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Really Concerned!!

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I called my Doctors office today because now I'm even waking up with this stabbing/burning pain at the back of my neck and sometimes shoulder blade, which I've been getting but never when I first wake up, and the nurse sounded concerned and is sending me for x rays and told me to come to the office on Monday to see the Doctor. I guess I expected her to say that it was normal to feel this way but instead she sounded concerned, which made me worry. I feel so much worse since the surgery which is 4 weeks ago today. I'm really starting to regret this and I just wanted to know if 1- do most of you feel better now than before the surgery? 2- how did you feel at 4 weeks out? 3- could it be the screws they put in, that maybe one moved or something like that? 4-I've been doing some work, like taking down Christmas decorations and working on my computer for my job, is this too soon? did any of you do any work at 4 weeks? 5- Am I suppose to feel bad still because it's only 4 weeks?
I know your not Doctors, but sharing your experiences and opinions would be welcomed........Thanks,


  • To answer your questions...

    1 - do most of you feel better now than before the surgery?
    I completely feel like my old self again (cervical and upper back)

    2 - how did you feel at 4 weeks out?
    Pretty good, but if I recall still had some issues getting in and out of bed.

    3 - could it be the screws they put in, that maybe one moved or something like that?
    From what I've been told, it takes a lot to move them screws

    4 - I've been doing some work, like taking down Christmas decorations and working on my computer for my job, is this too soon?
    Each doctor is different, but I wasn't suppose to do ANYTHING but lift a pitcher at most out of the refrigerator and rest. I used our laptop from my recliner to go on the Internet and stuff. Car rides to the doctor bothered me at first... I also didn't work for 3-months.

    Hopefully everything is ok. I remember I had some pain, called the doctor, but it was gone by the time I went a few days later.

    I had one-level, I see you had two-levels done... Maybe its nothing, just keep thinking positive.

    I see you said you feel much worse since the surgery... It can take time to heal, talking about your nerves and stuff.
  • But I didn't have screws and only one level. I think you are wise to call them up, but I would not be overly concerned because each person is different when it comes to the healing process. Try sleeping on a soft sofa. I always sleep better.

    By 4 weeks I was doing way more then I should and I would get arm pain around 8pm or so. At night I used a heating pad on low to help my muscles relax-that and the pain pill and muscle relaxant. I take none during the day so I can drive if I need to, only tylenol or maybe 1/2 a hydrocodone if my arm is in pain. Oh yes, the pain, tingling, numbness is still there 5 weeks post-op, but I can tell it is better, not worse. Ease up on any lifting you do. I held a 10 pound baby for about 10 minutes and that really made my arm hurt later-you know you can't move while holding a sleeping newborn much.

    Computer work is the worse for me so I am only on it for short periods of time-I get on often, but only for 20-30 minutes at a time. Good luck at the doctor's and please tell us you are going to be alright.
  • I know that doing anything overhead, like decorating or undecorating a christmas tree, is one of the fastest ways to aggravate my neck and upper back. Perhaps you just overdid it and need a few days to let things settle back down. Ask your surgeon if you can go in and have a massage, it does wonders for my shoulder blade pain.

    I'm not going to answer the rest of your questions because I'm not a typical case at all and I don't want to scare you! I actually had 2 screws move out of place. Just follow doc's orders and try not to panic. It sounds like you just may be trying to do too much.

    I really hope you start feeling better soon,
  • Griff,
    What did that feel like?
  • Kimmy,

    I never really felt it, I just had pretty severe pain when I was in PT. When I saw the doc he took the normal x-rays and kind of shook his head. You have to understand that there wasn't a lot of vertebrae left to put the screws into at that point and that the level wasn't fusing. After my first surgery he had to remove a lot of the vertebrae to restructure my spine to the correct position. The screws haven't backed out, they moved up into what was once the disc space. Luckily, so far my spine has remained stable....let's keep our fingers crossed on that one, shall we? hahaha!

    Don't worry, this rarely happens and I've apparently filled the quota.

  • when i was on my 3rd week most of my pain had gone away. so i did a little more than usual that week. as the 4th week rolled around i got the sharp pains in neck and shoulders. when you wear a collar and dont use your muscles like u used to. they tend to let you know you did too much. so im guessing you did too much. im just starting a weight routine at 7 week , but still taking it easy. my arms still didnt like the mild workout. after a few days it got better. dont push yourself. when i worked out i used to lift a couple hundred punds. now i limit it to 10-15 and very few reps just enough to keep muscles working with no strain. so just take it easy. and good luck.
  • Don't be concerned about the fact that the doctor wants to see you. It's normal any time one of their spiney patients reports new pain. They always do an xray to be sure everything is where it's suppose to be just to be sure. I was afraid like you that something had moved. It hadn't. I think less and less about it now that I know I'm almost completely fused. I think we all look back and figure out that like week four or five we move from feeling great to Oh no! If you are still taking pain meds remember that they are working if you're able to do things but don't over do it! You're back at work after 4 weeks?! Good for you but that don't over do it statement I mean that times two for you!
  • I think at 4 weeks and the movement with taking down decorations probably used some muscles that have been relaxing for a while. At my 4 weeks checkup I felt great, all pain gone and no longer needing any med's. About 2 weeks later I developed a new pain in my upper back away from my neck and also a horrible headache. Unlike your surgeon, mine told me it had nothing to do with my surgery. 3 months later when I went back for another checkup and he took xrays I had a non fusion and had to have a revision......to this day I give that PA at my surgeons office a dirty look......she is the one who took the call and told me to see my pcp that my pain was not connected to my neck. You have a great surgeon, at least he wants to check it out.

  • This site is such a comfort to me right now. It helps so much to lessen my worry by reading your responses. I'm going to try and not do anything for a few days until I go to the Doctors and see if this helps with the pain. Most of you said that you felt better which led you to do more, but with me, I haven't been out of pain at all yet. I'm still taking a lot of pain meds, more now than before my surgery. I figured it was from the surgery itself and that it was normal, but I guess everyone's situation is different depending on what you had done and the condition of the spine before surgery. I do know that I should be feeling better each day not worse, so I probably did over do it. One other thing I forgot to mention was that I now also have pain going down the back of my right leg. This is all new....I never had any trouble with any pain on my legs. I noticed it about two weeks ago and didn't think anything of it at first but then realized it wasn't going away. It almost feels like a nerve thing.
    I guess I just have to wait and see and hope/pray for the best and try and take it easy.
    Thank You,
  • Kimmy, for the last 4+ weeks I've also been having stabbing/burning pain at the back of my neck and into my shoulder. At my last meeting with my surgeon I told him about this and he said it's normal. He put his hand on my neck, shoulder and back, pointing to the places where a lot of people with our type of surgery experience pain. He told me that I probably won't be free of pain until sometime after physical therapy, which I start on Jan. 21.

    Night before last I took off my soft collar all evening. I didn't strain or turn my head too much but by bed time, the back of my neck was killing me. Yesterday the pain continued and gradually subsided.

    I don't think you need to be too concerned - unfortunately pain is the nature of the beast. So, take care of yourself and I don't think you should be doing so much at four weeks.

    Cath >:D<
  • That the new pain I had was horrible....I am sure most of you know your body and know which pains are what. When that new pain started I knew I was in trouble. Also that pain down the back of your leg, mine started doing that also and my surgeon had an MRI done of my lumbar, it showed narrowing at L4L5 with bone spurs. I also do not have a reflex in that knee.

  • Hello Kimmy, I had my surgery the day before you a one level fusion. This week has been tough for me too. I am having a lot of pain in my shoulder blades and my neck. I know that I overdid it too the last few days. But my nurse told me that this is normal because of the healing that is taking place. Do you wear a collar?

    I was hoping to go back to work next week but I don't think that I will be able to if I feel like this. I did feel really good last week, so that is a differene between you and I. It sounds like you have not gotten better. I hope that you start to feel better soon.
  • Yes I'm wearing a soft collar. Everyday is something new. Today I noticed that when I raise my left arm high, I get that stabbing pain in my left shoulder blade. I think I'm going to go for the x rays tomorrow so I can at least know if the hardware is in place and then on Monday I see the Doctor....sure hope I get some answers.......
  • I hope your pain starts to get better. In the meantime, take it really easy...I call it "elevated princess status". It will be worth it in the end.

    Take care,

  • Hi,
    I see you have nerve damage, do nerve problems cause stabbing/burning pain/ if not could you tell me the symptoms of nerve pain..........thank you
  • Yes. Nerve pain can cause that burning, stabbing feeling. It doesn't necessarily have to be damaged. Even irritation is enough for it to feel like that.
  • I am 8 weeks post-op for c5-c6, c6-c7 acdf.

    Before surgery had terrible pain in right arm - some in the left - and neck pain. After surgery, the pain in the arms was gone.

    Felt great for the first 4 weeks (was in hard collar for this time). However, I did have the shoulder and neck pain. My dr said this is normal post-op pain and actually had warned me of it in advance of surgery.

    Anyhow, I also think I overdid it lately. Same stuff. Xmas decorations, etc. - taking garbage out. All sorts of stuff that probably is too heavy or awkward. As a result, the pain in my neck and shoulders has increased (before was going away little-by-little). What is concerning to me is that the arm pain has started to come back a little. It is not like before. It is much less, but is noticeable.

    Just seems odd that the arm pain was gone for so long and could come back in any way - as I have so much structure in place (grafts and titatium plate) to prevent pinching these nerves. Has anyone experienced this?

    I do think that neck and shoulder pain is directly related to surgery and we need to slow down on the activities, watch our posture, don't lift too much, etc.

    I did not intend to hijack your post, but I am searching for similar stories as well and thought I would push this thread back to the top.

    Hope you are doing better.
  • centerline said:

    What is concerning to me is that the arm pain has started to come back a little. It is not like before. It is much less, but is noticeable.
    Yes, same here. The last couple of days, my arms/wrists/hands are feeling similar to how they were prior to surgery. No tingling or pins and needles, just an achey feeling. At times my wrists feel like they have hot wire wrapped around them.
  • Seems like this might be more common than I thought.
  • Let us know if you find anything out. I will do same.
  • I had the same symptoms after my 2nd fusion. It ended up being that my body was starting to reject the graft. It took 7 months and alot of tests to confirm. I am now recovering frommy 3rd surgery this time they used my bone and went through the back. I feel completely different this time it actually feels like I am getting better everyday as long as I take it easy just one day at a time and alot of extra husband work!
  • Xray today looked OK. No broken screws or plate. The only thing that seemed a bit odd to me was that the top graft (c5-6) was further back towards the rear of the vertebra and the lower graft (c6-7) was more towards the front. I did not ask anything about this as the Dr said everything looks good - and I do trust that if something was really wrong, he would have said something. My Dr is a really nice guy and has always been up-front and honest with me and my wife. I might start a post about this over in the surgery area just to see what other people know.

    Anyhow, regarding the recurrance of symptoms, the answer I got was sort of what I expected. That the nerves and spinal cord take time to heal - and during that process can flare up from time to time. He told me that the healing process can take up to a year. In my case the nerve and spinal cord compression was severe - and my current aches are not too surprising. I do think that I aggravated the situation by doing too much too quickly.

    At this point, I am 8 weeks post-op. The hard-collar came off after 4 weeks. I took it easy at home for weeks 5 and 6, with a couple of outings here and there. At week 7 went back to work - driving, hunched over a computer (I admittedly have bad posture habits), etc. and have been doing more and more at home. I am now going to slow down and take it easy for awhile and see if things get better again. Hopefully this cures the arm pain and some of the shoulder pain. The balance of the shoulder pain and neck pain is probably more related to the bones that are still in the process of fusing (hopefully fusing) and might take longer.

    I will let everyone knows how that goes.

    By the way, the pain in any area of arms and shoulders is not constant or always the same intensity. The pain sort of comes and goes. Sometimes more of an ache than pain. None of it is anything like the pain before my acdf surgery. Not even in the same ballpark.
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