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chronic pain after cervical fusion
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mjmarie0925 posted:
I had a cervical discecomy/ fusion at C6-7 (no hardware) approx 15 years ago, I still suffer from nerve pain that radiates from my jaw down my neck into my right scapular region and down my right arm. I have taken advil every day for the last...well longer than 15 years. I work in Physical Therapy and teach Pilates so I have alot of physical demands, it seems that VERY regular exercise ( and good posture) helps control the pain...yes I practice what I preach. Unfortunatly most overhead resisted motions as in my Pilates or Yoga classes flair my symptoms. I also suffer from a lack of co-ordination in the right scapula, (lower trap/rhomboid) just have not been able to get a even contraction on the right and left.... I would love some advice on controlling my chronic pain and hear from anyone who suffers from nerve pain associated with a cervical injury/surgery .

Thank you, Jeanne
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mrstwood responded:
Hi Marie, I had an ACDF in November 07, C5-C6..... I am still in pain! It's worse now than ever.... I have never stopped taking meds. I have been told I have nerve pain and it can take up to a year to heal. Yours has been 15 yrs? Wow! I am beginning to think I will forever have pain, but at the time surgery was my only option. I have been on Norco 3/4 times a day, Soma as needed and Neurontin. Don't get much relief, my next step is a nerve block. Haven't planned it yet as I have really bad insurance and I am already in debt! I don't think there are many options except daily meds to control pain, just to have something of a life. I am in torture every time I sit at my desk at work, it is so painful and you wouldn't think it would be having a desk job. A lot of people on these boards rely on daily narcotic meds to be able to function. I never thought I would be one of them, but I am...... Good luck to you!
 
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freedom1960 responded:
Please don't take Advil every day. It is horrible for your stomach and there are other NSAIDS that would do better and have less damaging effects on your stomach.

Rick
 
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Indie_CooperGuzmanRN responded:
Hello and welcome. I just had ACDF at C5-6 two weeks ago. I had to have hardware put in. I feel like I have a stiff neck on the right side and my arms feel heavy at times but I hope it will go away soon. My pain feels muscular in nature. I am not taking pain meds on a regular basis but have muscle relaxers and pain meds if I need them. I have been using heat on and off with some relief. And I am trying to work on good posture. I have some weakness in both arms that I will have to work on building back up and I am following my doctor's orders. I pray I have a positive outcome from this because I really had no where else to go with this but surgery. Keep me posted on how you are doing. Indie
 
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mrstwood responded:
Hi Indie! I have the hardware as well. Sometimes I wonder if that causes a lot of my pain. The way I describe it is it feels like a bad toothache down my whole arm.... I do have a lot of spasms too. I most definitely feel stiffer that ever before and the sad part is I felt better before my surgery. Like you though, it was my only option. I didn't have a disk left pretty much. Dr. said it was like something went in there and chewed it up. I have a lot of shoulder pain lately. My surgeon sent me to a PM doc and my next step is a nerve block. It's frustrating because I thought all was behind me. But there are some that have had good outcomes and have been pain free. I haven't been one of them, but hopefully you will be! Take care!
 
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annette_030 responded:
Glad you did okay in surgery. I hope you recover quickly and gain back the strength in your arms.

Hugs, Annette
 
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cafelaurie responded:
I hope you have better luck than I did I am 7yrs out from my surgery. I had hardware in the lumbar region they fused 2 places. It make the pain 100 times worse than it was. I always felt like I could live with the pain before now is a different story I don't feel like I could live with the pain.

So all the luck and speedy recovery. Laurie
 
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gneebean responded:
hello-i'm 2 years out of that surgery, and like you and indie, i'm still in pain. when they have to put rods or other hardware in your body, they also have to re-route your muscles that used to be connected to around the spinal bones. if the doctor would have told me about the pain, i would never have had the surgery! i had gone through 6 weeks of PT, and that didn't help too much, either. the hand bicycle thing was supposed to loosen the muscles in the neck and shoulder area, only worked for a real short time! but, stick with your meds and try to keep moving your arms to loosen the muscles. i also have a spa thing in our bathtub, and we just got a new motor for, and that helps, too. the pain management doctor explained the deal with the hardware. it's foreign to the body, so it takes time for the body to accept it. hope this helps.

jeanne
 
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annette_030 responded:
As to balance the other posts, I just want to remind you that I had a C5-6 discectomy in 1992. The two vertebrae were well fused per xray within five months. I went back to work full time in the ER at 6 weeks postop, doing 12 hours shifts as a nurse with the only restriction being I was not to lift anything higher than my shoulders.

I had the surgery for functional improvement not for pain management. I was losing the use of my right hand. The function came back very quickly. I have no more or less neck pain than I did prior to surgery. The worst pain postop was in my very tight trapezious muscles. I asked my surgeon for a referral to PT and they fixed that up with electronic muscle stimulation.

I know your choice to have surgery was a well thought out and well educated decision. I am sure with some work on your part your arms will get stronger. As you know, it often takes a full year to recover completely from any surgery.

Hugs, Annette
 
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Indie_CooperGuzmanRN responded:
Hello Annette and thank you so much for your post. I do appreciate it. As nurses, sometimes it is hard to sit on the sidelines. Tincture of time can be a challenge to take but it is a necessary component of the healing processes. I am starting out slow. Driving short trips. I too hope to have a green light for full time work in 6 weeks. I may need some PT as I too have stiffness in my trapezious muscles. And I think the other symptoms I continue to have are just going to take time to improve. I have to accept it and keep on keeping on! Thanks for being an important contributor to my boards. You have been an inspiration to me and many others I am sure. Indie
 
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Indie_CooperGuzmanRN responded:
Hello Tina. I had those "tooth ache" sensations in my shoulders and arms prior to the surgery so I can't blame them on the hardware. Did you have PT to help with the spasms? Did it help at all? Indie
 
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Indie_CooperGuzmanRN responded:
Hello RainSpirit. I agree the body needs time to "welcome" the new hardware. I am taking a very liberated approach and telling my body the hardware is there to stay so it might as well accept it! I hope this frame of mind and attitude helps! I do find that raising my arms does cause my neck to get aggravated and hurt but I will continue to take it a day at a time and strive for the best. I am glad you found my boards. I look forward to talking with you again soon! Indie
 
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Indie_CooperGuzmanRN responded:
Thank you Laurie! Indie
 
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Jen_1974 responded:
Hello All, First off, may I just say- ICE, ICE, ICE, ICE and more ICE!!!!! (For best results, put ice cubes in a ziploc with wet paper towel around them to soften- that will be the best affect. Heat works sometimes, as well as Thermacare packs... but swelling is best reduced by ICE..)

I found out in 2005 that a lifetime of headaches were caused by a congenital defect in my neck. C-5 and C-6 never formed correctly, and were fused. At the time of the discovery, I was having headaches weekly that would knock me out for an entire day with excruciating pain. Apparently, the disc under the fused section was herniated and bruising my spinal cord. I decided to have the cervical fusion, to join already fused C-5 and C-6 to C-7. I had a bone graft with mechanical hardware to secure everything.

The staff at the neurologist said the recovery time would be a "few weeks"... That was certainly a joke. I did feel much better at the year mark. I had a truly amazing pt that really was an integral part in calming things down. She basically spent 30-45 minutes massaging the muscles in my neck, face and head, 3 times a week for a month. I highly recommend anyone facing this to find someone like her. She also introduced me to a few stretches that helped a great deal.

While I no longer have headaches that put me in bed, and the pain has eased, I still have much more discomfort than I would like. I visited a new surgeon today to discuss options. He said that the fusion was complete based on recent x-rays, but suggested the cause of my chronic pain was due to a slightly larger separation in the C-6 to C-7 fusion. He said that would cause the chronic pain I have now. (I don't even try to lift things above my head any more and I have learned when I absolutely have to take meds... you should see how I manage to read books!)

I am now headed to a pain clinic for injections. (Not sure of which variety.) I'm hoping that helps. I'm relieved to know that this at least wasn't all in my head. I certainly don't regret the surgery. I just wish I could have been one of those miracle stories where chronic pain was no longer part of my life.

Sorry for the long reply!
 
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lindsayfrench responded:
I had a spinal fusion c5, c6, c7 in the year 2002.....I was 22 at the time. As I get older, and the more fender benders' I get into the pain increases. take a 75 microgram patch of fentanyl that I apply every 4 days. I also take percocet for break through pain (which I rarely use) Although this does work for me, wake up feeling stiff and filled withpain hat I yave to start taking meds all the time! it's an internal debate daily...living with the pain or living in addicion.


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