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gfr 09-10-2005 06:56 AM

Cervical fusion questions
 
I ruptured a disk, C5/6 in April, and made a real mess of it. Work Comp has paid lost income and med care since then, but steroids and PT have only improved condition by about 25%. So now I have a fusion scheduled for October 13. I really don't want to have surgery, as my WC ordeal has put me out of my house and into a creepy motel that's all I can afford. It is not remotely conducive to recovery in my opinion, the daily walks I would take with my neck collar and weakened state would make me a sweet target in this neighbor hood, I know this because I already spent a month and 1/2 wearing a collar, and was attacked onceduring that time, harrassed and threatened many more.

Anyway, although my attorney has been trying to settle the case for 2 months, the WC adjuster won't talk to him, and it looks like they will force me to have the surgery. But I have alot of questions and reservations. I have missed out on life completely for 4 months, and the idea of missing out for another several months sucks. I have read that sometimes people come away from the operation paralyzed, and I have been told that I will need assistance for the first month after surgery. There is no one to assist me except for me. I no longer have a job to go back to, it was heavy labor on construction sites, and my former employer fired me a week after i filed my claim, as there is no "modified" position I could take.

I need to know what percentage of people have worst case scenario after fusion. I need a detailed account of daily living post-op. I need to know a failure percentage, i.e. how often does the surgery NOT relieve pain and parasthesia. Most people i talk to(lawyer's assistants mostly) think I'm crazy to not want surgery, but to me it seems like a major life decision that I am being forced to make. I might feel differently if I still had a home and friends to help me out, but people tend to abandon you when you have a work comp injury for some reason.

lwaldorf 09-12-2005 05:51 AM

Re: Cervical fusion questions
 
hi, failure rate is up to 20% on acdf and could take many years to resurface. i wasn't told this after my acdf. in addition, you will lose some neck functionality. i have sleep on my back and you will continue to have some degree of neck aches periodically. good luck.

notpain 09-12-2005 09:31 PM

Re: Cervical fusion questions
 
I have read extensively on "Percentages". I've seen everything from 70% without plating to 90+% with plating. All that matters is YOUR own personal success. That's true for everyone. It will either work or not. I was speaking with 70+ year old retired orthopedic surgeon today. His advice for back surgery is avoid it at all costs. His advice for neck surgery is that fusion has a good sucess rate and it doesn't take long to recover. But for every person that struggles after fusion there are also success stories. Some people have gone 20+ years with no further problems. I have a multilevel problem and have been suffering for more than a year. I've seen about 12 doctors now, chiros, physical therapy, massage, etc. I do not have pain down my arms but I am in some kind of pain constantly. I have not slept through the night in over a year. I have tried all kids of meds. I am still trying and waiting.

Anyways - things that May or May not help.

1. Have the physical therapist check you for muscle imbalances - remove the stresses off your disc and it may heal.

2. Posture - most of us are "slouchers" and it doesn't help. If you don't think you have bad posture have someone take photos of you standing sitting etc. Then show these to your PT.

3. Massage - deep tissue, Rolfing, Trigger point, etc.

4. Chiro - hasn't worked for me but some swear by it. NUCCA is something to check out too. I am scared of the quick twisting motions so many chiros use. I got adjusted today and told the chiro NOT to do a rapid movement and he did it anyways. I wonder what part of DO NOT twist my neck rapidly he didn't understand? I have been to him before and he didn't do that. Tonight I am in more pain than usual. Not happy. I know an individual that actually had 2 discs herniated by the chiropractor and had to go through 7 months of hell until they healed - but they did heal.

5. Four months may not be enough time to heal under conservative treatment. It's very very long and slow when you are suffereing, but many suffer longer and do heal. I am not one of them so far. However when I injured C6/7 8 years ago it healed in 2.5 months after excruciating daily pain.

6. Fusion puts additional strain on the remaining discs, thus the importance of posture correction - see Alexander Technique, etc. Sometimes this additional stress is enough to make the discs above or below buldge or herniate. I suspect this is the case for me.

7. Read about the prestige disc, PCM disc, Bak/C, Bryan artificial discs. You may luck out and heal. If you don't you may get better enough to make it until you can get involved in one of these studies.

8. Unfortunately there are no solid "cures" for neck problems. We are all different (boy am I sick of hearing that) and will heal at different rates. Make sure you fix your diet so you will heal well. Omega 3 fats in fish oil and flax seed are beneficial most would agree. Make sure you minerals are in balance (blood tests can help determine this). Drink as much pure water as you can stand. Quit smoking if you smoke - it's hell on discs. And cut out foods which cause inflammation.

Those are some starters. Just helpers. You may get the help you need and recover fine if you give yourself a couple more months. You may need surgery or you may not. Investigate your options. And remember to share your experiences with the rest of us.


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