Thanks for the posts. I am feeling lucky. I do not think that I am feeling as bad as most.
The Neurontin(anti-Epileptic med) has done its job finally. The pain has stopped in my shoulders and arms for the most part. There are only one or two times a day where I feel discomfort beyond my shoulder blades and triceps.
I am curious though... When this medicine is taken to calm the nerves down, are the results permanent? or do the symptoms come back if I go off the Neurontin? This worries me.
The pain in my shoulders, triceps and neck has gone down to just major aches, 3 on the scale of 1-10. I still have pain when I nod my head yes and if I turn my head to fast. But I have noticed yesterday that it took a week of not wearing my Miami-J collar for my neck muscles to start getting stronger which in turn helps ease the pain. I am trying to go without any pain meds and by 5pm I had to try Tylenol and IBprofen. Those did not work so I took my Lortab and Flexeril. But looking back, I made it most of the day without. :-) This morning I do not hurt as bad. I was waking up feeling like I was 100yrs old. Now I feel like about 65. lol
In the beginning when I had my pre-op testing they found that I have high cholesterol(286) and put me on medication right away. Now I find out that the pain I have walking and in most of my joints is most likely caused by the medication. I wonder if I am confusing some of my back and neck pain with some of those symptoms...hmm.
I am still limited to just 20lbs of lifting, but I cannot test that due to how my body has been hurting. I feel like I ran a marathon without training for it. seriously! I was thinking that was from my sitting for the last 7 weeks. Now it looks like its from other meds as well as my lack of activity.
My last words here are to wish everybody a Very Merry Christmas! This will be the first holiday season I don't have to work and I get to spend them all with my family.
I am now 8 weeks out and still having pain. I sure wish I could go a full day without pain meds! I seem to allways have setbacks. I turned my head to sharply tonight several times when just talking to friends we went to see. Man do those hurt. I had to move firewood today and now feel the repercussions of my actions.
I was doing well but a couple things have made me flare up. I discovered that my weaker vicodin works better than my Lortabs. Maybe I have gotten used to those and the change in meds was what I needed.
Tonight just lifting a pizza box from the back seat in a car when I was sitting in the front seat was not a good thing. I was in a bad position and then the wife wanted to help and when she grabbed the box and lifted I had a very sharp pain in my left arm where I used to have all the pain before surgery. So I need to be more careful.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!
I think I am settling down as far as the pain is concerned. The anti-epileptic medicine has stopped the pain from reaching my arms. I now just have some pain in my neck and triceps on occasion. It seems like I can do a lot more now without pain but I found my limitations. DO NOT reach into the back seat of the car without turning your body a little to help. That caused a pain that felt like tearing the muscle from my biceps. The other thing I did was to turn my head in a reaction to my wife backing the car out of a parking spot. I wrenched my neck to far trying to look to see if there was anyone coming in a parking lot as my wife was backing the car out. OUCH!
Other than that, I have hauled wheel barrels 3/4 full of firewood to the basement and didn't have any problems that night nor the next day. About the worst thing I have going on right now is the difficulties in sleeping. I still have to take pain medicine to be able to get a good nights rest so I do not wake up feeling like I just got hit by a truck the day before. I have now slept good 4 nights in a row with pain meds. at bed time. I go most of the day without them now. I can see the day coming where I won't need them anymore.
I am getting anxious to return to work. My wife has worked her butt off trying to keep us afloat. Even though my NS said he does not want me to go back doing what I used to, I have to. My boss is willing to allow me to go back under that premise. He knows it is a gamble and that someday I will blow my C6-7. That is the disk that my NS wished he would have done. So, as I told my wife, jobs are getting scarce and just think of how hard it will be for someone with a bad neck to get one over a 15yr veteran of General Motors who is physically fit. So I talked to my boss and told him I need to work until I absolutely cannot. After all, we(people who had an ACDF) have dealt with a lot of pain already...whats a little more.
So it seems time is what it takes for the healing. It is just so hard to think you are going to get better when you are hurting like you do in the 5-8 week periods. So, anyone who is still hurting in the first few months... hang in there. There are some cases that take longer than others. And hopefully you will get better soon too.
I go to my NS this Thursday and expect him to give me the release to start my PT at home. And probably take off my weight limits.
My final thought is that I hope everyone had a great holiday season. On to a better year ahead.
I'm so glad you are doing so well and will be returning to work soon.
Reading these blogs I've noticed you have done alot of research and seem you are really up on ACDF..I have a question for you.
Does any of your research show that people whom have had posterior neck surgery recover faster and better than people having the anterior surgery?
This was brought up by a friend. Her comment was that the people she knows that has had posterior neck surgery have gotten along far better than the people whom have had anterior.
Any opinion on that?
I have done a lot of reading, yes. Thanks. I only want to understand what I am going through and know the possibilities good and bad.
If you would ask me this morning how I am doing I would tell you "the same". Setbacks... I hate them... oh well. I had a very rough night sleeping and I hurt pretty good this morning. I am trying to do without pain meds and it is proving to be rough.And as far as work, I don't know yet. I have to see my surgeon and talk to my boss.
As to Anterior(frontal)) -vs- Posterior(rear), from the front they can access the vertebrae easier just by moving muscle out of the way using clamps, so there is a faster healing time expected with Anterior. Doing this surgery from the back usually means that you are having more disks worked on than Anterior. My NS said he will do 1 or 2 from the front and if you need a 3 level or more then he has to do it from the Posterior which means they have to cut muscle tissue apart to get at the disks.
So knowing that, it makes more sense that you "should", but not always, heal faster from an Anterior surgery of this type.
In my last post I misspelled your user name KSF, Sorry.
Ya know, I was thinking this morning about your question and I have another opinion than I did earlier.
Think about this as a possibility:
From what I have read and found out from talking to Doctors and Neurosurgeons if they have to do 2 levels or less they go through the front. Which is an easier surgey to do and recover from normaly. If more than 2 they go through the back(posterior).
What if when a NS goes through the back, wouldn't it make sense to do all the levels that even look like they need to be done? Whereas in another scenario if they have 2 levels that need done and a third that is questionable, they would opt to do the two levels and hope they do enough for the patient to recover and maybe never need the third level done.
So in the last case, there just may be rougher recoveries from doing Anterior surgeries than Posterior. And maybe your friends know people who fit that scenario.
To make this simple to understand, In my case I am not doing so well if you think about it. I am nearing 10 weeks post-op and I am still on pain meds. I am probably going to have another disk done in the coming year since my NS only did an Anterior surgery with 2 disks involved and he hoped I would not need C6-C7 done even though it was questionable.. And now he has had to put me on more meds hoping I recover. And I know people who had 3 and 4 levels done and say they were immediately cured and went back to work in 3-8 weeks never to have another problem.
Well, I go see him in 2 days and I have gotten worse over the last month, especially at night. I am being woke up in pain 3-6 times a night. And when I get up I feel like I am 100 years old. I was thinking I was doing better, but then I had another setback.
What stinks is my insurance doesn't cover this and I am broke!
Thank you for your input.
I am having one heck of a time after ACDF surgery done in Sept 05.
The bad part is my pain keeps taking over more and more of my body parts.
I just returned from another visit to my Neurologist. He absolutely, thus far, can not figure out what is wrong with me. Several months ago I had MRI's (third one since surgery) on my cervicle spine and this time of my brain. He is telling me my spine looks great! I did have some white spots at my brain stem thus leaving him to question MS or mini strokes.
So now it's more test.
It is so frustrating! I haven't been able to work for over 2 yrs and I understand the broke.
It seems to be a no win situation. You go broke having all of these test and surgeries wanting to get better...but you go broke if you are in too much pain to work also.
I keep hoping they will discover what is wrong with me so hopefully I can get better and get my life back. I'm only 48 yrs young. I have way too much to offer to quit because of this pain. I've always been very independent ( including finacially) and relying on others to help me with some things is about more than I can mentally handle.
The part that worries me most is there is not an answer for this pain and this is going to be my life from now on.
Thanks for listening to me vent...and thanks for answering my questions that I post.
I hope you find a solution to your pain and you can "get your life back".
I do know one thing for sure this pain started before ACDF and has worsened after. Somewhere, somehow there has got to be an answer.
I also thank you for allowing me to vent. I didn't say as much as I typed... you know, you type it, you mean it... but we decide that not everyone needs to hear it.
I have focused on me and haven't even wished you the best. I do! I can't decide if this is going to get worse or get better. That is where I am.
Keep posting if you wish. I seem to look here a lot for something... I just don't find it.
BUT, it went really well. I was told that all of my pains are from the actual surgery and not from the level he did not do(C6-7). That was good to hear. He said that most of his patients, if things go the way they should, would have gone 2 months between visits instead of the every month that I did. He said I was just healing slow. And that in 2 months from now he will take X-Rays and see how the fusion went. He also said no exercising for me yet and he also put me out of work for another 2 months which brings the total months of being off work to 6.
Good luck everyone.
Last week I was feeling a little better when I saw my NS. I could see a day to day improvement and then my NS told me things that made me feel better.
Then came this week. It has been typical in the sense that I have had all the same aches and pains I have gotten used to. The lack of good sleep will end soon I hope. We had a bad snow storm here last week and got 10"... Well you can guess what I did. I got out the rinkie dink little blower we have and proceeded to prove my stupidity. I felt it about an hour in and had to allow the neighbor to finish it for me. The pain hit me the day after and it was not just muscle aches. I am better now but not real good, I still wake up with my neck really hurting and I am still on pain medications. Yesterday I tried to do some light woodworking and I really shouldn't have.
Back to watching movies. :-(
Good luck to all.
I wanted to post a note about doing what my NS told me to do. When he asked if my Neurontin was working I told him yes definitely! But I told him I missed 4 noon time doses. That time of day is easy to forget for me. He asked if I was having any trouble with my right arm pain coming back and I told him no. So he said since I was ok on 2 per day for me to continue on that dose. Most people have to take the full 3/day. Well, 4 or 5 days at 2 per day and the nerve pain came back just as if I was on nothing. The pain went from my lower neck across my shoulder and down my arm. So I went back to 3 300mg Neurontin per day and it went away. My other pains are still here but at least my arm calmed down.
This may have answered my question about what will happen when I go off the Neurontin. My NS said he was hoping that the Neurontin would allow me to heal... We will see I guess. October 30th 2008 was a long time ago... so it seems when you hurt every day and every night.
I had a ACDF (C5/6 and C6/7) last November 13th so I guess it ahs been about 9 weeks or so. I had NO pain and NO symptoms prior to surgery. In December of 2007, I hurt my lower back playing racquetball after hitting the back wall. Having my share of aches and pains playing this game, I was surprised when it did not go away. In March of 2008 I went to see my doctor and he ordered a lumbar x-ray which came back negative. Then he ordered a lumbar MRI (first time and it scared the c**p out of me) which also came back fine. Then he proceeds to tell me how I could have injured my upper-back/neck and the pain was being "transferred" to my lower back. I thought he was nuts but after some further discussions I agreed to go because I had the highest faith in him. I still remember the day I got home from the gym (racquetball) and heard the message on the recorder from the doctor that the results from the cervical MRI had come back and there was something we needed to "chat" about. It turns out that I had severe stenosis and other medical terms going on where my spinal cord was being compressed by my vertebrae and disks. He said I needed to go talk to a NS and see what was going on.
In early April, I went to one of the best NS here. Since I had turned in my films upon my arrival, the doctor had already put them on the wall and had been looking at them. He was amazed when they called me back and saw me pain free. He was further bewildered when I had told him that I had no symptoms and really had no idea what was going on. He put me through a range of exercises which I completed with no problems. He informed me that my pictures looked "ugly" and that I had some serious compression on my spinal cord but that for me to have no pain and no symptoms was incredible. When I asked him the possible cause, he said "well it can be a tumor, it could be MS, or it could be the result of an injury, either recent or years ago". Of course this upset me and pretty much kicked my legs out from under me. He said based on my pictures I should be having surgery within a week but with no pain or symptoms, it was decided to wait a 5 or 6 months and take another MRI. This of course was only if no pain or symptoms presented themselves.
Meanwhile, I scheduled another appointment with my doctor who saw that I was upset with what the NS had said. He asked a Radiologist to take another look at the pictures who confirmed that the problem was injury related (at some time during my 45 years on planet earth). We decided to take the "wait and see" approach. I continued all of my physical activities as usual.
On a 15-hour flight to Asia in July, I was about 10 hours into it when I went to stretch out in my seat. As I pressed the back of my head against the seat back, I felt a sort of "jolt" down my left arm. Although unusual, as well as un-nerving at the time, it never happened again. But in August I started noticing a similar sensation as I would reach for something with my right hand (particularly picking something up off the floor) I would get a "tingle" down my left arm and hand. Nothing to get to worried about and I knew my follow-up MRI was in a few weeks. To be continued....
I will be looking forward to your posts. Your surgery was close to the same date as mine and my first pain doctor could not believe that I was not complaining much either.