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    Old 07-27-2006, 11:08 AM   #1
    humantunigfork
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    anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    I raise this question because as of tomorrow I am 5 weeks post ACDF...and some of my symptoms feel worse today than they did before my surgery...particularly as I have mentioned in previous posts...any little movement forward sends shocks throughout my upper spine and thru my arms and hands...Most of my numbness was most acutely in my left hand, left foot, and fingertips of my right hand...whereas now the numbness in my left hand feels exceptionally prominent and I am experiencing more numbness in my right hand than ever before...I am just worried something else is causing compression...I feel alot like I did before my surgery...my doctor who can't see me until august 11th...says perhaps I overdid it on this weekend trip I took and that the spinal cord was bruised and this is just a function of inflammation...I am worried sick because my wife and I are supposed to go on a vacation to FLA (flying...which my doctor says is o.k.) saturday...and I have about 2k in the trip already...Am I overreacting?...I would just feel better if I could have an MRI on my whole spine to rule out any further compression...HTF

     
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    Old 07-27-2006, 01:36 PM   #2
    ThoreauFan
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    Re: anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    You are not overreacting at all.

    I wouldn't hesitate to visit an ER to help ease your concerns.

    From my experience, though, the spinal cord inflammation does make sense.

    Dennis, Bob, Kissa, Marcia, Ember, Karin, Gloria, Frank, WB, et al? Are you out there?
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    Last edited by ThoreauFan; 07-27-2006 at 02:44 PM.

     
    Old 07-27-2006, 04:04 PM   #3
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    Re: anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    I was very fortunate in that post op for me went well. I did have some spasms or odd sensations a few weeks post op and this was primarily due to swelling. Ice really helped to eliminate that problem. If I were you I'd be using ice every hour for 20 minutes. Do not use any sort of heat, if you have any level of imflamation this will actually increase the imflamation and cause bigger problems for you.

    I do agree that you are not over reacting, any new pain should always be reported to the doctor immediately. It could be possible that you did overdo things but quite honestly if it doesn't get any better by early next week I would really push to see the doctor as soon as possible.

    One thing to keep in mind, depending on how many levels you had done and if you are braced or not is that having a fusion puts additional stress above and below the area that was fused. It is not uncommon for those areas to fail but is uncommon for them to fail so quickly.

    Did the doctor fuse all the areas that were problematic or were some areas simply cleaned up? I ask this because I had a few areas simply "cleaned up" and now am having some issues with them as well. Knowing exactly what the doctor did might help to solve the problem or at least answer your questions if you haven't bruised or strained the area.

    Additionally if the doctor continues to ignore you and the pain does not go away you might want to seek a second opinion on the situation. I wouldn't jump the gun just yet, I would wait and see what the doctor has to say first. It might be a bit too soon for another MRI depending on how many levels you had done but it is possible to have one as soon as 8 weeks. It might be what you need to have done. Additionally X-rays are definately in order to be sure nothing has shifted or that you have not broken any screws.

    Until you know for sure what's causing these sensations I would take it easy. Even if you feel fantastic remember you just had a major surgery a month ago and you shouldn't be lifting anything heaving, partaking in any activities that would cause a sudden jolt and you shouldn't be extending your neck beyond what they do in physical therapy. It's important to take extra care of your neck until the fusion has actually taken place. This can take up to a year in some individuals. There's no such thing as being over cautious when it comes to a fusion.

    I wish you luck on your trip and I don't mean to alarm you but I know from experience that the pressure caused during lift off and landing can cause undue pain and stress on the neck. I did not fly until I was at least a years post op for that very reason. I honestly can't imagine flying less than 8 weeks post op. If you do not wear a neck collar you might be well advised to wear one during this period of time. The sudden jerking forward and backwards on takeoff and landing may cause you to experience even greater pains.

    I wish I had better advice but it's really hard to say what could be causing the extreme pain. I know prior to my ACDF the sensations you are having are similiar to what I experienced but they were elimiated, along with the numbness, immediately.

    Good luck, I do hope that it's nothing serious and that perhaps you just over did things a bit. Again, please use LOTS Of ice and rest often! Let us know how you doing and what the doctor says.

    Barb

     
    Old 07-27-2006, 08:30 PM   #4
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    Re: anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    If you are still having the symptoms I too would be concerned. When you see the doctor you may want to insist on an MRI or whatever he can do to evalute for any further nerve/cord impingement. Let the doctor know exactly what you are experiencing, what your activity level has been, what medications you've taken.

    I say this becuase most of the symptoms I've had post-op have been brief. I get remnants of my pre-op pain but usually it's at the end of the day (when I've done too much or worked too long ) or when I slept 'wrong' . So any symptom(s) that lasted or seemed to get worse would concern me.

    I am just about 11 weeks post C5-C7 ACDF and I had a concern last week that my pain level might be too high. My doctor's office easily fit me in with only a few days notice. He talked to me before deciding if xrays were needed. But once I explained what I feel in terms of pain and other symptoms - and when I feel these symptoms, he talked me through it and determined the pain level is normal. If it had not been he would have done an xray.

    I will be honest with you in that that you should be concerned if the doctor in any way dismisses what you are feeling and the symptoms you are describing. Listen to your inner voice and seek out a new physician if you think it would help. Overdoing 'it' would cause pain but at the level you've described I think you'd have to be riding roller coasters to get that much pain at this point post-op.

    Long story short but years ago I had my knee (ACL) fixed and 8 weeks later the repair fell apart. The doctor said he had to go back in to fix it. My inner voice was telling me to not let him do it, go see another doctor, but noooooooo I decided to let him fix it. 6 months later it fell apart again and I later found out he did the procedure wrong (and ACL is very common in orthopedic surgery). I found this out when seeking to move from NJ to IL for a job and went to the best O.S. in town (who I should have gone to in the first place) and he couldn't believe the poor job done on my knee. He said I could move to IL but would have to have the knee reconstructed. I found a great O.S. in IL and he said "do you want form or function" - I said function and he made a huge incision but did a great job. My knee is as close to 100% as you can get after all that surgical trauma. I don't say this to scare you , but just know that if your doctor doesn't take what you say seriously consider seeking treatment elsewhere. As we all know nerve damage/pain is nothing to consider lightly.

    Karin
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    Last edited by SpineAZ; 07-27-2006 at 08:38 PM.

     
    Old 07-28-2006, 07:43 AM   #5
    humantunigfork
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    Re: anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    thank everyone for their replies...Here is the story as of this morning...I just drove to my surgeon's office on my way home from work yesterday afternoon (I had to lead a department meeting...otherwise I wouldn't have gone)...I just demanded to see him despite the fact that the secretary said he was backed up 2hours...so after a 2hour wait I was the last patient of the day...After he joked "ahhh...a walk-in patient" he was very attentive to my situation...I had a 1-level fusion C5-C6 w/plating as the result of a sports injury which had caused severe cord compression...I wore a soft collar (which was optional) for about 10 days...I had minor shocks when I would bend my head forward as in getting in and out of a car...otherwise my symptoms were about the same as pre-surgery (numbness)...I had started to feel a little better (i felt as if numbness was receding in my foot and less acute in my hands)...until this dang trip...the car ride (5 hours both ways)/riding in a golf cart (which now I realize may have been problematic)...halfway through the trip i started to feel more pronounced shocks when i would move my head forward and experienced more numbness/shocks in my left hand than ever.

    So here is the story...Doc did an x-ray immediately and said my plate was where it was supposed to be and that moreover...my fusion has started to heal and looked "really good"...so no problem there...He also tested my reflexes and strength and suggested that things are improving there...though they are little better on the left side than the right...He thinks that given my severe cord compression that what I am experiencing is classic symptoms of Lemates (I know I haven't spelled that right does anyone know how to spell that..I should have asked)...cervical shocks through my right arm/hand and across the upper spine...resulting from stretching the cord too far...and given the low level vibrations experienced in the long car ride ( i neglected to tell him about the golf cart)...it sound like a case of bad inflamation causing this problem...He in turn gave me some type of "steroid pack" which I began taking last night...He has also ordered an MRI for me today in about 2 hours just to be safe...There is a slight possibility of a problem above or below as one of you pointed out...but he said that would be rare in a 1 level fusion..and he has only seen 2 or 3 in 20 years...So we hope for the best this afternoon...He says if everything is turns out o.k. I should go to FLA...that flying is far less problematic than driving w/ regard to the vibration...However if we go (our only real vacation...my wife needs this...she gets no break from a high stress job/husband/household) I will definitely wear the collar...Thanks to everyone here for your support...and feel free to give me anymore feedback...HTF

     
    Old 07-28-2006, 08:31 AM   #6
    ThoreauFan
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    Re: anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    It's nice to hear you saw your Dr.

    I believe the steroids will help a great deal, although not right away.

    Anti-inflammatories are not given in the early stages of recovery, thus the no NSAIDs instruction, because inflammation is the first stage of fusion healing. It's very good to hear your fusion is taking. Usually, a non-union is the biggest fear.

    I was given high-dose IV steroids as part of my post-op protocol. I was actually feeling good enough to eat solid foods the same day as the surgery. My NS warned me of a bump in the road as the steroids wore off, though. I weaned off with a week long pack or oral prednisone and, sure enough, day 5 was my peak for misery.

    I'm sure you'll gain some relief when those steroids kick in.

    Enjoy your vacation!

    Oh. And it's called Lhermitte's syndrome. The shocks when flexing the neck are not uncommon at all.

    P.S. In my experience, periods of "vibration" are, indeed, the absolute worst thing for me.
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    Last edited by ThoreauFan; 07-28-2006 at 10:45 AM.

     
    Old 07-28-2006, 08:46 AM   #7
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    Re: anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    HTF-

    Just wondering if the doc could have prescribed you Topamax or something of the sort to help you with the nerve shocks. I think that it might help you. It will take a while for the nerves to calm down. Imagine if you had been attacked with a scalpel. Watch for new symptoms and let the doctor know if they occur.

    wb

     
    Old 07-28-2006, 01:50 PM   #8
    humantunigfork
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    Re: anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    Here is the latest...I just spoke with my Surgeon an hour after my MRI (which had to be done twice because the first time..."dude"...forgot to do the contrast despite my insistence that I would need some sort of shot)...anyway I can live with that given my results...The MRI revealed that all other disks are in place...no herniations...no leaky spinal fluid...no cord compression...no infection...just significant swelling and inflamation of the spinal cord...whew...I was so worried I had busted another disk...So I have the o.k. to go on the trip...but mind you I will not ride any bike/boat/waves...whatever...I think I will just lay on and walk on beach (Siesta Key). I appreciate everyone's support and info...I don't know what I would do without this resource...Thoreau--thanks for the correct spelling which gives name to that most heinous sensation of sticking keys into an electrical socket...that sensation is in fact why I chose the HumanTuningFork moniker...I think I could live with some of this numbness if I didn't have to feel those shocks...HTF

     
    Old 07-28-2006, 05:45 PM   #9
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    Re: anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    HTF,
    Seems as though it's time for you to take things back a notch and give your body some rest. I would normally say that a vacation sounds like a great chance to kick back and take it easy, but based on your posts, your own admissions of impatience and such, I almost hate to think of what your activity schedule is going to be like.

    As for your concerns about all your symptoms coming and going, getting better and then getting worse, I felt exactly as you did. I was sooooo relieved at my six-week xray when I saw that everything was where it was supposed to be and that fusion had started. And then when I had my twelve-week xray, I again felt an enormous sense of relief.

    I'm pretty sure I said this before ('cause I say it to everyone), you need to remember that your body went through a TRAUMA. That little scar does not tell the whole story of what went on underneath. We all tend to think of our healing based on what we can see, which is, I guess, convenient, but not necessarily........correct.

    I learned the hard way. A few years ago my husband had surgery that left him with a 4-inch wound which had to heal 'from the inside out'. I had to clean and pack it every day for weeks and I have never forgotten how stunned I was when I first saw it. It was the first time I really, really understood that those surgeons were actually cutting into us when we had those surgeries!

    Yuck!

    Anyway, HTF, don't be so hard on yourself. You've got nothing to prove to yourself or to anyone else. Your healing takes.......as long as it takes. Period.

    This will all be a distant memory before you know it, just a good story to tell.

    ______________________________

    I forgot to ask whether you were taking muscle relaxers. Tight muscles can cause all sorts of pain and problems and many people don't realize how knotted up those muscles are until someone points it out to them.

    Also, does anyone know if a med like Neurontin or Lyrica would help with the 'electric shock' symptoms?

    Not being able to take anti-inflammatories for a while after surgery is tough. Here you are with all this inflamed, throbbing, painful stuff and you can't effectively treat it. I'll bet the steroid pack will really help you out.

    And last, wanted to point out that the post-surgery anxiety is so common that many surgeons routinely prescribe anti-anxiety meds right along with the stuff for pain, etc.

    Last edited by ember919; 07-30-2006 at 01:40 PM.

     
    Old 08-07-2006, 06:53 AM   #10
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    Re: anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    Well I survived my vacation...the flying part was ok except for the small plane on which I had to bend my neck forward to walk through...I finished the steroid pack and my shocks have lessened a bit...all other symptoms are about the same...though I feel a little better...I did have a scare down there though...coming back into the bungalow with wet feet I slipped on the tile floor and fell...breaking my fall first with my hip then my elbow...Oddly enough there was no shock in that episode...I don't feel as if there were any consequences to that episode but of course I freaked out about my fusion/hardware or any other subsequent injury...I hope all is good...I am sure I will have an X-ray on Friday when I go for my 7 week post-op visit...thanks to everyone who responded..P.S. I haven't taken any medicine save for the steroid pack...HTF

     
    Old 08-07-2006, 07:41 AM   #11
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    Re: anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    HTF - glad all went well - I was away a bit myself - I was at my worst at around 5 weeks too -- hang in there!

     
    Old 08-09-2006, 06:40 PM   #12
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    Re: anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    HTF I had ACDF C4/5 6 months ago. I was the worse case scenerio. I had pretty bad cord compression for over 18 months and had horrid pain in my left arm and hand. Post surgery I remained having horrible pain on my left side from my neck to my fingers. I did PT for months and will continue and am now waiting to see a pain management doctor. I was told that it would take 12 to 18 months to heal and that some of this will not go away. I have good days and bad days still. I have not returned to work but will shortly as I can now sit and use my hands for longer periods of time. My arms are still quit tired and sore and my fingers still ache as do my wrists. I am able to get back to some of my joys like walking and jogging some, light weights and have even ridden a few times. I am a new mom and have loved this year at home with my boy and if not for him I doubt my healing would be this good. So that said you may have a long road to recover and some days will be good and others not. One day you think you are healed then bam you have a bad week. With cord compression it seems to just take longer depending on the severity. I walked in your path and am doing so much better then I was so you will too. Good luck..................BITS

     
    Old 08-09-2006, 07:22 PM   #13
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    Re: anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    BITS - glad to hear that you are improving, although like all of us, slowly but hopefully surely. I had an almost constant "buzz" in my finger, but the last few weeks its gotten a lot better and I'm almost at the one year mark. Now if I could only get my gait back (but it is a lot better, but I'm an "A" personality perfectionist)

    -Gloria

     
    Old 08-11-2006, 08:24 AM   #14
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    Re: anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    BITS...or anyone for that matter...I guess these lingering post-surgical problems for me (l'hermitte's sign--which is worse this week, and continued numbness in both hands and left foot) are due to the severe nature of the cord compression suffered...Is it the case that the cord is still so inflamed that these symptoms will not abate and on occassion seem worse...How and will the swelling go down? I go for my 7 week post-op appt. today and I have a lot of questions...I just read on here alot of folks have the surgery...symtoms are gone...and they exit stage left...Is it because they didn't suffer the cord compression or that it wasn't severe? I just figured by this point I would be better than before my surgery and am wondering at what point i need to seek out another doctor...HTF

     
    Old 08-12-2006, 10:00 AM   #15
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    Re: anybody ever had spinal cord compression after acdf?

    I had "severe" compression and I had a new MRI recently. I was told that I probably have some "permenant damage" do to the compression. I'm at 11.5 months post surgery and I'm probably 80-85% better than before surgery. Hang in there for a while and see what happens.

     
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