2 yrs. after 2 level fusion C5-7 now bulges at c3 and t1
Hi. I just registered. I'm very concerned. I had a two level fusion in January 2008 at C5-7. I had severe lower back spasms and after three years of undiagnosed pain, I found a Dr. who actually took an X-ray. He immediately hooked me up with a neurosurgeon. Both Drs. told me I had to have surgery immediately because I was in jeopardy of being paralysed. That definately got my attention and is probably why I'm so stressed now. My family dr. and the neurosurgeon both said the exact same thing. They both called it severe cervical spinal stenosis (compression on my spinal cord). The surgery was successful and it was a no brainer for me, except I had to go on short term disablity. I immediately noticed as soon as I awoke from surgery that the pain was gone. I had lived with it for three years and it severely impaired my life. Advil didn't touch the pain - something was laying on a nerve. I was prescribed Vicodin and my family dr. was afraid I'd further injure myself because it would and did take the pain away. From the diagnosis to the surgery it all happened so fast. After 4 weeks, the fusion is healed and the bones around it are healthy, so the neurosurgeon sent me to physical therapy. I was afraid of reinjuring myself, but the neck messages afterwards made it worth it and in the end I was surprised how much it did help. That brings us to now, approximately 2 years after I returned to work. One day I had shoulder pain, the next day I had sharp pain and numbling and tingling down my left arm. Fourth day I saw my family dr. He ordered a nerve assessment which didn't find anything. My right arm started having the same thing so he sent me for an MRI. The initial results my family dr. told me was that I had a bulge at c4 directly above my fusion. I saw my neurosurgeon yesterday. He said he didn't agree with the MRI reading, the MRI report stated that I had compression on my spinal cord. The neurosurgeon didn't think it was compression but agreed I had a bulge. He did not think surgery was necessary at this time. He also stated that I have a bulge at C7-T1 and that is very unusual. I'm just taking this all in and didn't know what to ask. I began with new symptoms 2 days before seeing him. I now have pain radiating out from my tailbone and it is painful to walk or stand for very long. My pain is not as severe as it was 2 years ago, but is definately uncomfortable and making small tasks very difficult. He is ordering an injection from a pain specialist and an MRI from a different imaging location on my back. I'm wondering if the fusion has caused the deteriation above and below? I've got 22 years in at work and they only allow a total of 12 months total for disability leave. I've already used 5 months. I really do believe that my work has created alot of my back problems even though my job is administrative - there's still alot of pulling, pushing, lifting, bending, twisting etc. Not to mention Stress I'm exhausted before the end of the day. Is this condition considered a disability? I'd have to have a PERS doctor look at my condition. Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself - but I'm so tired of the pain and work is very stressful. I have to be able to function. In the meantime, I'm just waiting for the next step.
Re: 2 yrs. after 2 level fusion C5-7 now bulges at c3 and t1
Hi Swartzie. I saw that no one has answered you and thought I'd jump in and offer some info if nothing more.
If you have a bad problem in your neck, the probability that you also have similar problems in your lower back is very high. Arthritis is the most common problem and if it hits the spine, it hits the entire spine, not just a part of it. And once you have bone spurs developing, they destabilize the entire spine. So I doubt your cervical surgery had anything to do with your current lumbar problems. More like the cervical warned you that you have spine problems and needed to watch the entire thing.
As for the new bulges, that is what happens with fusions and why they are trying so hard to develop new surgeries that don't use fusions. There is a new one called a laminoplasty but it is still not used very often and few neurosurgeons do it. It relieves stenosis without fusion.
But once you have a fusion, it sets you up for more problems. The spine is designed to move and when you take part of it and make it no longer move, then the moving parts will still move and often, even more. And presto! you have another herniation. It comes with the territory and the docs never tell you that the #1 complication of fusion surgery is another herniation above or below the fusion.
If you extend the fusions to a bigger area, you have an even greater chance of herniating on either side as the bigger the fusion, the more stress on the adjacent vertebrae. So try to deal with the pain and problems as best you can until it has to be done for fear of losing a nerve or cord damage. Try to avoid more surgery as best you can.
I know from where I speak...I've fused from C3 to T1 and have to go every year to see if I've done more damage above or below and this year doesn't look good for my June check-up. At lot of weakness in my left arm. I can deal with the pain but when muscles don't work right, that is a problem for me.
And I have the bad lumbar too but my doc refuses to even touch it. Says that if he starts with the lumbar, he fears he won't stop until he reaches my neck. And just reading here and on the Back board, I believe him.