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  • C-spine exercises s/p fusions with titanium plates

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    Old 10-12-2011, 07:17 AM   #1
    inmylife54's Avatar
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    Wink C-spine exercises s/p fusions with titanium plates

    I had my first cervical fusions in 1992 at C4-5 and C5-6. The excruciating pain was relieved with the surgery. However, I continued to have intermittent pain and numbness in my right arm. As it was mild compared to what I had prior to the fusions, I just thought it was something I would have to live with. 14 years later I began having weakness, pain and numbness in the arm and shoulder. I went to a new Orthopedic surgeon and and MRI revealed that one of the fusions from 1992 had never taken and I had bone on bone. Unfortunately, the wear and stress on the other discs had desicated C7. I wound up with another surgery to refuse C4-5, 5-6 and 6-7. I have 2 titanium plates and 8 screws in my cervical spine now. I find that I am beginning to have a lot of popping in the neck and am concerned that this might be a kyphosis or worse yet other problems with the spine. I was wondering if there are neck strengthening exercises I can do with the plates as I am not supposed to tilt my head backwards and I certainly do not want to cause more injury. Does anyone have a similar problem that they could share safe exercises with me?

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    Old 10-12-2011, 01:26 PM   #2
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    Re: C-spine exercises s/p fusions with titanium plates

    I highly doubt any exercises would stop the popping sensation. It's all about the fusions.

    Basically, the doc took 4 vertebrae and turned it into 1 huge vertebra. C4,5,6 and 7 function as 1 solid block of bone with C3 still above and T1 below. Once you have that block of bone, it rocks on the bone below and slowly but surely, can destroy that vertebra and disk. The bigger the fusion, the bigger the problem. You started with 3 vertebrae fused and that increased to 4 as the block of 3 slowly destroyed C7 and now, the block of 4 is doing it's work on T1.

    I am fused from C3 to T1....6 vertebra....and my doc does annual x-rays and MRI's ever couple of years to watch for the problems he knows will happen at T2. He's told me that nothing can stop it. I tried a non-fusion surgery first as fusions are what causes the problems. Unfortunately, the non-fusion surgery didn't work and I had to go for the 6 levels. Mine was done from the back with rods and screws instead of plates.

    But I am doing one thing to try to forestall more surgery. I had a bone density done and was in very early osteoporosis. Although it wasn't so bad that I really needed treatment, my doc felt that since I had this huge fusion, that any extra strength in my vertebrae would be helpful in the long run. So I've done a drug called Reclast for the past 4 years to build bone. It's a once a year treatment that builds very strong bone. And my latest bone density shows no signs of osteoporosis and the latest x-rays show no deterioration of T2 as he expected to find after 5 years. Now, I am taking high doses of Vit.D and calcium supplements to keep the bone strong.

    I also take a Vit.B supplement in moderate doses to help with nerve health.

    Strengthening the neck muscles will do nothing for the pressure the fusion puts on the bone below it. But strengthening the bone may. You can't develop cervical kyphosis as your fusion is screwed/plated into position and the bone has now grown into place. You have to have mobile vertebrae for that to happen...I know...I had cervical kyphosis with subluxation of all 5 cervical vertebrae.

    Find out if you have any signs of osteoporosis(amazing how many men are finding out they have it too)and even if you don't, consider taking Vit.D and calcium supplements to make sure your body has what it needs to make the bones as strong as possible. That is your best defense.

    As for those popping noises...I have them too. I think it's the sound of the tendons riding over the screws and plates, or the sound of the fusion rocking.


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    Old 10-13-2011, 12:56 PM   #3
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    Talking Re: C-spine exercises s/p fusions with titanium plates

    Thank you for taking the time to share your story! I think in the back of my mind I knew that once we started down this slippery slope of fusions, it would only get worse. I will try the supplements and speak with my doctor about the Reclast. I have a bone density test scheduled for 2012 as my last one was good--no signs of osteoporosis. Hopefully, I will get equally good results this time. I wish you well with your health.


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    cervical degeneration, cervical fusions, kyphosis

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