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    Old 08-14-2005, 11:50 PM   #1
    rocky12345
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    Question Help!!Desperately need some Cervical Fusion advise

    I am really desperate to get some idea about cervical disc fusion. I am advised to have fusion at C5/C6 and C6/C7. Currently I have pain in my shoulder with tingling in my fingers (left) and am controlling my pain by taking Vicodin, Naproxen, Flexeril and Amitripline. My doc says that I have severe cervical stenosis and that will progress with time and will get worse.

    I am quite depressed since I hardly read any good stories on the brd abour such a surgery. I am just 40 and have had cervical spondylosis for the last 15 yrs with good amount of pain for the last 10 yrs.

    I have read good things about lumbar fusion but not cervical.

    Help!

     
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    Old 08-15-2005, 05:57 AM   #2
    rgsmoose
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    Re: Help!!Desperately need some Cervical Fusion advise

    I can understand your fears and concerns, as I was in your shoes a few years ago. I was told the stenosis had progressed to myelopathy and my spinal cord was being compressed - surgery was now required, and soon. I ended up with a C5 & C6 corpectomy which fused me C4 - C7. A year after that I had to have a C3/C4/C5 laminaplasty which didn't do good things to the range-of-motion of C3/C4, so my neck is now mostly fused.

    But, I'm not paralyzed and I continue to do most of the things I used to. I have to turn my body more when backing up the car, and getting the last ounce out of the soda can is more challenging, but I can say that my life is mostly normal now. I still have numbness and pain issues that I deal with, but I have accepted that as "that's the way it is now". I refuse to let it get the better of me, and I'm not going to be labeled as "the guy with the spinal issues". Living almost normally after cervical fusion surgery is possible - there are many of us that have proven that. I'd guess from your post that you'll be having a two level ACDF. You may not even have to wear a hard collar after that surgery - it'll depend on your surgeon. Take his or her advice and do the PT afterwards. You'll get through it, like many others have. Don't fear it too much - it's not all that bad. I'd have to say recovering from the cervical surgeries was easier than from the lumbar surgery I had earlier. If I can do it, you can too. Good luck.

     
    Old 08-15-2005, 07:11 AM   #3
    EmtShirl
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    Thumbs up Re: Help!!Desperately need some Cervical Fusion advise

    rocky ~

    My story is close to rgsmoose's. I am also fused from C3-7 after having 2 anterior and 1 posterior fusions. I am only 42 at this time. My corpectomy was at C5 only with donor bone. I have a plate at C6-7 anterior and rods and screws from C3-7 posterior. I had a plate at C4-6 but when I had C6-7 done my NS removed that plate because the fusion was solid. I have also had 4 lumbar surgeries as well. One was anterior and 3 were posterior and I am now fused from L3-S1 with hardware. I would love to post both of my X-rays of my post-op cervical and lumbar as they are now but this board doesn't allow posting images. Sorry.

    [b]As in rgsmoose's words.........[/b]

    I'm not paralyzed and I continue to do most of the things I used to. I have to turn my body more when backing up the car, and getting the last ounce out of the soda can is more challenging, but I can say that my life is mostly normal now. I still have numbness and pain issues that I deal with, but I have accepted that as "that's the way it is now". I refuse to let it get the better of me, and I'm not going to be labeled as "the girl with the spinal issues". I still have other levels of my cervical and lumbar spine that show problems but at this time my symptoms are not bad.


    [b]I am happy that you posted this as well:[/b]

    Living almost normally after cervical fusion surgery is possible - there are many of us that have proven that.

    [b]It's good to see another success story posted as well as mine.[/b]


    EmtShirl
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    History:

    1980- Transaxillary resection of 1st rib and division of band (left side)
    1982- Diagnostic Laparoscopy
    1985- Transaxillary excision of cervical rib (right side)
    1991- Laser stapedectomy (right side)
    1992- Fractional D&C
    1992- Diagnostic Laparoscopy
    1996- Lumbar hemilaminectomy
    1999- Left knee arthoscopic surgery
    2001- Laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy
    2002- L5-S1 Microdiscectomy
    2002- L4-L5, L5-S1 Anterior inter-body lumbar fusion with cages and my own bone from left hip for bone graft
    2002- Neck problems Surgery??????
    2002 DEC 21- C4-5, C5-C6 Anterior Cervical Corpectomy with Fusion and Internal Fixation (Bone from the bone bank)

     
    Old 08-15-2005, 07:18 AM   #4
    injured betty
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    Re: Help!!Desperately need some Cervical Fusion advise

    If I were you, I would try to find someone to do an ADR. That will maintain your level of motion. I had a friend who had the two level fusion and lost some of his neck movement, which is better than the constant pain or the numbness, but now he is limited. It is inconvenient at best.

    They are now doing two level neck fusions around the US. Well, worth it in the long run but insurance is not covering it.

    Good luck,

     
    Old 08-15-2005, 09:43 AM   #5
    rocky12345
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    Re: Help!!Desperately need some Cervical Fusion advise

    First of all - THANKS THANKS AND THANKS for the responses. It is greatly encouraging to see some good results..........

    [B]Hi rgsmoose:[/B]
    Yes, it is 2 level ACDF. Are the numbness and pain you have currently in your arms a lot less than before surgery? I am trying to figure out if my pain (neck & shoulder) and tingling (fingers) would go away... How long did the surgery recovery take?

    [B]Hi EmtShirl:[/B]
    I have the same questions for you ... were u relieved from pain 100%? and was it a long recovery? My NS keeps on saying that I should keep a realistic expectation from the surgery...??

    ~Rocky

     
    Old 08-15-2005, 10:09 AM   #6
    EmtShirl
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    Smile Re: Help!!Desperately need some Cervical Fusion advise

    Rocky ~

    You sound like you have a good surgeon!!!! It's great to hear you tell us what your surgeon said "keep a realistic expectation from the surgery". My numbness, tingling and most of my "deep" aches and pains are gone but I still have some pain in my neck and that may never get better. You have to remember there will be other types of pain due to having surgery. As your doctor said and you should know you will never be 100%. You may have to change your idea of what 100% is after surgery or even after the spine problems you now suffer. Just because you have a surgery and still may have some pain doesn't mean you have a failed surgery.

    Before having surgery one must evaluate how the pain effects everyday life before and realize you very likely will have some post-op permanent pain.

    As for me yes, still some pain even after all 7 of my spine surgeries but still very happy I had them done.

    EmtShirl
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    Love,
    Shirl
    History:

    1980- Transaxillary resection of 1st rib and division of band (left side)
    1982- Diagnostic Laparoscopy
    1985- Transaxillary excision of cervical rib (right side)
    1991- Laser stapedectomy (right side)
    1992- Fractional D&C
    1992- Diagnostic Laparoscopy
    1996- Lumbar hemilaminectomy
    1999- Left knee arthoscopic surgery
    2001- Laparoscopic assisted vaginal hysterectomy
    2002- L5-S1 Microdiscectomy
    2002- L4-L5, L5-S1 Anterior inter-body lumbar fusion with cages and my own bone from left hip for bone graft
    2002- Neck problems Surgery??????
    2002 DEC 21- C4-5, C5-C6 Anterior Cervical Corpectomy with Fusion and Internal Fixation (Bone from the bone bank)

     
    Old 08-15-2005, 11:36 AM   #7
    rgsmoose
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    Re: Help!!Desperately need some Cervical Fusion advise

    My reason for having cervical surgery was not the same as yours. I had had problems with pain and numbness in my arms in the past, but it never got to the point I wanted to have something done for it. I was in for a checkup after my lumbar surgery and I asked the surgeon how long I could continue to use the traction kit another surgeon had prescribed some years ago. The current surgeon suggested I get another cervical MRI. I resisted, but he persisted. I got the MRI done and the surgeon instantly said cervical surgery required due to myelopathy - no questions asked. I thought this was pretty quick, as he had waited out my lumbar issues for many months before that surgery was done. I had some pain and numbness in my arm, but what was bothering me the most was the loss of muscle. I'm right-handed and my right arm was now much smaller than my left. That's the main reason I brought up the subject in the first place.

    Both of my surgeons (the current ortho and a neuro) were very up-front in telling me not to expect much from the surgery. The only purpose of it was to stop the progression of the myelopathy. If I were to have any improvement in pain or numbness reduction, that was an added benefit. As I really didn't have pain I couldn't live with prior to the surgery, and it didn't get much worse with the first surgery, I looked at the surgery as being successful. This idea was negated with the second cervical surgery, though. It was posterior and that necessitates cutting through muscles that will not be able to reattach themselves to each other or to the bone they were removed from. I have more pain now than prior to the surgery, and it's been over a year now. That's what I have to adjust to living with now. But it was necessary as the myelopathy was progressing. Now it's not - I hope!

    If the major reason you're having surgery is to alleviate pain and numbness in your arms, don't expect miracles. You should see some improvement right away (other than the surgery pain itself, of course). Nerves regenerate at the rate of 1 centimeter per month, or something like that. It won't happen overnight, and may not ever totally clear up. If you have stenosis and it's getting worse, surgery is the only thing that'll fix it. It needs to be fixed, as you don't want to have that progressive disease slowly destroying nerves.

    Hope you get through everything OK. Maybe you'll be one of the lucky ones and everything will clear up right away. Good luck.

    Last edited by rgsmoose; 08-15-2005 at 11:43 AM.

     
    Old 08-15-2005, 11:50 AM   #8
    rocky12345
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    Re: Help!!Desperately need some Cervical Fusion advise

    Thanks EmtShirl and rgsmoose. You guys have been very helpful. I will make sure I stay on the brd after my surgery to help others.

    How long was the recovery? I am told that I can go back to my work in 4 wks ....I work on the computer. Is he realistic about the recovery period? He goes on to say that I would be good for non contact sports in 3 mnth????

    By the way, ADR is an option but too new to try (my NS says that).

    ~rocky

     
    Old 08-15-2005, 01:28 PM   #9
    rgsmoose
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    Re: Help!!Desperately need some Cervical Fusion advise

    I was off work for 7 days for each surgery. I'm a systems analyst, so I sit at a desk with a computer too. I figured it would be better to be at work and in pain with something to do rather than be at home and in pain with nothing to do. I had to get rides because I was in a hard collar for 12 weeks each time. I would have driven myself nuts sitting at home doing nothing.

    Everybody has a different way of handling things, so don't be overly-optimistic. I felt pretty good and figured I could handle working with the collar, so I did it. Your recovery will be different - no one can predict how, though.

    Good luck.

     
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