Surgical solutions to chronic cervical/back pain

Posted by jenapower @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 Lmnl09, grandmaR

I THOUGHT THAT Mayo AZ, did regenerative medicine for knees also?
just spent an hour being bumped around phoneing Mayo AZ trying to get a hold of someone re knees (cells)

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@mari

I THOUGHT THAT Mayo AZ, did regenerative medicine for knees also?
just spent an hour being bumped around phoneing Mayo AZ trying to get a hold of someone re knees (cells)

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@mari, it sounds like you didn’t get the answers you were looking for. I suggest you call Mayo Clinic’s Regenerative Medicine Consult Service 1-844-276-2003 to speak with one of our experts. They can tell you about the services available in AZ.

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@jenapower I have same
Question

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I have spine pain in my lower back, on and off for years, The L 5 vertebrata is no longer properly connected– in have move forward. At what point should I consider surgery. .

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@stewart

I have spine pain in my lower back, on and off for years, The L 5 vertebrata is no longer properly connected– in have move forward. At what point should I consider surgery. .

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Hello @stewart,

I moved your discussion and combined it with an ongoing discussion about chronic back pain/issues and surgical solutions. In this discussion you will meet many other members discussing various back issues and what solutions they are considering or have undergone. If you are replying by email notification, I suggest clicking on VIEW & REPLY at the bottom of the notification to see the whole discussion.

@stewart, what surgery has your medical provider suggested and have they given you a timeline?

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@stewart

I have spine pain in my lower back, on and off for years, The L 5 vertebrata is no longer properly connected– in have move forward. At what point should I consider surgery. .

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Get more than one opinion

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@artscaping

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.

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I had surgery on my cervical spine several years ago. I didn’t have any pain which probably contributed to the worsening of my condition over time. I finally sought help after repeated falling. I was scheduled for surgery within 4 days. I received spacers to lift pressure off the nerves. It worked well however I never regained full range of motion. It has been 4 years and I have had no new problems.
.

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Has anyone had back surgury on L4and l5

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@marilynkilg

Has anyone had back surgury on L4and l5

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@marilynkilg, I would like to add my welcome to @IndianaScott‘s.

I moved your message from the Just Want to Talk group to the Bones, Joints & Muscles group and then combined it with an ongoing discussion called Surgical Solutions to Chronic Cervical/Back Pain. I did this so you could meet the many members already discussing back surgery and pain issues. If you replying by email, I suggest clicking on VIEW & REPLY so that you can see the conversation in its entirety. You may find it worth your time to read through the full discussion and meet the other members who have experienced what you are asking about.

@marilynkilg, are you facing a decision regarding a surgery on your L4 and L5? If you don’t mind sharing, do you suffer from back pain?

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@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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In February I had a spacer put in. They still call it a fusion I believe. At least on my paperwork it was. Its just a spacer with a plate and screws to hold it in. I can say for me it was a much better surgery than the lumbar fusion. Yes still have issues but not like low back. Recovery was easier after the intial 2 weeks. Maybe a spacer could be an option for you.

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@jenapower My husband has fusion and graft of C 3-4, 4-5, 5-6 two weeks ago. He had severe spinal cord compression from herniated discs. The surgery was successful and he has no more numbness and pain. Down the road he will need to have 6-7 done . I know your post goes back write a few months ago. Have you had any surgery done?
All the best,
Jen

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I am writing to discuss pain control following low back surgery. The neurosurgeon said that the surgery would stop the pain I was having before surgery, but there would still be pain from the muscles and nerves. I now find I am having sever muscle cramps ranging from my waist to my knees. It seems as though there is a muscle or series of muscles that run around the body mimicking the half circle of my hips. That is the source of my pain. I am currently on Tramadol and muscle relaxants and they help, but there is still breakthrough pain. My husband has begun massaging the area 1-2 times a day. We have a borrowed TENS unit that helped one day, and aspercream lotion and patch. Is this usual following back surgery in the lumbar region? Has anyone else experienced this follow-up pain? How have other people managed this pain? Thank you for anything you can share with me.

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@2011panc

I am writing to discuss pain control following low back surgery. The neurosurgeon said that the surgery would stop the pain I was having before surgery, but there would still be pain from the muscles and nerves. I now find I am having sever muscle cramps ranging from my waist to my knees. It seems as though there is a muscle or series of muscles that run around the body mimicking the half circle of my hips. That is the source of my pain. I am currently on Tramadol and muscle relaxants and they help, but there is still breakthrough pain. My husband has begun massaging the area 1-2 times a day. We have a borrowed TENS unit that helped one day, and aspercream lotion and patch. Is this usual following back surgery in the lumbar region? Has anyone else experienced this follow-up pain? How have other people managed this pain? Thank you for anything you can share with me.

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hello, you may want to 'Google' Game Ready. If you can afford to rent a machine called Game Ready,
It will help with swelling. It cost my x-colleague $565 for 2 weeks rental (Canadian), worth every penny, she said and insurance paid half.
She is also on disability.
I wanted to let you know.

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@2011panc

I am writing to discuss pain control following low back surgery. The neurosurgeon said that the surgery would stop the pain I was having before surgery, but there would still be pain from the muscles and nerves. I now find I am having sever muscle cramps ranging from my waist to my knees. It seems as though there is a muscle or series of muscles that run around the body mimicking the half circle of my hips. That is the source of my pain. I am currently on Tramadol and muscle relaxants and they help, but there is still breakthrough pain. My husband has begun massaging the area 1-2 times a day. We have a borrowed TENS unit that helped one day, and aspercream lotion and patch. Is this usual following back surgery in the lumbar region? Has anyone else experienced this follow-up pain? How have other people managed this pain? Thank you for anything you can share with me.

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Thank you @tessie. I will check that out.

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Hello!
OK, this is my third and final try to post a reply. I don't know what is going on???????? I will try to start again…..
My issues began about 10 years ago. I had pain from my shoulder to the tip of my fingers. I saw several doc but no one could figure out why I was having this pain. I finally saw a spinal doc who figured it out. The pain was coming from my cervical spine. One shot and PT and I was good to go for a couple of years. When the pain returned, another shot and PT and I was fine.

A couple of years later, my lower back started to give me issues. Walking and sitting became painful. I had several non-surgical procedures done but nothing worked. I finally went to see a doc at Johns Hopkins. He said that my cervical spine was actually worse than my lumbar (my cervical spine was not giving me issues at the time). He told me I would need surgery on my cervical spine. Not if, but when. I wasn't ready to do anything so drastic.

I tried 3 different pain docs to treat the lumbar spine. Nothing really gave me any relief for more than a couple of days or week. I was going to get a spinal stimulator. I went through the trial and had no success. In between all this, I retired on disability because I could no longer walk or tolerate the pain. In addition, we decided to move to a warmer climate. I asked the rep of the stimulator company to suggest a pain doc in my new state. I wanted to continue with the stimulator. I tried this new doc. He felt I was not ready to go with the stimulator so we went back to shots which didn't last much longer than they did before.

Out of frustration, I researched and found another pain doc. He found the right spot and has been giving me lumbar epidurals for the last 3 years. I usually get 6-10 weeks of relief if I watch myself and baby my back. A few months ago, my cervical spine started to act up again. This time violent headaches was added into the mix. I only got them when I was sleeping and they woke me each morning. He tried a few different things but nothing really worked.

I finally decided that I did not have any quality of life and the constant pain was having an impact on my mood as well. After more research, I found a neurosurgeon. He suggested we start with my cervical spine since I have been able to get some relief with injections on my lumbar. I told my pain doc and he didn't seem to happy about my decision to have surgery. He had led me to believe that he had done all he could for my neck.

Anyway, about 5 weeks ago I had disk replacement on C5/6. The headaches are gone and so is most of the pain. I still have pins and needles in my forearms to fingers if I do what I am doing right now, too much typing. Next week I will go for my 6 weeks post op check up and we will discuss if we will take action on any other the other disks in my cervical spine and what he has in mind for my lumbar. I know I am doing well with shots in my lumbar, but I am concerned about steroids over the long run.

By the way, I am not really sure why I have these issues. I can only guess why they started. I believe some of it is hereditary since my brother has issue and my dad did, too. I also believe that improper weight exercising might have impacted the situation, too. Finally, good old aging.

That is my story. I hope it helps some.
Happy Sunday!

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