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    Old 01-29-2006, 08:30 PM   #1
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    Another ACDF needed?

    HI ya'all. I haven't been active in a long time as been having problems with my ACDF. Here's the situation
    I was fused C4-7 back in February of 2004 after have a very large herniation on the left side. I was doing fantastic after the surgery and very greatful I had it done until last spring.
    Last spring someone rear ended me while I was pulling into my driveway. Since then pain has returned in my neck which is quite sharp and strong. I also have had numbness in both arms and for some time lost total feeling of my left hand.
    I've have cortisone injections (much to my own objection) with no luck. I never respond to them anyhow. I am on some pretty strong pain meds for other various reason but this being the primary at the time.
    I had an MRI done in June which indicated no herniations but C5-C7 where very arthritic. C5 was totally black and C6 and 7 were halfway black (ie dead). Doctors found it very odd that only 1 year post op there was so much damage. There's no way to tell if the accident caused this or sped up the process so I'm now fighting the insurance company. They want me to settle and I refuse.

    I've done a few short doses of Medrol packs with minimal relief. It's gotten to the point now the only relief I get is when I put on my Aspen collar and take both my muscle relaxants and medications at the same time.
    Sitting is untolerable, laying is worse and I'm now getting severe headaches and dizzy spells. I am certain something is pinched, I've never had these syptoms before.

    I see the nuero in two weeks, problem there is the guy has such a HUGE ego. I am really concerned he will come out and say there's no problem as he has done in the past. It's hard as can be to get an appointment with any good nuero around here without waiting some 3+ months and I'm not sure I can hold out that long..

    I guess my question is, has anyone gone through a similiar experience? I know some have had multiple ACDF's, where your symptoms anything like this?
    Originally my symptoms were only arm and hand pain, I never had neck pain until this last year, even before my first surgery.

    My Pain Management doctor has done all he can done short of knocking me out for days at a time which I'd rather not be, it's bad enough now.

    Thanks for any advice and especially for letting me vent. I am so frustrated and scared I just don't know what to do anymore.

    Gentle hugs

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    Old 01-30-2006, 09:21 AM   #2
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    Re: Another ACDF needed?


    You may need to get a second opinion. All surgeons think their work is always right.

    I had an ACDF 3 level, but the doc left part of the middle disk in for stability. I'm going in a few weeks to have a laminectomy to remove pressure from my cord at C6. A different NS is doing the surgery. I expect better results.


    Old 01-30-2006, 05:26 PM   #3
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    Re: Another ACDF needed?

    Thanks for the advice.
    My surgeon is actually a very renownded one, it's his personality that stinks.
    I will know soon what he thinks and have considered a second opinion but it will take me well over 3 months to get into another and I'm not so sure it's something that can wait based on my symptoms. It's pretty scary.
    I find myself stumbling all over nowadays from the dizziness that has suddenly onset not to mention the pain.
    I am on morphine to control the pain and even that doesn't work.
    Very very frustrating!

    Old 01-30-2006, 06:45 PM   #4
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    Re: Another ACDF needed?

    Hi there, (sorry so long)

    I just actually had my second Anterior Cervical Fusion at level C/6-C/7 with donor bone and metal plate and 4 screws on Dec. 12, 2005. My first surgery was in 2001 for levels C/5-C/6 and C6/C/7 with my own bone and WITHOUT and metal plating or screws. Was in a hard collar for 3 months and had 4 months of PT. First symptoms to warrant the surgery in 2001 was terrible neck pain with numbness in both arms and hands and actually dropping things. I had epidural cortisone shots, traction, pain meds, etc. and then finally two months later when they did the MRI they found both levels of discs were ruptured into my spinal cord and scheduled surgery immediately. I was told that I was "fixed" and it was EXTREMELY rare for it not to fuse since I don't smoke and I shouldn't have anymore pain or problems and the idea of not using any plates or screws was "best" for me. I believed him totally.....He's the Dr......

    I was pain free and doing great until 2003 started getting twinges of pain here and there, then more pain, more pain...this is in my neck but more so in mid-back (thoracic region), Right shoulder and scapula.... I didn't have any numbness or tingling in either arm so didn't think it could be my neck issues again and neither did my Dr.... So, more pain medicine....tried Duragesic patch (sick as a dog), oxycontin, morphine, etc... to no avail to control the pain. In June of 2005 I was sent to a pain mgmt. Dr. and told him about all my pain issues and kept saying that my shoulder/scapula didn't "feel" related to my surgery area since these are different symptoms... Well, he ordered a MRI and it showed a total non-fusion. The bone in that level was completely gone and reabsorbed into my other bone... So, sent me to Neurosugeon for surgery.. I delayed surgery until Dec. because of a mission trip to NC with our youth group, vacation with hubby, and mission trip to Africa...Don't and Can't miss out on life because of my pain and these were amazing opportunities...

    Well, I still complained of so much pain 7-9 on pain scale at every visit to my Pain Dr. and had to see him since my surgeon wasn't going to handle any pain issues...My Pain Dr. did nothing but put me on medicine.. No PT, other tests for my shoulder/scapula to see what was going on... NOTHING!

    So, in late October, still a few months before the surgery my pain mgmt. tells me, out of the blue, that they are giving me my last prescriptions since I put off the surgery.... I said your job as a pain mgmt. doc is to help me live the best life possible WITH my pain and these trips are crucial to my emotional well being and will give me great joy and happiness and the surgeon said I wouldn't injure myself further by going so there isn't a risk per se, so I have the choice to cancel these trips, sit at home and be in the same terrible amount of pain or go, have God touch my heart in so many ways, and have the same pain.. I didn't ask for any stronger medicine...just the same things I was taking but told him for months that this was NOT working... I was on 60mg Cymbalta once a day and Percocet 5/325 up to 4 a day.... That was it... Not very strong at all....

    So, we argue back and forth about them treating me for my pain since they actual wrote on my chart that they will treat me to "work on a plan with me to treat my pain before my surgery" (dated in Sept) and "POSTOPERATIVELY" as well (dated in Oct) and now they are somehow forgetting this....HMMMMM.
    They reluctantly agree to give me medicine for 25 days and then I call back again, same issue, another they give me enough to have until 1 week BEFORE my surgery.....When I ask about after they say my surgeon will have to provide...

    I have my surgery on Dec. 12th and the am of the 13th before my discharge my surgeon refuses to give me any meds for my pain for post-op and says "I don't take Tylenol for a headache so why should you need something?" and I tell him that my shoulder/scapula is now worse with the collar on and I am at a 9 on the pain scale and people are always given post-op meds for major surgery and the nurses at the hospital said that if you didn't prescribe it than they will. So, he gives me 4 days worth..and when I go back to my Pain Dr. to talk with them and that I am in terrible pain, they said that my surgeon called them and said that his prescription was for 10 days and that they are concerned about me taking all the meds.... I said, NO, I will show you the bottle and have my pharmacy fax you a copy that says for 4 days.... They said it doesn't matter and they are done with me, period... They believe him over me and that even me requesting pain meds after surgery tells them that I have a problem..... WHAT???????????

    Ok, I'll quickly get to the end So, I see my Primary Doc office and my regular dr. is not there so I see this one Dr. who got a phone call from my Pain Dr. so he automatically believes them and I don't even get a chance to talk about my side or show them proof that I did everything right and it's crazy to label someone because they need post-op medicine.... He gives me a 4 day prescription 5/325 and tells me to go see the Pain Dr. again.

    Hubby and I go next door where they are located...and the NP comes into the waiting room and says I am not welcome there... that they will not treat me...that I don't have any real pain (standing there with neck brace on 10 days after surgery...and that this "shoulder/scapula" pain was never talked about and a new pain that she doesn't really believe and that they don't treat Post-op patients... I ask her to get my chart to show I have talked about the shoulder pain since June and the visit where they personally typed they would handle my post-op pain. She says NO and doesn't even offer to take me back into a room since all this is done in the waiting room and even when I ask if I can make an appt. with the Ortho there for an x-ray of my shoulder since my PCP said I should she refused that I could see anyone in that office and I need to leave!!!! This is December 22nd....a few days before way to get another appt. with a pain Dr.,...was going to run out of medicine in 4 days and that they called and marred my reputation to my PCP with all false info so I can't even see them......

    I was left with nothing until I saw my regular PCP on Jan. 3rd...sent to an Ortho...he did x-ray of shoulder and sent for MRI of rotator cuff even though he said this is not the issue?????? More meds......

    I made an appt. with the Virginia Spine Institute and saw the most AWESOME dr. on the 12th who is going to handle my spine care from here on out!!!! He was so compassionate and the first thing he said was he was sorry I have been treated so badly and that he is upset with this last surgeon for using donor bone and thought that was such a BAD idea since I failed on my own bone..the risk of the donor bone, for me, is so much worse...GREAT!!!! Can't change that now but he said he will do EVERYTHING in his power to get me as low on the pain scale with PT, medicine, and then other things but now he only wants PT and meds and put me on 7.5/325 Percocets (without batting an eye) and I can take 2 every 4 hours (limit 8 cause of Tylenol) a great muscle relaxer called Robaxin which helps but doesn't make me tired, staying on Cymbalta 60mg, and take an Ambien to zonk out at night and get some much needed sleep! He really believes in having a LIFE even with back problems and doing all he can as a Dr. to help treat each person and find out what they want to achieve and provide whatever treatments he can to lessen the pain and keep the back as healthy as possible..

    I am also going to see another Pain Clinic on the 14th to have them help manage the chronic part of the pain which is great....

    I hope and pray that you can find a Spine Specialist in your area since this is usually a Neurosugeon who has 2 extra years training just in the spine... They know all the latest techniques.. It bothers me that you have these "black" areas that usually mean the bone that was fused there is gone... This is unacceptable to stay this way and you need a current MRI or CT scan to look at your neck.... You may very well have to have another surgery to correct this issue and help with the neuro symptoms but even my Spine Specialist says that surgery is not to releive pain totally and should not be used for that since it doesn't work this way all the time, especially in the cervical verterbrae.....

    Also recommend another Pain Dr. for you who is willing to work as a team with your Spine Specialist and help you get to do as many activities and things that you want to do under the circumstances and help us lower the pain level as much as possible but also how to LIVE our lives with what pain we do have...

    Just a side note that I now have much worse neck pain AND the shoulder/scapula pain and am filing a formal complaint to the Virginia Medical Board against the Pain Mgmt. Dr., his NP, and my last surgeon, for the under treatment of my pain and other issues with ruining my reputation and hindering my treatment from other Dr.s because of their false information....

    I have to take a stand for this so it doesn't happen to someone else and even my reg. PCP and Spine Dr. agreed with me...

    Please accept my prayers and support for you as you sort through opinions and other treatments, surgeries, and stories from all of us here going through similar things...

    I am so sorry for the length but really wanted to convey my story since we sound similar in our issues....

    Feel free to ask anymore questions to me and I promise to be more brief in my answers...Really I will

    Hugs and blessings,

    Old 04-14-2006, 10:12 PM   #5
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    Re: Another ACDF needed?

    all i can say after reading you story is wow!!! i thought i was the only one that ever had this series of unforunate events happen to i will have to tell you my long journey thru the pain management nightmare i went thru later as i can barely keep my eyes open but promise to write a post later tommorow
    thanks bob
    chronic pain sufferer from pinched nerve in c67,disc protusions in c2,c3,c4 osteophytes in c3,c4

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