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Old 11-08-2005, 10:30 AM   #1
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Neck popping and cracking after cervical fusions

I had c5/c6 and c6/c7 fused in February, 2005, with donor bone and titanium screws/plate, etc. Everything has been going fairly well until recently when I started feeling a lot of popping in my neck. I can also hear grinding noise when I turn my head. I had another CAT scan and flex x-ray a week ago. I don't go see the Doctor until Nov. 23; however the nurse called and told me that one of the fusions didn't take as well as the other one. This is the first I heard of this! I asked if that could be the cause of all the popping and cracking and she said it could be. She also said that unless I am in a lot of pain, the Dr. would probably not recommend another surgery. I am in more pain now than I was for the first few months after surgery, but it isn't excruciating. I only take tylenol to control it.

My question is...has anyone experienced this popping and cracking after acdf surgery? If so, do you know what could be causing it?

Jeannie

 
Old 11-09-2005, 06:32 AM   #2
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feelbad HB Userfeelbad HB Userfeelbad HB Userfeelbad HB Userfeelbad HB Userfeelbad HB Userfeelbad HB Userfeelbad HB Userfeelbad HB Userfeelbad HB Userfeelbad HB User
Re: Neck popping and cracking after cervical fusions

i did,ALOT,but it took me 9 months of non stop complaining to my NSs stupid bit*** nurse to finally get them to actually take me sriously,then only after a simple flex and ext x ray,imagine that? a non fusion.i was in ten times more pain post op than I ever was pre op.my neck was crunching and grinding constantly,it was really horrid and would totally gross out my hubby.

but unlike yours, i did not have the hardware placed until a second surgery after they had finally found that I had not fused and had actually been runnin around and had been back at work with basically a broken neck with no support.God a simple fender bender could have killed me.i did eventually fuse and the only way I know this is that it was confirmed visually by my second neurosurgeon who did my surgery into my spinalcord.He told me he thought he would stop in and check since he was i"n the area",lol.

i really don't know just what I would do in your particular case though.(sorry).If you weren't having any problems or alot of pain with this I would probably just leave it alone but depending on just how much this is impacting your overall quality of life right now,well,only you know that.the thing is,if things are not "tight' in there,then things will be constantly moving and shifting and eventually wearing down,you know?i would most definitely get at least two other opinions on this before you actually decide to 'do' anything.at least find out just what any and all options would be availiable to you to try and fix this without having to do a total recon of this entire area again.The key thing is though that before they do anything "permanent" everything HAS to realigned totally and completely or you could end up with a permanently impinged or affected nerve in there.sorry I couldn't really offer you any real answers.i do hope you can get this all back to normal and get on with your life.soon.good luck jeannie,marcia
__________________
3-22-01,herniated C-6-7
11-20-01,placement of hardware for failed fusion
9-22-03,removal of cavernous hemangioma that was inside spinal cord. Neuro damage to L hand L leg and R leg.

 
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Old 11-09-2005, 07:01 AM   #3
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Re: Neck popping and cracking after cervical fusions

Thanks for answering Marcia. This stinks! I just think it's weird that I went for about 7 months without the popping and all of a sudden it started. Did your "noises" go away after the second surgery? How long did it take you to fully fuse?

My NS told me after my 6 month check up that everything was fusing very well. Now he's saying the top fusion is perfect, but the bottom one hasn't fused as well. What that means, I don't know. The nurse said that he might not even have noticed it if he hadn't had the top one to compare it to. So it didn't sound that terrible - but why all the popping and cracking and more pain now? I'm wondering if I didn't break something in there. I guess the CAT scan and flex x-ray would have showed that, but I wonder if I was fusing and I broke the actual fusion. I guess I'll find out on Nov. 23 when I see the NS again. It didn't help that I slipped on a greasy floor and fell in a restaurant this weekend!

I hope you're feeling much better now.

Jeannie

 
Old 11-09-2005, 07:44 AM   #4
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Re: Neck popping and cracking after cervical fusions

Hi Jeanniebug & Feelbad,

I have a broken fusion at C6/7. It's been broken since 2002 or so, I lose track. It's not terrible but it causes a lot of mischief and pain when the movement gets the vert. into the nerves. Causes multiple trigger points in the scapular region. I get them shot regularly. Sometimes as many as 14 or 15 at a time. Feelbad, it's not really like a "broken neck." The vert isn't broken which puts the cord in danger. It just lets the vert rotate left, right or both ways a bit. Mine can rotate left up to 4 or 5mm. It doesn't go right hardly at all. Quite painful but not so dangerous. My fusion was done in 1989 and broke in 2002. I have no way of knowing why it broke. I do hear grinding once in a while.

From your descriptions I'd say you might be good candidates for non-surgical maintenance. It might settle in and start to re-fuse. Or, if the pain can be controlled you could live quite nicely with it. That's sort or a personal thing. Good luck, I'll be interested in how you deal with the problem.

dootag

 
Old 11-09-2005, 12:22 PM   #5
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Re: Neck popping and cracking after cervical fusions

Thanks Dootag,

Wow! You gave me hope that I can live with this without having another surgery. I'm sorry your having trouble, but it sounds like you're able to manage. Can I ask what you mean by it causes multiple trigger points in the scapular region? Also, what kind of shots do you get?

Do you really think there's a chance it still could fuse? I was told if it's not fused in 6 months, it won't. Sure hope that was wrong!
Jeannie

 
Old 11-10-2005, 11:13 AM   #6
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Re: Neck popping and cracking after cervical fusions

Hi Jeanniebug,

First let me say that I don't know if it will fuse. I was told that if a new fusion isn't fused w/i 6mo's like you said it isn't going to. But there is mixed opinions about a fusion that was broken or otherwise failed. Mine broke. It was fused fine for a number of years. So, I prefer to opt for the positive opinion. At the least, the irregular surfaces of the fusion seem to want to re-seat and will hold in position. This has been confirmed by x-ray twice. Of course it doesn't stay but certainly gives some pleasant relief.

Trigger points are points of referred pain caused by a problem, usually involving nerves, that are located elsewhere. For issues at C6/7 that is in the scapular region. (I don't mean to talk down to you but incase you aren't sure, the scapula is your shoulder blade and the "region" is everything around and above it) A trigger point injection usually consists of a steroid and analgesic cocktail. Steroids cannot safely be administered to often (usually not more than every four months) so if repeat injections are necessary you would just get the analgesic. They are usually wonderful.

For example, if you were having pain in the left side of your neck, ache, headache, neck tension or urge to stretch it constantly etc. You could use your fingers and reach over your left shoulder and start poking any spot you can reach. If you get a tender spot begin working around and usually some where you will find a really sore point. Often you can press hard on that spot and actually get relief in your neck, headache etc. If you are right on the exact spot you might feel a cord under your finger that you can roll back and forth under the finger. That is the exact spot. This is the spot the doctor would aspire to hit exactly with the needle. If he/she does hit it you should get instant relief. When I get hit exactly I get a burst sensation like an electrical charge going directly to the side of my neck.

A word about reality. Sometimes the doctor doesn't get it square on so you might have to wait for several days for the analgesics to dispurse and hopefully quiet things down. The other thing that happens to me is that with multiple shots often one perfect injection will change the pain dynamic relative to several other not so perfect injections. Then the pain changes and until you understand what is going on it can be very disconcerting. Eventually they even out.

This is getting a bit wordy so I will stop now. However, if you are interested I would be glad to tell you a bit about the new neck injections my pain doc is giving me that are beyond wonderful. He only recently learned how to do them and so far I've been the only patient that he uses them on. It's like "neck" what neck?

Do well,

dootag

 
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