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I had a Anterior Cervical Discectomy last August 2006 and still have a lot of pain in my back (shoulder blades), neck and head. My last MRI came back with everything looking normal (says my doctor), so does this mean I'm still recovering or most likely have nerve damage?

Pain management also told me they're not going to prescribe pain meds 3-4 Vicodin a day) anymore and the Neurosurgent said he would not prescribe any med at all. Why? I know there is a problem with people abusing pain meds, but this seems inhumane to make someone suffer. I now am worried about how much I will be suffering without any pain relief. It's really depressing.

Thanks,
Bill

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:( My daughter, Liz, had this surgery about 4 years ago and is in agony, unless she is heavily sedated -which causes obvious other problems. Is a second corrective surgery sometimes done on these types of surgeries, when things go wrong?
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Having this surgery over two years ago and being on pain meds since I honestly do not know how people can survive the pain without them.

Every time I walk into the pharmacy I am treated like a "drug addict". Could they ever imagine the pain I am in? And would they take pain meds if they were in "my pain"? I for one am tired of judgemental pharmacists. I'm sure there are millions of people that do abuse these drugs. They make it hell for the people that really need them. But wouldn't you think if a reputable doctor was prescribing them that there must be a reason?

I know these are not good for me~ I am not stupid!
I do not have a life without meds, the pain is so severe. With meds a have a little bit of life. I can at least move about somewhat without being in extreme agony.

All I can say is try another doctor.
There are lots of people having the same problems after this surgery as us. They have got to know the pain we are in!
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hi, im 19 yr's old. i had this surgery two weeks ago, fusion of the C1 C2 bones using metal rods, and a bone graft, the second surgery i've have had, before i had a screw fixation, i now have a lot of metal work in my neck. on painkillers at the moment twice a day 2 paracetamol + 1 tramadol capsule. when the painkillers wear off i do notice a pain, a dull ache in my neck which is kinda annoying, i must admit it does limit the tasks i can do at the time. i guess its still early days, but i am noticing an improvement, the time between taking painkillers is gradually increasing every day, and i guess age is on my side. I'm sorry to hear its been two yrs and your still on medication, can i ask which bones were fused in the surgery. it's unfair being treated in that manner. i hope things improve for you.

Matt.
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hi, matt. my sister will have C1C2 fusion surgery on July 18. she was told that if she doesn't go for this surgery, she will risk breathing problems and fatality. i am so afraid that the surgerywill not turn out and that she will suffer with post op discomfort and pain. what do you think?
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I had my surgery on 12/18/08 and I have to say I thought it was a miracle(no more electric shock when I laugh, sneeze or cough). Two hours after the surgery I was eating a turkey sandwich and chocolate candy. I do feel alittle discomfort swallowing, but felt more pain when I had a C-section. I also think the discomfort I feel is from wearing the Aspen collar. :-D
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I'm 36 and have a bad herniation at c6 c7 and have been able to put off surgery for 3-years, no pain just numbness in two fingers. Now my numbness is extending itself on and off and I am considering surgery. If you don't mind me asking what brought you to surgery and who was your doctor.
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Before undergoing such an extreme procedure, I wonder if any of your surgeons referred you to a physical therapist. Recent research shows that physical therapy success rates are equal to surgery. Almost all of what I am reading here is very sad and honestly quite scary.

A significant problem with 'orthopedic' spinal surgeons (versus neurosurgeons) is that they use more drastic surgical fusion techniques due to the simplicity of the technique - i.e. it is easier for them versus having to learn how to perform the more difficult techniques that preserve most of the spinal motion. Most neurosurgeons prefer to perform POSTERIOR cervical discectomies that do not require fusing two vertebrae together, thus preserving normal motion.

A recent study found that most orthopedic spine surgeons end up suggesting an ADDITIONAL cervical fusion on the segment above or below a fused segment within 5-10 years. This is likely to be because the remaining movable segments take more wear-and-tear, causing an acceleration of degeneration at other levels of the spine.

Most spinal surgery has AT BEST a 50% success rate - meaning that the surgery achieved its purpose of stabilizing the segment. Success DOES NOT mean that you will be painfree. Make sure you ask your doctor before surgery if you will painfree afterwards. They will tell you that the goal of surgery is NOT to make you painfree.

Neurosurgeons will typically only fuse the spine if there is a risk of spinal cord damage. They are much more careful to protect the nerves and spinal cord. Their techniques are usually less drastic. They will tell you if you do require a more drastic procedure and will discuss this with you.

PLEASE do two things:
1- Go to a neurosurgeon - not an orthopedic spine surgeon.
2- BEG your doctor to refer you to a physical therapist before resorting to surgery. Even if you end up undergoing surgery you should be referred to a physical therapist before AND afterwards. If they read any medical journals at all they will know that all the research in the last ten years shows better functional outcomes for patients referred to a PT after surgery.

And preferably one who is Fellowship trained. The designation 'FAAOMPT' is the only recognized credential within the field of physical therapy for those with the highest level of training. They will design a customized regimen of spinal stabilization exercises that can frequently be as successful as surgery, according to a recent study.

Even new grads from PT school know their musculoskeletal anatomy better than the average physician, But Fellows understand their anatomy better than most orthopedic spine surgeons.

Good luck everyone. And do your own research. Don't rely on information from friends and relatives. Don't even rely on my post. This is too important to place blind trust in anyone - no matter how good their reputation.
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I had a ruptured disc about 2 weeks ago at the c5c6 and was having an unbearable pain shooting through my upper neck with any minimal movement. I thought i had no real arm issues although it was expected that I should. The spinal (orthopedic) surgeon who I went to recommended not waiting and proceeding with surgery. As, I know this surgeon and he doesn't always recommend surgery and he was concerned about permanent nerve damage if I went the physical therapy route... I had surgery about 10 days ago. In addition to correcting the disc rupture he also discovered some chronic nerve compression that I didn't know I had and corrected this as well. I had a donor bone graft and a titanium plate placed. I of course was nervous but fortunately another friend of mine who is a neurologist with a specialty in Physical med and Rehab and pain management found out was going on. He encouraged me to go ahead too as he felt the people who waited had the worst results and more chronic pain. Both my surgeon and my friend told me to expect some symptoms on the opposite side of my problem for a few weeks after as the normal nerve gets irritated. I woke up from surgery with my neck pain completely gone. In addition I didn't realize that I had been suffering from chronic pain in my left shoulder, arm, and back that was due to nerve compression. It was the first thing i noted was the absence of this discomfort. I had this for a long time and just thought it was muscular and had just lived with it. I also realized I had been dropping stuff. Now I'm 10 days out. Swallowing is still a little uncomfortable but improving. I do have the opposite side symptoms and just take my muscle relaxants as instructed. This is bearable and improving. I haven't used a narcotic in 3 days. I went for a 90 minute walk today. My bras don't hurt anymore. I completely disagree with the person who favored the neurosurgeon over the orthopedic surgeon. Find the BEST surgeon. Find out who the Doctors go to in your area. That's who you want to go to. Don't go to the person someone you knew went to. Find a surgeon who doesn't recommend surgery to everyone just the people who need it. The more I've researched since then, the more I think people who delay their surgery or do it with a traditional invasive approach as opposed to noninvasive are the people who have the most trouble. But research the physicans before you let them operate on you. I will keep the board updated if I have any problems but really other than normal post op stuff am doing great.
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I had a c5 c6 anterior discectomy without fusion on February 24, 2009 at West Virginia University Hospital. My Neurosurgeon formerly worked with the Pittsburgh Steelers and currently performs surgeries on the WVU football team. He tried other means of relief prior to recommending surgery as I am only 29 years old. I went for a follow up today and everything checked out okay. I'm 14 days out taking only Advil and a mild muscle relaxer. I stopped taking Percocet after five days. I will have to go to physical therapy for the loss of strength and grip in the left arm and hand. I no longer have the tingling, stinging and burning pain in the upper back and left side of the neck. swallowing is still a little weird, but all in all the surgery went well. I must say, I'm a little concerned about scar tissue building up. But my surgeon installed a titanium disc replacement that actually moves on a ball-joint type instrument. I was fortunate my insurance approved the apparatus. I was instructed to walk a lot and avoid lifting, pushing, pulling and reaching over my head excessively. But I am sorry to hear about the pain medication issues some of you are having. When I got my initial RX filled, the pharmacy shorted me exactly 20 pills. I often have to wonder if the techs or the pharmacists themselves have the addiction issues. But stay tough everyone and feel better! ( :
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I had the anterior discectomy with fusion of cadaver bones. I have good days and bad days, but the pain just never goes away. I just turned 58 and my surgery was in November of 2008. I had little or no pain prior to the surgery, but my reflexes were way out of whack, so they did an mri and found out c3 and c5 were blocking most of my spinal fluid. They also took c4 during the surgery because they knew it would fail eventually. Anyway, I'm in more pain now than I was before surgery and I"m not sure what to do. Is it just a matter of time? Is there anyone out there that has had surgery over a year ago and is feeling better? I'm scared that I'm never going to have my life back. Also, walking is extremely painful now - I get sharp shooting pains in my hips after 1/2 mile. I used to do 3 miles, several times a week. Bummer.
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Hey, Hang in there. It will get better, but we all recover differently. You sound just like I did before I was forced into driving more and walking more. I had surgery just before you did, I am 45, and my wife left me at the end of January. That is when I was forced into doing more activities. And boy was I hurting. A few months later and I am now able to do many things that I used to do... and there are many things I just ask others to do for me. I still have to turn my whole body to look around while driving and I allways try to pull through parking spaces so I can just pull out when leaving. Backing up is impossible.



So give it time and do not push it too much. Just push yourself to the point of the first sign of pain and back down. Then dont try that again for a while. Walking was a re-learning experience... pains from my lack of walking I think.



Good luck,

Rob
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I had my C-3,4, and 5 fused and disc replacememt on 02 DEC 08 at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore, Well my problems began right after surgery, painfull swallowing loss of voice and the pain and numbness has yet to subside.

From my chin down to my scar is STILL numb both doctors said the surgery was a suscess on their part. Five months later I still cant eat solid foods, lost over 30 pounds, the pain in my left arm never went away still cant sleep nights, and physical therapy has not helped. Had two swallowing studies done in which I had apple sauce, graham crackers, and apple juice to comsume during the study all tests came back negitive. I have made sevaral appointments to complain about the post opt symptoms all have fallen on deaf ears. The pain is so great at times the medication does not work and have yet to seek any pain management.

I have worked as a correctional officer for over twenty years and my doctor wants me to retire medically and my agency will only give me four months of light duty so after the four months are over so is my job because he will not release me from light duty.
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Hi everyone.
I had the procedure in the UK with a cage, no real fusion.
I had the best neurosurgeon in the country. I am about 15 days post op and I still have that horrible nerve pain in my arm. The op was supposed to fix this. Discomfort from the op itself is minimal and getting better all the time. BUT I am quite concerned that the op was a waste and that my pain is here to stay.
I am a 49 year old textile teacher and I feel pretty depressed.
Will it get better,or not?
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Will nerve pain get better or not is a difficult question to answer. Looking through the forums and threads here, you can see it's different for each person. A lot depends on how long you had the pain and how much damage was done prior to surgery. The longer the damage was in place, the longer it may take for the pain to go away, and it may never completely go away if there is enough damage.

I'm two weeks post-op and am off pain meds (except Tylenol) and only one muscle relaxant a day. But, my condition was caught very early and I still have minor pain and numbness in my left arm. I also have pain in my neck and shoulders. I was told that this is basically a universal post-operative issue. We've all had crushed/herniated/compressed discs that resulted in our requiring this surgery, so we've all developed poor habits of posture to compensate and the muscles in our necks compressed to compensate for the compression.

The longer you've lived with the condition, prior to the surgery, the longer the recovery seems to be. Don't give up hope! Stay with the physical therapy. Things do seem to get better over time.
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