Herniated Cervical Disc Surgery Advice

In October '22 I herniated two cervical discs while attempting to learn archery. I thought it was a pulled muscle and treated it as such until I saw my Rheumy who ordered an xray and MRI. So I started taking IBU, rotated iced and heat, used lidocaine patches, pain medication until I could see a orthopedic spine doctor in early Feb '23. I started PT right after and it is going well but slow. I still have neck pain, stiffness, limited use of my left arm, and nerve pain in my left arm. I am considering surgery consisting of the PEEK artificial disc versus fusion.
Does anyone have advice, a personal story, or negative thoughts about spinal surgery?

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Hi @amielynn38, I don’t have cervical disc issues but I have battled with crippling L4/L5 and L5/S1 severely herniated discs. Sometimes a disc will bulge from a sneeze and other times from injury, lifting wrong or too much. Thing is, a protruding disc doesn’t always cause pain…many don’t even know they have herniated disc. That said, I have had at 3 rounds of steroid injection into the disc. Once was marvelous in getting me mobile one was useless and the other gave short term relief. My disc issues have more or less faded once I was on biologics…go figure! My 35 year old son suffered being bent over for a year and a half with a lower back disc herniation. With very targetted MRI they could see exactly where the pressure was on the nerve and did a partial discectomy…a trimming to get the disc off of the nerve. He is in the construction line of work and is 100% functioning. The relief was miraculous. I have heard from close friends that the route of artificial disc replacement was helpful but only 75% successful. It’s such a hard call and so much trust lies in the surgeon’s integrity. I think some of them approach something like this with a “go big or go home” way of thinking and do major surgery. I’m a minimalist and not a surgeon so I would see if your MRI is that specific to show that it is replacement or fusion as the only options. Under very experienced care, traction has been very helpful for some with disc herniation. My brother is (was) a physio and he told me that as we age, our discs sort of atrophy and become more leather-like and less prone to herniation. He saw very few patients in their 50’s and older with new spinal herniations. It seems to me that spinal disc replacement was pioneered in Germany. Ten years ago it was about $35K US, BIG DECISIONS! Lastly…how can you tell what is disc pain and what is PsA inflamation? All the best to you, I hope your solution is close!

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Thanks for your story.
The pain from my herniated discs that is causing me the most trouble is the pinched nerve that controls my left arm. If it was just isolated to my neck I could deal with it but the constant level 8 to 9 daily pain radiating down my left arm is unbearable. I have also loss some muscle and use of that arm. PT has helped but I still have take IBU and pain meds just to function. It has been 5 months of this. I feel done.

So sorry that you are in so much pain and truly hope you find the right and best solution… No one should have to live as you have described.

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I have to admit that I’m very intrigued by the idea of artificial disks,but don’t know enough about them. It’s one of those things where the technology is still relatively new, and I would wonder what happens twenty years down the line.

My mom has had fusions all over her spine, including her c-spine. What’s interesting is that it’s not particularly noticable that she is fused in so much of her spine, except when she’s trying to do things like turn to see another car when she’s driving. In other words, the impact on her functioning has not been extreme, and more importantly she doesn’t deal with that level of pain. Because of her age and other factors she did spend time in the hospital and then was moved to a rehab facility for maybe two or three weeks of intensive therapy following her back and neck surgeries.

It’s not an easy choice to make, and I don’t envy that you’re dealing with this. I had L4-L5 laminectomy/diskectomy done (twice) when I was 25. It was hard, but I also didn’t have kids yet.

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The artificial disc is made with PEEK material. I’ve read a number of journals and clinical studies to see it has a lower % of repeat surgery and complications. The material mimics the natural disc and moves with your neck.

I saw my doctor today and I have decided to proceed with the surgery which is scheduled for May. I will continue with PT at home and some light yoga to build strength and stay flexible. But after looking at my Xrays again the doc did not think that PT alone would fix the nerve pain. I’m not happy but I am hopeful. Maybe on the other side I will feel like myself again, and that is worth it :slight_smile:

That would be wonderful if you could return to better days

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I didn’t have psa at the time but I had traumatic rupture of c5&6 in 1991. I was at a horse show, unloading 100 lb bales of hay. I’m a nurse and female. Back then they did fusion of vertebrate. Mine C5,6,7. I was having severe neurological problems before surgery. I returned to nursing a month later. And to competitive dressage riding until 2000. I played golf and was active until psa forced me to retire at 63. Now that my psa is finally controlled I occasionally trail ride, compete in obedience and agility with my schnauzer and returned to sewing. I cook a lot as a hobby. Hang in there. It’s too early to make career decisions. Wait until your psa is responding to treatment. You may have to move to another medication,it’s too early to know. Make sure there is two way communication with your doctor.


Thank you so much for sharing this!

Hi, I had a bad accident which ended in having major surgery on my spine in 2011. However, in 2022 I had 4 collapsed disc that I had what is called the minuet man place in between to lift the disc back up. The best thing I ever had no more pain in my back. I do have severe arthritis in my neck so recently I had the nerves burned out also one of the best things to elevate my pain. Next, Im going to have the nerves on the tops of my feet burned out. Psoriatic arthritis really sucks it is causing so many problems within my body. I don’t understand how or why this happened to me. One minute I was on top of the world then over night and I mean over night when I woke up I couldn’t move my body for about 20 minutes. Two Weekes later it happened again. It took One year before it was discovered why my body was breaking down “Psoriatic arthritis.” Living my life a lot slower now one minute at a time. Meditation and lots of praying.