Does any one have problems with fusion surgery in the neck?

Posted by mareanne @mareanne, Nov 5, 2018

I had neck surgery fusion with screws and plate and i have popping sounds all the time and i can not turn to the right. Does any one have the same problem and should i have another surgery. I went to therapy alot but it does not work. I have been on pain meds for 11 years and off for 4 i did not want to be hook on them. I found out that i rather be in pain then being on them. I have scoliosis with rods in my back i already wrote in the blog earlier about that. Has any one had these plate taken out of neck?.

@upstatecountrygirl

Hi @grandmar
I have had 2 neck surgeries, one was 10 years ago (if my calculations are correct) and the other about 3 years ago. The first one was a fusion at C5-6 then the worst case happen, the discs above and below ended up bad as well. This left me with 2 fusions and an artificial disc. My surgeon at the second surgery told me that eventually I will end up having the artificial disc fused as well because they don’t last a lifetime. I was very hard on my body when I was young and didn’t realize what I was doing to my spine. I now have spinal stenosis in all areas of this spine, bulging discs, with pressure in parts of the spinal column. I deal with headaches, arm and joint pain on the left side along with stiffness and muscle spasms. I wish I had your courage of getting shots but I am scared to death of anything going in my spine (a cortisone shot in my elbow was bad enough). I commend you for your bravery!

Thank you for sharing your experience in a positive note.

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Hi
Yes, fusions don't last forever and for the discs to collapse is a common and expected problem.
So far, so good.
It really amazes me that needles into the spine frightens you more than surgery.
They really aren't so bad.
They inject numbing meds first. It's a quick pinch.
When they do the procedure they use a special camera to guide them exactly where the needle goes.
They don't go in blindly.
My very first shot I was put out.
After that, I switched docs and had nothing.
I was expecting the worst, but it wasn't.
Some docs will give you something to calm you.
Don't not get shots because you fear the pain.
Research for a good pain specialist.
There is always a consult first at which time you are able to doscuss your concerns and how he or she will deal with that.
Good luck!!

REPLY

Hello @bjmcdnl and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect, a community of members getting and giving support. I am sorry to hear of your neck pain that has come on and been affecting your day to day. I can tell that you are eager for this to resolve so you can get back to your daily life. I am wondering if you've considered some light stretching exercises as a starting point?

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Hello and welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect, @upstatecountrygirl. I can see you found a member who's experience spoke to you in @grandmar and felt comfortable sharing your story as well.

At this point, it sounds like you are willing to risk and deal with the pain versus considering the option of cortisone shots. That said, what have you found to provide you some relief from your pain?

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@upstatecountrygirl

Hi @grandmar
I have had 2 neck surgeries, one was 10 years ago (if my calculations are correct) and the other about 3 years ago. The first one was a fusion at C5-6 then the worst case happen, the discs above and below ended up bad as well. This left me with 2 fusions and an artificial disc. My surgeon at the second surgery told me that eventually I will end up having the artificial disc fused as well because they don’t last a lifetime. I was very hard on my body when I was young and didn’t realize what I was doing to my spine. I now have spinal stenosis in all areas of this spine, bulging discs, with pressure in parts of the spinal column. I deal with headaches, arm and joint pain on the left side along with stiffness and muscle spasms. I wish I had your courage of getting shots but I am scared to death of anything going in my spine (a cortisone shot in my elbow was bad enough). I commend you for your bravery!

Thank you for sharing your experience in a positive note.

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Good evening, welcome @upstatecountrygirl and hello once again @grandmar. It was great to see your post and
@upstatecountrygirl, I was welcomed and sincerely helped by @grandmar when I first logged on to Connect.

My neck surgery and fusion has been a wonderful choice for my neck issues. I fell down 16 stairs and along with bone spurs needed to be free of pain. The medical team got together and decided to do the neck first and then the shoulder. I spent three months in a post-surgery brace. When I complained, the surgeon just said….you need to wear the brace for 3 months if you want the fusing to take place. And he was right.

Then I freaked out because I could feel the ligaments making noise and sort of popping like a rubber band. That was then and this is now. I use medical cannabis at night, a cervical cradle when needed, and have two MFR sessions every week to keep those things in shape.

At this point….6 years later…..I have very little pain or discomfort……the ligament popping is gone and I use a tincture of medical cannabis at bedtime for all my aging issues. My goal every day is to be able to lie down and turn my head from side to side without straining or experiencing pain. I also do yoga poses using my neck for stability

Please let s know about you and your neck ……we are here for you.

May you be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
Chris

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I had this surgery (C4-C5 neck fusion) on the 23 of June and was released the following day . Sent home with a neck brace and that's about it , Mayo clinic is not involved in the surgery l. The next 2 days my throat gets worse and I start to loose the ability to swallow food . I called the surgeon and spoke with the PA and she put me on a steroid pack . 5 days later the steroid seemed to have got me to level , no better no worse . The steroid ended on a Thursday and by Saturday I was unable to swallow any food . My wife drove me to the emergency room of a different health provider and when they found out I was a recent surgical patient they told me they couldn't do anything as it's been within 60 days of surgery . They did however airlift me to the hospital where surgery was preformed . Apon arrival I was rushed into emergency surgery to explore . The surgeon took 2 cultures and said it was from swelling. The next 8 days in the hospital almost killed me . No food , no intake of any kind . Finally they put a feeding tube in and by then I had list 22 lbs . The cultures came back on a Thursday and it was determined that it was a bad infection and I would go home with a pic-line and the feeding tube. It's July 20th and I'm home . I am now chocking up the pill antibiotics and am still loosing weight. I need help or advice asap .

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@jayjew69

I had this surgery (C4-C5 neck fusion) on the 23 of June and was released the following day . Sent home with a neck brace and that's about it , Mayo clinic is not involved in the surgery l. The next 2 days my throat gets worse and I start to loose the ability to swallow food . I called the surgeon and spoke with the PA and she put me on a steroid pack . 5 days later the steroid seemed to have got me to level , no better no worse . The steroid ended on a Thursday and by Saturday I was unable to swallow any food . My wife drove me to the emergency room of a different health provider and when they found out I was a recent surgical patient they told me they couldn't do anything as it's been within 60 days of surgery . They did however airlift me to the hospital where surgery was preformed . Apon arrival I was rushed into emergency surgery to explore . The surgeon took 2 cultures and said it was from swelling. The next 8 days in the hospital almost killed me . No food , no intake of any kind . Finally they put a feeding tube in and by then I had list 22 lbs . The cultures came back on a Thursday and it was determined that it was a bad infection and I would go home with a pic-line and the feeding tube. It's July 20th and I'm home . I am now chocking up the pill antibiotics and am still loosing weight. I need help or advice asap .

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Hello @jayjew69 and welcome to Connect. You had quite an ordeal and I hope things are getting better. I am a Mayo patient and had a C5/C6 fusion without complications. If I understand correctly, you have a feeding tube direct into your stomach so nothing goes down your throat and you have a pic line for IV administration of antibiotics? Do you also have a visiting nurse helping with your care? Did they tell you nothing by mouth for now?

I know this is a difficult situation for you, but it can get better. I understand your surgery because I also had the procedure, and in addition to that a few years ago, I also cared for my dad and fed him through a feeding tube. He had a head injury in his 60's and his ability to swallow was compromised, but with physical therapy, he regained the ability to swallow. Years later, as he became elderly, he had more problems swallowing and the feeding tube was placed into his body again. I think he may have had the tube the first time for a month or two on his release from the hospital from the head injury. The site around the tube on the skin needs to be cleaned daily because that also can be a source of infection into the stomach. I think you might also be describing grinding up antibiotic pills so they can be dispensed into the stomach tube and flushed through with a syringe.

The best thing you can do right now is take care of yourself and get the infection cleared and keep getting stronger. Recovering from your surgery is exhausting by itself, and adding recovery from an infection onto that must be a real challenge. I had a chest infection 5 days after my spine surgery and was placed on antibiotics. My throat hurt and it was difficult to swallow for a few weeks just because of the surgical path recovery. For me all of that resolved and I worked with a physical therapist to help stretch out the scar tissue after 3 months of recovery. When you do get to the stage of being able to swallow again, it might help to work with a physical therapist who does myofascial release. That stretches out the scar tissues and fascia scar tissue that will make your throat tight. With the incision on the front of the neck right near your swallowing apparatus, having tightness there interferes. There is a bone called the hyoid that sits across the throat which has to move on swallowing. Right now because your incision is healing it would be too early to try stretching your neck. I remember being frustrated by that too because I had pain into my shoulders and chest because I also have thoracic outlet syndrome which causes tightness and compression of nerves that pass through the chest on the way to the arms. Since I had breathing issues (also partly caused by TOS) where one side of my chest didn't expand properly, my PT was allowed to work on that at 6 weeks pos-top with clear instructions not touch my neck. It was after the fusion process started at 3 months that my neck was stable enough for physical therapy, and that is when things started getting better. I had been in a neck brace for 3 months and my neck muscles were weak and I had a hard time even turning my head. That was the time I was weaning out of the neck brace which was exhausting. I should also add that I had a fusion without hardware, so I chose and agreed to stay in a neck brace around the clock until the fusion process began.

Here is the discussion on myofacial release which has lots of links to information in the first pages.
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/myofascial-release-therapy-mfr-for-treating-compression-and-pain/
Do you have a follow up with your doctor about this? I know it is hard to maintain weight if all your food is liquid and comes from a can. Are you working with a nutritionist on that to make sure you are getting enough calories and protein needed for your healing? Have they prescribed something specific for you to use? One thing I can tell you is not to lay down while your stomach is full to avoid having the contents come back up and choking on it. My dad had issues with that, and the risk is aspiration of the stomach contents into the lungs. He had to sit up for at least an hour after completing the liquid meal. There were times he started coughing up his liquid meal and I had to open the stomach tube and drain it so he wouldn't aspirate on it. His swallowing issues originated from the brain injury years earlier. Did your doctor give you similar advice about sitting up and timing of liquid meals?

I will look forward to your progress and I believe you will get back to taking food by mouth again as well as recover from the spine surgery. It is a long process and you need a lot of patience, so direct your good energy toward healing. Patients have a lot of power in that if you believe in what you are doing as a plan to aid your healing. If there is anything you are able to do that helps you be happier, do that because it will help in your healing. I watched a lot of DVDs and slept a lot when I was recovering. Give yourself time for that.
We also have an Art for Healing discussion you might enjoy and you'll find a story about my spine surgery at the beginning. We also have a music discussion.
You can find them at these links:
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/art-for-healing/?pg=1#chv4-comment-stream-header
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/music-helps-me/?pg=30#comment-609069
I will be here to cheer you on and I will help as best I can. Would you check back in from time to time and let me know how you are doing?

REPLY
@jayjew69

I had this surgery (C4-C5 neck fusion) on the 23 of June and was released the following day . Sent home with a neck brace and that's about it , Mayo clinic is not involved in the surgery l. The next 2 days my throat gets worse and I start to loose the ability to swallow food . I called the surgeon and spoke with the PA and she put me on a steroid pack . 5 days later the steroid seemed to have got me to level , no better no worse . The steroid ended on a Thursday and by Saturday I was unable to swallow any food . My wife drove me to the emergency room of a different health provider and when they found out I was a recent surgical patient they told me they couldn't do anything as it's been within 60 days of surgery . They did however airlift me to the hospital where surgery was preformed . Apon arrival I was rushed into emergency surgery to explore . The surgeon took 2 cultures and said it was from swelling. The next 8 days in the hospital almost killed me . No food , no intake of any kind . Finally they put a feeding tube in and by then I had list 22 lbs . The cultures came back on a Thursday and it was determined that it was a bad infection and I would go home with a pic-line and the feeding tube. It's July 20th and I'm home . I am now chocking up the pill antibiotics and am still loosing weight. I need help or advice asap .

Jump to this post

Hello @jayjew69. I'd like to welcome you, along with @jenniferhunter, to Mayo Clinic Connect. I see that Jennifer was able to offer you some information that you may find helpful.

You will notice, that I have since moved your post into an existing discussion on this same topic to allow you review previous comments as well as to better connect with members in the Spine Group as well.

Members like @artscaping @grandmar and @bernese53 who have been involved in this discussion in the past and may be able to provide you with some additional experiences that could be of help.

As of today, can you share where you are at with your infection?

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@jayjew69

I had this surgery (C4-C5 neck fusion) on the 23 of June and was released the following day . Sent home with a neck brace and that's about it , Mayo clinic is not involved in the surgery l. The next 2 days my throat gets worse and I start to loose the ability to swallow food . I called the surgeon and spoke with the PA and she put me on a steroid pack . 5 days later the steroid seemed to have got me to level , no better no worse . The steroid ended on a Thursday and by Saturday I was unable to swallow any food . My wife drove me to the emergency room of a different health provider and when they found out I was a recent surgical patient they told me they couldn't do anything as it's been within 60 days of surgery . They did however airlift me to the hospital where surgery was preformed . Apon arrival I was rushed into emergency surgery to explore . The surgeon took 2 cultures and said it was from swelling. The next 8 days in the hospital almost killed me . No food , no intake of any kind . Finally they put a feeding tube in and by then I had list 22 lbs . The cultures came back on a Thursday and it was determined that it was a bad infection and I would go home with a pic-line and the feeding tube. It's July 20th and I'm home . I am now chocking up the pill antibiotics and am still loosing weight. I need help or advice asap .

Jump to this post

@jayjew69
Hello!
I had surgery on C5/6 in February of 2018.
I did not have a fusion but disk replacements.
The surgery went well and it was done as an out-patient.
I noticed my throat started to itch and swell (but not like you).
It was actually the thing that hangs down the back of your throat (sorry I can't remember what it is called).
I think I might have been allergic to something they used.
I was still able to swallow and the swelling went down in a few days.

I wish I could give you advice other than to take care of yourself and accept any help you can get.

Wishing you a speedy recover!
GRANDMAr (Ronnie)

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@grandmar

@jayjew69
Hello!
I had surgery on C5/6 in February of 2018.
I did not have a fusion but disk replacements.
The surgery went well and it was done as an out-patient.
I noticed my throat started to itch and swell (but not like you).
It was actually the thing that hangs down the back of your throat (sorry I can't remember what it is called).
I think I might have been allergic to something they used.
I was still able to swallow and the swelling went down in a few days.

I wish I could give you advice other than to take care of yourself and accept any help you can get.

Wishing you a speedy recover!
GRANDMAr (Ronnie)

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Hi there Ronnie. I think that is called the Uvula and it is there to lubricate the back of the mouth and to direct nasal secretions to your throat. I had to have my removed when I was 22 years old. Haven't missed it yet. Nice to see you posting. It has been a while.
Chris

REPLY
@grandmar

@jayjew69
Hello!
I had surgery on C5/6 in February of 2018.
I did not have a fusion but disk replacements.
The surgery went well and it was done as an out-patient.
I noticed my throat started to itch and swell (but not like you).
It was actually the thing that hangs down the back of your throat (sorry I can't remember what it is called).
I think I might have been allergic to something they used.
I was still able to swallow and the swelling went down in a few days.

I wish I could give you advice other than to take care of yourself and accept any help you can get.

Wishing you a speedy recover!
GRANDMAr (Ronnie)

Jump to this post

Hi Ronnie, I have osteoarthritis, severe spinal stenosis in back and neck…I turned down the surgery in my neck like you have had and have used exercise, exerstriding (from advice by my therapist)50 minutes 5 days a week with a combo of gabapentin & small amount of Vicodin, I have a great quality of life, I feel blessed this is working for me…I was afraid of surgery & heard it doesn’t always work, God’s Blessings to you..

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@tomas7

Hi Ronnie, I have osteoarthritis, severe spinal stenosis in back and neck…I turned down the surgery in my neck like you have had and have used exercise, exerstriding (from advice by my therapist)50 minutes 5 days a week with a combo of gabapentin & small amount of Vicodin, I have a great quality of life, I feel blessed this is working for me…I was afraid of surgery & heard it doesn’t always work, God’s Blessings to you..

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@tomas7
Good Morning,
I am so happy that the combo of meds and exercise is working for you!!!
I also have osteoarthritis up and down my spine, with stenosis in cervical and lumbar spines, too.
I tried Gabapentin, PT, exercise, shots, chiropractics, massage and other things I can't think of.
Sadly, for me, they didn't work at all.
When the shots stopped working, that is when I decided on surgery.
I did LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of research to find the right doctor and I found him.
We decided to do the surgery on the worst area in each place.
Both worked very well.
The problems I currently have has nothing to do with the surgeries.
As a matter of fact, the problems I have with my legs is because I waited too long and developed permanent nerve damage!
As for my neck, we have to see.
My insurance company is rejecting my MRI.
Still working on that.
Well, good luck to us all!!!
Ronnie

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@artscaping

Hi there Ronnie. I think that is called the Uvula and it is there to lubricate the back of the mouth and to direct nasal secretions to your throat. I had to have my removed when I was 22 years old. Haven't missed it yet. Nice to see you posting. It has been a while.
Chris

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@artscaping
Hi Chris,
Yes on both counts.
It's been a while.
I usually just get on when something is directed towards me, which is not very often.
Hope you are well!
Ronnie

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