Welcome to the Back and Neck Community. Members are here to provide assistance and support to individuals experiencing symptoms related to possible abnormal conditions of the cervical and/or lumbar spine. Advice given is non-professional and is based primarily on personal experiences. Please post on the Expert Forum if additional medical advice is needed and one of the medical doctors will assist you as appropriate.
I am sorry to hear of your current health problems. If the herniated disc at C6-C7 was confirmed by MRI, your doctor can visualize the extent of nerve involvement (ie how much the nerve is compressed and if there is any involvement of the spinal cord itself)
Although you are experiencing muscle weakness in addition to the numbness and tingling in your fingers, the risk of permanent damage is more related to the length of time the nerve has been compromised. The goal of any surgery is to relieve the compression and allow the nerve to recover.
Any time a fusion is done, you are increasing the risk of damage to the discs located above the fusion as they will take up the stress of spinal movement that the fused discs can no longer handle. This produces the potential need for additional surgery at a later date. Most neurosurgeons and/or orthopedic spine specialists elect to do the more conservative treatment that is anticipated to relieve pressure on the nerve. If there is no evidence of spinal cord involvement and the nerve root is the only area being pinched, a laminoforaminotomy could be very successful in relieving your pain without significant residuals or permanent damage.
I am three weeks postop anterior cervical discectomy and fusion C4-C7 due to significant degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, nerve root compression, multiple disc herniations and spinal cord involvement. Fusion at three levels was my only option.
I am glad to report that my surgery was a complete success and all of my pain and numbness was gone within three hours of the surgery. My recovery continues to progress well.
Any decision regarding surgery is very personal. Ask as many questions as arise to determine your best options. The risk of further surgery being needed is something to pursue with your treating physician. You also have the opportunity to obtain a second opinion prior to consenting to any surgical intervention.
Please post back with your progress and any other questions/concerns you may have.
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