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    Chronic pain after cervical fusion, discectomy.
    Joeyboy6 posted:
    I had cervical fusion, discectomy of 4,5, 5,6 in January of 2012. I am still in pain from neck to fingers on right side, which I had the surgery for. Plus now pain in left shoulder. Still tingling in neck, shoulder, and some in right hand. Very hot burning pain in right thumb, index finger, which is intermittant all day long. I hold my hand in bowls of ice water to dull it. Still taking pain meds four times a day in order to function. I can be less in pain if I lie flat with some support under neck. Sitting at computer[like now> is quite uncomfortable, using my sewing machine [I am/was a quilter> is even worse. I work in a very physically demanding job, with lots of lifting, pushing and pulling of heavy objects which aggravates all symptomes. Went back to work postoperatively at 7 weeks. New MRI stated everything was as it should be. Although my spine is free of disc protrusion and fused, I am still in pain. I feel grateful that I have gained the use of right hand gripping ability, and that there should be no more damage occuring, but am deeply saddened that pain seems to be what my life will be. I've had 8 weeks of PT, and arm /hand strength improved, but not tingling or pain. Is this what anyone else is experiencing? I feel nervous that maybe it's all in my head. I need to hear from anyone out there, good or bad if this is normal or not.
    Caprice_WebMD_Staff responded:
    Hi Joeyboy,

    I'm sure others will be responding once they have a chance to look in. In the meantime, I wanted to welcome you here.
    We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.
    ~Joseph Campbell
    babyred1975 responded:
    Hi ,please have your doctor check for possible RSD or new name CRIPS ,reflex sympathetic dystrophy ,if treated in very early stages can sometimes be stopped., a referral to neurologist or pain clinic may make dx quicker,please dont delay ,if it is RSD time is very important. It took 8 mon for me and I still suffer 7.5 yrs later, babyred
    dfromspencer responded:
    Yes, i'm afraid this is normal. I had servical fusion on my neck, nerve damage was, and has been done. Nerve damage is that tingling/burning sensation. Once nerve damage has occured, there is nothing you, or your Dr. can do. Except medicate yourself to a point you can tollerate the pain.

    I feel sorry for you, i know what kind of pain you are facing for the rest of your life. Ask for a referal to the pain clinic, talk to a good pain management specialist.

    So far, in the last several years, i have tried Methadone, and now Morphine slow release tabs, with Oxycodone for quick relief of sudden pain. Talk to the P.M. Dr. about this sort of relief.

    Perhaps you can go back to making beautiful quilts again, soon? Good luck, Dennis
    cweinbl responded:

    Sadly, very few surgeons will tell a spine surgery patient the real odds for success, or they will project a success rate that is far higher than reality. The success rate for spine surgery today is a little over 60%. Compared to other types of surgery, that success rate is deplorable.

    On the physician's side, there are many reasons why a patient will continue to experience both pain and radiculopathy long after surgery and possibly for a lifetime. Almost all spine surgeries, including discectomies, result in some nerve damage. In some patients, it never heals. Nerves also heal at a notoriously slow rate. It can take a year or more for some damaged nerves to heal. Some of my nerve damage was caused by my disc herniations. But some of it (and it is permanent) was the result of a surgery.

    Another culprit is fibrosis (a.k.a. scar tissue). Surgery creates scar tissue. It always creates scarring. Individuals produce scar tissue at their own unique rate. In some cases, the patient will live the rest of her or his life with no pain from it. But many of us experience serious and lasting pain from fibrosis. Technically, it can be surgically removed. But such procedures border upon ethical constraints because at least as much is likely to grow back, if not more.

    Osteoarthritis is another result to spine surgery - even a discectomy. Whenever a joint is damaged, including those in the spine, the body's immune system with rush in to attack what it interprets as invading cells. The more damage to your spine, the more arthritic you are likely to become. This too depends upon the individual and genetic predispositions. In my family, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis is very prevalent. So it came as no surprise to me that my spine was riddled with arthritic damage before I turned 40.

    To leave you with a bright thought, I'll conclude with one more type of post-spine-surgery pain - inflammation. Sometimes after spine surgery, your nerve roots are inflamed, rather than damaged. Again, like damage, spinal nerve root inflammation can take many months to dissipate. Let's hope that this is the culprit in your case.

    One of the best things you can do now is to enroll in a comprehensive pain management program - one that focuses as much on mind-body treatments (biofeedback, Yoga, systematic relaxation, meditation, etc.) as on injections and medications. You can also try TENS, acupuncture, physical therapy, kinesiotherapy, etc.). I can reduce my pain by about 20% with biofeedback alone. If all of these fail and you continue to experience unrelenting pain and dysfunction, you can try the spinal cord stimulator or the intrathecal infusion pump.

    There are still options if your condition does not improve. Good luck.
    77grace responded:
    Hi Joeyboy,
    Wow,it sounds like you've been through alot!!!I think all neck and back surgeries are very Painfull!!I've had 2 very serious neck surgies to romove tumors and YES,ALOT of pain!!
    That was about 10 years ago!I f I remember right it takes a really long time time to start feeling much better!I never realized how much of our body is affected by our Neck!
    I could not even bite into an apple (Whole ,for months)
    I still have a whole lot of pain but if I can be any help I would suggest to try to take it real easy on your self,don't judge yourself or how you think you shoud be!Take it One day at a time and I also constantly give it to God!!It realyhelps!!
    Blessings be your,77grace
    Haylen_WebMD_Staff replied to 77grace's response:
    Thanks to everyone who shared their experiences with Joeyboy!


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