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20 Dec 2004

Neck Disc Degeneration
Hi Doc,

I'm looking for some advice on Fusion/Disc replacement in the C5/C6 (and possibly also the C4/C5) vertebrae of the neck. I have symptoms (numb fingers, neck/shoulder and arm pain) which was confirmed with x-rays and MRI as a problem with the disc which is pressing on the nerve. I also had further tests which confirmed that no permanent damage has been done to the nerves. I was advised to have a disc fusion by the surgeons that I have consulted. Since then I have heared of disc replacement. This was not mentioned by my surgeons. Is the disc replacement an option for the neck region or is the fusion the better procedure?
After taking it easy (ie no contact sports, wearing a soft neck brace during my time in front of the computer and whilst sleeping etc.) for a couple of months my syptoms have diminished to the extent that the surgeon has said that the operation is not required for now. He has advised me to continue 'taking it easy' and to monitor my condition. If the symptoms degenerate again I will need to consider having the op. Is it probable that my condition will worsen (ie it will not heal itself) and is there a possiblity that I may do some permanent damage if I do not have the op (immediately or when/if the symptoms worsen)?

Thanks for the info.
PS - I am in my late 30's
Answer 410 views

01 Jan 0001

JohnO, unfortunately these kind of things usually don’t heal, but if you take care of your neck it might still be a long time before you need the operation.
As far as alternatives to fusion are concerned, I have one patient that had a “replacement” and she is very happy. There is a lot going on in the spinal surgery market at the moment and IMO waiting before you have the operation would be the best option. Good luck.
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