get injections and I just want to know if there's any other kind of treatments are there any clinical trials I suppose what I'm saying is I figured that since the way I grew up I didn't think that my father would allow me to be all alone making this decision but he is in his morning and I understand but, I feel alone. Now all I have is Medicaid I wanted to make my Mark I thought I would do something I can't even get a job I've been blackballed and it's really scary trusting people where I live that being said I just want any advice I want to know what exactly will happen the intern is the one that told me something about my diaphragm that I would stop breathing I know is it's e v C3 one of those I just want to know what each and every nerves root where it's at attached what are the things I'm going to feel like for instance I have not been able to button buttons I couldn't tie a bow behind my back it's like my brain just couldn't connect that am I going to have a stroke am I going to lose oxygen blood to my brain I want to know these things so I can be scared into having the surgery I want to know the specifics each and every specific I want to know if there any clinical trials Maybe I just think that my body would really be messed up if I got surgery I feel like I've been with it this long and I'm finding it hard to believe that I'm going to be paralyzed. I feel like if you take all those bone spurs out that basically my brain sent down make more calcium we need more calcium here it's going to throw everything off and it'll be a domino effect doesn't make sense to me I've never even heard of this surgery. I watched a show called doctor and and it really open my eyes. I don't expect you to solve this I will not hold you responsible I would just like to know what my MRI tells you. Thank you have a wonderful day.
spine cervical without contrast M48:02 Technique IV contrast: none Sagittal T1 Sagetal t2, Sagittal STIR, axial T1 axial t2-weighted images of the cervical spine. Reference exams 12 7 2015 MRI cervical spine 5/8/2018 Findings: MRI cervical spine visualize skull bases intact. Reversal of the normal cervical lordosis with Apex at C5 C2 to C3 no significant spinal canal narrowing. Mild facet hypertrophy. Mild right neural foraminal narrowing C3 C4 grade 1 interior spondylolisthesis. Right side hypertrophy. Mild spinal canal narrowing. Moderate right neural foraminal narrowing. C4 C5 grade 1 anterior spondylothesis. Mild moderate asymmetric disc osteophyte complex, larger on the right, deforming the ventral right spinal cord. Moderate severe right neural foraminal narrowing period relating primarily to uncinate hypertrophy. C5- C6 grade 1 retrolisthesis.. mild moderate broad-based disc stripe complex effacement of the thecal sac and compression of the spinal cord. Mild moderate right neural foraminal narrowing. moderate severe left neural foraminal narrowing. bilateral uncinate hypertrophy. C6 C7 grade 1 retrolisthesis. Mild broad-based disc osteophyte complex, abutting the ventral spinal cord. Moderate bilateral neural foraminal narrowing. C7- T1 no significant spinal canal narrowing no significant neural foraminal narrowing Findings there is a reversal of the normal cervical curvature similar to the prior exam. 2 mm anterolisthesis of c3 on c4, 3mm anterolisthesis of c3 on c5, and 4mm retrolothesis of c5 on c6 all appears similar compared to the prior MRI. Associated Vance disc space narrowing at C5 C6 and C6 C7 with moderate disc space narrowing present at C4 C5 are also unchanged. Flexi on an extension views are included. Demonstrating no abnormal motion the dens and lateral masses are intact and normally align soft tissues are normal .

Do you find this discussion helpful?

3 Responses


I have all the conditions you had and not once was I told I would be paralyzed. I have had fusion and laminectomy from 3,4,5,6,7. Surgery in both front and back neck. My hands still go numb, have arm pain and unbearable pain in my neck still. First get rid of this doctor, find one who knows what the hell he is doing. Second, try physical therapy first, injections second, and surgery if these don't work. There are no guarantees, scarring after surgery can cause problems also. Look, the most important thing you could do is find a skill full surgeon, not one recommend by friends, do your research.


Hi there! I am so sorry that you are going through all of this pain and misery! I agree with Totes. Go get another opinion. Go see another surgeon, and I would recommend a chiropractor. I have similar issues to you..I have two herniated discs in my C3 and C7 that have been pushing on a nerve. I also have spinal stenosis, which, I learned from my surgeon is very common. If your doctors or anyone else is trying to scare you in to surgery, it's time to get rid of them. I can tell you first hand, by my own surgeon and listening to pain Specialists that I went to last Summer, a good surgeon will TALK you out of surgery. Pain specialists will talk you in to it. Now, if you've tried everything and nothing has worked and you find a good surgeon and advises that surgery may be necessary, then that is something to think about. It just depends on the status of your condition, your history and what the outcome can be. Keep me posted!


Hello Totes, I am so very sorry to hear that another person is going through what I have gone through. I'm am not responding to make things worse for you but in hopes to relieve some of your stress. Reading your post sounded much like myself. Hopefully I can give you some insight that will help you.
I have been very active all of my growing up years. Ridden horses from the time I could walk, and still do (my passion)cheerleading & all sports in school.
Married, 3 children later at 37 I was having great pain my left arm into my fingers, thumb & no strength. The pain was so terrific I thought I may be having a heart attack. Went to ER. XRAYS, MRI showed a pulverized disc at 5/6. I had no choice I was taken to surgery. They fixed the disc with cadaver bone, titanium bracket and I awoke with absolutely no pain going down my arm. Good thing. But bad thing was surgeons showed me I have other bulging discs that eventually they will probably need to be repaired in the future. 5 years later disc 4/5 & 6/7 ruptured. Above and below ruptured completely, Again terrible pain. Same procedure but only now I was fussed from 4 to 7. I have lived a fairly pain free life for the next 15 years until this March, pain in left shoulder down my arm. Xrays, MRI cat scan showed now I had ruptured 3/4 and screws of hardware loosening. Same dr suggests surgery to fix from 3 to 7 in front a new titanium plate and this time bracket with screws and rods in back for stability. I had this surgery Aug 9th . I am recovering. I admit it's taking a much longer time to recover compared to the other two surgeries but to be expected because it's two separate surgeries. It was a very long surgical procedure 6 plus hours. My throat was much more sore and recovery from behind my neck much more intense. I'm doing physical therapy and it is helping tremendously. I'm getting stronger daily. It's been 3 months now and I am being released to go back to work, office work part time. I am Not sorry that I got it fixed. Dr said probably will not need any other surgeries because other discs look good.
I just turned 59 years old and I do not plan on slowing down anymore than I have to. Yes right now I have muscle pain but its nothing compared to nerve pain. And as I said I feel improvement daily.
Now with all that said. I know I wouldn't have wanted to live with the horrible pain I was having. My life had stopped. I couldn't work , I couldn't enjoy my family or ride my horses. So I felt I had no choice if I wanted to have any kind of life again. I will work hard to get my range of motion back. I'm happy.
One very important thing and advice I can tell you is that the FEAR was the worst about the whole situation and procedures. I scared myself. Fear of fear is our worst enemy. It didn't matter that I had been down this road before I was petrified. It didn't get easier , it got worse. But hear me: These drs know what they are doing. They literally do thousands yearly. They are professionals. And this surgery I see and hear are so common now days.
I had to look to God to help me snap out of the FEAR and trust in him. As I was going under just before my sleep I kept saying " I trust you lord". I was in good hands. Mental attitudes can say a lot for your health & healing. I was very challenged to say the least, I lost my sweet sweet momma 1 week before surgery as well. I'm still struggling, my heart aches but that too I'm asking for strength in the lord to get me through.
One positive thing too I would like to mention is my operation nurse who was preparing me for surgery told me not to be afraid. And reason to have faith is she had this very exact same surgery and was doing fantastic. I hope this helps. Don't give up. Don't live with pain which ruins what good years you have left. Find a terrific surgeon, 2nd and 3rd opinion if that helps you to decide. Thank you for listening.