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Health & Medical UnderGround >> Bad C5-C6 Herniation Q & A please


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10/15/04 4:11 PM
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BUFFGEO
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Edited: 15-Oct-04
Member Since: 01/01/2001
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I just got diagnosede with:

C5-C6: Large right sided disc protrusion and herniation with spinal cord displasment and extension into the foramen. Mild central canal narrowing at theis level with AP diamiter minimum at 7mm. The left exit foramen is un-remarkable.

The great thing about living in the Denver, Co area is that iI have access to some of the best sports medicine guys around. My Neuro dude (Dave Schneider), Has worked with the Lakers and Dodgers and has a NFL Linebacker or Defensive end in his office monthly on this very type of thing. He is known as a conservitive doctor but when he saw my MRI he just came right out and said I'm going to need surgery!

 He's not pushing it at all but said he honestly doesnt think this is going to get better on its own. He gave it an 8 out of 10 for worst herniations he's seen!

What he wants to do is go in my neck thru the front, remove the disc and herniation, replace it with a carbon fiber disc, and fuse C5 and C6 with a plate on the front.

He actually said its really common and that he's done it countless times to pro level athaletes who are at the top of there game today.

He very positive that by 6 months ill be back to were i was and he also mentioned that the C5-C6 is responsible for very small amount of neck movement anyway (like less that 2% i think he said) so a fusion here will not even be really noticable.

Again, he is very familiar with top level athaletes including wrestling and he even knows about BJJ

The time line he gave was: Hard collar for 6 weeks - weights/cardio at 2 months - i could take blows to the head (boxing) at 4 months but he wants a good 5-6 months before people are throwing me around by my head at competition level and speed.

Thank you for reading this long ass thread and does anyone think this is an UNREALISTIC description please let me know.

I have to say I believe this guy... I f anyone feels I SHOULDN'T, again please let me know

I'm in a hurry because IF this is the right route i want to start it right away so Ill have the collar off before Christmas!! LOL

Thanks in advance

George

if anyone wants to e-mail a response send it to:

George_andersch@yahoo.com

10/15/04 4:29 PM
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GaryG
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Edited: 15-Oct-04
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Ill post to keep this thread up. I had surgery 4 years ago. Not the same procedure, I think I had a discectomy (s/p)C5-C6. It ended my BJJ and Boxing days. Severly limited my lifting. Howardo, a doc on this forum has the same problem and can give better insight than I. Wish you the best of luck and keep us posted.
10/15/04 4:34 PM
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howardo
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Edited: 15-Oct-04
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I had same injury, not quite as severe. Improved without surgery, but I have permanent tricep weakness and avoid combat sports. The danger is permanent nerve damage, if it is on the cord it can be dangerous. I would get a second opinion before surgery, but based on the mri report posted, it sounds like surgery is likely. Good luck, I sometimes wish that I had just had the surgery and got it over with already
10/15/04 5:02 PM
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GaryG
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Edited: 15-Oct-04
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Howardo I had nerve damage which caused weakness/ loss of strength in my left tricep (about 90%), and alot of pain. Through time, vioxx, and PT type lifting before and after surgery I was able to regain most but not all the strength I lost. I still have numbness, loss of feeling in my left hand if I lift doing the wrong exercises. I was told by the Dr that did the surgery not to continue BJJ & boxing because the chance of re-injury was highly likely. If re-injury is going to mean permanent severe weakness, loss of strength then no way am I going to risk that. Would replacing the disc with an artificial one make it "good as new" so to speak? What are your thoughts on the artificial disks? Basically with a new disk could people with our type of injury resume training? Thanks for your help. P.S. I sometimes shadow box and hit the heavy bag but man it just aint the same as training live.
10/15/04 5:14 PM
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BUFFGEO
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Edited: 15-Oct-04 05:16 PM
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Thanks guys, He says he does this to to NFL Linebackers and DEF ends all time and they come back strong! And we all know those guys make a career out of 'Leading with there head!' so to speak.

Several doctors told me it would take about a year of nerve impingment before it would become permanant weekness in the muscle.

Of course due to liability reasons he cant say this is a 100% sure thing, but he's pretty damn confident

I dont know... im nervous !

10/15/04 5:23 PM
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BUFFGEO
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Edited: 15-Oct-04
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Oh, and GaryG,

 I didnt get a detail on the carbon fiber disk. I just assumed it was to keep the proper spacing in the vertabre... but thats a question I will bring up with him.

I would dare say nothing will make it "good as new", but like he explaned to me the C5-C6 is not responsible for much movement in the neck anyway... so a fuse there would not be that big a deal.

thats what he said anyways

10/15/04 6:14 PM
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howardo
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Edited: 15-Oct-04
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GaryG God, sounds just like me, word for word. I did not have the surgery, but I believe you are correct in that reinjury is a real possibility. Nothing like loss of the triceps and constant arm numbness to take the desire out of you. If you are a pro athlete, and it is your livlihood, then I would take the chance but otherwise,no BUFFGEO: I believe that a nerve impingement can cause permanent damage in just a few weeks. A year sounds inaccurate to me. From experience, my disc caused 90% triceps loss(like Gary) within 2-3 weeks of injury, and took at least a year to get most of it back, and 2 year s later, it is still weaker than the other arm. By the way, I started to box again, but I agree that unless you can spar it is not the same, and it was not worth it. After my injury and having to give up BJJ and boxing, I went through a serious depression.
10/15/04 7:06 PM
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GaryG
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Edited: 15-Oct-04
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Thanks Howardo and BGeo. I'm not a pro athlete (hell I don’t even qualify as a mediocre amateur) so when evaluating the potential risks of permanent re-injury it’s kept me off the mats. Struggled with depression myself but I actually got inspiration from people with health issues far, far worse than mine. They were able to face their challenges with courage. It’s occasionally (not always) stopped me from feeling sorry for myself. Still trying to find a half intelligent way to get back into training. Kind of a hope springs eternal thing blah, blah, blah. Bgeo, my doc told me the longer you want to eliminate the impingement the greater the chance of permanent damage, his thought was try PT first (2-3 months), if that doesn’t fix it, then surgery. I had surgery 8 months after the date of injury, but in hindsight I'd have done it sooner. I think you've got a great advantage over my circumstances because my Doc wasn’t a sports Doc. I do think it would be important to get a second opinion and go with whoever your most comfortable with. Best of luck to you both
10/16/04 7:26 PM
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BUFFGEO
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Edited: 16-Oct-04
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Thank you very much guys, your opinions and experience mean alot
10/18/04 12:44 AM
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BUFFGEO
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Edited: 18-Oct-04
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ttt
10/18/04 12:05 PM
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BUFFGEO
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Edited: 18-Oct-04
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Well, for anyone who is interested I work up this morning in agony! I was suppossed to see my doc again in 2 1/2 weeks to let him know what I decided on surgery or not... But I cant take it. I'm going there right now!
10/18/04 12:59 PM
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GaryG
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Edited: 18-Oct-04
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My Doc gave me vioxx to reduce swelling and it helped with the pain. There may be other anti inflammitorys your Doc could prescribe. I chose the discectomy over the fuse because the procedure for the discectomy is to trim the part of the herniated disc away from the nerve thats being impinged. I was told a fused disk will create a spot of reduced flexibility in the neck, thereby putting additional strain on the neck above and below the fused section. At the time of my surgery I was told an artificial disk was not available in the U.S. A piece of bone would have been used. Not sure I made the right choice but I tried to make the best decision with information I had at the time. Anyway good luck and hope you make a full recovery
10/18/04 1:14 PM
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GaryG
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Edited: 18-Oct-04
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More info FWIW http://www.spine.org/articles/spinalfusion.cfm
10/18/04 8:15 PM
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narcopuppy
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Edited: 18-Oct-04
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I had C6/7 fused about 5 weeks ago. Like Buffgeo, it was impinging on spinal cord and foramen on rt side. Major loss of muscle mass/strength in rt tricep and chest along with pain and tingling. Fused with cadaver bone and plate. Immediately post surgery pain/numbness/tingling went away and hasn't returned. No collar, but can't turn head until released by doc. Follow up is day after tomorrow to see if I can resume "normal" activity. Doc said no more competition, and probably permanently lost some muscle mass. I intend to continue training, though. Artificial discs are considered experimental. I would imagine that the carbon fiber will eventually be removed by your body and replaced with bone resulting in fusion. There is no point in an artificial disc with plating, because there will be no mobility at that level. The plate holds everything together until fusion takes place.
10/18/04 8:20 PM
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narcopuppy
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Edited: 18-Oct-04
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As for recovery, I was up and walking a few hours post-surgery. Released from hosp next day. Returned to work after one week on light (office) duty. Started driving after 2 weeks. Been walking 3-4 miles a day. Will be able to begin light cardio and weight training this week if released by doc (at 5 1/2 weeks)
10/18/04 9:36 PM
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BUFFGEO
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Edited: 18-Oct-04 11:21 PM
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The doc wasnt in today but I have an appointment at 2pm with him tomorrow.

I really appreciate everyones post and alot of what was said here WILL be questions tomorrow

narcopuppy, I will conferm what im about to say tomorrow but the way I understood it is that the fiber disk is better than the bone fusion BECAUSE the bone wont grow together. Maybe i was mistaken but ill get back with you tomorrow on that.

Keep me posted tho, i'd be interested to follow your progress

GaryG, thats a good article and thanks for the input... its a little old tho (2000)

10/19/04 7:18 PM
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BUFFGEO
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Edited: 19-Oct-04 07:18 PM
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Ok I just got back from my appointments and im waiting to hear back from them with a day and time to get this over with

Some of the answers from the above questions are:

The fake disk last forever. its hollow (like a ring or a washer) and they put bone graft material in the center and it fuses like that. its 100 times stonger than the old bone fusion.

Since they are fusing only one space and the rest of my neck is "exceptionally healthy for my age and activity level" (his words), The motion restrictionn will be 3% or 4% tops. It  does put greater load on the disks 1 up and 1 down. But I'm aware of that and should be able to adjust accordingly.

And the Biggie: He said he sees no reason whatsoever that in 5-6 months i can do everything I did before at competition level

Recovery timeline im looking at is what I originally posted minus the hard collar... he said soft collar for 3 weeks

 

10/19/04 8:23 PM
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narcopuppy
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Edited: 19-Oct-04
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Sounds like good news... The reason I was told to avoid future head trauma is because I have another asymtomatic disc bulge at C3/4 and all kinds of bone spurs. The doc said my C spine looks like a 70 year old man's, lol. Oddly enough, I've always had a large/muscular neck. Had thoracic MRI at the same time, and it was fine. I'll post tomorrow if I'm released from light duty and get to work out.
10/20/04 9:13 AM
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GaryG
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Edited: 20-Oct-04
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Thats great news. Keep us posted.
10/21/04 8:56 PM
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narcopuppy
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Edited: 21-Oct-04
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Well, did first weight training last night. Used about 50% normal weight. Felt like I could've used more on everything other than chest. Best part, no pain. I'm stoked to get in shape again. Going to run tonight.
10/22/04 4:12 PM
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rvboy
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Edited: 22-Oct-04
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Good to hear! Keep up the good work.
10/22/04 6:13 PM
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BUFFGEO
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Edited: 22-Oct-04
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awsome, i would say take you time and come back right... dont push it, ya got the rest of your life to get strong again

and for an update on me: My surgery is scheduled Nov. 10. its the soonest they could get... wish it could have been sooner!

Good news is they FINALLY gave me percocet! it was almost 3 weeks with no meds and the pain was killer!!!! felt good actually sleeping for once!

10/22/04 6:16 PM
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BUFFGEO
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Edited: 22-Oct-04
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On a motivational note: Talk to Renzo Gracie last night (he's in town doing a seminar at my place that ill not be able to partake in now damn it!)

Anyway, he said in his typical Renzo attitude" No problem man!, I know plenty people that got that... there fine! no worries!"

LOL

10/22/04 7:14 PM
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narcopuppy
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Edited: 22-Oct-04
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Ran last night. Did 2 miles in about 20 minutes. I was pretty happy w/ it considering how long I've been laid up. Buff- glad you got some meds. I suffered for 5 months w/ just tylenol pre surgery. Best of luck to the rest of the members of the gimp club...
10/23/04 10:11 AM
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GaryG
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Edited: 23-Oct-04
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ttt
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