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Cervical fusion 6 years ago and now ...

From: fledman - on 04/19/2010 5:40pm

I had a successful cervical fusion at C6-7 six years ago. Had terrible pain in the left side of my neck and crushing pain in my left forearm. Have degeneration at other levels as well. Had a fusion and have been doing well. Recently started having pain in my left wrist. Can at times feel something in my lower neck, left side, then pain in my shoulder and down my arm into my wrist and hand. I suffered from a terrible depression after my surgery during a long recovery. Recurring pain of this type is my worst nightmare and is causing anxiety and tremors of depression I can't control. I may have injured myself hanging from a chin up bar, trying to strengthen my arms, doing sort of a half chin up, or I might have injured myself swinging a golf club. Don't know. It might have just happened. I know that fusions can cause more stress above and below the fusion. Any advice on what might be happening and what sort of exercises, stretches, etc. I could do to get relief? Thanks.

Fledman

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on 04/27/2010 5:41am

Hi Feldman,
I also had a cervical fusion at C5/C6.. then about 10 days later on the eve of my husband's funeral, I decided to lay down and rest... wasnt feeling too well.I woke up about4 minutes later in the worst pain in my life. I was unable to move my head from side to side or lift it. I had a temp of 103 and my neck felt like it was in a vice. I new it was one of two things.. meningitis or an infection. After an ambulance ride, my surgeon aspirated the site, not really worried. To his shock, I was leaking spinal fluid and had been for some time. I was taken into emergency surgery, and the entire surgical area was abscessed. I was also leaking spinal fluid. They repaired and debrid the area, and placed a lumbar drain. When the culture came back a couple of days later, I had MRSA, even in the spinal fluid. I was unconscious for 2 weeks.
After I recovered, I was pain free for a few years. Now, I have massive headaches, and a popping sound that catches like a hinge when it gets stuck. After it pops, I feel like puking... it hurts so badly.
My pain doctor says the pain pump will take care of it all, but my gut says different. I'm having a CT w/contrast on my neck Thursday, and an MRI of my left shoulder. I can barely use it and I'm left handed. I know something is going on. I had a CT of my neck about 3 yrs ago and there was a 3mm herniation below the fusion. My pain dr at the time said it as large for the cervical area, had it been in my low back, it would be considered small...

Sorry to ramble... I would go see a Neurosurgeon that specializes in previous fusions. Stop excercising.. didn't they tell you the risks when you have your neck fused??? The one thing that did help was massage. When I was able to work, we were given free massages.. I had two 1 hour sessons a week, and it helped with the spasms...Please please be careful...

Feel free to ask me any questions... I worked in the medical field for over 1 years...

Rhonda

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on 04/28/2010 9:43pm

Fledman

I am sorry to hear of your continuing problems with your spine and chronic pain. I have had similar ongoing problems, but have been lucky enough to find doctors who understand the problems and work with me to manage the process within acceptable limits. The first thing I had to accept is that there is no cure. Period. Things can be better or things can be worse, but for me, the pain will never entirely go away. Nor will the boughts of depression, anxiety, and panic that are part of the disease. This is not, however, as bad as it seems at first glance. The process can be anticipated and managed. Chronic pain can be systematically managed and and breakthrough pain treated as needed. A good pain management program (not just pill pushers) can help you understand the response of both your body and your mind/spirit to the ravages caused by back problems. Even the best pain management programs are rough, but they allow YOU to be in charge, not the pain. As best I have been able to find out there is no magic cure, and surgery has only a limited chance of success beyond the initial stabilization and removal of anatomical defects. From then on the best I have seen achieved was more with exercise and descipline than anything else.

Take care,

rlvice

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on 04/29/2010 11:15pm

Hi. I'm new to all this. I have been having pain in my neck, left shoulder, numb left thumb, and tingling in my left arm when I'm in certain positions. An MRI gave info that I have a herniated disc in c5-6.

I'm very active. I just did a triathlon, in fact. I too, am wondering what exercises are good and which to avoid. I think yoga would be really good and things that stretch your back and spine.

Does this stuff get better or go away? I'm only 29 and my worse fear is for it to get worse. My doctor is trying to aviod surgery, but it's speading quickly. I'm scheduled to get injections.

Good luck.

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on 05/12/2010 4:22pm

Sunny, I am 34, and was 33 when I had a herniated disk pushing on my spine between C6/7. I had the anterior fusion and have never looked back. I had all but lost the use of the left side of my body, and had very little feeling in my left arm and hand, and absolutely no ability to use my hand. I couldn't even hold cat food cans. I was in the hospital for almost 5 days post op as they had a hard time controlling my pain. However, for over a year I was on MAJOR narcotics to get thru a day at work (we are talking 4-6 soma and the same number of NORCO just to get thru an 8 hour day). My tolerance to pain meds was extremely high.

As for what happened to me pre-op, the doctor sent me to have an epidural in that disc with lydocaine to see if that helped with the pain I was having. The pain was all but non-existent after that, which boded well for my recovery after surgery. I still didn't have use of the left side of my body, but it made me feel better to know my prognosis was good.

I asked my doctor about Yoga, and any other exercise for that matter (I was very active and did lots of yoga prior to surgery) and was told it isn't a good idea for my situation. It turns out I have problems with my spine and my disks have too much room to move around, and yoga and any other impact-type exercise is VERY BAD. This may just be my case, but that is what I was told specifically. I was told bicycling was a good exercise, stick with that. I am 7 months post-op and having bouts of pain, but nothing as bad as I had before hand. I am glad every day I had the surgery and will never look back. Hope this helps.

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on 05/12/2010 6:59pm

I had a post-anterior lumbar fusion (L5, S1) back in August of 2004. I felt good for almost three years after my surgery which is about the time your healing and tissues start to close around the screws and plates. I was not told that there would be a possibility that the scar tissue may grow near or on your nerves which cause nerve damage and the tingling and numbness and sciatic pain that I previously had before surgery to come back. Over 2 years ago I was diagnosed with Peripheral neuropathy, I am currently taking 6 medications for pain, depression/anxiety. Pain management did not help me but I would give it a chance, you may get relief.
I suggest you do not continue with any type of activity that will increase your pain. Look for a neurologist for proper diagnosis.

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