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    Includes Expert Content
    Cervial fusion
    suz1catz50 posted:
    I had a cervical fusion in 2008 I have a metal plate in my neck 3 plastic disc's. I do understand nerve pain and the zaps of pain from my jaw through my neck into shoulders my arms and hands. Also have numbness in my arms and hands. Cervical fusion surgery cuts off the nerves root or basically kills them they have no where to go. having nerve damage is so painful I have throbbing constantly in my neck and a headache 24/7. There is nothing you can do for nerve pain like cutting off a electric wire and watching the electric fizzle out and die. Zaps of nerve pain these nerves have no where to travel through the normal path of the spinal cord. I have vocal cord damage as well. Yes I am a mess. Pain pills do not help with nerve pain. My surgeon doesn't care. My quality of life is poor to say the least.
    Peter Abaci, MD responded:
    I am sorry that you have had such a difficult time with your neck problem, and you sound really frustrated. Unfortunately, medications often don't work well in treating complicated chronic pain symptoms like nerve pain. You mentioned that your quality of life is poor, and I thought it might be helpful to think about things that could be done to improve that aspect of your life.

    Three major areas that can significantly be impacted by chronic pain include a person's mood, their ability to move and stay physically active, and their social connections start to drop due to the first two problems. Consider looking for help to work on these three areas as a way of improving quality factors. Some examples would include consulting with a pain psychologist, taking a mindfulness meditation course, going for daily walks, trying something gentle like tai chi, and finding a support group or club that has people that you can connect with. These actions may not cure the nerve pain, but they can help stop the pain from keeping you away from a more fulfilling life.
    suz1catz50 replied to Peter Abaci, MD's response:
    To: Dr. Abaci, I thank you for your kind reply. Since 2008 I of my car accident to march 2011 of my cervical fusion to the present June 2013. I have been to a pain psychologist, biofeed back,PT,21 doctors,list of pain meds I have been and I keep a daily diary. I do meditate and pray all the time. I walk 6 miles a week. I have done all that I can do to my ability. I volunteer to 5 charities and to a volunteer fire dept but limited to what I can do.I'm a positive up beat person. When your limited of physical activity because of nerve pain and numbness and headache behind my neck 24/7 neck pain,vocal cord damage, sleep 3 hours a night.I use to love going swimming and golfing nope can't do that because of my neck.I will no take oxy,or hydro pills they mask the brain and not the pain. This week my surgeon told me that my surgery was a complete failure you would be frustrated and angry as well I'm sure. There is nothing I can do. he said to live with the pain. How sad is that My heart is crushed. Thank you for your reply
    annette030 replied to suz1catz50's response:
    Try seeing a full range pain specialist, not just an interventional doctor. See him as a consult to start with, then decide what to do next.

    Surgery only cures pain about 50% of the time, if you got function back consider the surgery a success, it you were shooting for pain relief, it was a failure.

    I had to change my whole life when I developed chronic pain, it is difficult but not impossible. You can do it.

    Take care, Annette
    suz1catz50 replied to annette030's response:
    Hi Annette, I have been to so many specialist I have medical bills to prove it. Currently seeing just a PM doctor but the shots have failed for my neck. My list of doctors and different pain drugs is very long. I have gone back to my surgeon who did my cervical fusion he told me my fusion was not successful.I have to much nerve damage and my left side of my face and neck arms and hands are numb 24/7 the back of my head hurts 24/7
    I have a headache 24/7. I have been to so many doctors the damage was done by the surgery. Nothing that can be done.
    Thank You

    Be well
    ctbeth replied to suz1catz50's response:
    Hi Suz1catz~
    Did your surgical correction not fuse, or is your cervical spine stable, but you're left with the pain?

    I think you and I have the same levels (cervical anyway) I had C4-5. 5-6. 6-7 fused. I also was injured in a car accident.

    It's amazing how big the area involved is with those three levels fused.

    I'm sure that your pain is worse than mine, but I do have sensation to know how vast the area involved.

    How is your hearing on the left side? I lost hearing (left side) from the accident, but had tinnitus which was bothersome. I now have a "white noise' hearing aid that has helped. I don't know if you are having this problem, but if you do, I'd recommend that you give it a try.

    Whenever I read what you're going through, my heart goes out to you. I wish that there was something that I could do to help you.

    cweinbl responded:
    Sorry to hear about your pain. I've had constant severe back & neck pain for 40 years. I've been through four failed spine surgeries and two very comprehensive pain management programs. My father was a neurologist and neurosurgeon. For what it's worth, here is my take on it.

    Spine surgery has a success rate of about 60%. We had little hope that it would help in the first place. Once you become a "failed back surgery syndrome patient," the surgeon will drop you like a hot coal. You are basically left to fend for yourself, unable to work or to maintain basic relationships.

    I tried easily three dozen options with my pain management programs. The only one that helped (and it was very slightly) was biofeedback. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try all options. It simply means, "Don't hold your breath."

    Next, please allow me to correct some of your major misperceptions.

    1. "There is nothing you can do about nerve pain." This is absolutely wrong. Two of the very best common treatments are Gabapentin (Neurontin) and Pregbalin (Lyrica ). These anti-convulsants have significant off-label efficacy for neurological pain.

    2. "Pain pills do not help with nerve pain." Again, this is absolutely false. Research is rich and convincing that opioid medications DO HELP with neuropathic pain, just as they do for nociceptive pain. Just one of these commonly-used medications added 9 awesome years to my career, just as they do for millions of others with neuropathic or referent pain.

    3. "Cervical fusion cuts off your nerve roots or kills them." This is absolutely FALSE. Cervical fusion, or any other fusion, does NOT cut any nerve root anywhere. This surgery is designed to eliminate stenosis from disc desiccation or herniation. No nerve root is cut in any manner. Today, replacement artificial discs are employed and fused into place with hardware. This surgery is designed to RELEASE trapped nerve roots, not to "cut them off." Instead of damaging the nerves, the surgery makes them healthy again.

    Next, I would like to agree with you when you say, "My surgeon doesn't care." OK, it's not so much that they don't care as they do not provide their surgical patients with long-term access to opioid medications. This is done to escape from going on a DEA list and because surgeons treat acute pain. Then, they discharge you to a family doctor or internist. THAT is the person who should be supplying you with your powerful and effective pain medication. I repeat, only your family doctor (who might have a trusting relationship with you) or a pain management physician will treat your long-term chronic pain needs with medications that allow you to return to a fairly normal work and family life. In essence, drop the surgeon. Ask your family doctor or your pain management doctor for the best medications.

    To summarize, powerful opioid medications PLUS Lyrica or Neurontin can put a huge dent in your daily pain. It won't go away. It may never go away. But you can learn how to manage your pain in a way that allows you to continue as a worker and as a family member. Adding biofeedback, acupuncture, TENS, spinal cord stimulator, etc., can help even more.
    ctbeth responded:
    Hi again, Suz,

    I posted something to you last night.

    It's 3 AM now, so I may not be totally articulate with my words.

    I've spoken with my neurosurgeon, too, of course.

    I'm going to be having breast reduction procedure after the summer. He says that many have been helped with pain via this route.

    My insurance will not cover it at all, so I do have to pay for it myself.

    There is a woman who posts on this site who has had the surgery done. she has said that it helped relieve her neck pain significantly.

    I hope that she will post on this discussion and tell us both more about her experience and sequale.

    I hope that you'll sleep tonight, I should try (yet again) to lay down and see if I can sleep.


    suz1catz50 replied to ctbeth's response:
    Hi Beth, I would never consider having a breast reduction for my neck pain. I have seen 4 neurosurgeons including the doctor who did my cervical fusion they all say my cervical fusion failed.I will have these side effects and pain for the rest of my life. There's nothing that can be done the damage to my nerves
    there no fixing me. I wish you the best of good health.
    God Bless you Beth.
    annette030 replied to ctbeth's response:
    I had a cervical discectomy many years ago, and the disc next to that one failed within a year or so. I opted not to have surgery again.

    2 1/2 years ago I had breast reduction surgery and was able to cut my pain meds in half. I wish I had done it 20-30 years ago. A wonderful plastic surgeon did the surgery for me, she had me get a consult from a hematologist and from a pain management specialist first. I had had a blood clot after the discectomy, she wanted to make sure it was not a genetic problem that was likely to crop up again, it wasn't. Medicare paid for most of the surgery. Their only pre-requisite was that she take out a minimum amount of breast tissue, which she did. I paid the rest out of pocket. I was told all the costs up front before I signed the consent forms. It was a same day surgery, right around 24 hours total.

    Unlike other surgeries I have had, I have had no ill effects at all. Unless having to buy new bras is an ill effect, lol. They actually fit too.

    Best of luck with your newest surgical endeavor, Beth. Are you doing okay otherwise?

    Hugs, Annette
    annette030 replied to suz1catz50's response:
    When you are ready and have finished grieving, you can do it.

    I have nerve pain and oral meds do help, although nothing has ever goteen rid of the pain completely. Try yet another PM doctor, not an interventionist, rather one who does it all.

    Take care, Annette

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    Peter Abaci, MD , is certified in anesthesia and pain management by the American Board of Anesthesiology. Dr. Abaci received his undergraduate educat...More

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