cervical spine surgery and problems

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southviewgirl
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 64
   Posted 9/21/2010 7:48 PM (GMT -6)   
Who here has experience with having cervical spine surgery, fusion??

I have had loads of spinal surgeries, 9 total, on my thoracic and lumbar, but my cervical spine hasn't been touched, yet, at least.

I have scoliosis and have had fusions for that, and now pain because of it. My cervical spine is causing me a ton of pain, I just went to turn my head to the right and had shooting, stabbing pain in my neck going up my head.

I see a pain clinic tomorrow, it's the clinic my husband goes to. They do tests there, MRI, etc...and pinpoint what the problems are, and then direct you to where you need to go if surgery is needed.

If I do need surgery, which is what I'm assuming I'll need, as my other surgeon has mentioned the very real possibility, I'm curious what it's like. What is the pain like afterwards? Are you able to move your head side to side right away??

Screaming Eagle
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 5005
   Posted 9/21/2010 9:40 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello Southviewgirl!

I have not had the cervical surgery yet, but do need it at some time in the future. I also have that catch in my neck that gives me quite a bit of pain.

I'm still in recovery from a double lumbar fusion, and in no hurry for another fusion at this time. Have you had an epidural yet? This may give you some relief.

Take care,

SE wink

straydog
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Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16295
   Posted 9/21/2010 9:50 PM (GMT -6)   
Southview, WhiteBeard has just recently had another c-spine fusion, I will let him know you have questions. Also, please insist on being sent to a neurosurgeon for your neck, not an orthopedic. The orthopedic as you know specalizes in the bones & structure, but the neurosurgeon is specialized in the nerves and nerve pathways which is something to really consider.

Susie

White Beard
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Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3695
   Posted 9/22/2010 12:38 AM (GMT -6)   
 Southviewgirl!

I have had two Cervical Disk fusions, the first one in Mar of 1985  at C-6/7 I had a massive herniated disk with free floating fragements in my spinal canal. at that time I was in the military and the surgery was done at a civilian hospital by a civilian neurosurgeon, at Humana Hospital in Anchorage Alaska. With that surgery they took the graft from the iliac crest of my pelvis. I was in the hospital for eight days, and I had no hardware to hold things together, nor any suction drain. I did have problems with that surgery, although Anterior Cervical Diskectomy and Fusion are common place now, back then the anterior approach was brand new! And although rare, I was unfortunate enough to have completely lost my voice after the surgery, and I had some swallowing problems, but after four months my voice did come back although maybe slightly different.  Last summer I started having problems with having pain in my left arm and it reminded me allot of the pain I had experienced in my arms back in 1985. Well it turned out I need a  ACDF at C-5/6 this time. But since the pain I was having was mostly in my left arm the surgeon wanted to go in through the left side of my neck, but knowing the problems I had with my last disk fusion he wanted me to go to ENT and have my vocal cords scoped first to see if there was any damage to my vocal cords. Well it is a good thing he did this, as on the first fusion they had went in through the right side. Well the vocal cords close up alright when swallowing, but when talking the vocal cords on my right side are paralyzed and would just barely quiver when he told me to make certain sounds.  So although my voice came back after my first surgery my voice was never quite the same and now I know why. Well with the vocal cords being paralyzed on the right side, my surgeon did not want to chance it by going in on the left side, because if anything happened to the nerve going to the left vocal cords  then I would have no voice at all, so he went in through the right side to do the surgery. I went in on a Monday morning the 28th of Sept last year, and when I woke up in my room monday afternoon the pain in my left arm was completely gone. I had a soft cervical collar on and a small suction drain with a tube coming out of my neck.  This surgery they used a cage with donor cadaver bone and a plate with titanium screws holding it all together! I  was discharged on Wednesday morning, I was suppose to be discharged on Tuesday but I had some pain issues and low O2 sats and they wanted to leave the drain in for 24 hours longer.  I had no problems with this surgery, and it was so much better than the first one I had! Taking the graft from the hip is really painfull. That was one of the worst things about the first surgery!  Anyway the problem with the voice is always a risk with this type of surgery, and although it is rare it can happen, but now days it is a lot lest frequent!  You do of course do lose some mobility in your neck! The more disk taken out and vertebra fused the less moble you become! With just the one fusion, I did not notice that much of a change, but with the two together fused, I cannot tilt my head back and look up hardly at all and I am some what limited on looking down,  I have lost maybe just a little turning my head side to side but I do not notice it that much! It is hard for me to really tell about the movement right now, as I have another bad disk at C-3 and I am to see the neurosurgeon the first of October, to see about having an ACDF done at C-3. My pain doctor is convinced that, an ACDF there is the only thing that will take away the pain in the back of my head and upper neck. He has done three epidurals putting the needles in at C5 and threading a cath up to C-3 and injecting the steroid  there. I usually get a good three weeks of really good relief from the pain, but then it always comes back!  Anyway I have a herniated and torn disk at T-12 but the docs will not do surgery on it, as they say it is to dangerous of a surgery, so that is what put me on disablility and took me out of nursing!  But that is another story!  Like my surgeon said with the last fusion I had, of all the spine surgeries, doing the Cervical Diskectomy and fusion is the easiest!  It is the easiest to access and although it can be tricky it is far easier to do than doing diskectomies and fusions on the other areas of the spine!

If I can be of any help to you, please let me know! I do wish you well!

White Beard




Moderator Chronic Pain
After spending nearly 22 1/2 years in the USAF, I retired in Sept, 1991. I then went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, and I worked on Oncology and then a Med Surg Unit, I became disabled in late 1999 and was approved SSD in early 2002!-- DDD, With herniated Disk at T-12 and L4-5. C5-C6 ACDF in Sep 2009, C6-C7 ACDF in Mar 1985, Osteoarthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Complex Sleep Apnea, and host of other things to spice up my life!(NOT!) Medications:Oxycontin, Percocet, Baclofen, Sulfasalazine, Metoprolol, Folic Acid, Supplemental O2 at 3lpm with VPAP Adapt SV I am White Beard with a White Beard!

southviewgirl
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 64
   Posted 9/22/2010 3:43 PM (GMT -6)   
I was referred to a neurosurgeon by my primary doctor. She told me most ortho surgeons don't even touch the neck, because it's got so much more going on up there.

I have bone graft taken from both my hips several times, and YIKES, does it hurt, I hear ya. I had cadaver bone acouple of times too.

Thank you for sharing, now I know what to expect, somewhat anyway.

Did they have you in a neck brace after the surgery for some time? After one of my fusions I had to wear a brace for a few months, ending up causing me more problems than it was helping me with.

Again, Thanks so much
-We must be the change we wish to see in the world-
(Mahatma Gandhi)

*Scoliosis, Degenerative Disc Disease, Spinal Stenosis, Osteoarthritis, Loss of Lordosis, Endometriosis, Kerataconus*
*20 surgeries- 8 spinal including 6 fusions and 2 for staph infections, 9 pelvic including full hysterectomy, 1 knee for staph infection, 2 cesareans to deliver my beautiful children*

White Beard
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3695
   Posted 9/22/2010 9:33 PM (GMT -6)   
southviewgirl
 
After my last fusion last September, I had to wear a soft cervical collar for two or three weeks and that was all!  This last one was really a piece of cake compared to the first one I had. So if that is any indication, you should not have any problems with it!  If I have to have another one of these ACDF at C-3 I hope it is as easy as this last one, but the higher up in the neck (close to the scull)  they go the more riskier the surgery is.
 
I wish you well and Please let us know how things turn out for you!
 
White Beard
Moderator Chronic Pain
After spending nearly 22 1/2 years in the USAF, I retired in Sept, 1991. I then went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, and I worked on Oncology and then a Med Surg Unit, I became disabled in late 1999 and was approved SSD in early 2002!-- DDD, With herniated Disk at T-12 and L4-5. C5-C6 ACDF in Sep 2009, C6-C7 ACDF in Mar 1985, Osteoarthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, Complex Sleep Apnea, and host of other things to spice up my life!(NOT!) Medications:Oxycontin, Percocet, Baclofen, Sulfasalazine, Metoprolol, Folic Acid, Supplemental O2 at 3lpm with VPAP Adapt SV I am White Beard with a White Beard!

Post Edited (White Beard) : 9/22/2010 9:37:18 PM (GMT-6)

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