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jenapower
@jenapower

Posts: 204
Joined: Feb 21, 2017

Surgical solutions to chronic cervical/back pain

Posted by @jenapower, Aug 12, 2017

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

Liked by grandmaR, Lmnl09

REPLY

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.

Liked by sparkles4ever

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

Liked by grandmaR

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

Liked by Lmnl09

@jenapower

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

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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?

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.

@leh09

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.

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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

@jenapower

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

Jump to this post

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…

@leh09

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.

Jump to this post

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…

@leh09

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.

Jump to this post

Thank you all for your experiences, and advise. It’s very much appreciated.

I’d still love to hear from anyone who’s had disc replacement surgery.

I don’t think I had disc replacement. See attached photo. They just lifted the vertebrae off the nerves and put in titanium boxes. That fixed the constant falling because my feet never got the right messages and it took a lot of the pain away but not all because one nerve was so damaged and bruised that it will take longer than my lifetime to heal. I was told that unlike bones that heal rather quickly….nerves heal in micrometers and sooooo slowly. So…I am left with SFN and CMPS. I need for the nerves to heal a bit more so that they don’t just send pain signals because they can’t do that job they were designed to do for us. Surgery is not always the answer…i have had 13 orthopedic surgeries including a Delta Reverse (one of 5 shoulder surgeries), neck and back, knee, hip, toes, wrist, thumb etc. etc. I was reckless…falling off horses and down mountains and had too many concussions. Being rear ended 3 times with long recoveries didn’t help. Got dive bombed in the water and lived in a body cast for 6 months. Walked thousands of miles all over the world with my walking group. I miss the walking and camaraderie the most because now I am confined pretty much to my yoga mat and meditation notes and of course MM. I try to stay in the present moment and make it a wonderful moment. I am grateful and want to send loving kindness to all who suffer.

IMG_0001_2

Liked by jenapower

Artscaping, Thank you for the reply, photo and explanation. I’m no expert, I’m trying to learn as much as I can, but that doesn’t look like you had a disc replacement, more like fusion. That is one of my options, but I’m curious to hear from people that have had disc replacements. I do you have a lot of symptoms, and like you horses and various other activities were involved. It sounds like you had more than I did. But, injuries are injuries, and mine are getting worse not better. As many people have said the nerves don’t get better until the pressure on them is released, and I do have nerve damage. I’m afraid to move forward with surgery, but I’m also afraid to wait. I’m concerned that not only will the nerves get worse, but my bones will become less sturdy and stable. I really appreciate all of the input that everybody has given me.
Thank you, Jennifer

Hello @jenapower,

I would like to invite @jrchicago to this conversation. @jrchicago has talked about having a disc replacement surgery in Barcelona in the past and may be able to answer some of your questions regarding disc replacements vs. fusions. @jenapower, while we wait for jrchicago to join, what questions in particular do you have about replacement vs. fusion for them?

I’m fairly certain that if you have a disc replacement that in several weeks those replacement discs fuse with the vertebrae above and below. I don’t think you can have just a disc replacement.

@JustinMcClanahan

Hello @jenapower,

I would like to invite @jrchicago to this conversation. @jrchicago has talked about having a disc replacement surgery in Barcelona in the past and may be able to answer some of your questions regarding disc replacements vs. fusions. @jenapower, while we wait for jrchicago to join, what questions in particular do you have about replacement vs. fusion for them?

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Thanks, one of my questions is if a replacement disc fails, is removal and fusion what is done as a repair? Also, my Dr does do disc replacement, but I’m wondering about multi-level disc replacements. If they are done I’ve read and been told that they can replace 2 levels and possibly fuse the third. How successful would this be and is it done often? What type of results?
Thanks, Jennifer

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