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discectomy and fusion surgery

Started by jenn45 on 12/15/2010 4:21pm

Hello All..I'm new here as of today. I was finally scheduled for surgery in a month and a half. Yes I've read all the info my Dr gave me, I guess I would just like to hear from people that have HAD the sx I'm getting ready to have. SO here we go ...

I'll be having donor bone replace the two discs at C-5/C-6 and C-6/C-7 and a fusion of those vertebra. I'm a 45 yrs old female in good physical condition (or at least I was prior to my injury date of 11-26-09).

I work in the field of search and rescue, a K-9 unit. My concerns are how life will be after rehab. How much have people lost in range of motion, continued pain or different pain (I've been in some pain this past year due to this injury) long term issues ... and anything else those that have been through this surgery can tell me.

I'll thank everyone in advance! Please don't sugar coat anything, I'd rather know the various experiences than not.

Jenn

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Oh ... I forgot, mine too is a work comp issue. I did two rounds of PT and an injection - That did not turn out well, in fact I ended up having worse pain after the injection than the original injury, and thought I was going to lose my mind over the amount of pain I was in. I wasnted to go the "no surgery" route, but thats jsut not a possibly at this point. I'm sure the delay in treatment has help cause a worsening of my condition ... I say this because the pain has gotten worse, the nerve pain down my arms, hands and now chest and upper back, the numbness BS that hits randomly....need I say more??

The reason its taken over a year was due to work comp 6+ months ago attempting to put me off an ultimatly denying the surgery in June of thisyear. I eventually obtained a lawyer, and once it went to court the ruling was in my favor 100%.

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jen ...i had a 3 level fusion that started at one vertebrae lower than yours. the surgeon screwed up one of the screws on the left side so it didnt really go into the bone deep enough. i do get some pain on the left side of my neck if i bend it too far.
as far as mobility i find i'm able to turn my neck enough to see cars coming from either the left or right if i come to an intersection. its a bit harder to turn on the left side so i just turn it slowly. in all other activities i dont even notice the neck...i hope this helps...i am better pain wise after the surgery....i hope all goes well...pete

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Thanks Pete, So far, thats an encouraging prognosis to me considering the amount of pain I have been in as well as limited movement. As for turning to see a clear path for driving ... I'm having plenty of pain just doing that now, not to mention having to hold my hands onto the steering wheel for more than a 30-40 minute drive. So if my results are anything like yours ... minus the screw issue, I'll be pretty pleased.

Thanks!

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Jenn - I just scheduled this same surgery today! I am 39 and mine will be the removal and fusion of C6/7. In my situation, I didn't do anything to bring this one (that I know of). The doctor thinks it is a situation that has fester for years and finally just got plain gave out. Anyway, I feel very confident that surgery is the way to go due to the rpessure that the herniation is putting on my spine. The amount of pain that I am in is absolutely ungodly and I've had 2 children! I want to continue to live my life without pain (or at the very least, with a tiny bit of pain) and do the things I like to do. I hope your surgery goes well and you finally get some relief. My extreme pain as only been the last couple of weeks so I cannot imagine dealing with it for as long as you have. Best of luck and when you are able post, how you made out. I will do the same! I would like to hear from others that have had this surgery too and find out how they made out.

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Jenn, I pray your surgery is successful.

I"ve had chronic neck pain for years, but two months ago I began to get tingling and loss of feeling of the fingers on my right hand. After MRI, EMG/NCV and Cervical Myelogram, my Dr has recommended replacement of discs with bone/polymer plastic at C4/C5/C6/C7 and fusion.

I am taking a few weeks to learn more about my illness and the options before going ahead. I'm 58 year old male in otherwise good health.

A few additional questions for those who have had similar surgery. Did you have invasive or minimally invasive surgery? Did you pursue 2nd opinion? How long is the recovery period?
What other questions should I be asking of the Dr?

Tony

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Well D I hope that this surgery is helpful to you, I know I've been waiting a long time...much longer than I should have. I know that some part of my problems are age related, although it was determined that it was injury related. Of course the work comp people wanted it all to be unrelated to work. The judge didn't feel that was the case. LoL

Tony - my Dr gave me a website to look at the surgery... If I can find it, I'll post it for you to look at (I cant remember where it is at the moment). I've researched and looked up all kinds of things regarding this surgery, and we all have to remember, you can find anything pro and con on the internet. So I always believe common sense should prevail when reasearching. If things seem to sound like roses and candy canes something might not be right, on the other hand, if you're hearing only gloom and doom, somethig probably isnt right about that either.

I would ask your Dr about the company that is supplying your disc material, find out about them too. I'm going to be having all donor bone for the discs and then the plate. Ask about failure rates, what happens and how will you know if you're having a failure issue versus a regular post surgery pain. I figure just keep talking to as many people as possible, even going as far as asking your doctor if you can talk to someone that has had the type of surgery you'll be having. Information is like gold! So get all you can.

I'm looking forward to surgery as my pain, numbness and ability to use my hands and arms has decreased considerably in the past 7 months. No one knows exactly the extent of damage they'll encounter since its taken so long to get in there. Its been over 7 months since I was recommended for surgery...then got denied. All I can say is the work comp company my ex employeer used is ranked #1 worst at following through with claims. I did my research on that too. Thats why I ended up getting a lawyer (something I hated to have to do, but it was necessary).

I hope to hear how all of you are doing in the future.

Jenn

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Hi Jenn,
I wish you the best of luck in your surgery and hope it provides relief.

I had been dealing with shoulder and arm pain down on the right side for over 3 years. 51 year old active male w/bulging disc at C6/7 (became herniated in May) and herniated C7/T1 disc. Had 3 epidurals and multiple Chiropractors and PT visits over 3 years prior to my ADFS surgery this past August. No accident – I think just long hours and poor posture in front of computer at work (12-14 hr days for 3 mts in ‘07). I kept the pain in check for 3 yrs, but then the pain down my right arm became very intense beginning in May, but much worse in the forearm and fingers not the neck(...no sleep, lots of meds to get through, vicodene, Percocet ...etc..) a lot of weakness in right hand.

The reason I had the surgery [2 level - donated bone - fusion - C6/C7/T1 with a plate] was not only due to the pain that became severe in May, but loosing strength and coordination in my right hand. Shaving became a challenge, penmanship getting worse and numbness…. a real frustration. Neurosurgeon said it would only get worse if the disc isn't taken off the nerve. Prior to May’10, I always had strength and no numbness. The longer I waited the more risk of the nerve healing properly.

I got 3 surgical opinions (all NS’s). Disc replacement wasn’t an option since I needed a 2 level correction (although one dr suggested one level ). The surgeon at NYC Presbyterian said ADFS was my best (and only) option since nothing else was giving relief. He was right....my surgeon was outstanding, a total professional and expert in this surgery.

The relief was immediate (in recovery room). There was some surgery discomfort afterwards, but the arm pain was gone. I wore the miami hard-neck brace for 2 weeks, but sleeping well. Swallowing was a bit of a problem for about 3 or 4 days. After surgery, Dr. wanted me to get out and walk every day (…good I had it done in the summer). It helped (I think) to get well sooner – Make no mistake, I was certainly tired the week or 2 after surgery but I felt that walking helped. Worked from home 1 week post op, and driving back to work in 4 weeks (I did wear the brace in the car for the first week back)

Side to side range of motion wasn’t a problem, top to bottom wasn’t really either, but I couldn’t tip my head all the way up until about 4 weeks ago (…like finishing a can of soda). Although, not a big deal at all compared to what I was putting up with. After my 3 mth post op NS visit, he gave me a scrip for PT to get more strength back. My pain is gone, and I’m back in the gym jogging and lifting 4 months post op. I haven’t even taking a Tylenol since 3 weeks post op. My voice was terrible for about 3 mts, very hoarse & scratchy, it was getting really frustrating at work, being a manager and trying to communicate to my team, but it FINALLY cleared up in early Nov. That was the one part of the surgery I certainly wasn’t ready for! All’s I have is a very slight discomfort lower right shoulder.

I thank god for having the surgery, and thank my surgeon for his excellent work. The pain is gone and I’ve got my life back.

Best of luck to you Jenn and I hope you - and everyone else on this board – gets pain relief they deserve and their life back too.
Bj

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B - thank you for the reply, it was very helpful!

I'd been told the pain is often noticably less after surgery and I'm looking forward to that. As I stated before, the injury was in Nov 09 .... and due to work comp, its taken this long to get resolved. I completely understand the pain, strength issues becoming more of a problem over time, in fact as I think about it now, I'm amazed at how much I've lost in the last 6-7 months.

I can't wait to get back in the gym, although, I do know I'll need to wait for PT. As far as getting out to walk, even though its winter here in Kansas, I have two working labrador dogs that will keep me moving once I'm up and around. I think the only thing thats kept me moving this entire time IS working/training with my dogs, even though I' on medical leave from responding to any call-outs. My dr has told me I'll be in a neck brace for 6 weeks, then I'll start PT.

Thank you again, I'll keep you all posted. I'm on a count down to surgery and looking forward to the new year!

Jenn

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I want to thank all those that are responding to not only my post, but others. I can tell you're all interested in better health for yourselves as well as the next person.

It's difficult to hear of those who are in pain and not recieving treatment, equally sad that some have to have more than one surgery, and are still having problems, and those dealing with regular insurance or workman's comp insurance on top of the physical nature of neck/back pain.

I am still encouraged and hopeful that surgery will help remedy the neck problems that I've dealt with for the past 13 months. My surgery is scheduled 44 days from now, and yes, I am counting down the days! LOL If someone had told me right after the injury I would be welcoming surgery, I would have told them they're out of their mind....my how time and constant pain changes things.

I am looking forward to living an active and pain-free life once again. Until this injury, I had never felt better physically in my life, I was extremely active, and I miss that person I once was.

Thanks again everyone. You really seem like a great community of people.

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Hi Jen
I am 44yrs old and I had neck fusion on my c5 and c6 back in april/10
It went very well at the time but now DIec./10 I have had neck pain everyday and its so server I can,t work
My Drs. have done MRI AND cat scans you name it they say my pain is due to arthritis and also my nerosurgen when he put the screws in didn't put them inn straight and i may need to get another surgery to fix problem.
But my new surgen a orthopedic dr said that there is also other problems
the bottom line is if I HAD A CHOICE I WOULD NOT HAVE HAD THE SURGERY I AM IN WAY TO MUCH PAIN NOW AND THEY REALLY DON'T KNOW WHY I THINK THEY ARE GUESSING
SO PLEASE ASK YOUR DR. TO EXPAIN EVERYTHING THAT MAY GO WRONG BECAUSE YOU MAY FEEL WORSE THEN YOU DO NOW

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Thank you mr - I have been hearing from others regarding the improper placement of the screws, loosening of the screws as well. I'm hearing that its very painful and often times a second (or third...) surgery is necessary to fix that particular issue.

I'm afraid I have some DDD with arthritis in the effected areas. Its gotten to the point where function in my arms and hands are effected and deteriorating ... getting wores by the month. I would never have considered surgery until going through the 2 earlier rounds of PT and injections already. I was doing everything to avoid surgery, but I can't do that any longer. As it stands now, I'm concerned how much more damage will be done in the weeks leading up to surgery. Seems that approx every two weeks I get worse ... more nerve pain, stronger spasms or new ones all together.

I have talked with my surgeon at length, but its never as good as talking to those who have experienced it. Getting all these different opinions, experiences - both good and bad, are exactly why I posted in the first place. While I have confidence in my Dr. he's not under gone the surgery himself, he can only tell me so much about life before and after surgery.

Thank you again. It really is helpful !!

Jenn

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Jenn, Ihave had the fusion surgery and have had 6 1/2 good years of results until recently. As before I will get as much info asmpossible and get multiple opinions. just remember that once fused your disks above and below the fusion will be carrying the load. So avoiding repetitive pounding of your spine going foward will extend your success. I have been golfing anf playing tennis in the years since my fusion and I am sure that my current symptoms are the result of some of that. (I did give up running) Regardless of what comes next, I am going to need to re evaluate my activities of choice. I woild also consider doing the fusion with your own bone and no plate. it is more conservative path and the recovery is much longer and painful due to the bone taken from the hip. However, the chance of failed fusion or screwm problems gets greatly reduced. just some things to think about. good luck!

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Jenn I feel for you. I am not 4 weeks out from having c6,c7 and t1 removal and replacement with fusion brace and screws. I will say honestly all the numbness and pain from the onset was gone immediatly after surgery. The post surgery is quite sever the first week. If you can stay in the hospital for two nights to get the good meds! I only stayed in for 1 night and was sorry I did that. Now that I am 4 weeks into recovery the scare is healing pretty good. I still have pain in the back of my neck but that is from the size of the artifical disks that were replaced they are a little taller than the old destroyed ones but it is tollerable and getting better week by week. The only thing I hate is the gagging feeling from the T1 replacement. It is supose to go away as time goes on and It is better but can flair up depending on what Im doing, drinking or eating. My surgeon did not use real bone replacement. Good luck!

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