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Old 03-13-2006, 01:29 PM   #1
Elliot Royce
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I have a C5/6 and C6/7 disk herniation which has not cleared up over the past 2 years. The pain in the neck is certainly tolerable but I am experiencing weakened left arm muscles. My left bicep is 1" smaller than my right, and an EMG (nerve test) shows chronic nerve irritation. The surgeon recommends surgery but I'm wondering whether anyone else has dealt with this. The surgeon said that the vigorous workouts I do are keeping my left arm muscles from atrophying.

Advice would be very welcome! This is a no win type of choice.
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Old 03-13-2006, 02:22 PM   #2
Ben Kaminski
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Hopefully by surgery you mean something non-invasive like a microendoscopic discectomy. Fusions are a barbaric practice that I liken to chiseling a hole in your skull to let demons out. I think with a non-invasive procedure your outlook would be quite positive, though I am in no way qualified to make that statement. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 03-13-2006, 08:15 PM   #3
Andrew G. Greenberg
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PLEASE do not let the doctor cut you until you have read the first three chapters of PAIN FREE by Pete Egoscue. PLEASE read this book, its in the library.
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Old 03-13-2006, 10:18 PM   #4
Elliot Royce
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Ben - unfortunately the microdiscectomy would be insufficient given how herniated I am. The choice is between a foraminotomy which would relieve the pressure on the arm nerves and thereby preserve muscle in the long term or a 2 level fusion which would "solve" the problem completely. I know fusion has a bad name but my surgeon has done 2000+ surgeries and is head of his hospital's dept. Having said that, I am still reluctant.

Andrew - I do have the book and did about 5 sessions of Egoscue training. It's quite useful and I wish I had done it 20 years ago when all the postural imbalances started. However, it has not removed the herniation. I've done 2 spinal epidurals, 2 forms of chiropractic, PT, acupuncture, massage, ART, etc.

At this point, I think I'm stuck with it. I could live with the neck pain until there is an artificial cervical disk approved by insurance but the nerve/muscle damage to my left arm is disturbing.

Thanks for any further advice!
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Old 03-14-2006, 04:38 AM   #5
Fiona Muxlow
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Elliot

My grappling coach herniated then ruptured, i think it was his C4/C5, back in 1999 or 2000. He had fusion, he went for two days before the rupture was discoverd, he had lost the use of his arm and was in a heap of pain, they actually sent an amblance to collect him from the physiotherapst. Surgery was the only option for him, they found peices of his disk in places it shouldn't have been. Some how I get the idea that yours is not so serious.
I know he had some serious atrophy in his arm and tricep,as a result of the injury but now you couldn't tell. His arm is still a little weeker than the other , but seeing that he fought professional MMA since having the surgery, you could say it worked for him.
Im not saying you should get surgery, just letting you know thats sometimes its is needed, and is for the best.
All the best
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:08 AM   #6
William Hunter
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Elliot, it would appear that you've done all your homework and have a good grasp of your situation. It also appears that you're in a bad spot, with fewer options than you'd like.

While attending Chiropractic school we were taught that fusion surgery was a clear expression of evil in this world. 10 years ago I would have echoed Ben's statements verbatim.

For the last 2 years I've worked with a neurosurgeon and you know what, he's not such a bad guy (really freaking smart too). We have a lot of patients that we exhaust all conservative measures with a multidisciplinary approach (chiro, pt, esi's etc.) before they end up in surgery. For many, surgery (even fusion) is a life saving event. Unfortunately, many others end up back with us b/c they're still in pain (usually axial pain vs. radicular). The ones that ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS do the best are the ones who keep active, keep working out. I think Fiona's story is a perfect example of this. There are many others that were a physical disaster before surgery, then they expect the surgery to transform them into a buff 18 year old. Not gonna happen.

Anyway, from your posts I think you've got the right attitude towards this. Whatever decision you make it will be well informed.

Good luck.
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:10 AM   #7
Steven Stackpole
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Elliot
My vote is for the surgery
I tackled a tree head on downhilling.
Herniation in the L 4 region. Similar symptoms to you, only in the left leg. Got a cortisone shot, it worked for a while. Things went bad again. Had the surgery. Lumbar laminectomy.
Roughly 2 yrs ago I think, give or take a few months, pain free since. A slight tingling in my left leg, occasionally, barely noticable.
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:13 AM   #8
Steven Stackpole
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Just caught your post William.
Excellent advice!

If you were a wreck before the surgery, nothing will fix you.
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Old 03-14-2006, 06:20 AM   #9
William Hunter
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Wow! Steveo, you've had surgery?!?

I would say, Steve would have to be the poster-child (I mean Man-child) of success following surgery. From the pics he's posted, there's not a whole lot of atrophy going on.
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Old 03-14-2006, 09:32 AM   #10
Steven Stackpole
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Thanks Will
I was "fit", kinda, before my crash, so that certainly helped my recovery time after the surgery. My left leg is still noticably smaller than my right. I don't really notice any strength differences though. Really, it just looks a little more "cut" than my right. (though I hate using that term)
Anyway, I'm more than happy with my progress since starting crossfit. I went from never really having looked at a weight, to now, being on the verge of a double bodyweight deadlift, at 260lbs. Slightly over a year.
Before starting crossfitting, weight lifting of any sort was the complete antithesis of everything I worked toward.


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