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Old 12-07-2009, 06:37 PM   #1
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Question I had a cervical fusion 4 years ago

I had c4 c5 c6 fused in 2004. I can't really say I have ever recovered.

Most recently (Dec 09) I had a MRI and it revealed C3 was partially collapsed and C7 needs to be stabilized. The xrays also indicated there was a possibility that the existing screws were loose.

I am in pain a great deal of the time and get horrible migraines. I get pain referring to my right shoulder blade and sometimes burning and numbness down my right arm. Everyday I wake up wondering how I am going to cope, as I still hold down a fulltime job which requires sitting all day. I have lost my range of motion for the most part, my neck is ALWAYS stiff. I cannot even sit through a movie in a theater, or turn my head to the side with feeling sick to my stomach.

Once again I have hit a wall as far as what I should do.

My first surgery was unsuccessful.( I say this because the pain is still present) Before my surgery I had terrible muscle spasms and still do, but now I also have pain in my spine. Would it make any sense to have a second surgery? Recovery was very hard for me the first time. But I ask myself, what is worse? Being in pain, or a possibility for improvement? I don't know if it is ever possible to regain a decent quality of life?

Please, any input would be appreciated. Thank you!

Last edited by lisabella; 12-07-2009 at 06:41 PM.

 
Old 12-07-2009, 08:08 PM   #2
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Re: I had a cervical fusion 4 years ago

Personally I'm of the mind that if something isn't right it should be fixed!. I had a posterior cervical surgery 2 yr after my first. I also have a friend who had an ACDF and then two posterior surgeries. His last was a posterior fusion and he's never looked back. While he has some range of motion limitation he was able to get rid of his pain. He said he rarely has to take anything more than advil.

After my cervical problems I had some lumbar problems and went back to the same surgeon. I just was not happy with how he regarded me and it hit me that i needed a new surgeon. Found a great new one and he'll be doing a lumbar surgery on me soon. It's my 3rd (one in 87, one in 93 and now one). If it alleviates my symptoms, even to a minor degree, it's personally worth it to me.
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:29 PM   #3
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Re: I had a cervical fusion 4 years ago

SpineAZ: Do you know how a doctor determines whether to do posterior vs. anterior surgery. My 1st surgery was anterior.

Thanks again!

 
Old 12-07-2009, 11:29 PM   #4
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Re: I had a cervical fusion 4 years ago

Hi, I am post Cervical fusion of 9 years, C5-C7. I do have a congenital fusion of c5-c6. My rupture was below that defect. I also was plated to span the 3 discs and they did an anterior fusion. I have a sister who has had three cervical surgeries, first was anterior and others were posterior. I myself, have some bulging above and below my original fusion but is not to the extent that it requires any further surgery at this time. I read somewhere that it is not uncommon to have an insult either above or below a previous fusion. I think it is something that any one who has had trouble with the spine has to realize may happen. My sister is no better after her 2nd and
3rd surgeries. She actually has been unable to work for years. I know if I was experiencing the type of pain I was having when my disc initially ruptured, I would not hesitate to have it repaired, even knowing my sister's history. Each individual has to decide as to what extent they will go to get relief. I also feel that if my "hardware was faulty", I would probably go ahead and have the surgery to correct. I think leaving in faulty equipment, so to speak, may be more detrimental than having it replaced. Just my opinion. I do hope you find some answers to your dilemma and as is the case with any surgery, I would ask for a second opinion before going under the knife.

 
Old 12-08-2009, 05:40 AM   #5
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Re: I had a cervical fusion 4 years ago

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Originally Posted by lisabella View Post
as I still hold down a fulltime job which requires sitting all day. I have lost my range of motion for the most part, my neck is ALWAYS stiff. I cannot even sit through a movie in a theater, or turn my head to the side with feeling sick to my stomach.

Once again I have hit a wall as far as what I should do.

time. But I ask myself, what is worse? Being in pain, or a possibility for improvement? I don't know if it is ever possible to regain a decent quality of life?

Please, any input would be appreciated. Thank you!
Hello. sory to hear about your neck pain. Everytime I see here a newbie with neck pain I feel like crying. I might be emotional but living with chronic pain is literally HORRIBLE.

I hardly move my neck. Only when I have to, like crossing the streets...well what would you expect...I just want you to lough a little eventhough it's not funny at all.

I think it's very good you are still working. Please continue to do so so you keep yourself busy and not thinking about the pain 24/7, you know what I mean. My doctor said it's better for chronic pain patients to do DESK JOB, as opposed to what my EX PM said, he said physical jobs could be "just fine", nonsense. I dumped him, you know. It sounds like you need to take tough pain meds. What meds are you taking?.

I tell you what I have. I have 2 bulging disks in my neck. The orthopedic surgeon who saw me said right now no surgery. So you know, I have time to think. I suffer from severe chronic neck pain 24/7. It used to be 15 on a scale(0-10) yes you read it right, 15. Now it's getting really better cause I'm taking oxycontin plus percocet plus neurontin (low dose of neurontin) and sleeping pills. Can you sleep at all?

I'm really sory I can't advice you about surgery but I know you need to get second, third and even more opinions and think if you want to go ahead and do another surgery. You can still suffer tremendously from pain cause of soft tissue damage caused by surgery you know.

All right, tell me how you doing....ALL THE BEST FOR YOU.

Last edited by nochange; 12-08-2009 at 05:42 AM.

 
Old 12-08-2009, 08:54 AM   #6
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Re: I had a cervical fusion 4 years ago

Most cervical fusions are done from the front (ACDF). It is less disruptive to neck muscles. Posterior neck surgery is more painful than ACDF due to the fact that muscles must be disected to get to the spine. Thus ACDF is more well tolerated and is easier to recover from so it is the first choice in most cases.
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:02 AM   #7
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Re: I had a cervical fusion 4 years ago

This is the deal....the doctors want to put you on lyrica...which makes me slur my speech, or neurontin or cymbalta....they read somewhere in a journal that pain is depression, depression causes pain. THESE Doctors have obviously never been in pain. Because these medications as I mentioned above DO NOT WORK.

Because of people abusing pain killers (in the news) they have ruined it for those of us that actually need it----doctors will only prescribe pain killers for a very short time. So basically it is a fend for yourself situation....so the answer to your question...I take motrin. Yeah this really sucks.

 
Old 12-08-2009, 09:09 AM   #8
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Re: I had a cervical fusion 4 years ago

I've been on serious pain meds for over a year. The secret was finding a great Pain Management practice that helped me get on the right combination of meds. And for some people meds like cymbalta, lyrica, neurontin, etc do work and are worth trying.
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Fusions: L5-S1 (87), L4-S1 (93), C5-C7 ('06), L3-S1 ('10)
C5-C7 foraminotomy 08

 
Old 12-10-2009, 02:00 AM   #9
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Re: I had a cervical fusion 4 years ago

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Originally Posted by lisabella View Post
So basically it is a fend for yourself situation....so the answer to your question...I take motrin. Yeah this really sucks.
What? that's not true in the states. Do you live in canada or somewhere else. My doctor told me narcotic pain meds go directly to the pain and therefore given the dose I'm taking I can't abuse it. Other people who don't suffer from chronic pain will get high on it.

 
Old 12-11-2009, 08:30 PM   #10
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Re: I had a cervical fusion 4 years ago

I live in the States....and yes, in my state it is true.

 
Old 12-17-2009, 11:09 PM   #11
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Re: I had a cervical fusion 4 years ago

No one can know what the correct answer is - not even the doctors. However, I think if you go in understanding why you should have another surgery and understand the expected outcome you will make an informed decision for yourself.

Get a couple opinions to help you make your decision. I used the opinions of 3 - making one an orthopedic surgeon viewpoint, others neurologist and neurosurgeon. I always try to stress to others that surgery may or may not take away all pain, but it can try to help stabilize and prevent even worse problems from happening. The flip side is that there are cases where it causes new problems. The best outcome would be at least a reduction in your pain. I have had 2 surgeries and they say I could use more, but I understand my degenerative condition very well now, and am trying to manage it using all methods but surgery until the eventual. We need to remember that when we have widespread problems - us getting back to our normal or pain free is really not very common or a good assumption to make, and certainly not the only reason to base a surgical decision on - mostly surgery is aimed at fixing the structural problems. If you do get pain relief that is a bonus.

In your state are there no pain management practices? I would expect primary care physicians to not be very open to long term medication management, but I can't believe that any state in the US does not have specialists in pain management and the long term use of pain medications. Even the pain management doctors will start with the lowest type pain medications and non narcotic treatments trying to work your way up, because for some people they do work.

 
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