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Am I ready for cervical surgery?
Eight months ago a MRI revealed I have herniated discs pressing against C 4,5, 6 plus some less serious problems in C3. I have had serious neck pain until recently. Postponed my surgery due to recurrence of COPD resulting in breathing difficulties. The breathing situation has improved dramatically and once again, a different neurosurgeon strongly suggests that I undergo surgery.
WHY? I am in my late 60's and worried about this serius operation.
I have never had numbness or tingling in hands or feet; just that neck pain. Now I seem to have SCIATICA across my lower back.
This past month I have felt minor pains in my lower left or right sides in front. Since I had been taking so much medicine for COPD including steriod nebulizer and inhaler, antibiotics and anti inflammatory and pain killers for my neck. CAN THE STOMACH ACHING OR SCIATICA be related to the Cervical damages?


From what my sisters doctor told her when she had 5 level difficulties was that one major fall and she could be paralyzed. So at age 60 are you ready to take a chance of being a quadriplegic?


Hi, inajijicpat.

Modern techniques can really do wonders with discectomies these days. Are you ready to have that surgery? Well, that depends. I'm so sorry you have COPD, but how fantastic you've improved. (Yay!)

So, has anyone explained the disc removal procedure selected for you? I ask, because sometimes, believe it or not, in some cases, only a local anesthetic is needed and the discs are just sort of "sucked out" through a tiny incision. If two separate medical opinions haven't convinced you that you should have surgery on your neck, maybe, if you can, you should get a third opinion to help put your mind at ease about it.

I trust that if and when you decide on the surgery, beforehand, that you know to be sure to check the credentials of whomever's going to be performing the procedure, to be certain they're fully licensed and credited. Unfortunately, there are a lot of unscrupulous doctors out there.

In my area, a couple of years ago, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, posing as a General Surgeon, botched up, and destroyed the lives of over 100 patients. Credentials are everything, and nobody can be too careful. Everyone needs to always check with their state medical licensing boards whenever surgery is pending.

Have you only had an MRI of your cervical spine? I'm concerned, since you mentioned the other areas too.

That sounds like lumbar pain that you've described as being across your lower back. When my sciatic pain flares, it's a very deep searing-type pain within my hip, going down into my leg and foot, all the way into my big toe.

Have you checked all of the known side effects for the medications you're on, to see if stomach pains are related to them? My cervical damage never caused such things as you've mentioned.

When I was 42, I had an anterior corpectomy at C5, 6, and 7 with bone graft and plating, due to severe, longstanding cord compression from bone spurs. What was supposed to be a 1-2 hour surgery turned into 7 hours long, after the surgeon got in and found that I had to have bilateral foraminotomies at each of those levels (for nerve root compression) too.

My surgery was necessary to keep me from becoming a quadraplegic, because I was at a very high risk, but it didn't alleviate any of my symptoms because I'd had it for a couple of decades before I worsened to the point that I did. Like an id**t, I'd gone the Chiropractic route, and ignored MD's referrals to Neurosurgeons when I was young. I didn't want to miss any more work than I had to. Now, I'm forever paying for that mistake, and am disabled, but at least I'm better than what I could have been.

If you decide to have the surgery, while your COPD is so much improved (and, again, congratulations on that), I think doing it sooner, as opposed to later, would be a better option, because spine problems usually worsen with time.

Every region of my spine is compromised from degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis. All I have to use for pain relief is ice and elastic compression bandages.

I wish you the very best of luck, and do try not to worry about anything.


Please pardon my confusion, inajijicpat. I'd somehow overlooked the title concerning "anterior cervical corpectomy" and only noticed your mentioning "herniated discs pressing against C 4, 5, 6". The discs are between the vertebrae, C4, 5, 6, correct? With a corpectomy, the discs are removed, and the core parts of the vertebrae are taken out to decompress the spinal cord. I profusely apologize for misunderstanding. The pending surgery you are to have, is a more complicated procedure than what discectomies are. Has anyone explained the procedure to you?
It's more complicated, but many of them are successfully done all the time.


I had cervicle fusion of the C4/C5 and C5/C6 vertebrae due to an accident I had falling. My surgery was done in October 2005. My sypmtoms were tingling and numbness down my arms and hands and needle like pain across my shoulders. I also injured my lower lumbar and have numbness and pain across my lower back and painful sciatica constantly. I have not had surgery as of yet for my lower back.

I was also told if I didn't have the surgery that I could become paralyzed at the most minor of accidents. The levels that were fused were the areas that were most damaged. Since the surgery I have been relieved of the tingling and numbness down my arms and the pain across my shoulders. I feel the surgery was a success.

Since then I, as of January 2008, I have begun to experience constant pain in my neck extending down from right side of the base of my skull, neck and into my clavicle area. I also am having pain and weakness in my arm. I hope this has helped you in some way.