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Nerve healing after cervical disc fusion surgery.

Started by Mack on 12/03/2015 6:29pm

Can anybody who had a cervical disc fusion surgery share his or her experience about post-surgery nerves healing ?

I had had a bulging disc and bone spur at C5/C6 level for over 4 years. My spinal cord and nerves in that area were compressed. I had chronic pain of my upper back and also under my left scapula, at the lower rib cage, in my chest and in my left arm (including a numbness and tingling radiating to my hand).

2 weeks ago I had C5 and C vertebrae fused. The surgery went well and I lost very little blood. So, far the wound is healing well without any problems. I follow all precautionary advise from my doctor, I constantly wear a collar and take it easy.

However I still have the pre-surgery pain when I do not take pain killers. And this pain is more intense and it is constant.

I know that my nerves need some time to heal and my muscles to strenthen. But I am afraid that this may never happen.

I need to learn from other patients who were in similar situation what my chances to fully recover are.

Please, advise.

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Hi, Mack -- I had cervical discectomy and fusion (C5-7) on 9/19/14, so I've experienced similar circumstances. Two weeks after fusion surgery is far too early to expect significant pain relief! Please take your pain meds regularly to keep ahead of the pain. Also, muscle relaxers can help with intense muscle cramps you are probably having in your neck and upper back. Heat or ice might also help.

Remember that your nerves were compressed for years and will take some time to "wake up" -- several weeks at least! I know how excruciatingly difficult it is to be patient right now. Even though the incision may be small, you've had major surgery -- I didn't feel significantly better for about 9 weeks. Then by 12 weeks, I was amazed at how good my recovery was coming along. After 12 weeks, I started rehab/physical therapy - persistence and dedication to those excercises really made a big difference in my comfort and range of motion.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery! Be kind to yourself while you heal!


I had two bulging discs and bone spurs at C4/C5 and C5/C6 level for 8 months. Doc said m C4C5 was much worse than what MRI showed...I had bone and the disc compressing into my spinal cord. The right side of my neck where your neck meets your shoulder/trap muscle has been in severe pain since January with terrible nerve pain. I had cervical surgery on September 21st. I had a full disc replacement of the C4/C5 and they used my bone marrow stem cells in the other disc space C5/C6. I really thought after surgery the nerve pain would ease up, but it has not. I still have the exact same pain I had before surgery. Today, is 11weeks ago that I had my surgery.

I started Trigger point injections with a Physio doc two weeks ago and have my second round today. She said that the C5 disc can cause nerve issues and muscle spasm in trap (knots) and I have severe spasm in my right trap. So between the knot and nerve irritation, she said this is what is causing all my pain. I am praying for relief as dealing with this pain has taken its toll and affected my life greatly. I have not been able to work for a year...my heart goes out to you and anyone with this condition.

I am looking into also seeing a Neurologist today...I am so afraid I could have permanent nerve damage...I don't want to just sit back and keep waiting as its almost been a year and I'm no better with the surgery. This worries me.

Physio doc also mentioned trying PT again, but I just cannot afford it... I am tapped out from the last year with all the medical bills etc. and unable to work.


Hi BonnieRae.
Thank you for your response. You are giving me a hope that I may feel better soon. Also, I am gaining more confidence that my surgery was a good move.
Can you share more info about your current condition ? How do you feel now ? Are your pre-surgery pains completely gone ?
Take care. I wish you all the best and I am looking forward to hearing from you soon


Hi, Mack, I'm glad to be of assistance. Before surgery, I had been experiencing severe pain in left arm with numbness and tingling in fingers of my left hand. Also, a deep, stabbing, horrible pain in the upper back, just to the left of my left scapula. And muscle spasms in my neck and pain when turning my head. Immediately after surgery, the numbness and tingling in my fingers was gone.

After surgery, it took several weeks for the muscle spasms and sense of instability in my neck to subside, as well as the soreness in my throat from surgery. My neck began to move as if it was made of Teflon (which is almost what the spacers my surgeon inserted between the discs).!

The upper back pain also took several weeks to resolve. By six months, it was completely gone, as well as the muscle spasms and feeling of instability.

Now I would say I'm 95% pain free. Some muscle spasms now and then. Some aching in my upper back. But nothing that Tylenol can't relieve.

That said, everyone's surgery, pain, and recovery are unique. But what I can say is that the time it took to recover was longer than I thought it would, but was very successful. Follow your doctor's instructions, take your meds, and rest. It takes a lot of energy for your body to heal. Best wishes!


Thank you, BonnyRea. Your ssucsessful experience gives me a hope that my pre-surgery pain may go away, too. Take care and all the best.


Having similar pain and paralysis from C4-C5 , bruising and pinching my spinal cord & neck reversal, with the necessary 2 layer cervical fusion on 12/11/15, to keep me out of a wheelchair with a poop bag, I was hoping for an immediate relief of a symptoms. Even though I was told that even with a successful surgery there was no guarantee I would ever be the same. I educated myself by reading so much material, blogs, etc. I almost canceled the surgery. It is a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation. I had dealt with the severe pain for over 2 yrs, but it was the paralysis and nerve responses that were driving me crazy. When the paralysis started the pain went away, but more of my body started to be affected and the intense electric shocks made me wish I had the pain back and not the paralysis, at least I could walk, use my right hand and arm, left hand and had bladder control.
What I cannot find is information on the reaction of the nerves and spinal cord after a fusion and there is no pinching or pressure. I imagine all healing is different, but I would like to read and understand the nerve responses to help me stay positive and patient.
If anyone has come across information about this, please post a link. It would be greatly appreciated.


In 2008, I had my second ACDF at C4-C6. I woke up from that surgery with significant nerve pain in my left hand and arm. My first comments in the recovery room was to the effect of what happened to my left hand; which had been leaning again the bed rail when I woke up. At first my surgeon told me that it would go away in a few weeks...it didn't. Six months later it was hurting the same as when I woke up post-op. I had pain and severe sensory issues up and down my left arm and hand. I wish I could tell you it gets better, but here it is nearly seven years later and I am still dealing with the same pain.

I would suggest that you make all your medical professionals take note and do something about it for you early on, when the chances of getting a full recovery from the pain. Hopefully by now you have seen some improvement.