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Old 07-07-2009, 02:17 PM   #1
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Unhappy Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

Four weeks ago I had Cervical fusion surgery on C5-6 using a cadaver bone. The surgery went well, I've experienced little pain but about two days after returning home from the hospital I experienced severe fatigue in my legs and arms. It made it very difficult to even get up to go to the bathroom. After about 5 days it subsided and I was feeling much better for about two weeks. Then, after my doctor's recommendations, I took off the soft collar brace. Then two days later the severe fatigue returned. It has now been 7 days since and the fatigue is getting better but still feels very strong. My doctor says this level of fatigue after 4 weeks is not normal. An additional MRI was and everything looks great so he thinks it is not related to the spine but more systemic and suggested I follow up with my PCP. Other than the fatigue my arm pain and thumb numbness has subsided. I do have muscle twitches throughout my body but my doctor said this is normal.

Has anyone experienced fatigue like this for this type of surgery and is there anything I can do about it? I'm currently following up with my PCP but have no results yet.

Thanks,
Michael

 
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Old 07-07-2009, 08:24 PM   #2
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Re: Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

I know for me, the fatigue was a long battle and came from the type of anesthesia they use for spine surgery. It's is VERY deep to keep you from any movement while they are working around the cord.

The weakness in your arms and legs after going home may have been from swelling that occurred once you were up and moving around. Swelling around the spine can put pressure on all the nerves in the area and make them feel weak. Swelling around the cord can do the same. But the all over fatigue....I'd bet it's the after effects of the anesthesia. And I bet a lot of people here will agree. Seems to be fairly common.

rest up and take care................Jenny

 
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Old 07-08-2009, 11:27 AM   #3
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Re: Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

Jenny,
How long did your fatigue last and how severe was it for you? Also how do you know it was related to the anesthesia?

Thanks,
Michael

 
Old 07-08-2009, 02:56 PM   #4
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Re: Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

Michaels70- I had ACDF C5 - C7 almost three months ago and I remember that for the first two days after surgery I couldn't sleep but just a few minutes at a time while I was in the hospital. As soon as I got home I slept for seven solid hours! I do remember being more tired than normal, however, I had surgery during mushroom hunting season and I did go mushroom hunting one week after surgery and we walked miles during the hunting season. I was so tired by the time I got back to the car that sometimes I wondered if I'd make it. The first day I went back to work for two hours I was exhausted too, but that quickly resolved and now I feel back to normal.

Are you walking at all? I kept reading about how it was not good to just lay around and that you should do lots of walking and so I did. My recovery has been much quicker and better than I expected. I can't say for sure, but I do know that you had major surgery and it just takes the body awhile to recover. It's probably a good time to eat right, get plenty of sleep, and be sure to get some exercise.

Hang in there and let us know if you have any more questions.
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Old 07-09-2009, 08:18 AM   #5
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Re: Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

Stonepile,
I am walking around and have been trying to stay out of bed as much as possible. I also am going to the pool to do light exercises. It's now been 5-weeks and I'm still feeling like my legs just ran a marathon, almost to the point where I feel like they may start shaking at any time. A few times a day my arms start to feel the same way. It seems to come and go throughout the day but is worst in the morning and best in the evening.

Michael

 
Old 07-09-2009, 09:05 AM   #6
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Re: Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

Michael, I wish I had a helpful answer for you! I don't have a lot of experience in this area except for my own surgery. I did not have your level of fatigue except only after mushroom hunting and walking several miles in the woods. Now I'm only tired because I stay up too late and get up too early.

Did you schedule an appointment with you PCP? I hope that you get some helpful answers. Sorry that I don't have one for you.

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Old 07-09-2009, 09:29 AM   #7
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Re: Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

Its good your following through with your PCP. I went through a few weeks of just feeling exhausted. I thought along the same lines as Jenny, not to mention the trauma on your body from spinal surgery alone. It passed but it was strange as it did not hit me right after surgery but a couple weeks after. I would reach a point every day where I just could hold my eyes open & felt exhausted. Was an effort to keep my body going. it did pass but I felt 100yrs old. I went to stay with my sister as we thought I would rest more & not be so tempted to do things around the house. Even she was getting concerned as this was completley abnormal for me, I'm more on the hyper side, have to be doing something. It did pass but took its sweet time & it did go past that first 4wks. Had problems to with my memory after surgery. Still do at times. I do believe there are side effects of the anesthesia that linger & have talked to others who experianced some of the same. Still best to get it checked out & at least it will ease your mind.
good luck, Sammy

 
Old 07-09-2009, 06:06 PM   #8
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Re: Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

Sorry to take so long getting back to you Michael...I've re-injured my back and sometimes sitting at the computer HURTS.

The reason I blame the anesthesia is because I've been through 22 major orthopedic surgeries and at least 8 non-orthopedic(I lose count). I have had just about every kind of anesthesia there is and even mixed anesthesia like a neve block and a general together. Even had the stuff that are blaming for Michael Jackson's death..Diprovan...for cataract surgery. They knock you out just long enough to inject around your eye without you seeing a syringe heading for your eyeball.

I've found that type of anesthesia really does correlate with the fatigue during recovery. The deeper the general, the more tired you are afterwards. I takes a toll on your liver and a while to get it out of your system. An anesthetist once told me that certain "generals" can still be detected in the body up to a year after surgery. So it makes sense it can make you really tired.

But I would still check it out with your primary doc. After my first cervical spine surgery the anesthesia knocked out my gall bladder and I had to have it removed(the anesthesia shuts down function and if you already have a bad gall bladder, it may not go back to functioning properly). So you never know what else might be going wrong. Or you just might be really tired from the surgery. Swelling in the neck can put pressure on the nerves and cause weakness anywhere below the surgical area. And some people swell longer than others.

So give it time but check it out with your doc.

Wishing you a return to strength.................Jenny

 
Old 07-09-2009, 11:16 PM   #9
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Re: Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

Anesthesia can do odd things to the body. It kind of puts everything to sleep and it takes weeks to wake all the way up. It could be thyroid. After surgery it takes me 4-6 weeks to get straight again with my thyroid. You might have a sensitive thyroid and it is now sluggish for a while. Your doctor will find it if they run a TSH test. Another thing if you had been spending lots of time indoors you might try a vitamin d supplement. Low vit d can cause muscle pain, weakness, and some similar things you describe. It is safe to take over the counter D in amounts of 800-1000mg for adults - ready the bottle. Or make sure to get at least 15 mins of sun a day. Another body function is it could be cortisol. So all these things can be detected via bloodwork. Hope you feel better soon!

 
Old 07-12-2009, 01:55 AM   #10
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Re: Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

Hi there Michael and all others that have or had problems,
I have had a one level surgery c6/c7 anterior discectomy.
I feel so terribly tired all day just as Michael wrote in this message board. It feels like I did a marathon in my arms en in my legs. I also believe this has got to do with the narcose or anesthetics.
In the morning I feel nausea often the last 2 weeks (I am now 6 weeks postop)
Does someone of you already drives a car again or being a passenger in a car?
For me that is very difficult because of the shaking of my neck. Gives pain afterwards. I am using magnesium pils and ginseng pils each day. Vitamine D I will try also (thanks for the tip)
My surgent lives abroad (Germany). I live in the Netherlands.
I can only email if I have a problem. How do you people solve that if your surgent live more tht 150 miles away from your house?

 
Old 07-12-2009, 08:57 AM   #11
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Re: Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

Welcome my Dutch friend! My heritage is also Dutch.

My surgeon is 100 miles away and we do a lot by phone. I just had another MRI yesterday and I got a CD copy of it for him and as soon as they send me a copy of the report, I'll send both to him via certified mail to make sure it gets there. And I spend a lot of time driving to his office. My arthritis doctor here in my area takes care of me on a daily basis but knows when to send me to the surgeon or at least call him.

But it is tough. I get tired of asking people to drive me so I have taken the bus from time to time to reach Boston and then a cab to get to his office. Expensive but we are dealing with part of the brain and I want the best care for my brain as I can get.

I find that if I think of my spine problems as actually "brain problems" I give it much more respect and am willing to do whatever it takes to get the help I need.

Take care and gentle hugs..................Jenny

 
Old 07-12-2009, 12:43 PM   #12
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Re: Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

mart1000637- I am frustrated for both you and Michael in that I don't know what else to say that the others haven't already mentioned that might give you some "ah-ha" moment and have you instantly feeling better. I do remember feeling tired and a couple of times just downright exhausted to the point that I didn't think I could walk another step (both mushroom hunting and when I went back to work.) But I will just say this to offer you some hope and that is that I am now three months post-op and loving life! I am just back to the "normal" tiredness now that I experience due to a chronic lack of sleep on my part. My husband is a night owl and likes to stay up until 3 - 4 am. I go to work about 3 - 4 hrs. before he does, and so I burn the candle on both ends, so to speak. I'm assuming that you will follow the same path to recovery. Your strength will come back. (Now I did push myself incredibly hard the second week post-op and from then on. I walked miles and miles while mushroom hunting. I did wear a soft collar and that helped alot keeping my neck from being so tired, but it did feel extremely tired from looking down so much.) My NS probably wouldn't have liked me to go, but I truly think it helped me recover more quickly in the long run.

As far as driving goes, at my 3 week post op visit my NS said that as soon as I weaned myself from the soft collar that I could drive. As soon as I left, I took the collar off and haven't worn it since. My neck does not feel wobbly or shaky or even weak for that matter. (I did injure it the other night turning over in bed and I woke pushing with all my weight on my head to turn over and I heard a loud pop. Now I have pain that I didn't have since surgery, but I'm hoping it will go away. When I first started driving, I did have some loss of rotation, but that is much better now. However, I still find myself using my mirrors alot more than I used to. I'm still very careful when turning and do so several times before changing lanes, pulling out, etc.

I hope that both of you will start feeling more energy each day! It has been stated many times on this board that ACDF is considered major surgery and it does just take time for our bodies to heal. I hope that your pain and numbness etc. has disappeared and that your exhaustion begins to lessen as well. Hang in there and keep us posted.

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Old 07-12-2009, 03:30 PM   #13
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Re: Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

mart1000637 - It has been a great comfort for me to at least see there are others who have experienced similar if not identical symptoms for as my Surgeon and PCP both are clueless. I went to my PCP and he did a couple of basic blood tests which showed nothing. I have started to feel much better lately, thank God. I hope the trend continues. I still feel leg fatigue a few times a day. It's weird, it seems to be much more prevalent from noon till 3pm and I feel best at night. In fact my appetite has been very strong at night for some reason. I also feel somewhat nauseous when the fatigue is strong, not sure why. I have very little pain, in-fact I'd call it more of just neck stiffness. I've been taking a multi-vitamin each day but have not tried Ginseng at all. I haven't driven yet but I think I will be able to soon. Thanks for all your support! :-)

 
Old 07-12-2009, 09:30 PM   #14
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Re: Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

I'd see if you can get a blood test - just to see if all your counts are where they should be. You never know if you could have some kind of anemia or maybe an undiagnosed thyroid problem (that may have just happened to happen now). Not that it's necessarily the case....but you never know.
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Old 07-13-2009, 12:34 AM   #15
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Re: Major fatigue following cervical fusion surgery

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpineAZ View Post
I'd see if you can get a blood test - just to see if all your counts are where they should be. You never know if you could have some kind of anemia or maybe an undiagnosed thyroid problem (that may have just happened to happen now). Not that it's necessarily the case....but you never know.
Thanks for you advice. I will ask for a bloodtest to my GP.
greetings,
Martin

 
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