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

@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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Marie,
Many, many years ago I went to a physiatrist for what was then called TMJ and for Fibromyalgia. Basically, this doc put me on lots of vitamins. I really cannot remember what else she did.

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@marield65

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

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Hi Marie,
I just had disk replacement in C5/6. My neurosurgeon told me up front that if he did a fusion, it would weaken the other disks surrounding C5/6. He said I would need more surgery down the road. He suggested the replacement and if I took care and not do stupid things (my words, not his), I should be good to go (as far as these and surrounding disks are concerned). I do have other cervical disks with issues so I don't know if I am done with cervical surgery, yet.
Good luck to us all!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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Thank you for posting. I have lost sensation in some fingers on my left hand. My spine doctor tells me that this is due to cervical spine discs issues and I need surgery. Rather scary! Good to know your surgery worked.

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@jenapower Thank you for posting. I have degenerative disc disease and severe systemic osteoarthritis. I had 1 cervical disc removed and the two vertebrae fused in 2002. It worked wonderfully for relieving the pain but left some loss of range of motion. Over the intervening years that range of motion has evened out with the other side. About a month ago I finally had surgery to remove a facet and fuse the two vertebrae in my lumbar spine. That surgery worked wonderfully for removing the pain of impingement on my spinal cord. However, the post operative pain from the muscles disrupted by the surgery was every bit as painful as the spinal impingement had been. I was given a muscle relaxant, as well as an opioid with fewer side effects at my staple removal visit. They did not take care of the muscle pain. I begged my husband to deep massage the most painful areas and got some pain relief. He talked to a few people and borrowed a stimulator (commonly called a tens unit) and electric massager. He also made a trip to the store and brought home aspercreme lotion and patches. The stimulator had very little effect on the pain and his hand manipulations were actually better than the electric massager. I received the most relief from a professional deep tissue massage and aspercreme patches. Now, 4 weeks out, I have been able to go 2 days with no opioid or muscle relaxant and one day without the aspercreme patch. I have also been able to start walking for up to 10 minutes with only mild achiness.

As for your problem with receiving too many emails, my only suggestion would be to open an email account with gmail, yahoo, aol, or some other free provider and use that account for your Mayo Connect notifications only. Than you can read your normal emails and only go to your Mayo dedicated account when you are ready to scroll, delete and read.

Good luck to you on all accounts.

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Thank you for sharing your story. It sounds like things are going well for you, now.
I have many of the issues you do….degenerative disc disease and systemic osteoarthritis.
I had 2 discs replaced in my cervical spine about 5 weeks ago. For me, the nerves that were disturbed during the surgery has been the most disruptive. Now, almost 5 weeks out, I am feeling much better.
I take shots for my lumbar spine. As a matter of fact, I go tomorrow for my shot and I cannot wait.
When I go for my 6 week post-op, we will discuss if he feels I need anything more with my cervical spine. We are also going to discuss my lumbar spine. I worry about all the steroids I get.
I also take opioids and use creams with lidocaine. Each takes the edge off but nothing seems to get rid of the pain.
I used to get massages, too, but now I am afraid they might mess something up. I'll have to talk with the neurosurgeon about that, too.
Well hope your progress continues.

Good luck!!!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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My wife had 2 neck surgeries within 12 months
Replacing and fusing c1-c7 now the problem is her nerve pain has gotten worse, she has stage 1 diabetes, but now think it has escalated because of pain and are concerned about blood flow and nerves in her feet
She doesnt like to take pain meds; however I lay awake watching and listening to her fall apart and in agony
Are there any other options or suggestions
I have left out a lot of specifics not to go too in depth, but she/we need help

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@jcmmm

My wife had 2 neck surgeries within 12 months
Replacing and fusing c1-c7 now the problem is her nerve pain has gotten worse, she has stage 1 diabetes, but now think it has escalated because of pain and are concerned about blood flow and nerves in her feet
She doesnt like to take pain meds; however I lay awake watching and listening to her fall apart and in agony
Are there any other options or suggestions
I have left out a lot of specifics not to go too in depth, but she/we need help

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Hello @jcmmm, and welcome to Connect. You may notice that I moved your discussion and combined it with a discussion titled, 'Surgical Solutions to Chronic Cervical/back Pain.' I did this so you would be introduced to the many members discussing have cervical fusions and back/neck pain such as your wife is experiencing. If you are replying by email, I suggest clicking on VIEW & REPLY so you can see where the new discussion is and you can read through some of the previous posts from other members.

@jcmmm, have you or wife discussed your concern about blood flow with your provider? I can certainly understand not wanting to take pain medications as a person who has also underwent a lot of surgeries. If you don't mind sharing, what pain management techniques are you and your wife trying?

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