I had a C5-C7 fusion in Jan. I wrote about this set back before in another post. I went on a trip and pulled alot of luggage and also got jerked around in NYC (literally) in taxis.
So now the surgeon's nurse practitioner gave me a Medrol dose pack for 6 days. I am done with this med tomorrow. I do feel better, but I am still feeling alot of shoulder blade pain. I may have to have another MRI and see if something new is happening. My C4-C5 area had a mild bulge, some spurs, and some arthritis on the MRI I did before my surgery. I guess they didnt think it was bad enough to fuse at that point. Now I am totally paranoid that I am going to end up with ANOTHER fusion. Could ADJACENT DISK syndrome (or whatever you call it) ALREADY be happening???????????? Anyone know what the symptoms of C4-C5 nerve irritation or pinching are?
Last edited by SKZ; 07-03-2007 at 12:54 PM.
You are starting to sound like you have the same neck problem as I do - I had four discs (C4/5/6/7/T1) that had DDD, and so far have had ACDF first on C5/6/7, and a year later another ACDF on C4/5.
The main symptom from the C4/5 that I experienced was a deep burning pain in the muscles used when you shrug your shoulders - worse on the left side for me, but it could be either or both. Here is a general overview:
A cervical herniated disc will typically cause pain patterns and neurological deficits as follows:
C4 - C5 (C5 nerve root) - Can cause weakness in the deltoid muscle in the upper arm. Does not usually cause numbness or tingling. Can cause shoulder pain.
C5 - C6 (C6 nerve root) - Can cause weakness in the biceps (muscles in the front of the upper arms) and wrist extensor muscles. Numbness and tingling along with pain can radiate to the thumb side of the hand. This is one of the most common levels for a cervical disc herniation to occur.
C6 - C7 (C7 nerve root) - Can cause weakness in the triceps (muscles in the back of the upper arm and extending to the forearm) and the finger extensor muscles. Numbness and tingling along with pain can radiate down the triceps and into the middle finger. This is also one of the most common levels for a cervical disc herniation
People can be wired differently, and there is typcially some overlap between the different levels, but this is a good overview.
Bob, somehow I knew you were going to answer because I totally thought of you when I posted about this. I am starting to get bummed out that I am doomed to a life of neck problems and fusions. My c5-C7 fusions was only last Jan. The Adjacent Segment degeneration has been my big fear. So then what do people do? They keep getting fusions until ultimately all the levels are fused. I have visions of not being able to move my neck by the time I am 60, at this rate. (I am 51 now). I am waiting to hear from the nurse practitioner from the spinal surgeon's office about what to do next, since the steroid only helped somewhat. I am sure I will have to get another MRI soon. How do you deal with it all, Bob. I am really feeling bummed. I am normally a really up beat person, but this never ends.
I can relate to your feelings about this problem - and I wish I could offer some encouraging words. From what I read, something like 95% of people who ever experience neck & shoulder pain do NOT have to have surgery, so we're in a minority. Of all those that do have surgery, most do not ever have to have a second. Of all those that do have multiple surgeries, most have a long period of time between the first and second. So it is a very, very small % that have repeat surgery so soon after the first. If I could take this kind of odds with me to Las Vegas (in a positie way!) I would be rich....
My last surgery was March 2005, and an MRI this last January showed that my C3/C4 disc is now showing signs of degeneration, where before it was 'normal'. I am 56 now, so I'll more than likely be in for another fusion down the road.
I think one of the keys to dealing with this is to have the courage to accept a 'new normal', and to learn to live within limits we'd rather not have to. It is difficult because family & friends 'expect' us to be as we were - they can have no idea how this is always on my mind, and how much it affects me every day, and changes my expectations for the future. I get comfort from sharing with others on this forum, who can relate to this experience, because people who don't have to deal with this have no idea.
I am thankful that treatments are available for this - I read that the first cervical discectomy & fusion was in the 1950s - I had lost the use of my left arm & hand by the time my problem was diagnosed. So the trick is to hang in there and be thankful, and hope that new treatments become available before we need them. So easy to say, so hard to do!
I hope your current problem resolves without the need for additional surgery.
C4-5 can can also cause pain on the arm pathway. Especially on the forearm. Look up dermatome chart. When I had nerve root compression, I had the most intense burning I ever felt in my forearm. After my first surgery at 4-6 this completely resolved.
When you say last January, do you mean 2007 or 2006? It would be a little soon for Jan 2007 to have it go bad, but I guess it could happen if it were already degenerating.
Thanks Bob and NeckPatient for the posts. My surgery was this past Jan. , 2007. I took a look at my 3 MRIs and it said that I had a small bulging disk, arthritis, and spurs at C4-5. I had C5-7 done 6 months ago. I kept asking why they werent going to do C4-5 in Jan. and they all seemed to think I didnt need it. I have no arm pain at this point. All I have is shoulder blade pain and general thoracic pain and tightness. (and of course the usual trapezius spasms). I tend to have anxiety issues my whole life, so I am struggling with that, which I realize only makes things worse. I think what frustrates me the most is that I finally was feeling pretty decent for a few months and really was LOVING it. I was hoping it would last a couple of years not months. I need to work and starting in August I have to substitute teach in the elem. schools. I just want to feel good enough so that I can do this without taking any drugs, so I can think straight. Also, its a hard job to do when you are in pain. It can tend to make a person on the cranky side. Maybe I will be lucky and its just a flare-up. Thanks for all the words!
I wish I had more encouraging news for you. I had problems at all levels, I am fused C4-7. I was better after surgery #1 (C4-6) for 9 months, then got really bad and they decided I needed surgey 2 (C6-7). It is one year post-op of #2, and although my arm symptoms are more controlled, I am left with significant spasms, pain in blades and chest as you describe, a general buzzing and thoracic pain. I had perm EMG confirmed damage at C5, but only one set of nerve fibre, so it doesn't explain the widespread issues. I have stenosis, but it isnt that bad after surgeries, although I am really short and they say the short pedicles make it more pronounced even though it is mild. Also the sternum, do you feel this? It is constant and nagging and I have to control my activities so I stay stable and keep it below 7-8 pain level.
It feels like a big pressure and it is constant, I have no heart issues, etc. I am starting to see a new specialist, but so far everyone thinks that this is just part of the permament DDD disease and that after suffering such bad pain attacks prior to surgery (that I continued to work through), I am now left with chronic pain symdrome of stabbing, shooting, sharp and some burning pain.
My own theory is that my central space is narrow and although not compressed any more, somehow through movement I may continuously be "touching" my spinal cord to the sides of the canal and continuing to cause inflammation. I feel these little shocks here and there that make me feel this is going on. Some even at rest, and if I change my position they go away.
I keep looking for some new doctor that may actually find a way to make me better, but so far everyone says the same thing. Sorry so long, but I was hoping you might find something in common here.
I dont have any sternum pain or arm pain. Mostly the shoulder blade stabbing pain when I move my neck in certain positions. I noticed that when I was doing my exercise where you put your ear to your shoulder (sideways), if I did this to the left side, my right shoulder blade would really kill. Then I would get stuck and couldnt get my head back up. I took like a minute to get it back. Needless to say, I have stopped doing those.
As you know we had same surgery only mine was done Oct 06. Same diagnosis as yours with regard to c4 and c5 . I also questioned 2 not 3 level fusion and two dr.s recommended a 3 level. I went with a hospital that has a spine center rated as #3 in country,and listened to them. I had the 2 level
fusion and now have some of concerns you have.
My complaints regarding spine are more tingling in left fingers , and new onset tingling in right fingers. Toes and feet are now starting to do same.
I saw my NS 2 wks ago and he seemed very happy with my fusion and when I asked about my feet he asked what my back MRI looked like. I told him DDD and he indicated it was most likely lumbar related not cervical.
Yesterday I had a shoulder spasm from hell it was just like a pre-surgery spasm. Took a valium, spasm went away.
The only drugs I take are NSADs on a rare occasion and same with valium.
How are you with fatigue? I find I am totally wiped out at end of work day and am falling asleep watching evening news!
I am in no rush for more surgery as I am terrified of any Dr going back in my throat, still have paralyzed vocal cord from the cervical surgery and have had 2 more surgeries to restore voice.
I work next door to a man who also had c6/c7/c8 fused 3 yrs ago and other than loss of range of motiion he has had no issues.
I fear we have a long road ahead of us before we are healed.
I havent started work yet. I am a sub. teacher and school starts in Aug. I am really hoping I dont get worse from being on my feet all day.
I am feeling somewhat better because I have totally stopped doing any of my upper body exercises, including neck stretches and isometrics. I have a feeling I might just stop them permanently. They seem to aggravate things.
Usually symptoms from C4/5 go from base of neck and radiate to shoulder and the upper arm with numbness in shoulder and bicep weakness. I too know how you feel having had a second surgery 9 mos. later. It kind of feels like I'll never be the same and I too am really worried that I will need another surgery. I'm pretty sure that I have permanent nerve damage, and I also have the same visions that you have at the age of 41....
Why does it seem that the more surgeries you have the more problems you end up with? All I know is that I am so glad that you guys are here, because at least it helps me feel less crazy and depressed! Have you heard back from the nurse practitioner yet?
I too like julyg now have more tingling, buzzing, burning and electricity (which only and always was on my left side, but now both arms have this problem). I'm also constantly itching the palms of my hands??? Something do do with nerves I'm sure. I like what a friend of mine said that had the same surgery... this kind of surgery is a gamble and you never quite know what the outcome will be.
Hang in there, at least we have each other to lean on.
As soon as I stopped doing my upper body exercises, the pain has diminished. I am wondering if I should just never do those damn things again! But how do you strengthen your neck muscles if you dont do the exercises? Wont it be bad if the upper body gets weak again??? I am CONFUSED!
You basically have to start over from scratch again..... I know that's really crappy. It is important to strengthen the neck muscles again, but it's going to take a long time, before they do become strong again.
I try (real hard) to stay positive and just say "oh well, I'll just have to start over with some stretches and then maybe 5-10 minutes of yoga or walking on treadmill". I added some more ideas under your last reply in Payton02's post for 3-months post-op new pain.
I think what I will do is wait till after I get my new MRI and see what's going on and then discuss with the PT how to proceed. Its so annoying. I am sitting here patiently waiting for someone to call me from the spinal surgeon's office and schedule my MRI. Yesterday I talked to the nurse who wants me to get the new MRI. She said a MaryEllen would contact me about the MRI. I even called MaryEllen's voice mail to see if it could be expedited because I already have an appt. with the surgeon next week. I told the nurse that I had my 6 month post op on July 17th and it would be really nice to have had the MRI by then to discuss it with the surgeon. That is next Tues. I seriously doubt that I will get this damn MRI and have it read by next Tue's appt.
That is frustrating! Will your insurance allow you to make an appt. yourself without having to have a referral? With my insurance they told me to go ahead and have my MRI wherever I wanted to get it, so I made the appt. myself. It's funny how if your 5 or 10 minutes late to a Dr.'s appt. they make you re-schedule your appt., but once your there they will make you wait for however long it takes them! I would keep trying to call her. Good luck, and let us know!