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Hello and many thanks in advance for reading my post !

I have been and continue to search for any and all advice regarding successful pain management stemming from an anterior cervical fusion.

My surgery was in Jan. 2006. Over three and a half years later, I still continue to struggle daily and most times hourly, to manage pain resulting from this operation.
Prior to my surgery, I had lost approx. 60-70% of the strength in my leg arm due to nerve compression by ruptured discs (specif. C4, C5, C6 & C7 [all of which are now fused and secured with a titanium cage]). My strength has and continues to improve but it's been a slow, arduous process. Even though I no longer have the tremendous nerve pain caused by that compression, what remains is just about as bad and sometimes worse.

My pain consists of a continuous dull, burning ache that runs vertically from the base of my skull to approx. the T8-T9 range and horizontally from shoulder to shoulder. I have a conglomeration of the following on most days: the dull, burning ache as stated in the previous sentence, migraines that seem to be located behind my eye sockets, muscle spasms and pain, inability to have free range of motion in my neck (I do understand that this area was compromised because of the nature and location of the fusion), and just an overall sense of malaise. Not to be cheeky about the last note but I just feel bad most all of the time because of the situation.

I am no longer able to function in the manner to which I was once accustomed and by this I mean everything from cleaning my house to taking a shower and washing my hair without the aid of a bath chair.
It hurts...I hurt... all the time. It's always there, no matter rain or shine. I'm 34 yrs. old and I feel as if I'm 80...and not the good kind of 80 where everyone's all happy that they're out golfing...but I'm assuming you probably already inferred that much :-)

Doctor-wise, I sought out the best surgeon within my region. He not only teaches the surgery, but also helped develop much of the procedures for it and he's just wonderful. I have and continue to trust him implicitly. I've been very forthright in explaining my dilemma to him. Even though I feel that he has given me the best medical treatment, I still rely on and value other's journeys through this same plight.
Recently, like as of ~2 mos. ago, he referred me to a pain mgmt. clinic. I met with this doctor and he's also very accommodating and was willing to listen to all of my issues, questions, complaints, etc. But what neither could offer me is a way out of this conundrum.

Medication-wise I have been taking the following for more than 6 yrs. to address the pain I have now and the pain that preceded it as well: Soma 350mg TID, Ultram 50mg TID and Voltaren 75mg BID. I continue to take these in conjunction with Norco 10mg TID. I also knowingly take way too many Aleve to try and subdue the intermittent pain that I have during the 8 hr. intervals. Herein lie the majority of my problems; what to do after the pain meds wear off and I still have 6 more hours to go before the next dosage window.

So, again thank you for muddling through much rambling and PLEASE know that any advice, suggestions, or “witch-doctor” approved or not approved therapies...just a little light-hearted humor :-) anything would be immensely appreciated at this point. I am SO desperate to find some semblance of light amidst this darkness.

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I hate to sound so negative...but welcome to the side effects for some having this surgery, me included.
I personally know several other people who have had ACDF surgery done and 3-4 yrs later are all in the same situation as you.
I personally have been through numerous test, some over and over, year after year and by other doctors. All of the test results come back the same...nothing wrong.
It is depressing and very frustrating being young and living in an 80 yr old body as you put it.
I also live on pain meds prescribed by my GP cause I know if I go to pain management the will give me enough drugs that I am ozoned out all the time. I'd rather have some pain and have a life than no pain and be in la-la land.
Like I stated I have no answers for you even though I've been searching myself for over 4 yrs now. I just wanted you to know that you are not alone~ there are many of us out there sharing your pain and struggles.
If you ever do come across any helpful information please post it for all the others that it might help.
Best of luck to you.
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I too had the surgery in 2002. The only relief that I feel is from my massage therapist. I have migraine headaches like never before, am now uninsured due to the workers comp. company folding and going under. I have nothing positive to say about this proceedure.
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Hello to u,
I can relate totally to the pain and agony on a daily basis and am looking also for relief. Is there any? I have been to a number of NL and get the same thing...no results. Is there someone out there 4 us? I pray so. I am so tired of this day to day battle of struggling w/pain. Had ACD & F spinal diskectomy(C5-C6) and had the ESI's for relief, but only made the situation worse. I had pain in my right arm muscle(burning and not being able to move it...so NOT able to work). After the last ESI(Epidural Steroid Inj.) and they made me jump almost off the table, I was in more pain than b4. I had the first 2 ESI's in my Cevical and the last in my Thoracic. Even the nurse made a comment on "Why is he going thru her T's when all of her problem is in her C's?" It makes me wonder if they didn't hit my spinal cord. MY PAIN...intensified immensly. I then, instead of just my arm,shoulder and neck it ran all the way down my legs. I was immediately made numb while on the table and the doc even was looking concerned and he called it "Friction" and kept me monitored for over an hour. Do u think they could have hit somthing to cause this disease called Arachnoiditis...oh...please no for there is no cure 4 that.
I just hope like this last girl I talked to had a complete C replacement w/rods and it changed her entire life. It gave me hope. I am willing to go into surgery NOW..I am so miserable and feel ur pain. I just want to be able to at least wash my hair/take a bath w/out crying or brush my teeth and be able to stand to do it. I am only 44 and it does feel like I am 80...this is ridiculus.
I am seeing an Ortho Tues. and pray after I tell him from the beginning of how everything happened he can help me. I usually just go in and describe my pain and am not getting anywhere..so I hope this approach is going to work....:-)
U all take care and always GOD BLESS Karen
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TO QUOTE SKEETLEMORE:
I'd rather have some pain and have a life than no pain and be in la-la land.
Like I stated I have no answers for you even though I've been searching myself for over 4 yrs now. I just wanted you to know that you are not alone~ there are many of us out there sharing your pain and struggles.
If you ever do come across any helpful information please post it for all the others that it might help.
Best of luck to you.


---- I somewhat agree to the statement, of not wanting to live as a zombie-fied drug-pumped person...however, that is not how pain management works. At least not mine. When I first joined their patient list, they first was very thorough on questioning me on my pain. they did not start with a heavy med recommendation, they started with a non-comtrolled substance and was very strict on me as to limit my dosage. I take Ultram and Advil together, twice a day to control my pain. Notice I said "control"-it doesn't completely remove the pain, I had a dull ache in the lower area of the skull-to the top of my head, and to the eyes at times. I also have muscle spasms in the shoulder and shoulder blade area :( . I sometimes wonder if my screws cause some of the pain? Because I used to say I'd describe the pain as a metal knife running across the nerves :?: - Immediately after my surgery I had NO PAIN AT ALL for at least a couple months--until I was back at work and doing normal functions. I also wonder if it's scar tissue....but the thought of having surgery again worries me. Also, I am losing strength in my arms...mainly my right one. It hurts when I use it alot for lifting, etc, also. My PM doc says he's pretty sure it's related to my cervical issue. So..I'm falling apart! :!: -OH- :!: and I forgot to mention I get quarterly pain blocks...without them, I WOULD be on heavy dope (in which I hope I am NEVER on!)-FYI: it's been about 4 yrs since my 2 level cervical fusion surgery. It sucks BAD to live with pain...but I somethimes have to tell myself there's always someone that has it SO MUCH worse than me. My initial cause was a car accident...I wish I had known ahead of time, I would have gotten in that ambulance! But, can't turn back time.
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I also forgot to credit my surgeon-I was in ALOT more pain BEFORE surgery than I was after.
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I understand what you have been going through. I recently had an anterior fusion at C5-C6, and was extremely nervous about doing so after having had 4 surgeries at L5-S1. Although you may not want to hear what I have to say, I strongly urge you to talk to your doctor about slowly tapering your meds. I was on extremely high doses of oxycontin, had a dilaudid pain medication pump implanted (and later reemoved ... at my demand), etc. Although it may seem your pain increases initially ... which can last for a month or so with each deduction in your meds, I ended up completely after all the narcotics after being on them for over 8 years, and the most amazing part ... I was not in any more pain without the meds than I was with them!!!! Due to my recent cervical fusion I had to temporarily take pain meds again but 6 weeks out I am only taking 1/2 of a vicodin to take the edge off when I am in extreme pain and that is only necessary once every few days (more from my back than my neck, due to a newly herniated disk at L4-L5). I would much rather live my life with a little pain than be in the medicated state that I was before and still experiencing pain. I wish you the best of luck!
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To make a long short; I have my surger June 29, 2004. I got hurt and fired from my job. I have had no pain medicines or any help with this. I am in pain all of the time and just want to give up. Don't speack about the every day of life. Washing my hair or anything. It is tough!
I am not able to turn my head to the left. This is the side with the most pain. I just pray that some day I do hear of something that will help me.
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Hello. I just had a two level acdf in April. I am still in so much pain and my surgeon says x rays and MRI look fine.....I have to go back to work in a week and my job consists of lifting,bending, and twisting to move equipment....I have no clue how I will do this. After 12 weeks off I have no choice but to return to work or risk loosing my job. The back of my head hurts all the time, neck hurts and get spasms in shoulders....tingling in arm still there...so frustrating. I feel like I am in more pain now then before... My surgeon was not very helpful at last visit....he did the surgery and by looking at x ray he thinks I am fine....I am only 35 and just want to feel like I'm 35 again....sorry I know I am not helping anyone, but it helps me to hear about other people and their experiences. I am sorry you are going through this
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Hello. I just had a two level acdf in April. I am still in so much pain and my surgeon says x rays and MRI look fine.....I have to go back to work in a week and my job consists of lifting,bending, and twisting to move equipment....I have no clue how I will do this. After 12 weeks off I have no choice but to return to work or risk loosing my job. The back of my head hurts all the time, neck hurts and get spasms in shoulders....tingling in arm still there...so frustrating. I feel like I am in more pain now then before... My surgeon was not very helpful at last visit....he did the surgery and by looking at x ray he thinks I am fine....I am only 35 and just want to feel like I'm 35 again....sorry I know I am not helping anyone, but it helps me to hear about other people and their experiences. I am sorry you are going through this


I orig injured my neck july 2009. my first surgery at c5-c6 was that oct. I remember waking up in the hospital thinking what did I do this for?! it took a min of 3 mo before i began to have any improvement. making a long story short, I kept going back telling the dr how I felt & was told over & over that everything was 'stable' but the bone hadn't begun to fuse.


If the bone is begining to fuse, there isn't anything the dr's can do right now. I also wnet back to work WAY to soon & paid for it. If you MUST return to work, wear your neck collar. I've said time and time again that I have a love/hate relationship with my collar. I hate it more than words can say, I hate getting looks or even thinking I need it BUT it does help relieve the pain. You dont think about how much work your neck does just to hold your head up until you have issues.


I ended up having to have a 2nd suegery because after 14 mo's the bone never fused. (This only happens about 5% of the time & lucky me fell into that percentage!) The screws that had been put in the bones to hold the spacer in place while the bone heals had begun to move causing TERMENDOUS pain. I am now about 16 mo's post & am fused at c4/5, c5/6 & c6/7 & am in pain all day, everyday. I take over the counter meds during the days so I'm not knocked out by the 'good' pain pills. Those I try to only take on BAD days or in the evening. The bone did fuse this time & my dr at the Mayo Clinic has told me we will not know where my 'good' point is until 24 mo post. He didnt want me returning to work but after 9 mo's I had no choice.


I am 36 & I know where you are at. As hard as it is right now, you should improve. Even now when I look back, I can say I am better than I was 16 mo's ago. Last summer I couldnt even walk around the block, this summer I can some days. Last summer my life consisted of sitting in a recliner 24/7, this summer I am moving even though I am in pain, I can do the little things like go to my sons baseball games.


Keep an open line of communication with your doctor. And perhaps even look into anti-depressants. I know for me, I felt useless & would constantly be thinking about what I can't do, it has taken time but that is also improving. Best wishes & I hope things improve.

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Inversion may be worth a try if you haven't tried yet. Hang upside down and stretch muscles, and discs that stil remain in the spine. start slow, little bits at a time. Best wishes
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I am sorry to hear about your pain I have had 3 levels fused on two surgeries and i m pain free although I do have headaches daily from muscle spasm. I take painkillers namely Stop Payne which helps but the terrible pain I had before the ops has gone. I do have physio from time to time which relaxes thespasm in my shoulders & neck I don't think anyonw who has had that pain can fully understand what we have to deal with, I hope you wll get better, My ops were in 2009 and 2010. good luck regards
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I am soooo glad to see that it is not just me! I was beginning to worry about my sanity.

I have had three seperate surgeries, (the first one in 1995). I now have three fusions and have reherniated the first one, which they did not want to re-fuse because of the lack of motion that I had already.

During my first surgery, they stripped the nerve that runs down my right arm. But now both arms & shoulders are either spasming or burning and/or tingling constantly.

My life is not what I imagined it would be. I thought that once the surgeries were all completed, I would go back to life as I once knew it. But my life now revolves around the pain. I have been taking Vicodin for almost two years now and although I know I will have to at some point, I'm not looking forward to having to withdraw from it.

My family & friends don't understand and get frustrated with me quite often, which only deepens the depression. They don't understand that I am no longer in control of my own body.

It's just good to know that it is not all in my mind.

 

 

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I am not sure what to do.  To start and give a back story to my situation.  I am 37 yrs old.  I am a Marine (got out in 97).  I have never in my life held any form of work that didn't require physical conditioning or using my body to make money.  I was a mechanic in the Marines,  also for few years after I got out.  I then went into industrial construction as an instrument fitter (installing transmitters and other related instruments) this also requires the ability to bend stainless steel tubing using tubing benders.  My 1/2 inch tubing benders are about 20lbs by themselves if that gives you any idea of the force I need to be able to exert to bend 1/2" tubing.  Yes,  this is done by arm, shoulder, and hand strength.  I worked in the oilfield for a few years while construction work was slow or so that I could be home at night (land rigs).  I am a very, very physically active person.  I have taken pride in the fact that despite never going to a gym or doing any form of "working out" other than the work I get paid for,  I have been able to maintain a six pack stomach and remain in amazing physical condition.  Until.....

In October of 2009 while at work I fell down what is called a ladder cage.  It is just what it sounds like.  A vertical ladder with a cage around it.  I fell about 7-8ft before I was able to get a hold of one of the ladder rungs with my right hand.  I caught the entire weight of my body (about 160lbs) with just my right arm.  This resulted in a shoulder surgery to repair the damage.  After the shoulder surgery I continued to have pain in my trap muscle on the right side.  It would lock up and cause extreme headaches.  Anytime I lifted my right arm above shoulder level my hand would go numb.  I had shooting pains in my right arm,  numbness and tingling in my right hand.  After almost 2 yrs of telling the doctor and workman's comp that something still was not right.  The shoulder surgeon referred me to a neck specialist.  After a nerve conduction study and yet another MRI they found a herniated disk at C6-C7.  I have done the steroid injections with no relief.  I have done more physical therapy (third round including the therapy after shoulder surgery).  Now my neck specialist has referred me to a neck surgeon.  Who as of yesterday has recommended disk fusion surgery with the removal of the disk at C6-C7 and replacement (he has not said what type of replacement artificial or bone graft).  

So to my dilemma.  I am scared to death of this surgery.  I don't even like to get a shot unless I can watch what is going on.  I was on the verge of a complete panic attack the day of my shoulder surgery until they gave me some medicine that starts with a V to calm me down.  The shoulder surgery was the first surgery I have ever had,  period.  I still have my tonsils at 37.  I have been through countless broken bones,  stitches, sprains and so forth.  I have never allowed anyone,  ever in my life to tell me I wasn't capable of doing something.  I sure as hell never told myself that there are things that I can not do.  Until now.  

I am worried that I am going to have this surgery and in a year or two (after the settlement with workman's comp) that something is going to go wrong,  or that it won't hold, or who knows what.  Then comp no longer is liable and I am stuck.  I know if I don't have the surgery,  they are going to try to stop my workman's comp as soon as they possibly can.  I don't have a college degree,  I have a completely disabled wife and 2 teenage children.  I went from making $1500-1600 a week to the state cap for comp which is $577 a week.  My kids have had to see what it is like for us to not have the money for the things that they are used to having,  I have had to tell them I can't more times in the last 3 yrs than ever before in their life.  No they aren't spoiled,  they help around the house, don't get in trouble and bring home top notch grades so we feel they are doing their job well.  When you do your job well you should be rewarded for that work.  I worked hard my entire life and have made sure that my kids know that everything they have comes at a price.  That I worked like I did to make sure they had the best I could give them.  To make sure they would be able to go to college and make money with their minds and not their bodies.

This has affected my marriage because I am angry a lot.  If I am not angry with the situation,  I am depressed.  My kids have suffered,  my wife has suffered (who honestly is the most amazing woman I have ever known and if it wasn't for her,  I wouldn't have made it this far through all of this).  I am tired of being in pain.  On the other hand,  I am scared to death that the surgery is the last resort.  If this doesn't fix it I have no options left.  Or that I come out even worse in the end.  

I apologize for the length of this post.  Thank you to anyone who takes the time to read all of it and respond with their thoughts or experience with this surgery.  Thank you for having a place for people with these issues to post and converse with others in the same situation. 
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just had my t10 lumber repaired called kroplasty surgery and have been in pain ever since pain meds help a little and also doing pt, with not much relieve dont have aclue what is next hope they dont give up on me i was thinking it was in my head but just cleaning my house is a chore and all day just to scrub my kitchen,not what i was use to doing i use to be very active if you find some light let me know!!!
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