On the morning of October 23, 2012 I awoke to a stiff neck, attributing this to sleeping the wrong way. I went out for my normal run that morning, but the stiff neck didn't improve. Over the next several weeks the stiff neck turned into neck pain, left shoulder pain, left forearm pain, left thumb numbness and left arm weakness.
I continue to run my normal training routine under the control of my running coach. Running with neck pain, shoulder pain, numbness and arm weakness was not very enjoyable.
On November 18, 2012, while in substantial pain, I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon. I continued to run and race in pain and discomfort. I was running 35 to 40 miles per week.
I finally went to my PCP on November 21, 2012, and she recommended PT. I was going to PT twice a week as well as seeing an Acupuncturist 3 times a week, but the pain was getting worse and no OTC pain relievers were working.
I stopped running all together on December 10, 2012. The pain was unbearable. As a runner that was a difficult decision to make, but I couldn't continue something that I loved while in such pain and discomfort.
On December 13, 2012 I saw Dr. Ari Greis, a physician at Rothman who ordered an MRI of my cervical spine and prescribed some medicine for the pain, numbness, etc. I continued with the PT and Acupuncture, but with no improvement, the pain and radiculopathy continued to worsen. Dr. Greise continued to prescribe other medicines, but nothing was working. I was not able to get comfortable in any position, sitting, sleeping, etc.On December 18, 2012 I had an MRI of my cervical spine and it showed severe spinal cord impingement. I continue with PT and Acupuncture, but with no relief. At this time I was on 4 different medicines (Skelaxin, Tramadol, Vicodin and Neurontin) with no relief whatsoever.
On Friday, December 21, 2012 Dr. Greis called to discuss my MRI results and referred me to Dr. Albert for an appointment. I saw Dr. Albert on Friday, January 4, 2013 and was told that I needed to have anterior cervical decompression fusion surgery of C4-C7.
I had the ACDF surgery the following Wednesday, January 9, 2013. I was home the following day. I was, finally, in no pain or discomfort. I was able to work from home the week of January 14-18th and the following Monday, January 21, 2013. I had my post-op appointment on Tuesday, January 22, 2013. I was back driving and back to work on Tuesday, January 22, 2013.
I began walking that same week. Walking with a neck brace, after the surgery that I had, I felt that if I made 1 wrong move my head would fall off since it was; in my mind, only held on by a titanium plate and 8 screws.
I continued walking and eventually began a walk/run program and began running consistently in April 2013. Over the next month or 2 I was able to get my running mileage back to pre-surgery miles. I ran the 10-mile Bill Gallagher beach run in Sea Isle City, NJ on August 10, 2013 with no problems. I continued my running training and on November 17, 2013 I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon with the same finish time that I had 1 year earlier, pre-surgery.
I continue to run, lift weights, swim, bike, and enjoy other activities with no pain. I have almost complete range of motion in my neck despite fusion of 4 levels.