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C5-C6 cervicle neck surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:22 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hello I'm new and I was reading several of your posts and have a question of my own. I am a singer and I am deathly afraid of permanently not being able to carry a tune. Has this happened to anyone here? Is it temporary? Also, all in all are you glad you had the surgery. The whole things scares me :S


  • Also, if my pain goes away and the numbness stays in my hand, should I consider not having the surgery? Currently the pain comes and goes somedays good somedays o.k. Not as severe as it used to be. Does this mean I'm healing or did all of you have good and bad days?
  • Last month I went through for C6/7. There was an insert of a tube through my nose to my lung to hep me to breath during the surgery. Immediately after surgery, the nurse called my closed friend on the mobilephone and I spoke to him. I sound great onthe phone with no lost of voice. Once back to my ward, I called my pastor and some friends on my mobilephone with my closed friend and my wife and child next to me.

    What you need is to have a positive mind and the courage to go through the surgery.

    Thank God that we have this forum for people who went through a similar situation to share with us. I went through without knowing or even don't have the opportunity to know about this forum. It was after post-op that I found out. I am glad I made the right decision to go through the surgery. I am pain-free now and even now, there is no surgical wound pain since I came out of the operating theatre (OT).

    I hope you search the forum, gathered more information and make an informed decision. At the end of the day, if surgery is not what you want to go through, seek alternative treatment.

    Read my story in my post and see the pictures that I taken during my stay in the hospital pre-op and post-op. I hope after reading my story, you will be encouraged. You will no longer be nervous instead you will rise up and be bold and be courageous. So be bold ! Be strong !

    Oh by the way, I still sing with my voice intact but I am not a singer. I sing during Church worship service.

    Cheers !
  • Before I was wheeled in the operating room (for thyroid surgery), the anesthesiologist told me I could lose my voice. I was a teacher, so that was the worst thing to say, especially since the surgeon already told me the possible risks. What a jerk!!

    This surgeon told me it could happen, but only rarely. Getting back to cervical spine surgery, one surgeon told Dave that it could happen. He made out like it was somewhat likely. I didn't like his attitude, and crossed him off the list. The surgeon who did his surgery never mentioned voice problems and Dave didn't have voice problems.I think the first guy was covering himself---maybe he isn't as careful as he could be. I would ask the surgeon his percentage of voice problems after surgery.
  • I had some problems being pretty hoarse for about 2-3 days after my C4/5 and C5/6 surgery. It subsided after that. Now I am almost 4 weeks post op and I still feel like I have a golf ball in my throat. Still have problems swallowing pills and some foods. Here lately my voice seems different I cant really explain it just different. Just ask your doctor his percentage of voice problems from previous patients. I knew all of the risks going in for my surgery my surgeon was very honest with me. Yes I was scared before hand, but I prayed and left my surgery in Gods hands.
  • Thanks everyone for your remarks. I am encouraged after reading them. I guess what I need to remember is that I need to remain positive and trust the Lord to take me through it. Also, Paulgla my surgery will be a fusion on C5 & C6. I have a very large C6 herniated disk and a degenerative disk on C5. The surgeon said he would take care of both of them at the same time. I've been through PT, cortizone and sometimes my neck just feels like it is not strong enough to hold up my head, pain in my right arm and numb index finger. My surgeon did tell me that there were always risks to this surgery as far as my voice but he said he has not had anyone with permanent voice damage so that is encouraging. I guess what I think about is should I tolerate the pain and live with it or should I get the surgery and be done with it hopefully! I have good and bad days did you guys? I'm over 4 months into this and I still have pain some days worse than others. Is it possible that it could still go away? I do appreciate all of your help and glad to hear so many positive remarks. Terri I hope your swallowing improves. Has your doctor said that in some cases having that feeling in your throat this long is normal? I hope you get better soon! Thanks again guys!
  • Terri, I had ACDF c5-c7 w/ plate and screws in March of 2008. When I was 4 weeks post op, I still had a feeling like there was a golf ball made of mucous in my throat. I ended up reading online somewhere that it is very common for that to occur, and after about 2 more weeks, it had improved drastically. Now, I have NO swallowing problems at all. Now, I do still have some neck pain. But, I have no arm/hand pain and the pain between my shoulder blades is gone. Most of my pain comes from doing too much.

    I still have shoulder pain, but it ends up that I have severe glenoid hypoplasia in that shoulder, so I'll have to have that fixed.

    Anyway, I'm glad I had the surgery. I also felt like my neck couldn't support my head. Just remember, this surgery takes a long time to recover from. I went back to doing desk work at my job after 10 days, but take as long as you can.

    If you have any other questions, let me know.
  • My surgeon well twice since surgery. Once the day after in the hospital when he discharged me and then for my 2 week post op. I did tell him I was having swallowing problems then. He said it was probably from swelling. I go back to see him again on 9-17-08. Yeah I know the throat issue will go away eventually, but yesterday morning I literally was choking on a pain pill I had halfed.(Gasping for breath the whole 9 yards....I freaked my 12 year old son out bad not to mention myself.) Needless to say I havent taken another one since.
  • If you weren't nervous, then I'd be worried. You should be back to singing shortly after surgery but as your surgeon probably told you, there is always a chance for complications. The swallowing issue is not from the intubation tube that they would be using but from them moving your esophagus to the side during surgery. You will probably be hoarse after surgery but that will come back also. That is due to the tube that they use while you're under. The complications for losing your voice would be if they damage the vocal cord nerve, which they can not see during your procedure. You will be fine. Keep positive thoughts. Remember, all surgeries have possible complications.
  • Thank you Rhw62 for your positive remarks. Unfortunately once you mention what you may have done, everyone that ever had that surgery or knows someone that did tells you about it. I had someone tell me that they were told they could be paralyzed.....I really didn't need to hear that! I realize there are risks to everyone but I am confident that my surgeon knows what he is doing and will rest in that. Thanks again!
  • Hi Nervous1. First off welcome to SH. It's a great community w/ a ton of support!!! 2nd, please take everything I have to say w/ a grain of salt because I seem to be the statistic maker :( where all of my previous surgeries are concerned.

    Like you I was a singer before I had my ACDF. I spoke at length w/ my NS about this prior to surgery. Though he said that there's always a possibility that a voice could be altered, it's usually unlikely. I asked him for a ball park estimate/statistic. He told me for a permanently altered voice i was looking at something like 10,000 to 1. Sadly I was that 1 =(( :( =((

    I'm now about 8 1/2 months post op and my singing voice is about as good as it was 2 weeks post op. Though I physically healed from the ACDF fairly quickly the emotional healing is still coming along. I went into a sort of depression that I'm slowly working my way out of. I talked w/ my husband about it and I decided that after 8 months and NO change in my voice it was time to seek the advice of a voice specialist. I decided a couple weeks ago that I was going to make an appt w/ a voice doctor to see if maybe they can determine what it is that's causing my voice to not work like it used to.

    My appt is Sept 5th. I'm nervous, scared, anxious & a little excited. If there's something that can be done, NON SURGICALLY of course, to fix my voice you'd better be sure I'm gonna do it. I so miss singing like I used to. I found the facility that I'm going to thru my doctor (and boss). The head MD at this facility is a colleague of my boss. I trust my doctors advice on referrals. I was especially excited after I read their blurb on the website about evaluation and treatment. This is what it had to say.

    What evaluation and treatment methods are used at the Midwest Voice Center?
    The Midwest Voice Center offers the finest equipment available for the evaluation of vocal dysfunction in the Twin Cities. Our digital laryngeal stroboscopy allows for comprehensive assessment of the vocal fold's structure and vibratory characteristics. Sharp, clear, permanent images are stored digitally to compare pre- and post-treatment studies. In addition to video stroboscopy, The Midwest Voice Center utilizes acoustic analysis of speech and voice, alaryngeal speech rehabilitation, voice therapy and functional endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES). Examinations are completed in a comfortable outpatient setting requiring only topical anesthesia.

    To answer your OP, Yes this has happened to me, no mine wasn't temporary & Yes I'm glad I had the surgery. The discomfort of the tingles and pain are gone and that's good. The only thing I would have changed is I would have researched the procedure as a posterior operation as opposed to the anterior.

    I hope your procedure goes well and you come out of this singing like you did before the surgery. My only saving grace is thankfully I have almost ALL of my recorded singing saved on my computer and stored online. Though I can't sing anymore I can at least still listen to my old voice :-)


  • Thanks for your response Jayelsea. So Jenni at the end of your comment lost her singing voice too huh! That's not sounding very promising. I love to sing and have sung since I was a little girl for weddings, church, choirs on and on and the thought of losing it makes me very sad. Is that why you sort of went into a depression? I can totally understand that! I go the 12th of Sept. back to my surgeon and I need to decide what I want to do by then. Some days I feel pretty good but my neck seems to not want to support my head at times. Now I'm also getting headaches too but the arm pain has sort of subsided. It has done this before and came back worse so I am just waiting for that to happen. Anyway the numbness in my finger has never gone away and sometimes feels a little worse. I believe I need to have it done. I wanted to feel good again and be able to do some of the things I used to do...you know! I guess I will just lean on the Lord and hope all goes well. Where is that voice place located and let me know what you find out o.k.

    Thanks again
  • Just think of the pros and cons as a whole. You mentioned singing in church and such...well... I know how it is to love to sing, but I also know how it feels to not be able to hold up your head. Hey, if you get it done, just proudly hold up your head high in church and sing off-key with a smile if it indeed does happen to you that way! :))( So maybe your not thinking that's too funny but still, try to look at things on the brighter side. Do what is best for your health as a whole and everything else will come to work out, even if it takes a while. Have faith O:) that God will take care of you and he has a plan for you. You can't go wrong with that. :) Take care and Godbless. We are all here to support your decision.
  • Nervous1, yes my depression was from losing my singing voice. I know it seems selfish but singing was ALL mine. no one needed to teach me how to do it, i was good at it all on my own and then it was just gone. I felt like I was mourning the loss. It sounds so petty but that's how it was for me.

    Please though don't NOT have the surgery because you think you may lose your singing voice. The success of not having pain and discomfort definitely is more important.

    I've found other ways to keep music/singing part of my life. I've learned to whistle REALLY good LOL and I can hum a lot better than I used to ;-)

    In the end, like I said in my original post, I'm very glad I had the surgery. If you have any other questions or just wanna talk please feel free to e-mail me. my e-mail is Jayelsea@hotmail.com

  • I had C5-6 disectomy and fusion a year ago. My throat, when I try to sing, is okay for 1 or 2 verses, then starts to tighten up and hurts. My singing has also lowered an octave. I was always a soprano, trying to sing soprano now causes the throat spasms. If I sing in a lower key, I don't have as much trouble. Disconcerting yes, but the benefits far outweight the negatives. If your hand is numb, that means the nerves are being compressed. You don't want that to be a permanent condition.As Sweetie said, just sing offkey and smile.it makes everyone wonder what you are up to ;) Good luck, and take care.

    Hugs & Prayers, Maggie
  • I went to get a second opinion the other day and he pretty much agreed with my surgeon so that made me feel better. I know the Lord is in control and all will work out how He wants it to. What can I expect right after surgery as far as pain and how long should I expect to be off work? I have a desk job but the computer really makes my neck fatigued. Did any of you have bad swelling in your neck that made it hard to breath and what did they do for you?

    Thanks for all of your comments. I find it more comforting to be prepared and know what to expect.
  • #:S I am 3 weeks almost PO. The second week for me was hell, plain and simple. I had c5 and c6 done just like you will be having done. I was able to leave the hospital the same day as surgery. I was able to wake up very fast after surgery and the pain meds seemed to do the trick. The ride home was brutal, I felt very pot hole in the road and I live 80 miles from the hospital.
    Ok here is what I went through, first I could kind of talk after the surgery, but the more I did talk ,the more crap I would cough up,which hurt. I slept on my recliner for 2 weeks. I am finally in my bed. I did get a wedge pillow but it did not help. I was waking up soon after my pain pills wore off, so up every four hours. Ice packs where a God send on the back of my neck and front to keep the swelling down. I had help around the first week between my husband, daughter and friends which was good. The first week or so I could not eat real food, all I ate was anything soft and cold was the best. I can eat now, but I need to make sure I chew up my food very well, I get heartburn now with something but a glass of milk helps that.
    One thing I have to highly subject is get a laxative. Before the beginning of the 2nd week post op I could not poop. Sorry if that sounds gross, but with all the pain meds it did something to my system. It hurt so bad I thought I would have to go to the ER, I thought my neck was going to brake from trying. My husband went to the store and got some laxatives and some suppositories and thank God it worked. When I talked to my family doctor about it he said the ER would have done the same, but at a higher price.
    Next when your muscles start to wake up it is not fun, that is another reason for ice bags. My muscles started to wake up on Wednesday before Labor Day. Thought the flexural would help, nope. Called my doctor on that Friday before, he was in surgery so could not help me. I told his nurse she better do something or I am off the ER for a shot. She was able to get my soma which helps a lot. So listen to your body if the muscle relaxants or pain meds are not working tell them. I only take the pain meds every once in a while and muscle relaxants every 8 which is great.
    I know this all sounds so bad but yesterday I was able to go out for a walk and nothing hurt for once, it was wonderful. I have not worked since the end of April because of my neck and the pain in my left shoulder and arm. It is not like that was the first time my neck was screwed up, it been like this for about 11 yrs or so but this time was the worse and it would not go away. So I have been basically sitting in my house all summer.. So it was wonderful to walk normal with out having my left arm up against my chest or over my head. Would I do surgery again, yes to feel like I do now. I know I still have a long way to go yet, I randomly will choke on things or just sit and cough. I still cant do the stuff I used to do, but in time it will come. I think of it this way, it did not happen over night nor will I heal over night. Oh and I must add I guess I am one of the luck ones I only need to wear my soft collar for comfort. I only wear it when ridding in a car or going for my walks. I also have to wear a bone stimulator because I smoked. I just recently quit so keep me in your thought that I won't go back to smoking. Think positive.. Jenny
  • Hi, I to am going i for ACDF Surgery Sept.12,2008. It is getting closer and I am scared , but I have one of the best NS. I know of 5 people who he has done this type of surgery. I think I can handle it real well though just getting really close like 4 days away. I have read a lot about this and my main concern is the sleeping and eatting. I'm going to try to sleep in bed with this pillow chair and another pillow so it will let me be in some kind of incline. I also asked Dr.Rahn's nurse and she said he has no special way he wants you to sleep. Just as long as I can feel good in the potion I choose. Then about what to need to get ready as for food. I read soup, pudding/jello cups,popsicles oh and bendable straws. So I know the thing I will have the MOST of the hard time with is taking pills. I read to take them with your pudding, honey and water. See I am one of them people who have to trow my head back and wash it down, so I am having a hard time with knowing what really works.
    Plus pain meds I take percosets now and they don't even really touch my pain. So I was hoping to try to get Demerol and some other meds like to take in between that. So if anybody can help me on these concerns would help.
  • :D Well I was rear ended about a year ago. My pain is from it aggervating a Degenerative Disc I have never ever had any sytems of this till after the accident. I have went through theraphy, 1 crotizone shot, 1 epidural shot and more theraphy. After my PM doctor couldn't get it under control that is when he sent me too the NS. He had me do a discogram and that is where they found out what was next. I have pain that radiates in my left sholder blade not much in my arms or hands. Mainly it is in my shoulder which any thing I do aggervates it sitting here typing it is burning. So I have read a lot of great recoveries from this surgery so I can't wait till Friday. They said I will have to spend the night. I couldn't believe the cost for this sugery and the hospital bill I called to check on it they said what it would cost before INS. was roughly 47,500. I needed to know because I have a Lawyer coming to see me this Wed. So I can see what we need to do with the lady and her INS. who hit me then pushed me into another truck. So I was a sandwhich.
    Thanks for everyone on here to listen
  • Wishing both of you well and once after the surgery, you will be on the road to recovery and painfree.

    This week I am 8 week Post-OP.
    Last week was off the Aspen collar.
    On Sunday after Church service, I drove the car. Yes. I drove the car out to IKEA for a shopping trip.
    Last night I drove the car again.
    I will be back to work tomorrow morning.

    You will be fine after all.

    God Bless and stay positive
    Phil. 4:6-8

    Cheers !

  • I could take my pills one at a time and very slowly. I am 3 wks po so the memory is very fresh yet. Tell your doctors about your pain right away if the pills you have are not working. The doctors are there to help you and they want you to feel combatable. I still am using straws to drink pop out of a can because I can't seem to get the last drop.
    I never had to stay over night after surgery so it saved me some money on my bill, but if you do stay make sure thy give you ice bags for the back of your neck and the side of it to keep swelling down.
    Yesterday I tried to sing to the radio, I cant my voice cracks and then I loose it for a while. My husband would tell you all that I never really could sing anyway, but with time I am sure it will get better. Good luck with your surgery....
  • Hi Nervous1,

    I actually had a dual discectomy and fusion almost 12 years ago on C5-C6 and C6-C7. They took a piece of my hipbone out and fused the three vertebrae together to do the surgery. Although I was in a good deal of pain post op and had to take medication for the pain for a bit of time, I did not have any residual problems with my voice. The doctor went through the front of my neck to do the surgery and although there is always that risk of damage to the vocal cords, I did not experience any. The trick is to find a very competent doctor who is known for his/her work. I had a good neuro-surgeon. Prior to the sugery I had gone to physical therapy on and off for almost 2 years, postponing the inevitable. I got to the point of the numbness and tingling in my arms that was truly affecting my quality of life so I opted for the sugery. Yes, it was scary and I believe I cried as they were putting me out but in the end, it turned into a very wise decision for me. I have not had any subsequent nerve problems or numbness in my arms because of taking care of it.

    I will say, the neurosurgeon warned me that the discs directly above and below the suregery site would be impacted more because of the immobility of the area. It may have affected me more since I had surgery on two levels, not one like you. Today, (12 years later), I got my MRI results back (having neck issues again), and indeed, there are issues with my C3-C4 and C7-T1 levels. Bulging discs, degenerative disease, etc. I am suffering from a lot of neck pain, some of which I believe is pure neck muscle spasm. However, even given the issues to date, I am still very pleased with the surgery results from 12 years ago and would do it again if given the chance to go back.

    Hope that helps! Now, I just have to figuer out what to do with my current neck issues!

    Good luck!
  • I agree with what ND says. I had a one level ACDF 15 years ago with good results. Last month, more surgery, but DDD is progressive. Good luck!!

    1992 Fibromyalgia
    1993 ACDF c6-c7
    Late 2007 anticardiolipin antibody syndrome
    8/2008 posterior cervical foraminotomy and foraminectomy at 3 levels (c4-c5, c5-c6, and c7-t1) with arthrodesis
    DDD and severe spondylosis at all cervical levels (except c6-c7).
  • Kayano so was that the first time you could drive at 8weeks. I figure I won't be able to drive my truck after my 2week Post-Op. This will drive me nuts!! LOL!! :))( What is a person to do, can you drive with other people if it isn't to far? It's getting closer and closer till due date.
    Thnaks for your thoughts, and yes I can't wait till the recovery time comes. Plus I too am going to put my Faith in the Lord too, and know things will be so much better than this.
  • and my only passenger with me was my daughter.

    Today I am back to office and instead of drive, I took the bus. I was kind of fun.

    Don't worry too much. All will be alright for you. Will keep you in prayer.

    Cheers !
  • I waited over five years to have surgery. I am an instrumental musician, but I have enjoyed singing to my children for the past 4 1/2 years and was scared to death that I wouldn't be able to or that my voice wouldn't sound the same after surgery. I am thankful to say that I never lost my voice. I was able to speak immediately following surgery and sounded like myself just a couple of days later. I'm now 9 weeks post op and have done exceptionally well. I would say based on your symptoms that you probably should seriously consider having the surgery. I'll pray that if you do have the surgery that God will protect your vocal chords so you will be able to sing His praises for all to hear!

    God Bless and Many Prayers,
  • Little nervos about surgery, have had the MRI, spoke with one of my docotrs waiting to speak to other a little nrevouse nd scared about having surgery.
  • I just had surgery 4wks ago on c5 c6. I went to see the doctor yesturday and he said everything looks great. I too was very scared and I cried like a baby when they where taking me in for surgery. I had a few rough days after surgery, but I am getting better everyday. I am glad I had it done. Think positive and think about no more pain. You can get your life back. :)))
  • Hello everyone and thank you for your insight and encouragement. I am having surgery tomorrow (9/29) and am having 2 disc fusion and a plate put in. Keep me in your prayers because I am very nervous. I've come to grips with all of this and know that I am making the best decision to have this surgery. My surgeon has gotten great reviews and my Lord will be with me. Will write again to let you know how I am doing when I can. Thanks again!
  • Good luck tomorrow with you surgery.....
  • Hello everyone,

    My surgery is over and after 2-3 rough days I am doing great. The swallowing is the biggest issue I have. The pain is gone besides the normal post op stuff and my speaking voice came back pretty good the night of surgery. So I can only assume my singing voice will come back too. I had a 2 disc fusion with a plate put in and my surgeon I believe did a good job. I'm so glad to be feeling better. I couldn't have done this without all of your help and encouragement. Thank you so much! If you have any questions for me, I'll be happy to be the one to help this time. Thanks again everyone!
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