I didn't have pain prior to surgery, but 2 disk herniations were compressing the spinal cord. Numb hands, left arm ache, right leg going numb, etc. After surgery, the right leg was normal almost immediately. No arm pain now, and the numbness in the hands is getting better (slowly) every day. I have been in the Miami J collar 24/7, but now take it off a few times during the day. I did have some bad pain in the shoulder blade areas, but that too has subsided.
I think I'm on the mend, and will know more in a couple of weeks at the follow up visit with the neurosurgeon. I believe I am a "success story". Yes, there will be movement limitations, and some life style changes to put into place (as I have degenerative disk disease), but things are looking up!!!
I had surgery on 11/06. Like several of you, I have degenerative disks, osteophytes, osteoarthritis, and had herniation between C-4, 5, 6. I opted for surgery because I was losing use of my right hand - I experienced numbness, tingling and weakness, as well pain in my neck, shoulders, and arms.
I was in physical therapy for about 9 months previous to having surgery. Was trying to do anything to avoid surgery, and to continue working. I was averaging only about 2-3 hours of sleep per night because of the pain and discomfort. It was also getting to the point with the numbness that I was having real difficulty using my hands.
I can honestly write that I am so glad that I had the surgery. My C-5 was almost disintegrated, so was in danger of collapsing. It had degenerated much more than indicated on the MRI taken six months earlier. The numbness is now almost all gone, and my hands are much stronger.
On the less positive side, it has taken me alot longer to recover than I thought it would. I fatigue easily, and need to sit down and rest after very basic activities. I am still having chronic pain and muscle spasms in my shoulders and neck. The pain begins as a soreness and, if I don't take painkillers/muscle relaxant, it progresses quickly to unbearable pain to the point of feeling nauseous. I am also experiencing other pain that I did not have until after the surgery. I am having headaches and earaches on the left side of my head. (Is anyone else out there having similar symptoms?) These seem to get progressively worse the more that I attempt to do - as does the neck, shoulder and arm pain. I have also had some eye problems since the surgery, as well as still having some trouble sleeping. I need to sleep with head and shoulders inclined - cannot lay flat.
I know I am much stronger than I was even a month ago, but I do not yet have the stamina, nor the above issues under control enough to return to my job at this time.
My surgeon feels that physical therapy is not necessary, but my PCP thinks this might help. Are any of you post-cervical spinal surgery patients in physical therapy - and has this helped in your recovery?
Thanks for reading, and good luck to all with your recoveries.
I'm 6 weeks out from C5-6, 6-7 fusion with cadaver bone and titanium plate. I went back to work this week, just for 4 hours per day. I am very very tired. I am taking long naps and sleeping 10-11 hours at night just to work 4 hours and take my long walk each day. I guess I should just be glad that I can sleep now. Pre-surgery I was NOT sleeping at all due to the pain. My post-op instruction said to eat more protein and take a multi-vitamin for 3 months. Any other advice for getting beyond this fatigue?
When I went in for my four week post-op, I told the doctor about my left ear getting hot to the touch and visibly red. He said not to worry about it but that he didn't think it was related to the fusion. Hmmm...
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I can't believe I have made it this far. I had C4 and C5 removed and had titanium cage and metal plate inserted. No hip/cadaver bone! The surgery was on 2/16. My 3 week post op visit is this Friday 3/9.
The pain I had pre op is gone. My lost shoulder muscle won't come back until I start PT. I am in a Philadelphia collar 24/7. No lifting, bending stretching or lifting arms over head. showering is getting easier. Now that the steri strips fell off of my neck, the doctor said I can get the neck wet, but not soak. so collar comes off 20 min. a day for my shower.
I'm off the pain meds, but needed a sleeping pill to sleep. I am a side and stomach sleeper and I am miserable having to sleep on my back and at a reclined position. No flat sleeping for me. Now that my brain isn't fuzzy from the Demerol, I am having the hardest time trying to get comfy at night. Hence, Lunesta. It isn't strong enough to knock me out. I only get about 4 hrs of straight sleep a night.
I do have the throb in the middle of my shoulders but I believe that's due to the stupid collar. Can't wait for my new one. Yeah...doctor told me 3 weeks in Philly collar and then I'll get a new, softer one.
Don't know when I'll start PT and don'tknow when I'll be released to drive. Really need to go back to work soon. But without the use of my right shoulder, don't know how that will affect me at work.
good luck to all. my pain is gone...now it's time for my neck to heal so I can' have my life back.
I am very happy to have had the surgery, having had to wait 3 years before getting it, due to lack of insurance (Even 3 years ago, my problem was bad enough for surgery). By the time I got surgery, the potential complications of the surgery were not as bad than the potential complications of not getting surgery (for example, paralysis). Even though mine is not a complete success story, this is a whole lot better way to live than what I had before the surgery. I probably may never regain all my function, and I have continuing problems, but they are not nearly as disabling as before the surgery.
I had gotten to the point of near-paralysis, barely able to use my right leg and arm in particular, and in terrible pain throughout my body. Plus I had bladder and bowel problems, which I rarely see mentioned in these forums. I suspect that most people get surgery long before they get to the point I was at. My right side was espeically bad, but my left side had also become bad. I could barely turn my neck in any direction, and could not sleep at night due to pain. My head felt like it was too heavy to hold up, and I had the sensation of neck instability. I had become unable to do even the most routine things, such as cleaning the house, riding in a car, or working. I had become very clumsy in both my hands and feet. It was so painful and difficult to ride in a car. I addition, I suffered horrible fatigue. I was stiff and had the feeling that gravity was 10-times stronger than normal.
The cervical spinal stenosis, combined with other health problems, was enough that I am now on Disability. Even though I've now had surgery, I am a long way from being able to go back to work. But still I am happy I've had the surgery.
I was surprised that the surgery was only 2 or 3 hours in duration, and that I only had to spend one night in the hospital.
I don't think the doctor was able to correct all my problems during the surgery, because I had so many problems going on. But he did improve the worst areas and probably cut out some bone spurs from other areas (though I don't know if that's the case). Immediately after surgery, the pain and weakness on my left side had gone away (though my right side remains problematic), and I could walk almost normal again. I went walking all around the hospital with a big grin on my face.
I had long since thought there were activities I'd never be able to do again (clean house, play golf, go fishing, barbecue, oil painting, bowling, walk the dog, ride in a car with comfort, etc.), but now I look forward to improvement so that I can resume a near-normal life. Perhaps I'll never again be able to swing a golf club or pick up a heavy bowling ball, but at least I don't think I am facing the possibility of using a wheelchair, which was the case before surgery, and I am not in constant unbearable pain from head to toe.
I am not sure of the experience of others who've had this surgery, but in my case, the post-surgery period -- the first month or so -- was very painful but was well-controlled using oxycodone and Soma (as long as I took the meds every few hours). I then was switched to Vicodin and Soma, which did not work as well, but now they work OK.
I do still have lingering problems, and perhaps these will never go away. My pain is different than before the surgery, and it's sometimes actually more painful. But it's limited mainly to my right side, and I'm thinking it may be my badly-damaged nerves waking back up (or sending signals to my brain for the first time in years). I still take pain pills and muscle relaxants (now 2-1/2 months post-surgery), but not as often as I did right after surgery. I can go for several days at a time now without needing them, depending on my activity level.
The pain I get now is often more intense than prior to the surgery, and it forces me to take pain pills and muscle relaxants when it occurs. But I suspect the intensity results from nerves that were so badly prinched before surgery that they are just now beginning to wake up. The pain is mostly limited to my neck, shoulders, and back of my head, though before surgery pain occurred all over my body. It is still very difficult for me to reach upward with my right arm, without pain. And I get fatigued easily. In addition, I cannot lift very much weight without pain.
Though I still have problems, here are some of the improvements -- I can ride in a car without neck pain and no longer dread going anywhere; I can usually find a comfortable position for my neck so that I can sleep again; I can type again, without the excruciating pain it used to cause; I can peel potatoes, though not for very long; I can walk; I can balance myself; my bowel problems have gone away, as well as nearly all of the bladder incontinency; my left-side is nearly normal again; I can control my right leg again; I have some days without pain; I am not stiff and barely able to walk in the mornings; I can turn my head a bit better (despite the 2-level fusion); I can cook again; etc., etc.
I consider my surgery a success. I am very happy to have had the surgery, and recommend it to anybody who's doctor has told them they need it. It's scary to contemplate the surgery, but by the time I got surgery I felt more relief than fear, because it was my only hope for reducing the amount of pain I had. I say get the surgery before your problems become as bad as mine did.
Just wanted to report...on week 4 of post op from cervical fusion of C4/C5 and have left the Philadelphia collar behind. I can now move enough to bath all by myself in the shower. Yay!!!
Sleeping is still rough cause they put me in a soft cervical collar. It looks like an inflated tube sock around my neck.
Also, my doctor prescribed a bone stimulation machine to enhance the bone regrowth over the titanium cage in my neck. I did not have cadaver bone inserted or hip bone. He used my neck bone, broke it up and placed the pieces inside the metal cage that he put in place of the bone. My bone is better than a cadaver's and I didn't need the additional hip surgery to harvest my bone.
I started physical therapy for my shoulder yesterday. That sucks. Hard to believe that 3 months ago, I had no pain and my whole body worked normally. It wasn't painful, just difficult to admit to myself that I can't move my shoulder that way I used to.
Anyway, my only pain is the dull ache between my shoulder blades. The new collar makes sleeping a little easier and I am only taking Tylenol PM when needed to sleep.
I'll check back in a few weeks with some more progress.
Good luck to everyone.
I found this site and wanted to post my story....in May of 2000, I experienced a Rupture of C5-6. When it occured I had neck grinding, numbness of the hands and the most severe PAIN I have ever felt, I couldn't hold my head up either.... between the time of the ruptures, the diagnosis and surgery 9 days had passed, I was in a J collar and had numbness of both arms and by then C7 had also ruptured, it was unbelievable. I ended up with a Triple Fusion of C567. After a LONG recovery went back to work and 3 years later found myself with nerve damage down my left leg, severe neck spasm, radiculopathy, migraine headaches and weakness of both arms. Needless to say I am now on Social Security Disability...I have tried many Alternative Medical methods which have helped reduce Pain med dosages...but....life is not the same. I maintain a positive attitude but sure miss my old life pre-ruptures and fusion. Anyone else out there with a similar story?
No pain, tingling, or numbliness after surgery. After a week some tingling when tilting head back. Stopped tilting head back for any reason. Called doctor and he prescribed meds to assist healing nerves that he had prescribed before my leaving hospital that I did not receive. I was surprised by pain under and between shoulder blades. It is reducing and probably will be gone by 1st post opt check up next week. Also hope to get out of this collar.
I am 69 and feel blessed. Expect to be fully normal after 2 or 3 weeks. PTL