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Straining neck after Cervical C5-C7 Fusion

Started by Zippie on 03/16/2011 5:36pm

I had a cervical fusion C5-C7 on Jan 17, 2011. Things were going great. Not much pain,( partly because of the radiography that had been preformed earlier in the year) but then I went back to work. I am a rural mail carrier and have to sit on the passenger side of the car, drive with my left arm and control the gas and brake with my left leg. Can you just imagine what pain I was in after 2 days at work? I have limited motion to the left and I had to look left ( aprox 1000 times a day) to get back on the road while in the passenger seat and could not see because my head wouldn't turn that far. I was a danger to everyone and myself. I am now having physical therapy to get motion back, but am now concerned I will not be able to go back to my job and will have to take Federal disability retirement. Has anyone else experienced lack of motion that they were not able to regain? Should I be concerned about doing more damage to my neck?

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Basicly the same issues as you, fusion of C5-6,6-7 on Feb 10th 2011. I was in very little pain but had moderate to severe numbness in my left arm. I was hoping the surgery would clear this up. After 5 weeks still numb and just sore in my neck area. I too work in a field where I have to turn my neck, I drive forklift and most of my driving is backward, doc gave me 6 more weeks of disableity. I too am afraid of going back to work and causing more damage, I am 60 years old and have applied for S/S haven't heard anything back yet.....Godd luck and take care....gary

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I am going to see the Dr. Monday about the motion hurting anything else and the possibility of his support when filing for my retirement. I will at least be able to find another job that is less physical if I do it this way. My right arm has been weakened and is still numb. My left arm is hurting and may be c6-c7 from what I have been reading. I have moderate carpal tunnel in my right hand and arthritis in my hands, feet and back. I hope this is enough for them to approve my retirement.

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Good luck, Please let me know what the doc says about further damage, my doc said I would be back to work in 6 weeks after surgery, I think all doctors think everybody sits at desks and play on computers all day...lol When I told him that I have to hyper extend my neck tyo see (drive forklift backwards all day) He said maybe I should applie for S/S

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Oh I see you have carpol tunnel too, my doc thought some of the numbness in my left arm was coming from carpol tunnel, had EMG and it showed both wrists slight blockage. Had left wrist done same time as neck, and right wrist last week...guess what still numb, kinda like going to mechanic and having him hit and miss on whats wrong with your car

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Hi all! I have very dibillitating OA of EVERY joint in my body with the exception of my right elbow which even now is starting to freeze up on me. I had ACDF of C4-C7back in 2006 since I had severe spinal stenosis and herniated discs.. At the time I had excruciating pain in my neck and shoulders and felt as if I had a 50lb sack of dog food sitting on my shoulders. The surgery went very well. I had minimal pain and was in a J collar for 3 months. Actually my hip hurt more than my neck from them removing the bone for the fusion!
But needless to say, after 5 years my neck pain is back and just as horrible as the first time around. Right now I take Ibuprofen 800mg 3x day, Ultram 50 mg 3x day, Neurontin 800 mg 4x day on a regular basis for the OA and have Vicoden for breakthrouh pain. I use a TENS unit, ice packs and heating pad and of course Ben Gay and needless to say nothing is working to control it.
Thank God I do have an appointment with my surgeon on Friday and will see what alternatives I have. I have a very high pain threshold which usually hovers around a 6 to an 8 but this feels like a 12!
I know how each and every one of you feel and the sad part is nobody wants to believe how badly you hurt! People see us and say : "you don't look like you're in any pain" I've been dealing with this progressive OA for 10 years now (they don't know why it has progressed so rapidly) . It started with pain in one hip that was diagnosed with OA but in that short period of time, it's everywhere...bone spurs included.
All we can do is to keep supporting each other and keep venting because it truly does help the depression that so often accompanies chronic pain.
I wish all of you the best and will keep you all in my prayers!

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The more levels you have done, the less range of motion (ROM) you have. But, the majority of your ROM is at the higher levels. I have had my C6-7 fused and have done well. You also need to give yourself time. January 17 wasn't that long ago. I can speak from experience that the stiffness in my neck improved 3, 6, & 9 months out. Looking over your shoulder a 1000 times day would make any neck sore I'd think. Maybe you have gone back to work to early considering the physical piece of your job.

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Great news today, S/S aproved my disablity but I feel somewhat guilty after reading the horor stories from other people's post here> I am not in alot of pain but continue to have the numbness in arm and hand and have to take pain pills to sleep at night> didn't get alot of info from S/S Just said was aproved and starts in May, I think it might have more to do with the type of job I have, drive forklift backwards 90% of the time but have to hyper extend my neck to see and the doc feels I could do more damage to my neck, plus the fact I am 61 could be a factor. I wish everyone here the best

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Thanks everyone for your replies. I am back out of work and this time the PA believed I may have done more than just a strain. When I go back to work there is no "light duity" it is all or nothing. So right now it is nothing. The pain and numbness is now down the rright side of my neck, between my shoulder blades and down the back of my arms. Also my right little finger has numbness. It was almost as bad as what brought me to the surgeon in the first place. His response the first time I asked if my job could be hurting me more was " Not any more than anyone else that drives for a living. I could not seem to get the job description to sink in. What part of " I drive from the passenger seat of a left hand drive car" did he not get? The nurse had enough sense to see that might be a problem. I will be seeing the surgeon next time since he and my great Chiropractor are friends. My Chiro wants me to retire. Levels C 5-7 fusion, C 2-3 bulging disc, ostioauthritis, spinal stenosis, 20 degree curve scoliosis, L 3-4 and L4-5 disc bulges, nerve damage bilateral in legs and arms. 49 year old female. Pain is managable at home with little medicine, but is quite painful when working. My quality of life outside of my job has gone quickly down hill the past 2 years.

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Lisa, I feel your pain. I also work for the USPS as a rural carrier. My route is 70 miles long with over 500 customers. I also have had spinal fusion on C-6-7. I have only worked 3 months in the past 16 months. I still have C3-4 that need to be repaired and now they are looking for more damage lower in my lumbar spine. This is a big mess and I have been turned down by the OWPC twice and SS once.
What are you doing for income? I'm about ready to pull my hairout! Woud love to talk to someone who knows exactly what I am going through. I have been taking pain meds for so long I'm worried that I'm gonna damage my liver and or kidneys with constant use of pain killers.
If you woud like to compare stories or just trash the PO you can find me on facebook, another thing..........we are also the same age. Take care..........annette in VA

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Sitting at home not doing anything. Not fun! I had the worst pain on sat I have had since my tubal ligation. The surgeon who did that surgery had stopped numbing the tubes before doing that procedure. I was at the hospital getting a morphine shot, I wish I could have had one on sat. Instead I was lucky enough to have percocet from my surgery. It was a 2 muscle relaxer, 2 percocet night. The pain was the type that ached down my left neck, shoulder and arm. I have been getting this type of pain of and on. I am not sure what is triggering this. I will not be able to do my job anymore if this keeps up. Anyone had that type of pain?

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Range of motion takes time. C5-C7 is a massive and invasive shock to your system. To be back to work in a matter of weeks is amazing but not uncommon. You have to give it time. You also, doctors approval given, have to work to get the lower and higher joints/muscles to become more flexible and over time they will. You will gain near normal range of motion (side to side) over the course of the next year or two. Driving will actually help act as a form of therapy but so soon after surgery you should expect to hurt. You are exercising a set of joints/muscles that are not used to carrying this new load. The key thing to remember if the fusion is holding and hardware hasn’t shifted is that there is very little you can do to hurt the joint. Trust what the doc did! The Pain is like going back to the gym for the first time after years of being a couch potato. You are going to hurt but with Ice, Rest, Heat and Massage, it will get better over the next few weeks. You will also have to learn that there is a new looking movement which includes turning your shoulders a bit. With time this too will become normal. The key point in all this is TIME. You have to be patient. Your arm is still numb? It can take a year or longer for the nerves to heal. This of course depends on how long you lived with the nerve being compressed. Will the numbness go away completely? NO! But is the Pain gone? If yes, learn to live with a little numbness.
I am 42, have had C5-C6, C6-C7 and C7-T1 fused over the course of ten years, starting when I served in the Military. I have also had three shoulder surgeries and my right hip cleaned out, but I am here to tell you I am in better shape today than ever. I can bench press at 42 350lbs, dead lift 400lbs and my teenage daughter tells me all the high school boys say her father is Jacked. Long story short, be patient, remember it will take time and most importantly…. Don’t Give Up.

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uffffffffffffff finally able to speak with people experiencing this agony. I just wish I never had fused my cervical 5 and 6. I keep reading about people having more surgeries. Every movement with my neck is painful, is weird, is strange, I just miss the movement from that area. The worst part that what did hurt was my arms, and now I think that could have resolve with time. I know a friend that have pain in her neck and left arm for two years, did not operate and now she is fine. I just think surgeons operate to fast. Is kissin and hugging and cuddling painful for you people???? Posing in pictures and being clownish is it different.... I just feel that the neck influences all the body and i am so conscious of every movement. Doing funny faces to a baby hurts... WOW I so much wish everything would go back to normal :-( It's been six month, I am depressed, confused. I don't go out anymore, don't want to be a party booper. I was not taking meds before surgery, now I am. Sorry I know this is not very happy joy message. Thanks for listening!

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