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jenapower
@jenapower

Posts: 125
Joined: Feb 21, 2017

Surgical solutions to chronic cervical/back pain

Posted by @jenapower, 6 days ago

hi I’ve been on the chronic pain list for a little while now. I got off pain medication completely in an attempt to see where I stand without it. Without telling me my pain doctor then refused to put me back on any when they found out all the damage that I actually had and the meds were masking. It turns out they did MRIs after I was off medication, I found facet problems in my mid back, but much worse they found degenerated discs from C4-C7, bone spurs, and facet problems here also. For the last two months they been doing EMG, other X-ray studies and they now have the MRIs. One neurosurgeon immediately said I needed to fuse all three vertebrae levels in my neck which didn’t really appeal to me unless that was my only choice. I’m in a tremendous amount of pain, laying on ice in bed most of the time. I did go back to a small amount of pain medication after moving back to my previous pain doctor, just so I could tolerate the pain until they decide what to do. I also saw a second neurosurgeon who is the top neurosurgeon in our area, head of neurosciences at our hospital etc. I see him again after they try an cervical epidural this Monday. I am wanting to hear other people’s experiences with fusing multi levels of their neck, or disc replacements, or any other treatments that they have had. I’ve been trying to read as much as possible, but there’s a lot of information.

I also have a question for the moderators. I’ve emailed one moderator twice and I haven’t really gotten an answer. One of the topics that I have been reading and participating in for quite a while, started to just get over blown with tons of email. Lots and lots of responses some pertaining to the subject matter, and some just heartfelt communication with others about life. I realize many of us are very isolated by our pain and communicating here is a way of making friends. It just seemed like it got out of control, to where I was getting 30 to 40 email every time I open my inbox. I also saw a couple other people ask about this problem and how to solve it. Maybe there needs to be a form just for people to chat and get to know each other and talk about their lives. I put my settings on one daily digest but I only thought that for one day, now that’s not working and I seem to be not getting email at all. I have been through all the directions that were listed, because other people asked the same question, trying minimize the number of email coming through. I don’t know how to fix my settings because I think I have them set correctly but I’m not getting anything now. I would appreciate any direction on how to correct this as I really do want to read what’s going on, without so many email every time I open my inbox. I do have other email I need to read and they get lost in the shear volume.

I really do appreciate all of your input and look forward to anybody’s experience with neck fusion, neck disc replacement, or any other treatment. Thank you Jennifer

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aaaporterhouse
@aaaporterhouse

Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 03, 2017
Posted by @aaaporterhouse, 5 days ago

Sorry to hear your challenges. I’ve gone through 4 neck procedures, fused c5-6 with hip bone years ago then cage and bars for c6-t2 10 years ago. My advice: if you are still functioning ( don’t know your age or activity level) I’d only do it if your neck is unstable at that point. Expect complications: long term pain, nerve damage that could affect arms/strength, etc. until you have 3 opinions that all agree, proceed with caution. Again, age, degree of damage etc are unknown.


Marield65. Marie
@marield65

Posts: 112
Joined: Jul 11, 2017
Posted by @marield65, 5 days ago

Jen, this is Marield65, Marie, and I had 2 discs in my lumbar spine fusion about 7 years ago and it did work even though I had a few more back surgeries which were minor compared to the fusion,L4& 5, and over the years it made L3 weaker and now I need to have 3 fused to 4&5. My doctor is a great neurosurgeon and first I am going to have the spinal shots for a pinched nerve that L5 is causing. It is one thing after another with my back. If you look back on my blog you will see the whole story.
Getting back to you, one question I would ask is if your cervical fusion would cause any weakness or problems to the other discs.
You seem to be handling your problem good with going on to this site you will learn so much, I wish I knew about this site before I had anything done. I don’t know if I would have done anything different but I would not have been as frightened as I was. I knew nothing about my spine and just placed myself in the Dr’s hands. I wish you well and keep in touch i would like to know how you are doing. Marield65


jenapower
@jenapower

Posts: 125
Joined: Feb 21, 2017
Posted by @jenapower, 5 days ago

Thank you porterhouse and Marie, a little more information. I’m 63, was very active, then neck is from injuries from a horseback riding accident, and a skiing accident that broke my right rib cage, my left shoulder, and twisted my pelvis on the right side. The right SI joint gives me problems, as does the mid back but I could live with those, the problem has my neck. I have gone from an extremely active person, ballet, yoga, tennis, etc. to lying on my back in bed on ice almost all the time. I know I have a really good doctor but I’m terrified of the surgeries. We are going to do an epidural on this Monday, the problem is this is been an ongoing issue that’s been deteriorating. I’ve known about it since about 2010 at which point it wasn’t bad enough to do anything. Now I had multiple surgeries to get my shoulder back together, five, and it’s OK it hurts a little bit but it’s all right. The only problem I have that is intolerable as my neck. Nothing really helps except opiates which I don’t want to take for the rest of my life. I have every kind of physical therapy machine, tens machine, I go to physical therapy I go to chiropractic you name it I’ve done it. I’m kind of at the end of my rope but I don’t want to make a mistake. Maybe that helps fill in a few blank’s. I don’t want to make this worse, but at this point I go to sleep with medicine and my head and neck on ice, when the ice melts I wake up two hours later and have to go get more. This is repeated all night long and all day long, not much of a life. I think I’ve handled it pretty well, but I’m hoping to be a grandma soon and I’d like to be able to participate in those type of activities which I couldn’t do right now. Thanks for all your help, Jennifer


jenapower
@jenapower

Posts: 125
Joined: Feb 21, 2017
Posted by @jenapower, 5 days ago

I didn’t answer this, there is already nerve damage that goes down my arms and in my neck. I drop things with my left hand, because it doesn’t have a lot of strength.

I read about and was curious about the cage that was mentioned. Is that still used? I don’t see it mentioned in the surgeries that are currently described?


aaaporterhouse
@aaaporterhouse

Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 03, 2017
Posted by @aaaporterhouse, 5 days ago

Sounds like you have had a tough time for sure…dr called it a cage. Actually is hard wear that replaced the disc..then two rodes to stabilize the neck…Surgery was front and back.., 14 screws….yours sounds anterior so that’s good…I’ve also had a l4-5 fusion 4 years ago…bunch of old injuries as it appears you’ve had… I’m 8 years your senior and to top it off had bypass surgery in June…sounds like you need to get things going..good luck…


Marield65. Marie
@marield65

Posts: 112
Joined: Jul 11, 2017
Posted by @marield65, 1 day ago

Jen, this is Marie (Marield65). Have you tried a physiatrist (NOT PSYCHIATRIST)?? Go to http://www.hss.edu/what-is-phsysiatry (spelling phsysiatry or physiatrist). Get back to me if this spelling is incorrect.


jenapower
@jenapower

Posts: 125
Joined: Feb 21, 2017
Posted by @jenapower, 1 day ago

Do you mean psychologist as in someone you go talk to once a week, or a psychiatrist which is a doctor M.D. that can prescribe medication and deals with mental illness? I have seen psychologist to talk about my pain and how it affects my life, but after a while you’ve gotten all you can get out of that. I am not going to anyone at this point. As far as a psychiatrist is concerned, I’ve never had any reason to see one. Anything I’ve needed my pain management doctors have handled or my internal medicine doctor. Now neurosurgeons are in the picture. Jennifer


Marield65. Marie
@marield65

Posts: 112
Joined: Jul 11, 2017
Posted by @marield65, 1 day ago

Jen, this is Marie again. You can always google this word. PHYSIATRIST
They are trained in Physical Medicine & Rehab (PM&R), also known as Physiatrist. And certified by the board of PM&R after completing their residency and other requirements. There are about 6700 in the states and I am lucky enough to have one about 7 miles from me. I am waiting to get an appointment with the physical therapist that work under him. I already had my appointment with the Dr. who is the PHYSIATRIST and he will send the order to the PT of what he thinks will work for my spine besides my going for the epidurals for 2 pinched nerves at L-5. I will be learning how to strengthen my spine (core) and multiple problems with my spine. Arthritis,discs, fusion that I had and other things they found about my discs. What my goal is, is to put off spine surgery for as long as I can and get back some quality of my life. This they help you to do. I am not trying to set myself up to a goal I cannot reach, but am trying to be positive and make sure I am covering all my bases because when it comes down to it, I will have done everything that I could to have the knowledge to myself to make the best decision.
Whew. Now I am tired. This was hard to explain and I hope I haven’t confused you.
The best to you,
Marield65 (Marie)


jenapower
@jenapower

Posts: 125
Joined: Feb 21, 2017
Posted by @jenapower, 1 day ago

Marie, you are so sweet, thank you. I honestly have never heard of that type of doctor. But I now have learned about it from you and I will definitely look it up around where I live. It sounds like somebody that could definitely help me and I am so grateful to you for taking the time to explain to me what it is. There is so much I’m learning about what’s happening to me, I greatly appreciate you sharing that with me. Maybe they’ll help both of us, we can always hope, wish, and pray, right. Thank you, Jennifer


Marield65. Marie
@marield65

Posts: 112
Joined: Jul 11, 2017
Posted by @marield65, 1 day ago

Jen, that is right, and my best wishes to you. I will let you know how I make out, and vice-versa. Marie


gounga
@gounga

Posts: 2
Joined: Jul 11, 2017
Posted by @gounga, 23 hours ago

I want to unsubscribe and I'm not even signed up…. It won't let me do it!!!!!!!


Predictable, Volunteer Mentor
@predictable

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Joined: May 04, 2016
Posted by @predictable, 23 hours ago

“Unsubscribe” buttons apply only to the page you are on and other pages in that discussion group. To stop all emails from Mayo Connect, click on your portrait/icon on the upper right, then select “Account Settings.” Check under each “Edit” button on that page and set the instruction to suit you. Most of them involve removing a check mark. But to stop all emails, you need to ENTER a check mark in that box. Let me know if this doesn’t work.

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leh09
@leh09

Posts: 40
Joined: Mar 23, 2016
Posted by @leh09, 5 days ago

I had an ACDF C5-7 (Anterior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion) due to two ruptured discs. If you have damage to the nerves the sooner you get surgery the better! From what I understand the longer the nerve remains injured the longer it takes the nerve to heal (IF it heals) I had my surgery 5+ years ago and am SO glad I did it. The pain down my arm was better instantly and the “dropsies” got better in three months. There was very little post op pain from the incision. Make sure your neurosurgeon is trained in the anterior (front of the neck) approach. Posterior is MUCH harder to recover from and I don’t think anyone does it anymore. My scar from my neck blends with the natural contour of the neck and you can barely see it. I do have some mild neck pain that I occasionally take some Aleve for. Once again, I am very happy I had the surgery. Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss it more.


jenapower
@jenapower

Posts: 125
Joined: Feb 21, 2017
Posted by @jenapower, 5 days ago

Leh09,thank you for your reply. That’s basically what they want to do and it is anterior. The problem is it’s three levels, C4-7. I also wondered about disc replacement or a combination of fusion and replacement. My biggest problem is it’s causing bilateral neck pain, leading to horrible headaches. I would give anything to get the pain in my neck and the headaches to stop. They are constant. I do have nerve damage in my left arm, hand and baby finger. Also on the right side of my neck. I hate this. Your input is very helpful!
Jennifer


aaaporterhouse
@aaaporterhouse

Posts: 4
Joined: Aug 03, 2017
Posted by @aaaporterhouse, 5 days ago

Totally agree with you. My first fusion was as you described and gave me 15 years of basically pain free time..,the later surgeries are what became problematic…for Jenapower…

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