c5/6 fusion nerve pain need help
I had a fusion c5/6 in dec. 08. Before surgery had extreme neck pain and pain in both shoulders. Also had left arm numbness and forearm weakness. After surgery felt great for 4 weeks and then pain came back worse but different pain. All my pre surgery pain is gone but now have burning pain in arms, chest and shoulders. It is so bad i can't wear a shirt sometimes. Neurotin helps a lot with this but i hate meds. Had an emg and a mri recently. My emg said nerve damage at c7 but mri said spine is perfect everywere except my fusion is not complete yet. surgeon said pain is because i am not fused. He just had me have a nerve block at c6 level and it didn't help at all. I am so confused because the emg said pain is from c7 but surgeon said that level is perfect. I also wondering why my neck feels brand new but he says i am not fused. I am so confused were my pain is coming from. The non fusion or if there really is c7 damage. And is there still a chance i can fuse. My surgeon said it won't after 1 year but i know 2 people it toke them 1-1/2 to fuse. Any advice would appreciate it thanks.
Re: c5/6 fusion nerve pain need help
Hello - welcome to this board. I have a couple questions - did you or are you wearing a collar after surgery? Did you have any problems with your incision? Is this the first cervical surgery that you have had? Do you have the text of your MRI? I am curious what they were correcting - did you have spinal cord compression?
I am glad to hear your original pain has resolved. When you started feeling better did you up your activity?
The burning when clothes touch you is not a great sign - especially if you did not have that before. There are some people who develop pain after a surgical procedure and it can progress. It is called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome - aka causalgia. I had some problems with this myself. Not saying you have it but giving you the information here to research and what signs to look for and see if it matches what is going on for you and in case it progresses. The symptoms of CRPS usually manifest near the site of an injury. It takes a long time to get it diagnosed. Because you have a radiculopathy at C7 (mine are at C4,5 and 6) you are at risk for developing this. Females are 3x more likely than males.
Your fusion may take up to a year or a little longer. Mine took 1 1/2 for full fusion. But I had a pretty good fusion going prior to the full fusion. You may be a case who doesn't fully fuse, it does happen. Pain associated with your fusion could linger for a long while. Fusion will cause lots of different things as you heal. Your posture is different, there are pressures in different places than before - your body and muscles all start working differently. Why did they block C6 instead of C7? Was it for your forearms? Sometimes you can get a false EMG positive but that is rare. Was the EMG done by a neurologist very experienced in them? Did they specifically say what part of C7 is damaged? They usually give you the muscles along with the nerve damage report.
Your neck probably feels brand new because even though not fused you do have instrumentation (I am assuming) and it is pretty sturdy and providing support.
To help you figure out where you think your pain is look up Dermatome Map and see how it maps to what your are feeling.
Re: c5/6 fusion nerve pain need help
Hi, thanks for the reply. I give you little history of what happened and whats going on. I had the surgery on dec. 08. i wore a collar for 10 days and was released to work ib 3 weeks. I have a desk job. Soon as a woke up from surgery all my pain was gone. I felt great for about 6 weeks. I started increasing my activitiy and my nerve pain returned. From my neck down to forearm. Surgeon told me that the nerves were just waking up. Now that look back he was probably right. that pain last maybe 4 or 5 months. Around the 5 months mark i started developing new burning pain in both arms, shoulders, and chest. Also tingling in upper back. It started on 1 side and then spread to both. Gets worse with activity. ITs real weird because if i take my shirt off at my house my pain decreases by over 90%. I went to see a pain mgmt doc and she ordered a emg test and gave me neurontin. It takes the edge off at work and test said c7 nerve damage. Went back to surgeon and he ordered a new mRI which came back negativea at that level. He said the only problem is non union c5/6. Him and my pain doc both agreed pain is from non union at c5/6. He had me have a nerve block at c6 to see if that is were pain is coming from. It didn't help at all. i see him next week. I don't have a copy of my films and I never had any problems with my incision. Everytime i ask him how the fusion is coming he just said healing. But he also said since i am in extreme pain they might have to go in the back surgically. i just think this pain is from something else. I am going to get a copy of my mRI next friday.
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