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Old 08-16-2008, 06:54 PM   #1
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Cool Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

Hello everyone. I am new to this board and I am looking for some advice. I am seeing my neuro surgeon this Thursday, I have been told that I will need a level 3 disc fusion surgery. I have been dealing with my pain for 3 years now. I underwent 2 rounds of epidural injections, the last set this year hasn't helped at all. So I have been on pain meds ever since. They are no longer really helping me. My neck pain is bad. I have pain radiating down my shoulders and arms. Right greater than left. But it is bad. I can't sleep at all. The bad thing is I am still recovering from total knee revision surgery in May. So two major surgeries like this so close together scares me! I can handle the knee surgeries as I have had many, but the neck is so new to me I think that is what is terrifying me. Any advice would be so appreciated. I need to know what to expect. What questions to ask my surgeon. and how long is the hospital stay, how long will the surgery take? Etc. Thank you so much. Susan

 
Old 08-16-2008, 09:21 PM   #2
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Re: Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

Queenie:

I have had reconstructive knee surgery and I can tell you that my ACDF (anterior cervical discectomy and fusion) was far less painful than any of my big knee surgeries. If you have an ACDF they go through the front of the neck and thus not through major muscles. I did have a small amount of post-surgical pain but the surgery itself relieved so much of the pain I had that I could easily deal with the surgical recovery pain.

I stayed two nights in the hospital. One to two nights is usually what is required for ACDF. I had the surgery in the morning (around 8) and including time in recovery I was in my room by about 12:30 pm.

I think the key to my recovery was using a post-surgical brace (aspen brace) for 6 weeks and using a bone growth stimulator (external device that hung around my neck to aid in the fusion. Most surgeons operating on more than one cervical level do use the brace. Pre-surgically I really thought the brace would be awful but in actuality it kept me in a good position and prevented me from doing anything to move the wrong way. By day 5 post-surgery I could remove the brace for showering. I showered nearly every day but only washed my hair every 2-3 days in the first few weeks.
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Old 08-20-2008, 05:30 AM   #3
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Re: Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

Thank you so much for the advice and sharing with me what you went through. That helps a great deal. I can't wait for tomorrow morning to get here so I can get some answers and feel better about it. Did you have any problems with swallowing or waking up feeling like you couldn't breathe or swallow because of going through the neck?? That worries me. I hate the feeling of not being able to breathe or feeling choked! I just want to hurry up and get this over with. Sleeping is horrible. I wake up in pain every night. What is good pain control for you? I haven't found anything that seems to help. I think because I have been on and off pain meds for years now that it isn't working as well. So any advice on pain control would be great!! If you think of anything else to share with me before tomorrow let me know. Thank you so much!

 
Old 08-20-2008, 04:59 PM   #4
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Re: Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

I just got home from a transforaminal ESI. How fun...NOT.

I had some minor throat irritation and they gave me cepacol lozenges. My surgery was in the morning but I was able to eat a light meal at dinner with very little discomfort. All I've really used for true pain control is Vicodin or Norco. Norco is a little less potent so I can use that and still work, etc.
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Rt&Lt thumb arthroplasty 2012 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS 2011
Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

Last edited by SpineAZ; 08-20-2008 at 04:59 PM.

 
Old 08-21-2008, 01:55 PM   #5
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Re: Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

That is good. So did you do really well? I saw my neuro surgeon today and he was overwhelmed with how bad my neck is for my age. I am 43. I have already had both knees replaced as well. so he was blown away. He said my neck is bad and that it is that of an 80 yr old. I am having a myelogram next thursday so he can determine if I can get away with just 2 disc fusion instead of 3. He really hates to have to do 3 on me at my age. But with the pain I am having I have no choice. I really liked him a lot! He came reccomended by my ortho surgeon. so we will see what the test show. have you had it done???

 
Old 08-21-2008, 01:55 PM   #6
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Re: Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

That is good. So did you do really well? I saw my neuro surgeon today and he was overwhelmed with how bad my neck is for my age. I am 43. I have already had both knees replaced as well. so he was blown away. He said my neck is bad and that it is that of an 80 yr old. I am having a myelogram next thursday so he can determine if I can get away with just 2 disc fusion instead of 3. He really hates to have to do 3 on me at my age. But with the pain I am having I have no choice. I really liked him a lot! He came reccomended by my ortho surgeon. so we will see what the test show. have you had it done???

 
Old 08-25-2008, 08:20 AM   #7
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Re: Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Queenie22 View Post
That is good. So did you do really well? I saw my neuro surgeon today and he was overwhelmed with how bad my neck is for my age. I am 43. I have already had both knees replaced as well. so he was blown away. He said my neck is bad and that it is that of an 80 yr old. I am having a myelogram next thursday so he can determine if I can get away with just 2 disc fusion instead of 3. He really hates to have to do 3 on me at my age. But with the pain I am having I have no choice. I really liked him a lot! He came reccomended by my ortho surgeon. so we will see what the test show. have you had it done???
I had cervical fusion on 3 discs 5 years ago. It does help with the pain associated with the ruptured bulging discs, however I believe that I have new problems associated with the whole situation. I am now experiencing what I feel are seizures at night and lightheaded and weird feeling during the day. I can turn my head certain ways and I feel like I am going to pass out.

Surgery is worth getting rid of the pain but be aware that new issues may and probably will come up that I believe will be directly linked to cervical issues.

Best of Luck!!!

 
Old 08-25-2008, 11:10 AM   #8
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Re: Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

Hello Queenie22.. I am 54 years old, and Aug 07 I had a 4 level ACDF and a Corpectomy. This is where they remove a whole vertebra and replace it with a cage and more hardware. My neck too was very, very bad. I had this done in Augusta , Ga. My doctors were wonderful. When I woke up, the only pain I was having came from my shoulders. I found out this was because they tapped my shoulders down. This of course went away fast with the meds, and the next day I was not in any pain. I wore what they call an Aspen hard collar, and I adjusted very well. I did EVERYTHING I was told to do, and not to do. I spent 2 and half months in that thing, but it was worth it. After 11 months, my throat was finally back to normal. Not to scare you, but my throat just felt like it was slightly swollen, and I noticed that I had to take very small bites of food so I could get them down. In time this will go away. My neck problems were not effecting my arms or upper body, mine were causing me not to walk right... In about 10% of the neck cases, this can cause problems to your lower body, like the legs. I had to get something done, or I could have been in a wheelchair in the future.
You just have to put your mind in the mindset that you will do great, and each day you will get better. I kept a journal of my days, and when I go back and read them , I see how each day I was getting better... Its a long journey, and a very serious operation. But in time you will feel much better. Is your neck problems causing you problems with your arms, hands upper body? Well, if you need anymore info that I can help you with, feel free to ask. Good luck. You'll make it. PS: the doctors used my own bone to fuse me back together! Janatee

 
Old 08-26-2008, 06:42 AM   #9
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Re: Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

Thanks so much for your advice. It is good to get some good news with this surgery!! Yes, I have severe arm pain, my right greater than my left. It is from my shoulders to just below my elbows. It is really bad. I can't lift milk from the fridge, can't twist to open a bottle, or open sliding glass door without pain. So mine is bad. The back of my neck just at the mid back kills me! Sometimes throbs with pain. I am on pain meds around the clock. I am so anxious to get this done so I can feel better. I just had total knee revision surgery in May, so I just had a very major complicated surgery, lost a lot of blood, and now I am facing another serious major surgery just 4 months after that one. so I hope that my body will hold up okay! I am really scared. My older brother just had two levels done yesterday in California. He was doing really well last night. So that is encouraging. We have the same disc! He had one done about 10 years ago. I have had osteoarthritis really bad in both knees, they have both been replaced with revisions on each. So I have been through it. I feel that this surgery will be a peice of cake compared to the total knee. I am having my surgery at the Northside Forsyth Hospital in *******. My knee ortho is at that hospital as well. I live in Marietta, Ga. So let me ask you this, how long after surgery would you have been able to sit at the computer and type?? I work from home doing medical transcription, so I can work at my own pace, but how soon after do you think I could do some typing??? I really need to know.

Thank you so much for all the advice and encouragement. It helps a lot. Anything else you can tell me let me know. I am having a myelogram on Thursday to see if he can get away with only doing two and not 3. As he doesn't want to have to do 3 if he can help it. Have you had one done?? I am scared of it too! Thanks so much and have a good day! Susan

 
Old 08-26-2008, 07:46 AM   #10
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Re: Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

I guess everyone has different experiences. I had a 3-level on 6/24. I am 51 years old. I had immediate pain relief. I was back at work as a programmer within a week, and swimming in 4.

I would recommend that you consider using a neckbrace if you're going to do computer work so early. My neck got sore after about an hour.

 
Old 09-09-2008, 01:07 PM   #11
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Re: Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

Queenie, Best of luck through your surgery. ***REMOVED*** My thoughts and prayers are with you! Deb

Last edited by Mod08; 09-09-2008 at 06:49 PM. Reason: A new thread has been opened for your story entitled My Story. Always state your problems in your own thread. Thank you.

 
Old 09-02-2010, 06:58 PM   #12
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Re: Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

I don't know if you are still on this blog or not. But, here I am 2 years after my 2 level fusion needing the 3rd level done!! Not happy! I have been in constant pain since the fusion 2 years ago. I have been getting epidural injections again, steroid shots, etc. To no avail. I am on 2 pain meds, one extended release, and one 3 times a day and neither is helping me. I had traction done this week, which didn't help, so I didn't go back to get the machine. No use in going through all the paper work and then having to send it back when I know it won't help. So, I will be seeing my neuro again next Thursday to go over films and MRI with him. I saw the PA on Tues and he sent me for x-rays and then told me it didn't look great and that he would discuss it all with my surgeon and let me know. In the meantime he had me try traction at physical therapy. Didn't work. So now I have to see surgeon and go over everything with him. They called today to tell me he wants to meet with me. So I know that is not GOOD news! I know I need this done. I just wished that they would have done all 3 levels then. He didn't want to do the C4-5 level then. Now it is worse, in one years time it has really degenerated. You can see the difference. I am just not sure how this will work. Since I have 2 levels done now, and now facing the top level above fusion, what will this be like to have a fusion done after a fusion???? Has anyone had this done? Please let me know if you have. Like Scott, I read his post, I am not getting relief on pain meds right now. They just don't do the job. It takes some edge off, but that is it. I am still in constant pain. I have a special needs son as well and so he is a full time job. My oldest is almost 20, so he does a lot to help. My husband of course works, but he helps a lot when he is home. Has anyone gone or gotten disability due to this medical problem??? If so, how did you get it and what do I need to do. I also have dealt with knee arthritis, have bilateral knee replacements too. Just had revision surgery done on my foot a few months ago as well. So I am kind of a mess right now. I was just diagnosed with insulin resistance, basically diabetes type 2. So I am on a diet and losing weight which is good! I have lost 11 pounds so far. But with all this, I am young, I am 45. Please if anyone has any advice it would be appreciated. Thank you so much! Queenie








Quote:
Originally Posted by SpineAZ View Post
Queenie:

I have had reconstructive knee surgery and I can tell you that my ACDF (anterior cervical discectomy and fusion) was far less painful than any of my big knee surgeries. If you have an ACDF they go through the front of the neck and thus not through major muscles. I did have a small amount of post-surgical pain but the surgery itself relieved so much of the pain I had that I could easily deal with the surgical recovery pain.

I stayed two nights in the hospital. One to two nights is usually what is required for ACDF. I had the surgery in the morning (around 8) and including time in recovery I was in my room by about 12:30 pm.

I think the key to my recovery was using a post-surgical brace (aspen brace) for 6 weeks and using a bone growth stimulator (external device that hung around my neck to aid in the fusion. Most surgeons operating on more than one cervical level do use the brace. Pre-surgically I really thought the brace would be awful but in actuality it kept me in a good position and prevented me from doing anything to move the wrong way. By day 5 post-surgery I could remove the brace for showering. I showered nearly every day but only washed my hair every 2-3 days in the first few weeks.

 
Old 09-02-2010, 07:01 PM   #13
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Re: Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

Thanks Deb! If I didn't tell you so! I am 2 years out from 2 level fusion and in terrible pain with level above fusion. Which was bad then but they didn't want to do 3 levels. So, here I am needing that 3rd level done! Ugggghhhh! I meet with neuro next Thursday to go over everything with him and get what he wants to do, which I am sure is fusion of that level. I just don't know how this will work with 2 levels done, will they fuse this one to the 2 that are fused, or fuse it to the one above that? I am nervous over it but ready. Tired of being in pain. I hope all is well with you! I wanted to get back on here and get some advice! Thanks! Queeine

 
Old 09-02-2010, 07:31 PM   #14
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Re: Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

I am likely having c4 added to my c5-c7 later this year or next year. C4 had been "iffy" when I had my 2006 ACDF and I should have demanded it be included. But I've since changes Orthopedic Spine Surgeons last summer.

I've been out of work since late April 2009 due to neck, knee and back. My employer based disability, both STD and LTD, were approved and LTD provided me an attorney to apply for SSDI. They just filed my initial application, I then received some paperwork from SS as to my daily activities and past job descriptions. Completed that and sent it on to the attorney who submitted to SS.

I am on MS Contin 30 mg 3x/day, Neurontin 600 mg 3x/day, Norco 7.5/325 mg up to 3x/day, and Soma 350 mg up to 3x/day. And now that I'm 6 months post lumbar revision (now fused L3-S1) I can again take advil / aleve / aspirin.

I'm starting Supartz injections (series of 5) in my right knee next week to hopefully delay knee replacement 5-10 years. I just did two cervical ESI which only helped a little so I may not do the 3rd one.

Age 44 and falling apart but refuse to let it get me down. I have a cousin in the final stages of ALS so my pain, surgeries, etc are insignificant compared to his experience and prognosis.
__________________
Rt&Lt thumb arthroplasty 2012 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS 2011
Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 09-03-2010, 04:01 PM   #15
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Re: Needing level 3 cervical disc fusion need advice!

WOWWWW! We are very close in what is wrong with us! I of course have done the knee replacements and I tell you what that was a breeze to me compared to this long-term pain. I would have knee replacement again over this neck pain. It is horrible! My pain doc gave me injections 2 weeks ago and I have asked twice for him to switch up my meds for me but he has refused both times asking me to wait it out and see if the injections help. It hasn't helped at all. So, last night my neuro surgeon's assistant called me and told me he left her a note telling her to call me and tell me to come in and see him and go over films and MRI results with him next week. So, I know what it means. I am going to have to have this level done. I just wonder what it is like to have another fusion done on top of one I had done 2 years ago?? Like, will it be the same type of recovery, pain, etc.? I had the worse time with a sore throat and swallowing. I still cannot swallow well and get choked a lot. I am to the point that daily life is a challenge. So, should I ask my neuro about disability? I would have to go through SSD as I am not working. I had to quit work due to the pain. I am a medical transcriptionist. I plan on asking him about all this. I cannot believe how similar we are!!! I am 45. Too young to go through this. I also have a special needs son, he is 15 now, he has Down syndrome. So It is tough some days. I also have a son that is 19, will be 20 next month. So he helps out a lot. When he can. He works. My husband is great when he is home. But financially I need to work. I just don't have the energy to. I was diagnosed with the diabetes recently and so my body is in shock right now, taking all these meds, changing up my diet, etc. What do you think it will be like to have another fusion on top of the other fusion? I am concerned about that and what it will be like. Will we basically have a 3 level fusion? Let me know what you think.

By the way, those injectoins in your knee, they are not great. I had 2 sets of those and I got no relief from either. No cortisone helped either. My knees progressed rapidly as is my neck. I tend to just go down hill fast once it starts. I told the PA that last week. Anyway, I go Thurs to see him and I guess I will get the low-down then! I will let you know. Let me know what you decide to do. I need more pain relief and may call tomorrow to talk to PM doc and see if he will change his mind now that he has seen the report from the MRI. It just isn't helping me at all. I think I told you I was on Opana ER 20 mg twice a day, Lortab 10 mg 3 times a day. That is it. I am taking extra Lortabs as one just doesn't even help sometimes. My PCP started me on Lyrica and I am on Cymbalta as well. I hope the Lyrica helps. Well sorry to be so long. Talk to you soon. Best of luck! Queenie

 
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