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Upcoming Posterior Cervical Lam. with Fusion

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Old 01-26-2011, 01:11 PM   #1
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Thumbs up Upcoming Posterior Cervical Lam. with Fusion

Hi all,
This Friday, Jan 28, I am scheduled to undergo a posterior cervical laminectomy with Fusion C3-C7.
I am a 45 yo male, otherwise healthy and my only symptoms have been progressive andpersistent numbness and tingling in hands/feet and some clumsy walking, going on several years now.
Got 3 opinions from leading surgeons in the field all recommending the surgery to prevent further degradation of functionality et al.

Have been reading up on these boards and am grateful to those who have shared experiences.
Would very much like to hear from folks who have been thru posterior cervical laminectomy with multiple levels of fusion.
Its a bit scary as I am going from a situation of no pain/minor discomfort to whatever post-surgery holds in store for me.

Some thoughts-
How long in hospital following surgery?
How long to feel somewhat human again following surgery?
How long for basic functions, eating, walking, sleeping with any degree of normality?

I know these posts stay around a while. Anyone reading this beyond Jan 28, please feel free to contact me to learn of my experience - < edited >

Thanks in advance, Theodore

Last edited by hb-mod; 01-26-2011 at 01:12 PM. Reason: Please do not post, or request contact information, such as email address, phone or name.

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Old 01-26-2011, 04:25 PM   #2
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Re: Upcoming Posterior Cervical Lam. with Fusion

Hi Theodore. I have a posterior fusion with laminectomy from C3 to T1.

How long in hospital...I was in 8 days but I also had some major breathing problems. Assume 5-6 days.

How long to feel human......they keep you in a neck brace for several weeks so you won't feel human until that is off. I got mine off at 7 weeks post-op.

How long for basic functions? Eating....I was really sick from the pain meds so I can't say. Walking? I was up walking by day 3. I slept pretty well right from the have to get used to the brace and it didn't bother me that much. Driving....I was driving at 5 weeks even though it is illegal to drive with a stiff neck brace(it was winter...I wore a scarf). Just find intersections where you can see both ways or have a 4 way stop.

Pain gone.....that can take a while depending on how things go. Took me a good 3 months to stop the pain meds and 6 months to feel as if I could do without anything at all. But it was my second posterior surgery in 3 months and the muscles took even longer to heal the second time around.

I had a slightly different situation than yours. Initially, I had a 5 level laminoplasty for the same problems you have....slowly but surely going numb from the neck down. I had no pain and walked like a drunk. The laminoplasty reshapes the bone over the back of the spine to give more room like a laminectomy but then they but the bone back so you don't need a fusion. 3 months later, I tore the ligaments in my neck, dislocating 5 vertebrae and breaking 3 of the 4 bone grafts put in so it was back to surgery for the lami and fusion. Had I done what you are doing initially, I would have been fused from C3 to C7 but with the damage, I got one more level.

I am now 4 years out and I can tell you that I can do most of what I used to do. I can drive and pick up my 35 pound granddaughter and shovel the snow outside(lots of frickin' snow!). I take nothing for pain except for right now, I have a new problem developing but think it's part of my rheumatoid arthritis and not the initial neck problem. Hurts like it's RA.

I lost about 50% of the ability to turn my head...chin doesn't quite go to my shoulder on either side. Lost about half the movement up and down too. Looking up at the sky now actually makes me tilt backwards. Star gazing takes lying down.

My initial surgery took away all the numbness and trouble walking and dropping things and all that other stuff you get. When things broke, I got new problems but 95% of that is gone too. Just takes time.

Any questions, just ask away.....we have another day.

gentle hugs..........Jenny

Old 01-26-2011, 04:36 PM   #3
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Talking Re: Upcoming Posterior Cervical Lam. with Fusion

I had an ACDF C5-6 C6-7, not posterior. From what I have read there is more pain involved when they go in from the back due to having to go through muscle. In the front they are able to push most items off to the side (trachea and esophagus). I had a cage with BMP, plate and 6 screws. The anxiety leading up to the surgery was tough on me. My surgery was 2 1/2 - 3 hours. I was in the hospital for 5 1/2 days due to extreme swelling in my neck (unusual). They needed to give me 5 days of steroids to reduce the swelling. There are postings about items to have after surgery, I would take a look at those. A few things I would recommend are : stool softener (anesthesia and pain meds make constipation a real issue), bendy straws since it will be impossible to bend your head back to drink, soft foods (oatmeal, applesauce, mashed potatoes, yogurt, pudding, jello, ice cream, sherbet...). Stay on top of the pain, if they tell you take pain meds every 6 hours and a muscle relaxer every 8 hours then do it for about 1 -2 weeks. I tried to be a hero and finally took meds after bing in pain and it took almost 2 hours to take affect. Sleeping was difficult. I slept in the recliner for almost 6 weeks. Then I propped up pillows in the bed which is what I am still doing. I felt pretty good at 2 weeks. But concentration was bad for a while. I watched tv, but couldn't get into reading. I was glad that my husband stayed in the hospital with me the first night. my surgery was 12/9/2010. Let me know if you have any other specific questions. Good luck and keep us posted on how you are doing.

Old 01-27-2011, 06:44 AM   #4
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Re: Upcoming Posterior Cervical Lam. with Fusion

Jenny & Frenchfri, thank you so much for sharing your experience, suggestions and good will.
I aim to update the thread whenever possible following surgery.
- Ted (Realtor19072)

Last edited by Realtor19072; 01-27-2011 at 06:48 AM.

Old 01-27-2011, 08:03 AM   #5
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Re: Upcoming Posterior Cervical Lam. with Fusion

You can expect an incision going from the base of your skull(yes, they will shave the back of your head part way up)to just about shoulder level...about 6+inches.

I assume you are having roads and screws to hold the fusion and the nice thing about that is that they don't interfere with speaking or swallowing as the front fusions do. Also, the rods allow for some flexibility so the fusion is actually stronger than if done from the front.

It will hurt for a while as they cut muscles but once healed, there seem to be fewer problems with it then with the anterior fusions. This board is filled with people with anterior complications.

But all in all, it is the way to go for a long fusion. Get lots of rest....sleep is the best thing to help with recovery. Don't push yourself.....muscles heal at their own rate and you can't make them heal faster. Expect nerve pain as things heal. Nerves like to announce their healing with a good shot of pain as if they are screaming...I'm Baaaccckkkk. So don't worry about how long you have to take pain meds.

It will take 1-2 YEARS to get the final result of your surgery. It can take that long for numb nerves to come on-line. Make sure you get some PT for the balance issues....they do have special exercises just to improve balance.

Since my surgery I have fallen on my face...literally. Tripped over a hose in a garden on the side of a hill and staggered down the hill only to finally fall and hit the ground so hard my face bounced off the ground....and my neck was perfectly fine. Face not so much. Those are strong rods! Actually, I fell backwards 3 weeks after surgery and hit my head on the fridge and that was fine too. It is very rugged so you can go out and enjoy life.(and do get some PT for balance...I needed to do it twice...obviously).

good luck and speedy recovery..............Jenny

Old 02-02-2011, 07:27 AM   #6
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Re: Upcoming Posterior Cervical Lam. with Fusion

As advertised here, I did have my cervicl laminectomy with fusion C3-C7 on Friday January 28th. Doc said everything went well and looks good. After a nite of morphine and a couple days of dilaudid I was sent home 3 days later on Monday Jan 31.
For pain Im allowed 20mg Percocet every 4 hrs and alternating flexeril and valium every 8 hours.

From the get go the pain has been pretty unbearable whenever meds wear off but I have been able to get relief once dose time comes again.
Prior to surgery, My syymptoms from my impinged/flattened spinal cord manifested only in the form of rght index finger numbness, numbness in right toes and weakness in my right leg. These were allsymptoms I could live wth as a relativly healthy 45 yo male, but after 3 top surgeons tested me and then reviewed my mri, the strong consensus was that my architecture is very poor and could break down precipitously at any time.
So Ive gone from a situation of inaction amd no pain to a situation of taking action, inviting lots of pain, also a sense of discomfort about my reliance on pain meds. Dont wanna givem up and dont wanna get hooked!

So here I am, 4 days removed from post. cerv. lam with fusion, concerned how I will recover from the pain and trauma of this surgery which I was universally advised and which I Elected to have done.

Any comments, suggestions, related anecdotes are greatly appreciated.

Old 02-02-2011, 11:16 AM   #7
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Re: Upcoming Posterior Cervical Lam. with Fusion

Glad to hear you made it through the surgery okay. 3 days to discharge is pretty good!

You are going to hurt like heck for a while. They have to cut the back muscles to get to the spine and they hurt and take time to heal....lots of time. You do NOT become addicted taking pain meds for actual pain. Addiction happens when you take pain meds and are in chronic pain or just for the high. So keep taking them.

If you haven't had any relief from the numbness, you should soon. You have swelling in the area and that may make the numbness last a bit longer. Also, it may be that the nerves are so damaged that it will take time for the nerve cells themselves to regenerate and that can take months and even years.

The muscle spasms hurt more than anything else so keep taking the anti-spasmotics. They were cut...they will spasm for quite a while. Small nerve fibers have to re-connect as well as the muscle fibers growing and a cut muscle can take up to 8 months to fully heal. But it should start to feel much better by 6 weeks post-op.

I assume you are in a neck brace and once that comes off, you will actually hurt more as you start to strengthen those neck/back muscles again so be prepared for an increase once the brace comes off.

Watch out for constipation. The pain meds and anti-spasmotics can really cause constipation and straining will hurt big time. Eat lots of fiber and have some OTC stiff for constipation on hand.

I also had no pain when I had my first surgery and my surgery ended up collapsing 3 months later leaving me partially paralyzed and in pain 24/7/365 so I know your frustration. But I can assure you, if you left it, you'd eventually be me, battling paralysis in those numb areas and I can tell you, it's a b@#$%. I've worked for 4 years to get back everything I've lost and have gotten back about 95% but I will never have it all and I am already starting to lose some of what I gained. The nerves were just way too damaged when the bone grafts broke and the 5 vertebrae dislocated. It is probably the worst complication you can have from this surgery(except I did manage to survive and am not totally paralyzed)so to go in with no pain and come out permanently disabled is tough. But life doesn't have any guarantees. You take what you get. And hopefully, you will recover just fine. My complication was one for the books............never seen before.

So rest and recover and expect ups and downs. That is just how the spine recovers. It has a mind of it's own.

But I am glad you hear you are safely home and recuperating. We are here for any questions you have or just a place to vent those frustrations. We all have them.

gentle hugs............Jenny

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