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  • Spinal Cord Healing

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    Old 02-19-2006, 04:07 PM   #1
    notpain
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    Spinal Cord Healing

    ? for the experienced. Many have ACDF due to cord compression. What did your Surgeon tell you about Cord healing? Not really the exiting nerves but the cord itself?

     
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    Old 02-20-2006, 09:33 AM   #2
    BobM
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    Re: Spinal Cord Healing

    Hi:
    I experienced compression of both nerve branches and the spinal cord, which is not exactly what you asked, but here's some input.

    My NS explained that the ACDF would remove the disk, and the pressure on both the nerve branches and the spinal cord. The allograft and plate would restore and maintain the space between the vertebrae, and would/should prevent further nerve damage by stabilizing the C-Spine. He said the surgery didn't address damage to the nerves - it just removed the compression & stabilized the neck.

    As far as the nerve damage, he indicated that my body would likely repair the damage, but that it probably wouldn't be to 100%, and that it would take a long time. Evidently the nerves get their nouishment from within the nerve cell , and the part of the nerve cell downstream from the compression gets reduced nourishment, and in extreme (or lengthy?) cases can actually die. The regeneration (as he called it) of the nerve is about 1 centimeter each month. This explanation applied to both the nerve branches and the main spinal cord, as I remember it.

    My problems were more severe with the nerve branches, and I was just beginning to have problems from the cord compression. I was lucky, and have mostly recovered from my problems - things are working OK again, except for some residual pain (I've had 2 ACDFs - the residual pain is nothing like the pain when the nerves were compressed). I requested a repeat EMG last fall, and the data showed some of the old nerve damage, but also showed nerve activity from the 'regenerated' nerves.

    It's really fascinating to learn how all of this works, if only I didn't have to gain the knowledge first hand!

    It will be interesting to hear what others have been told.
    Bob

     
    Old 02-20-2006, 09:39 AM   #3
    sunshine221
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    Re: Spinal Cord Healing

    I had a laminectomy for spinal cord compression -- many of my pre-surgery symptoms are better, but 5.5, almost 6 months out I'm still slowly seeing improvement (so slow its frustrating, but I think its there) - the worst problem is a gait (walking) issue and the doc keeps saying "give it a year" - I did get hope on this issue from a posting on the neuropathy board.

     
    Old 03-05-2006, 06:20 PM   #4
    notpain
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    Re: Spinal Cord Healing

    sunshine have you had a post op MRI? Does it show the cord back where it should be, or is the area still inflamed?

     
    Old 03-05-2006, 10:58 PM   #5
    mb100
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    Re: Spinal Cord Healing

    Hi Notpain,
    I had a 3 level ACDF 4-22-04 for myelopathy c-4/7. I had MRI 10-05-05 which showed c-3/4 is now herniated as well. Mildly compresses the ventral surface of the cervical cord. "The spinal cord, although no longer compressed, appears unusually meniscal in configuration suggesting the effects of chronic pressure" was the finding at c-4/5. I also have nonunion at c-6/7 that requires more surgery, posterior this time as the site is no longer suitable for fusion from resorbtion at c-6 caused by moving/grinding of loose bone plug, which has now fragmented. The screws from the plate are also loose at c-7 and the plate has to come out most likely. A CT scan 11-04-05 confirmed the nonunion and herniation

    Almost 3 months went by from the time of the accident to the surgery. I think, and was told by the NS that the longer it took to get into surgery, the greater the chance of the damage being permanent. Pre-sugery my hand strength and gait were getting worse about every 2 or 3 days, not to mention the pain. It took about 5 seconds to close my right hand and I could barely walk. My GP brought in his whole staff to observe the symptoms, it was quite a sight.

    There are permanent changes to the cord. I had another opinion 2-22-06 and he showed me on the MRI the atrophy in the cord. My arm strength after months of therapy is approx. 50/60%. The big problem though is my gait/balance and pain from about L-1 to my feet. mostly on the right leg, lower leg atrophy, clonus, spastisity.

    I dont know how much compression you have from the herniated and bulging discs but it sounds like our symptoms are similar.
    I've read some of your postings and wonder why you havent had any surgery, although it may not relieve the symptoms after such a long time, it might keep them from getting worse.

    As far as the cord healing, I was told it was a crap shoot. Theres really no way to tell how much it can recover. It depends on the severity of the compression, and the length of time it is compressed. My NS said 95% of the recovery will happen when the cord or nerves are decompressed, the other 5% over time. In my case that was accurate. Although my strength was down in my hands, they were only slightly numb post surgery. (numb to the elbows pre surgery) My walking was terrible, but has improved somewhat.

    Theres a hell of alot more to the story as you can imagine, I wont bore you with it. But I hope my experience gives you a little insight.

    Best of luck to you, Mike

     
    Old 03-07-2006, 11:05 AM   #6
    sunshine221
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    Re: Spinal Cord Healing

    I'd love to have a post-op MRI just to know what it looks like now. Obviously (at least in the US) most insurance won't pay for MRI without justification. My Doc's view is "give it a year" - I go for my 6m checkup on Friday. If my gait isn't improved at the one year mark (or even in another 3m) I'll push for a new MRI. I think my walking arm swing is a bit better, but the walk itself is far from great -- but better than pre-surgery when my walking and balance were off.

     
    Old 03-10-2006, 05:53 PM   #7
    notpain
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    Re: Spinal Cord Healing

    fortunately or unfortunately I have to payn for mine like the 45 million other uninsured americans. I still have trouble getting a doctor referral. What's the big deal - I'm paying, I ought to be able to schedule my own without the addiyional expense of an extra doctors visit.

     
    Old 03-10-2006, 06:31 PM   #8
    Backinthesaddle
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    Re: Spinal Cord Healing

    May I ask how much your cords were compressed and for how long?

    My spinal cord was compressed to 6.5mm from July 04 until February 06. I had a baby in the meantime. My new doc seemed to not believe my NS (who retired and referred me to the new guy) so by the time I saw him it was to late until after I had the baby but I did do PT that didn't help. Anyhow long story short I had the ACDF 2/15 for C4/5 and expected bit changes. I am disappointed that I don't have them. I was told nerve regeneration can take 120 days if it does at all. My jaw,shoulders, arms and wrists still hurt. I am still very weak and cannot twist the top of a Gerber jar and snapping onesees is hard. This is workman's comp and worried they will release me to soon and I will have to sit for 8 hours in pain and not be able to take meds. I also drive one hour each way and driving really hurts my arms.

     
    Old 03-14-2006, 07:57 PM   #9
    ThoreauFan
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    Re: Spinal Cord Healing

    K- I hope you're seeing a Neuro about that stuff.

    I have follow ups with both my Neurologist and Neurosurgeon.

    I have other issues post op (I think it's a swollen nerve root), but I immediately had restored function. I didn't even realize all the limb pain that I had been having was caused by my compression until it was gone. Also, my "walk" has returned to normal, but, again, I didn't realize how much of a problem it had been until it was back to normal.

    Hoping you feel better!

     
    Old 03-15-2006, 02:34 PM   #10
    notpain
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    Re: Spinal Cord Healing

    seems to be different healing schedules for exiting nerves vs the cord itself. I have pretty much concluded nobody knows and worse for most of us in this condition, they don't care either.

     
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