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    Old 04-07-2009, 12:27 PM   #1
    Janatee
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    HELP Posterior Cervical need advice

    Hello All.. I'm not new to this board, but I need help! Last year I had ACDF, and it was a long recovery for me. Long story short, I will be getting another Cervical operation soon. This time they are going in the back of the neck, and doc has told me, this will be a more painful recovery... I will be back in my Aspen Collar for at least 6 weeks. Also will have rods and screws. I do have plates, screws and a cage in the front..
    SO... I need to know if anyone out there, has been through this and how did you do, and what do I need to know on the recovery end of this? Doc said sometimes since going into the back and touching and moving the muscles, this can feel like bad charlie horses in the neck... He did tell me they will have me on meds to ease the pain...
    Please, anyone with info on your recovery, would love to hear from you. What they found on the MRI, is what is causing my legs not to work correctly. If I do not get this done soon, I will end up in a wheel chair! I will not give up, I need to get my life back to some type of normal... Would love to hear from you soon... Thank you all. Janatee

     
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    Old 04-07-2009, 02:10 PM   #2
    jennybyc
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    Re: HELP Posterior Cervical need advice

    I have had 2 posterior cervical spine surgeries and it is VERY different from front entry. First off, they have cut a lot of muscles to get to where they need to be so it takes longer to recover and is more painful. It sounds like they are going to use the Vertex system of titanium rods and screws to fuse you from the back in combination with laminectomies to open the spinal canal. I had a laminoplasty first where they drill out and replace the bones to enlarge the canal but it collapsed less than 3 months after surgery(a new world record apparently) and they had to do an emergency fusion. So in less than 3 months I had this done twice!

    So I am now fused from C3 to T1 and may be looking at a 3rd surgery. I was doing so well I started back doing aerobics and herniated the only disk left.....between C2 and C3. I find out June 3rd if he's going to extend the fusion.

    So expect pain but they'll give you lots of meds for pain and muscle spasms. As the muscles heal they spasm and they also spasm due to not being used. PT can help with massage and electric stimulation of the muscles. The neck brace is actually nice as it's really hard to hold your head up with all the muscles cut. You'll find it hard to take off after 6 weeks. Takes time to build muscle strength again.

    It sounds like they didn't explain too much to you but it certainly sounds like you have spinal cord compression either from your herniated disks or spinal stenosis or cervical spondylosis. I have cervical spondylosis and my first symptoms were numbness in my toes and stiffness in my legs. I was talking baby steps because I couldn't move them forward. At times I walked like a drunk with my feet far apart because I was off balance. The pressure on my cord was slowly but surely making me paralyzed from the waist down(hands and wrists too). Had I not had the surgery, I'd be a wheelchair by now. I'm not. I was just stupid! It's been 2 years and I didn't even think of my neck just that I needed some exercise and hurt myself again.

    If you have any questions, just ask. I'm glad you are getting this fixed before the paralysis sets in. I had over a year of PT to get everything back after my surgery.

    gentle hugs............Jenny

     
    Old 04-07-2009, 02:32 PM   #3
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    Re: HELP Posterior Cervical need advice

    Jennybyc, Thank you so much for your reply and all the info. I know this will not be an easy fix, or recovery. But, I feel I would rather take the pain and the long heal, then the wheelchair. With all my hardware that I have now in my neck, I have limited range of movement. I can only turn so far to my right, and left. So I have learned to adjust my movements. I know with all the hardware you have, with the rods and such, how is your range? Has it gotten less, or did it stay the same? If you feel like shouting back sometime, I would like to know. Thank you once again for your quick reply. I have always found such reassurance and good information from all of the good people who write on this board. I know we are all together some how here. Take care, and be kind to your body. Janatee

     
    Old 04-08-2009, 12:48 PM   #4
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    Re: HELP Posterior Cervical need advice

    On range of motion, I'm pretty good on the right. Can turn my head almost to the shoulder, can tilt halfway over to the shoulder and tip my head to the back and chin about half way. My left side is another whole matter. It was less than the right but not that bad until I herniated the disk at C2-3 and now it is absolutely stuck when I try to tilt to the left. My turning is halfway to shoulder. But I know prior to this injury it was pretty close to the right.

    So if you are going all the way up to C3, expect to lose about half of your ROM or slightly better. I can still drive and do just about everything I did before. I just can't look back over my shoulder for anything!.

    The other strange thing about a long fusion is loss of balance. Your head acts like a gyroscope with your inner ear for balance and when you can't get those fine movements of your head, it takes a while to get your balance back. I just practiced walking on uneven ground until I felt more able to keep my balance and all was well until the latest injury. So be prepared for a balance problem.

    And my biggest complaint?????? Because they went so high my hair was shaved halfway up the back of my head and then they taped the rest out of the way. You'd think they'd remove the tape after surgery while still out....but no...not with a male surgeon. They pulled it off several days later. Hurt like a son of a b$%^&. I begged them to just cut the hair...no the nurse had to "gently" pull it off. Gentle my a##! Hurt more than the surgery.

    Oh...and the left side of your scar will be numb for about at least an inch+ to the left. And it itches and you can't scratch it away..it's numb. So make sure you have a good back scratcher around because you need to scratch all around it to get relief. Ice helps too.

    So there are all sorts of little things that those rear entry surgeries have that are very different from the front. Ask away.

    gentle hugs.........Jenny

     
    Old 04-08-2009, 03:01 PM   #5
    Janatee
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    Re: HELP Posterior Cervical need advice

    jennybyc, Thanks again for all the info. I know what I will have to do, and I just have to keep my mind focused and have the great will to heal. Let me tell you, this all started back in 1991, when I FELL OUT of the tub!!! I was all soaped up, and started to slip backwards, (no mat) stupid I know. Then I fell on the rim of the tub, hard... I thought thank you God, but since I was all soap, I slipped backwards off the rim, and landed with my neck and head facing one way, and my torso twisted the other way, with my legs hanging over the tub... Nice picture! Sore and bruised, but nothing else, I continued to work and do what ever... Then I started walking each afternoon, and started to stumble with my left foot. This was now 1997. It got worse, and of course I thought oh no, MS... Had all the test, that was ruled out, then has PT and traction, and that helped me to walk better. Later, in 2003 I had the Decompressive Lumbar Laminectomy... to open up the spinal canal, because of Spinal Stenosis. That really helped a lot. I could walk with out the feeling of my groin grinding.. I had no hardware there, just a pie shape cut in the disc. Then as time went on, I got worse. The legs did not want to move right. Weak, stiff, spasms, on and on. Even to the point this time of my 2 toes on the left foot , curling up when I would bend... So then is was the ACDF, and now this new baby... I tell everyone I know, PLEASE, USE A BATH MAT. Do not take a chance..My hair is short, but I'm with you, cut the hair, I don't need the tape pulling, after what I will be going through. I sure hope all works out for you in June. I hope you will keep me informed, and I sure will let you know when I go, and how things are going. Hang in there, I guess this is all we can do. Not to mention to keep the faith... Thank you again... Janatee

     
    Old 04-09-2009, 11:45 AM   #6
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    Re: HELP Posterior Cervical need advice

    jennybyc, I'm sorry to bother you once again, but I need to know, once you had the Posterior operation, DID YOUR SYMPTOMS GO AWAY??? I know you said you had numbness, and could hardly move your legs to walk.. did that get better... I pray, that this operation will do the trick. I know, it might take weeks or months to feel different, but I have so much hope that this is the one! I have been lucky because I have never had any problems with my upper body. My arms, hands, fingers are all ok. Its my legs. Weak, spasms, toe curling, calf cramps, feels like I ran miles and nothing helps. Laying down in bed is the only thing that helps. Walking is torture. Any words of wisdom will help me. Thank you again. PS: Doc gets the go ahead on Friday, and then I wait to hear from him for my scheduled surgery. Take care. Janatee

     
    Old 04-11-2009, 04:54 AM   #7
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    Re: HELP Posterior Cervical need advice

    Janatee

    My experience with the rear approach really wasn't awful. See my answer to the Pastor and my prior posts. MOST of my symptoms improved and actually 3 + years later I still see improvment slowly (central nerves take a long time to heal). I still have a walking problem and three MRI's post surgery all show the same result - some C5-C6 constriction but not bad enough for another surgery.

    Good luck
    Sunshine

     
    Old 04-11-2009, 10:55 AM   #8
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    Re: HELP Posterior Cervical need advice

    Okay...this will take full disclosure. I actually had 2 cervical spine surgeries, both posterior. The first is a very new approach to build a new spinal canal for people with cord compression and stenosis. It's called a laminoplasty. They remove the bone over the back of the spine, drill it down to a thin ridge and then re-attack it with bone sutures and a small central graft. There is no fusing involved. They did C3 to C7. I woke up pain and numbness free and was home in 4 days and back to work part-time in 2 1/2 weeks. It was wonderful....for 3 months. Then disaster hit. I apparently have a problem with the support structures of my spine. 30 years ago my lower back suddenly went from curved in to curved out, ripping all the ligaments from my lower spine to the mid-thoracic area. Well, I did it again with my neck a week shy of 3 months post-op. So they had to open me up all over again and fused the whole neck from C3 to T1. But when my neck reversed, it re-crushed my spinal cord all over again because with this new surgery, they don't remove the bad disks, they allow the spinal cord to move away from them. So now my cord was compressed much worse than before the first surgery. Before taking me into surgery, my neurosurgeon checked the latest CT of my neck and told me I would probably be partially paralyzed on my left side.....permanently.

    Well, long story short, I'm not. I woke up with numbness and pareisis(partial paralysis) in all 4 limbs but worst on the left. I also almost died 4 days post op and we are just now figuring out why...lung damage no one knew I had. But I was not going to be stopped. I began PT 3 weeks post-op and continued on and off for a full year. I have gotten back 95% of the use of all my limbs. I'm just a little weaker on the left. At a recent exam by a new neurologist he told if I had not told him about the problems, he never would have known from the neuro exam. So my neurosurgeon is very happy. He thought for sure I would be permanently affected.

    However, it appears I have now herniated the only disk left in my neck between C2-3. I'll find out in June what he'll do. My left side is weakening again but my surgeon is no longer in network with my insurance so I am waiting until I start Medicare on June 1st(from disability). Those 2 surgeries cost about $125,000 so it's well worth the wait if my neck can last that long.

    So to answer you question...yes. I got back the feeling and strength but I had to work for it. And if I can get it back after what I went through, anyone can. And I hope I can do it a third time if necessary.

    gentle hugs..............Jenny

     
    Old 04-15-2009, 04:08 PM   #9
    Janatee
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    Re: HELP Posterior Cervical need advice

    Jennybyc, I found out I will be having the surgery on Wed. April 22nd. I go Friday for all the pre-op stuff, and have been getting things done around the house. My husband will stay with me in the Hospital. The last neck surgery, I was in for 2 nights, and came home on the 3rd. I hope that will be for this one.... Please keep good thoughts, for I will certainly keep my faith, and put this in Gods hands. I will let you know how things turn out after I get home, and can e mail again. Thank you for all your info, it has helped a lot. Janatee

     
    Old 05-14-2009, 05:06 PM   #10
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    Re: HELP Posterior Cervical need advice

    How did your posterior surgery go? I'm having C3 thru T1 done posterior and C34, C45, C7T1 Anterior then a revision of C6-7. I too am very nervouse. any information would be greatly appriciated!

     
    Old 05-15-2009, 10:14 AM   #11
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    Re: HELP Posterior Cervical need advice

    Janatee:

    Yes, the posterior approach is more painful - it's simply due to the fact that they go through muscle (which they don't do in an ACDF). I had a C5-C7 ACDF 5/06 and a posterior foraminotomy (and partial fusion with bone) 5/08. However, since my ACDF hardware and fusion were solid I did not have to wear the Aspen collar again. Since I had one the doc just suggested I wear it during car rides and if it helped to relieve pain (so I did wear it on occasion).

    My question is why they'll require the collar again (unless perhaps your ACDF is not considered 100% solid or they'll be doing additional levels?)
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    Old 05-15-2009, 05:11 PM   #12
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    Re: HELP Posterior Cervical need advice

    GAA....I was fused from the posterior from C3 to T1 2 1/2 years ago. No anterior work. But I had 2 anterior surgeries in 3 months. If you read my post about 4 back, you'll see why.

    Yes they are more painful as they have to cut muscles but with my first one, I was back to work in 2 1/2 weeks with no collar as they wanted me to work the muscles to speed healing. I only had a laminoplasty...no fusion of any kind. My second 3 months later was a fusion with the Vertex modular system that uses titanium rods and screws that are put in prior to the rods. No cages of bone or anything like that. No plates...just 2 rods. Looks like railroad tracks on X-ray.

    But my complication in between that made the second surgery necessary caused most of my post-op problems. So I'm not a good person to ask about recovery. I had brain damage from stopping breathing repeatedly, spinal cord damage from my neck inverting and morphine psychosis from the pain meds that made me hallucinate.

    What I can tell you is that the pain takes a while to go away and the muscles do take time to heal but it not that bad. It's better than ending up paralyzed. Take your pain meds and muscle relaxers. If they suggest PT...go. I was driving at 5 weeks post op with a hard collar on(not good but I had no choice)and was basically off my meds by then.

    It takes time no matter which way they do the surgery. And working around a spinal cord ends up producing weird symptoms after wards. Nerve fibers can take 10-12 months to heal and while they are healing, they can make "zaps", numbness, pain, and all sorts of weird sensations that make you wonder what's wrong, but it's just healing.

    As for what it's like to be fused for that distance, it's okay. You lose some range of movement but not as much as you'd think. The worst part is not being able to look back over my shoulder when driving so I have extra mirrors to help with blind spots. I can turn my head almost to to my shoulders.. I can get my chin to about 2" off my chest.Going back I can look straight up. And I can tip my ear about half way to my shoulder. That was I could until I herniated the disk at C2-3. Now I'm wedged on the left side and find out June 3rd what the neurosurgeon is going to do about it. Now I could lose significant movement.

    The biggest pain is that the muscles get tight from not being able to move anymore. PT helped that with electric stimulation of the muscles. I'm so looking forward to going on Medicare(June 1st) so I can get all the PT I want. My old insurance limited me to 20 sessions a year...period.

    All in all, it's not bad. I didn't have much pain but was going numb from cord compression. I have all the feeling back except for my toes which may be from something else. And seeing as I couldn't use my left arm or leg after the second surgery, tells you just how much nerves can heal.

    Any questions, just ask. And please go back and read my previous post about how I ended up with 2 surgeries. I'm here if you need me.

    gentle hugs...................Jenny

     
    Old 12-17-2011, 05:48 PM   #13
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    Re: HELP Posterior Cervical need advice

    Hello Janetee,

    I originally had an anterior cervical fusion with plate and screw for C5-C7 back in 1994. In August I was rear ended in an auto accident and my fusion broke apart with a fracture at C5 and a herniated disc at C2 level.
    Four weeks ago I had both an anterior and posterior approach. The surgeon went anterior to do a C2 disectomy and remove the hardware from my old fusion. Then he went posterior to do a fusion from C2-T1 level. It was a 10 hour operation.
    I feel that I am pretty much recovered from the anterior surgery with the suture sight completely healed. My posterior incision has steri strips and staples were removed one week ago.
    In terms of recovery I am wearing an aspen collar 24/7 with another collar used to shower. My first two weeks I had home health to do my dressing changes, and help me with a shower. I was told by my surgeon that I will be in a hard collar for 12 weeks and if fused after will go to a soft collar. My current restrictions are no driving and no lifting more than 5 lbs. I also use a bone stimulator 4 hours a day to help with the fusion. In terms of pain at 4 weeks I am still in pain. I also am seeing a pain management specialist to help me with pain management. I take Norco and Flexeril (on schedule) and just had Neurotin added by the pain management specialist. It is a very long recovery and sometimes get very depressed. The biggest obstacle for me is to lose the independence of driving and to rely on my sons or friends to drive me where I need to go. I am a single mother of two sons ages 17 & 19.
    I hope this helps you to find your answers about having a posterior fusion.

     
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