Surgery - The Last Choice?

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Jim M
Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 47
   Posted 8/30/2010 8:46 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello everyone,

I have Degenerative Disc Disease along with arthritis and bone spurs in my neck.
For the past two years I have been treated successfully with pain medication, specifically OxyContin

Last month when I saw my primary care physician I had mentioned that my tolerance was building up.
I have never seen him like this, gave me a horrible look and told me to go see a neurosurgeon.
Then without saying another word he stormed out of the office apparently very angry at me.
He has been my doctor for about 15 years and this is the first time he has ever treated me like this.

I'm in the stages of setting up a consultation with a neurosurgeon at a hospital in a very bad part of town.
Since I'm on Medicaid, this hospital is really not a place you would want to have any type of surgery at.

Now here is my question:

Should surgery be considered as a last choice?

When I am treated with my medication I lead a fairly pain free life. Now of course, the pain is always there however my quality of life is quite good. On the other hand, without medication I am in constant pain.

If my pain can be managed with medication very well, shouldn't surgery be the last option?
I understand the more people that a surgeon operates on, the more money they make.
My gut feeling tells me not to have surgery as long as I can lead a normal life with the use of medication.

My dosage is 3 - 40MG OxyContin per day with 3 10/325 Percocet for breakthrough.

I have a feeling if I do not have surgery, my doctor is going to cut me off.
I have been a perfect patient! And now since my tolerance has built up, I am a worthless sack of s**t!

Thank you all for letting me vent my anxiety and frustration with this whole ordeal.

From everything I have read everything seems to say that surgery is the last resort when it comes to operating on the neck. The risks are high and once you have surgery there is no turning back.

May You All Have a Pain Free Day!


Screaming Eagle
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 5005
   Posted 8/30/2010 9:22 PM (GMT -6)   
Good Evening Jim!

OK! is the deal!....your going to get a lot of different answers here, and I imagine a few questions too! wink

First question is who has been prescribing you your pain meds to you? It sounds like it hasn't been your PCD (Primary Care Doctor)...a PM maybe?

There must be more to this story than I'm reading....did your PCD look at a recent MRI? and base his decision on this?

In a lot of cases I would say yes!.. surgery may be the last option a person may want to do, but it is not always the case. The problem with taking pain meds is that it can mask other health problems,
that one may not be aware of. Another thing that can happen, is that your condition may become much worse, and the damage can become irreversible.

If you have a bulging disk and it is rubbing on the spinal cord,...if it is not treated by either an Epidural to reduce the swelling or maybe another could actually suffer permanent damage.
This could happen all the while your taking medication for your pain, and think everything is OK, since your not in much pain.

Never ever, let anyone tell you to avoid surgery at all cost! (IMO) This advice could cost you dearly in the long run. (IMO)

Now if you have DDD and your disk are drying out, but not bulging against the Spinal Cord,...then yes you may indeed be able to go for a very long time, taking pain meds.

You're intake of Oxycontin and the Percocet is fairly high, and is pretty close to what I was on before my L4-L5, L5-S1 fusion.

Also the big question is!...will you still have pain after your surgery!....and the answer is we really don't know, but it is a possibility. The important thing is, that you may be mechanically fixed,
to where you will not suffer further damage to your Spine or Spinal Cord.

Have you had any Epidurals?....if not I'm a guessing you should have, before you were put on a pain management program.

I wish you the best, and please please to keep us up to date, as there are many of us with back problems here.

Lets see what the rest of the members have to say on this!

Take care!


Screaming Eagle
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 5005
   Posted 8/30/2010 9:54 PM (GMT -6)   
If I may reply to Under, I would be grateful! smilewinkgrin

Under, I hope they will be able to do the less evasive surgery called a Lapendectomy....I think I called it by it's right name!....where they can shave off a portion of the disk to relieve the impingement. OK it could be called a discectomy! I'm tired and it has been a long day for me as well. I'm willing to bet someone here is going to correct me! :) I'm starting to show my stupidity now! :) My intentions are the best though! :) But of course the right terminology might be pretty important! :)
Also if I had my choice, I would have a neurosurgeon do any kind of back surgery. I basically agree with you Under, and would avoid any kind of back surgery, but it just not may be the case for everyone.
I do not want to step on Opinion Toes here as I have a pretty healthy respect for all members here.

Good luck to you Under, and like I ask of Jim, please do keep us posted on what happens.

Take care! wink

Post Edited (Screaming Eagle) : 8/30/2010 10:06:03 PM (GMT-6)

Screaming Eagle
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 5005
   Posted 8/30/2010 10:10 PM (GMT -6)   
Jim, I just now realized that you were talking about your neck. I had lumbar surgery, and I know that one of our Moderators is an expert on the neck Fusion Surgery's

Lets hope that he will see this post, as he has written lengthy, but very informative information on this. I would feel much better if he commented on your post here.

Until he hopefully shows up, I will take a look for it and see if we can provide you with a link there.

SE wink

Screaming Eagle
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 5005
   Posted 8/30/2010 10:17 PM (GMT -6)   
OK!....I think I found one of the links that I was talking about. Feel free to read it several times! [img]/community/emoticons/wink.gif[/img]

I still would rather WB visit with you here, but until he shows up this may help, and should be some good reading for you.


Dani or Chutz or anyone!....I don't know how to make the link hot, so Jim can just click on it. Can you help here? :)
Jim, if you can, just copy and paste the link to your address bar, and the link will take you there.


 Hope that helps *warm huggs* dani

Post Edited By Moderator (Dani Henson) : 8/30/2010 10:38:26 PM (GMT-6)

Screaming Eagle
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 5005
   Posted 8/31/2010 8:44 AM (GMT -6)   


   Good morning Jim M!

     I wanted to add that, always get a second opinion if at all possible. Many of the members will advise you to do this.

     Wishing you well!


     SE wink

Jim M
Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 47
   Posted 8/31/2010 11:20 AM (GMT -6)   
Thank you all so very much for all of your replies!

I have read them all and will take all of your advice with me.
I will take my new MRI film to the neurosurgeon and just go ahead and play the game.

If he tells me I need surgery I Will Get a Second Opinion.

People in chronic pain would be excellent hula hoop instructors because of all of the loops and hoops we have to jump through.

Screaming Eagle: a special thank you for all of your posts as well as a very good morning to you as well.
I'll keep you all informed as to what happens.

God bless you all in my prayers are all with you

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