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sllee (@sllee)


Spine Health | Last Active: Jan 16 8:33pm | Replies (6)

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@sllee Hello and welcome to Connect. I am also a cervical fusion patient having had C5/C6 fused 6 years ago. Bone is always in a state of being reabsorbed and rebuilt. Recently I heard a doctor say that 10% of bone was undergoing this change all the time. Bone also remodels because of pressure, so it can change shape. For example, I fractured my ankle badly a few years ago and had snapped the fibula which is the bone on the outside. It has healed back together, but there is a ridge that I can feel with my fingers where the parts joined back together.

With a spinal fusion, the surgeon grinds the end plates of the vertebrae to make them flat, so they can match up against other parts like the bone disc spacer. This also creates an "injury" so the body responds by trying to heal the injury and grows new bone. I had bone spurs inside the central canal prior to my spine surgery, and that is the site of the fusion. There is a tiny bone bump there now where the bone spur used to be. The bone growth eventually extends past the bone disc spacer out to the outer edges on the vertebrae and it may take a few years.

Spinal discs do not regrow. During development, they have a blood supply, but after the spine is fully formed that supply is lost. Regenerative medicine spine researchers are working on how to regenerate discs. If that were possible it could replace spinal fusions as treatment.

Shoulder and scapular pain kind of goes with cervical spine issues. Muscles connect the scapula (shoulder blade) to the spine and are necessary in order to raise the arm. When you get muscle spasms from a spine injury or condition, that can pull on other muscles also attached to those vertebrae.

Does that help? I know sometimes it's hard to ask questions of the doctor if they seem to not be very receptive to questions. They are used to talking to each other in their medical terminology which is like another language, and they can forget that not all patients have the same level of understanding. That can go another way if a patient understands medical terminology and asks questions using correct medial terms. I think that can make a doctor uncomfortable and they may assume that a patient is using words they found on the internet in order to challenge them, but without understanding them. I understood a lot and I used correct terminology when speaking to one of the surgeons who saw me, and his nurse was a bit adversarial toward me, and it was clear to me that she misunderstood symptoms that were related to my spine condition. My symptoms were unusual and fooled several surgeons before I came to Mayo as a surgical patient. I think it is a distraction to the doctor who is used to being the only "smart one" in the room. My physical therapist said it's best to let them be the "brain" in the room. Some surgeons have egos and need to feel they are the expert and others are more down to earth and very willing to explain the imaging. They also have a fine line because if they say too much, they can cause a lot of anxiety for the patient, so they try to use simple language when explaining things. My opinion is that a surgeon should be willing to answer patient questions about their treatment. If you don't understand their answers, you can ask what they meant, and that's OK. Patients are not expected to have medical knowledge.

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Replies to "@sllee Hello and welcome to Connect. I am also a cervical fusion patient having had C5/C6..."


I would like to ask a couple of quick questions regarding bone regrowth after a lumbar fusion. I have asked several doctors these questions and I have searched the internet for answers. There doesn't seem to be any definite answers.

I'm have "abnormal" bone growth in my lumbar spine. One surgeon said he would remove several facet joints which would destabilize my lumbar spine and then a fusion would be done. I suspect the facet hypertrophy was the result of chronic inflammation due to an autoimmune disorder and NOT trauma related. Whatever happened has caused severe spinal stenosis.

I seem to have more bone than I need in many places. I took prednisone for a long time to control abnormal inflammation which liked to attack my spine. I'm off prednisone now and take a biologic instead of prednisone. Unfortunately the biologic needs to be stopped to do the fusion. I'm wondering how inflammation will be controlled if I'm not taking anything to control inflammation???

My other question pertains to another problem. I had knee replacements done 5 years ago. The prosthetic knee joints look fine but now I have extensive bone formation in the soft tissues around my knee joint. The condition is called heterotopic ossification. The condition is somewhat common but nothing much can be done because more surgery could make it worse.
I don't think I need any extra bone formation in my lumbar spine! My DEXA scan in that area is about +5 but the surgeon says it probably isn't "good bone."

I'm just wondering what you think about me doing a lumbar fusion with these kinds of problems. The surgeon says something needs to be done sooner rather than later.