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Draka
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 256
   Posted 5/9/2011 9:47 PM (GMT -6)   

White Beard... or anyone else who has had posterior cervical spine surgery....

I am going on my 6th week since the surgery and I am still having a lot of pain and muscle spasms.... the muscle spasms are making it feel as if I have pulled a muscle... I have it in mt right forearm, down the left side of my spine and the shoulder area on the right....

The right side is where most of the pain was coming from....

Just wondering if this is something you went through?

This recovery sure has/is been so very, very painful..... and at this moment I am weaning myself off my Oxycodone.... I am down to only 4.... 15mg a day.... every three days I drop it by 1/2 a pill.... I am going very slowly.

I really feel as if everyone (friends and family) expect me to be feeling "all better" by now... that is surely not the case....

I called my surgeons office and spoke with the nurse..... she told me I should be back to my normal routine..... I feel as if I am so not there yet... not by a long shot!!

The more I get out..... a trip to the grocery store, library, shopping... the more sore and hurting I am.... also the next day after being somewhat active my pointer finger and my thumb seem to be more swollen and the numbness worse.

Can anyone let me know what their progress was for recovery.... I wear my Miami J for 24/7 for eight weeks (three more to go) and then move to the soft collar for another 4 weeks.... after 4 months I will begin physical therapy.

My procedure was posterior cervical spine surgery... from the report:
C2 to T1 decompression and instrumented fusion. Specifically, laminectomy at C2 to T1 with right foraminotomy C2 to C7 and left C-5 to C7 with arthrodeisis C3 to C5 with structural rib allograft and local vertebral autograph, and at C7 with the same structural rib allograft and local vertebral autograft, and Vertex instrumentation C3 to C5

Thanks for anyone who can help me
cry
*edited to add actual surgical report of what I had done*

Post Edited (Draka) : 5/10/2011 10:08:31 AM (GMT-6)


Chutz
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 9249
   Posted 5/10/2011 12:38 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi...

I sent a couple of emails out to see if we can get you some answers. WhiteBeard should be by before too long.

Good luck!
Chutz
Moderator on the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain forums
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Daily Donnybrook: Fibromyalgia, Insulin Dependent Diabetes. Ulcerative Colitis, Rare form of Dermatitis, Collapsed Disk, Osteoarthritis (especially in right hand and neck) and a couple of other adjunct agitations.
~~~~~
Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best.

White Beard
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3702
   Posted 5/10/2011 1:32 AM (GMT -6)   
Draka
 
I can empathize with you, and to be honest anybody that tells you, you should be back to normal by now, doesn't know what they are talking about! You had allot more done than what I did, or at least it sure sounds like you did, and it will take a good while longer before you will feel any where close to being back to normal.  Shame on that nurse for telling you that! I know Draka it took me at least 12 weeks before things started feeling back to normal and even then what is normal suppose to feel like after that type of surgery?? Have you seen your surgeon for a follow up ? I seen mine for  three month follow up, anyway I had lots of problems with spasms, mine were primarily in my neck and upper shoulder on my left side. and into my head! I do not like the sound of the numbness and swelling in your hand or finger. I think I would talk to your surgeon about it, not his nurse!.
 
 Draka you have had so much done, when I had mine,  I did not have to wear anything but a soft cervical collar as they put pins in my neck on both sides and attached little rod to them, I have a rod on each side of the vertebra inside my neck. but I had only the articular joints at c-3/4 fused this time. although my incision goes down the center of the back of my neck from the base of my skull to my shoulder blades.  I had lots of pain and spasms, for a long time.    I really think you need to  take it easy, you should not be back to normal yet,I do hope that you are not doing all the normal stuff that you would normally do!  The thing that will probably help you the most is the physical therapy when you start having that! In the mean time your grafts ( fusions need time to take hold and grow) and that does not happen in just 6 weeks! Be gentle with your self! and patient,  it will take time ! May I ask you why you are tapering off your pain meds?  Are  you still having lots of pain?  I would be careful  about doing that, if your in lots of pain then give your self some more time. You will sleep better and heal better if you are not suffering with pain. Your body does not need the extra stress right now.  I do not advocate using pain meds and I think it is great if you can get along without them, but I do not see any use in doing it if you are still suffering with pain.  If it is an consolation to you Draka, I will tell you that this posterior surgery is the absolute worse when it comes to pain and taking time to heal. But with that said, it will get better in time. But it will take a while yet! So just don't over do it or anything, you have had some major trauma done to you, and it will take some more time to heal!
I really do empathize with you!
Please take care of yourself,  and remember I am here for you, if you need my help!
 
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) : 5/10/2011 12:40:43 AM (GMT-6)


bsjaguar
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 974
   Posted 5/10/2011 5:23 AM (GMT -6)   
Draka, I agree with White Beard that you will should not be back to a normal routine after only 6 wks.  My surgeon had me off work for 3 months after my cervical fusion C-5/7.  darn girl you had your entire cervical spine fused and that is major and will take time to heal.  If you are shopping and doing other things by yourself I think you are over doing it. 
 
I still have muscle spasms after 6 yrs in my upper back and shoulder area but also have arthritis in the facet joints now and will have to live with this for the rest of my life.  The numbness you are experiencing just doesn't sound right.  Before my surgery I was having tingling down my arm and numbness in my fingers but that all went away after the surgery so it almost sounds like you may still have a nerve impingement somewhere.
 
As far as the muscle spasms are concerned possibly your doctor could prescribe a muscle relaxer for this.  I had tried several but they all made me too sleepy to take during the daytime hours until I noticed alot of the members here using baclofen.  I requested this from my rheumy and it is the only one that I have tried that doesn't put me to sleep so maybe talk to your doctor about trying a muscle relaxer.  Also, just good old tylenol is still my drug of choice for aches and pains.  Just gotta watch that you don't take more than 4000mg per day.
 
I also have metal rods, did your surgeon apply rods?  If not I would think that this would cause you to have a longer healing time. 
 
Let us know how things go.  I now have two buldging disc above my lumbar fusion at L-2/4 and they scare the heck out of me so I try to baby my back.  I really don't want another fusion surgery.  I found that the fusion surgery does help with the traveling nerve pain but I still have lumbar & cervical pain daily after 6 yrs.
---Jag---


DDD, osteoarthritis, facet syndrome, fusion surgeries C-5/7 & L-4/5 both in 2006, torn meniscus surgeries left knee 2000 & 2002, buldging disc L-2/3 & L-3/4, fibromyalgia, polymyalgia rheumatica

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16776
   Posted 5/10/2011 9:43 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Draka, I am so glad that Whitebeard & Jag came on and replied to your post. I got so upset when I read that the nurse said you should be back to normal by now. What does she know and shame on her for putting everyone in the same category. Everyone heals differently and like the others have said you really had a lot done. Sure the scar on the outside may be healed but it takes a fusion much longer than 6 weeks to solidify and become solid, goofy nurse what was she thinking. Its nurses like that, that get a lot of drs in trouble trying to play dr when it is out of their league. I do hope you will let the dr know what she said and I hope you will get an appt to go in and see him since you are having this numbness. When you are really beginning to feel good is time to start weaning yourself off your pain meds, for now use them to help you heal like WhiteBeard said.

If you are not on a muscle relaxer please talk to your dr about putting you on something. I just recently started taking Baclofen for my neck and shoulder and it has really helped a lot.

Please keep us posted on how you are doing.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

Draka
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 256
   Posted 5/10/2011 11:00 AM (GMT -6)   
Thank you so much Chutz for sending out those emails!

Thank you also for all the responses, Jag, Straydog and especially White Beard!

You too.. did go through a lot WhiteBeard & Jag.... I so appreciate all you help and advise!

I do see the surgeon again at the end of 12 weeks.... I did see his Nurse Practitioner at the two weeks mark.... she checked me out and everything looked fine.... I didn't have stitches, just glue... my incision is about 7 inches long.

My surgeon is very conservative and I knew that going in.... he is not one to prescribe pain meds (the reason I got 5 mg Percoset coming home from the hospital) I guess I am just so used to the pain
my meds did make it better but I'm already off the big one- Opana... I didn't want to start it again.... my Oxycodone really does nothing for me (15mg) so no use in taking it, although yes, I am still in pain.... I was told that the injury in my neck was from when I was 2 or 3 years old..... they know that due to all the excess bone growth down the entire right side of my neck... I am 43 so I have been used to it for sometime now. I am advised not to take any anti-inflammatory (Aleve) as it could interfere with the bone graft.

Jag... sorry to hear you are still in pain after 6 years... that is my fear too.... right now I cannot tell because of the general pain from surgery.

I was prescribed a muscle relaxer- generic Flexeril..... the muscle spasms are nothing like the first week... I thought I was going to die.. they were so bad.

As far as the numbness... I had it right out of surgery.... I usually got numbness when I was sleeping in both arms but nothing like now.... it stays numb all the time.... my right upper arm, forearm and pointer finger and thumb on right side... on the left side it is my upper arm and also my upper back near the incision.... I brought it up to my surgeon right away and he told me it was normal and it may take up to one year for all the feeling to return.... very upsetting to me since I am an avid tennis player.cry

My surgery report says I have Vertex instrumentation.....????.... so I guess some pins and screws... that is what I was initially told by my surgeon.

Jag... I too understand about your back... I was told I have two collapsed disks.. L5-S1 and T11-12.... I did get a Cybertech brace and it works really well... although it rubs on my ribs and hipbones... check with your Dr. to try it out!

Along with my brace I also have to wear a Orthofix Cervical-Stimulator- a noninvasive, pulsed electromagnet bone growth stimulator for 4 hours a day for 16 weeks.
www.orthofix.com/products/spine_cervstim.asp?cid=37

Straydog.... I think my surgeon would have said the same thing about being back to normal... I should clarify... back to normal means still no bending, twisting or lifting anything over 5 pounds... I did ask her if I could go back to work and she said "YES".... didn't even ask what I did... but NO WAY, NO HOW!

For the most part I am in bed resting.....
* edit...Something I forgot... I have a really bad tremor in my left hand (I am left handed) it shakes so bad all the time..... anyone have this?*








Post Edited (Draka) : 5/10/2011 10:10:13 AM (GMT-6)


straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16776
   Posted 5/10/2011 11:16 AM (GMT -6)   
Draka I do hope this stimulator helps you out. Back years ago they were putting an small internal one in on back fusions and it really did its job. After a certain period of time they would remove it as a outpatient day surgery. I am glad to hear that you are taking things easy as you did have a lot done. I had also emailed WhiteBeard so he got hit by Chutz and I both, in fact he sent me an email to let me know he had answered you. He was like me upset over the nurse saying what she did. it just irritates me to no end when these nurses and drs try to lump everyone into one category. Jeesh, I am floored the nurse didn't ask what kind of work you did. I just think far too often some of these nurses overstep on what they should be telling patients.

I would like to ask you about the back brace, is it a hard shell or not? My prior PM dr put me in a hard shell and it was so uncomfortable and rubbed me raw. My new PM dr took me out of it and said it would do more harm than good and would make my muscles much weaker. Since that time I have heard the same thing from other neuros & orthos. My PM dr is a retired neurosurgeon. My problem is I cannot stand up straight, I have to walk with a cane for many reasons and it makes it very difficult doing things inside and outside because I can't stand straight and I wear out really fast. I have wondered if a softer type brace would work better for only when I am up doing things.

Take care.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

Draka
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 256
   Posted 5/10/2011 11:24 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks then too... for emailing WB for me!smilewinkgrin

I have this brace:
www.cybertechmedical.com/lo_originalbrace.html

Like you said it does rub and cause friction pain... it's flexible with the pulley system... it's worn over clothes.

Hope you find some relief!


White Beard
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3702
   Posted 5/10/2011 2:45 PM (GMT -6)   

Draka you mentioned that you a tremor in your left hand? Did you have this before your surgery or is this something new after your surgery? and is the tremor there all the time or just when you move your arm or hand? Is this also the same arm and hand that has the numbness and swelling? Have you mentioned this to your Doctor? If not please do so! Yes I can see where the numbness might take some time to go away, after my surgery the whole back and top of my head was numb and it took several months for that to go away! I am curious about your tremor though, that just does not sound right! Does familial tremors run in your family? Allot of things can cause that, but if this is new since your surgery then it is definitely something to have checked out!

Anyway you have had so much stuff done in your neck, Please do not over due it! Especially now, you are forming new bone and the graft needs to mature and set, and that takes time, and you do not need to do anything that could change or in any way alter that fusion process! So Please be Careful!!

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!

Blessedx8
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 3193
   Posted 5/10/2011 2:58 PM (GMT -6)   
Draka...
 
I'm really sorry to hear you are still suffering so much.  I'm also glad we have members on here that have had similar experiences; it helps to hear what others have been through, I would think.
 
I can't belive you got 5mg percocets coming home from the hospital - that's insane!
 
Anyway, please take it easy and continue to take care of yourself.  As WhiteBeard said - please don't overdue it!! 

Thinking of you today, and wishing the best for you. --Tina

Draka
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 256
   Posted 5/10/2011 3:01 PM (GMT -6)   
White Beard,

Once again thank you, thank you! I so appreciate your help and advice.... it's so great to be able to speak with someone who went through the same type of surgery!

The tremor was not there before surgery.... and nothing like that runs in my family. The tremor is just my left hand it's there all the time... it's not the side with the numbness and swelling.

I did tell & show the Nurse Practitioner and she thought it was anxiety.... I'm no too sure about that... but maybe??? I was so freaked out by just going back to the hospital for my follow up visit my whole body was shaking.... I think the four nights I was there after surgery traumatized due to the lack of pain control.... I burst out crying in the elevator as we left the hospital.... I am dead serious about that.... I was just horrendous!

I'll call again and am going to lay low.... I had an exciting morning though.... we had a GATOR in our pool... it was wild!!

Thank you very much TINA!

Snowbunny21
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 3557
   Posted 5/10/2011 6:10 PM (GMT -6)   
I agree with others that what the nurse told you is ridiculous!! Recovering from the posterior fusion takes a lot more time and is much more painful than the anterior..

I had my 3rd cervical fusion a few years ago and they did both Anterior AND Posterior in the same surgery (flipped me like a burger half way through...lol)....so like WhiteBeard...we get it!!..

You just need to listen to your own body...don't let anyone push you...take the pain medicine to stay 'ahead' of the pain. As well as continue with gentle stretching...trying to walk as much as possible to stay flexible and not lose other muscle tone and keep energy up..

Just keep an eye on that tremor...maybe it is from the nerve stimulator???Or it could just be your body really trying to adjust to the pain as well as all the nerves are firing right now during the healing process...

Keep us posted and hope you get better little by little each day!...
SB and "the pup who snores loudly" 
 
ACDF C5-C7, (no hardware), with autograft bone Nov. 2001
(reabsorption of bone 2 years later...still lost in body..expect to burp it out at anytime..haha")) 
ACDF with hardware, allograft bone Nov. 2005 
Anterior and Posterior CDF, allograft bone with BMP, removal of old hardware, use of titanium plates, rods, screws, & kitchen sink (lol) Oct 2006
 
 

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16776
   Posted 5/10/2011 8:40 PM (GMT -6)   
OMG, a gator in your pool, wow. I guess I should not gripe, I had two grass snakes in the pool Sunday morning, I flipped out, I am terrified of them. I called my neighbor since he is my snake handler, lol, and he got them out. I cannot imagine a gator, that would do me in I am afraid, lol.

Take care.
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

Draka
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 256
   Posted 5/12/2011 9:18 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks SnowBunny21.... I didn't know they would do both front and back in one surgery.... ouch!

Straydog.... we have snakes all the time and I too am terrified..... our home borders the Everglades so you could imagine! The thing I am most scared of is one of my two Bulldogs getting bitten by a Cottonmouth.... we have had 4 of those in our yard and pool.... the gator was wild through it was a first!!!

I'm having trouble getting my siggy in my posts... and reason why?




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