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Clicking in neck

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
In June 2008, I had an operation to replace two discs in my neck. This was altered during surgery to one disc replacement and a fusion with supporting metal plate.
Since then I have suffered a lot of 'cracking' sounds and sticking from the neck. The surgeon says that this is normal! I would like to know if anyone out there has had the same experience after a fusion/replacement.

The metal plate they put in to support the fusion causes a permanent lump in my throat with a similar feeling to having a marble stuck in my throat. This not only causes discomfort when swallowing, but sometimes causes choking (mainly in my sleep), and makes items I'm trying to swallow 'pop back up' my throat. Has anyone out there experienced this, and is is fixable?

Please reply, I would really like to know that I'm not alone in these 'experiences'.



  • Although I have not had ACDF (yet) the lump in the throat is normal from what I read on these posts... and Ive been reading posts since June when I blew out my disk... They push all that stuff out of the way during surgery and thats the cause, it should go away after some time. Your surgeon should know about it, if it is of concern to you. My neck cracks, snaps all the time (but I havent had surgery either). The other night I reached into the bottom of the fridge and my neck cracked, gave me a slight headache for about 30 seconds and was gone...
  • Hi Sharon.

    I have clicking and grinding in my neck. I've been told it's normal, but it's a little disconcerting, isn't it?

    After my surgery, I really didn't have much problem with my throat, but it was a bit difficult to swallow things like large pills. I still have that issue and am now pretty sure it will always be there. I haven't mentioned it to my doc because it's not much of a problem for me.

    Take care.
  • I am having some swalling issue the Dr said its normal and if it doesnt clear up after "some" time or became really bothersome he said I could be referred to an ENT specialist.
    Mine seems to be getting better every day so maybe I am OK.

    Good Luck
  • I am 3 mo. post op & my hubby can hear my neck pop from across the room! I haven't mentioned it to my NS yet, due to the fact that from what I've read this is normal. Also all of my joints "pop". I do not have any pain when this happens, so I'm not too concerned yet. As for swallowing/throat, I have no issues there.
  • I think you need a referral from Your Dr. to an ENT Dr. about your swallowing. I've never had surgery there and I'm not a Dr. I just heard that someone was referred there. Perhaps they'll come along and help with their experience. Hopefully these things will resolve with time. But any new symptoms you should call your Surgeon. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I have the same issues as you. I'm not concerned about the popping and grinding as it does not hurt and like everyone else mentioned they seem to be normal after surgery.

    However, the lump in my throat and choking sensation is driving me crazy! I don't have a problem with solid foods but strangle on liquids and I'm 6 1/2 months post-op. (really strange!) The sensation does seem to be worse after I eat though. I have an appt. on the 12th with a gastro specialist to check into my swallowing problems. I keep thinking it's the hardware pushing into my esophagus because I'm so tiny but my surgeon just cuts me off when ever I mention that (with no tests or anything) and told me to go the the other doctor. Hopefully I will get some answers after my appointment.
  • First of all welcome! We have a loving name that we have given ourselves around here. We think we are now rice kripies and should replace the elves on the front of the box because our snaps, crackles and pops are much louder than theirs. So I would say that is normal. However your choking needs to be seen about by an ENT. There are procedures in place that they can do to expand your esophagus and alleviate your choking issues. Have you had an X-Ray of your neck lately? I would want to make sure that the hardware is exactly where it is suppose to be but that's just my own humble non medical opinion.
  • I had the swallowing/throat issue back in 1993 when I had my ACDF, and it seems like it took quite a while to resolve. I have the neck cracking and popping, and frankly I like it as I usually get a bit of relief for a period of time afterwards.
  • I sometimes get a clicking sound and a snap in my neck I am 51 years old , my physician said that it is due to neck strain. Do i need an MRI.Please advise
  • I posted this a long time ago, back in the old forum, but this topic seems to come up quite often.

    quote from this website; http://www.spinegroup.com/Advice/NkCrk.html

    "....3. Why joints pop. Movement through the paraphysiologic zone, the Twilight Zone of joint motion, occurs when the passive range is exceeded but before actual damage can occur. Paraphysiologic motion involves the "play" of a joint, not just further passive motion. This springiness you feel in your knuckle when you gently tug on a finger or push the finger backward to the endrange of passive motion is there because the ligaments have a little give built into them. In the paraphysiologic zone the surfaces of each bone - which don't actually quite touch in a normal joint - move apart slightly further. A sudden and quite temporary vacuum occurs which is just as suddenly filled by gas which has been, up until that moment, saturated in the joint fluid. A popping or cracking noise is produced. This exchange of gas and fluid is called cavitation. It is similar to popping your cheek with your finger; when you push your fingertip out of your mouth quickly, air rushes in to the space suddenly created and makes a pop!

    4. The bad news for "self-manipulators." If you are a chronic neck-popper, you are very likely stretching the ligaments which support and stabilize your neck joints. Stretched ligaments result in a condition called hypermobility in which the joints lose their natural springy end play. To someone skilled at feeling joint motion, like a chiropractor, this loss of springiness can be detected. It is sometimes jokingly referred to as “floppy disc syndrome,” although the discs in the neck are not directly affected. As the ligaments become more lax, the small muscles that connect one vertebra to the next become tight. They have to work harder to make up for the loss of stability due to the lax ligaments. This makes your neck feel tight. As the muscle tension builds and your neck becomes more and more uncomfortable, you feel the urge to manipulate your neck. CRACK! The muscles are stretched, they relax, and you feel some relief. Of course, this manipulation also stretched those already loose ligaments, and the vicious cycle starts over again.

    Hypermobility can be congenital (i.e., hereditary) or acquired. Teens tend to have hypermobile spinal joints. This is normal and will usually resolve as the skeleton and supporting tissues finish growing. However, if neck cracking becomes a habit, then the problem can continue into adulthood. Clinical evidence suggests that hypermobile spinal joints become arthritic at a faster rate than normal joints. Hypermobility can also result from injuries such as whiplash, or it can be self-inflicted. Some popping in the back or neck occurs spontaneously with movement and may be normal.

    Treatment: Chiropractors treat hypermobility with strengthening exercises. If the ligaments are weak and the muscles have to work harder, they will be less tense if they are stronger. Strong muscles don’t have to work as hard as weak muscles, so there is less tension. Hypermobility is also treated with spinal adjustments, a form of manipulation. Although this would seem to be contradictory, sometimes hypermobility can be a compensation for restricted or fixated joints elsewhere in the spine. The adjustments are given only to these joints, not the hypermobile ones."

    Quote from this website; http://sportscenteraustin.blogs.com/the_view/2003/06/is_the_pop_in_y.html

    "The firecracker sound made by popping a joint comes from two things: cavitation and snapping. When you twist and bend your neck, you stretch the joints. Inside each joint is a liquid called synovial fluid that contains gases like nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide. This liquid exerts a certain amount of pressure against the ligaments around the joint (called the joint capsule). The stretching causes the pressure inside the joint to drop. When the pressure drops, the ligament gets sucked into the joint and a bubble of carbon dioxide forms. The formation of the bubble creates a popping sound as it comes out of the synovial fluid (cavitation) and increases the volume of synovial fluid temporarily (by about 15%). The increase in volume pushes the ligament back into place creating another popping sound (these occur so fast you hear only one sound). You cannot repeat the snap, crackle, pop for about twenty minutes or until the bubble dissolves back into the synovial fluid."

  • http://sportscenteraustin.blogs.com/the_view/2007/04/how_to_help_som.html

    "Many years ago, I noticed that one of my patients, in his early 60's, was rubbing something on his knee. It was some kind of lotion or oil. So, I walked over to him and asked him about it.

    "I see you're rubbing your knee. What's up?"

    "This stuff, you mean? This here?" he replied.

    "Right. That stuff - what is it?"

    "Well, I figured that after you told me about how my knee needs some sort of lube job an' all, I figured a little WD-40 was in order. I think it's helpin' too. I do. I really do. That knee is movin' freer. I can just feel it."

    A lube job. He was right. Joints that grind, crack, feel like they have sand in them, like crunchy necks, need a lube job. Although, as far as I know, WD-40 doesn't quite do the trick.

    Joints are a lot like car engines. I don't know much about cars beyond turning the key in the ignition and driving them (and I usually get lost). When something goes wrong, I might pop the hood and stare at the engine for a while to at least look like I know what I'm doing but I really have no clue.

    But, I do know that you need oil in your engine; not water, or detergent, or soda, but oil. Just imagine what would happen to your engine if, instead of oil, for example, you used ginger ale.

    Oil is a highly viscous fluid. It's thick and resists deformation under stress which is good when you have metal parts moving very close to one another at very high speeds. You want the parts to move freely and the oil, because it resists deformation, provides a low friction cushion for the metal to ride on. Ginger ale is a low viscous fluid. It's thin, and watery. With ginger ale in your engine, the metal parts will rub on each other because the thin, watery quality provides very little cushioning. Ginger ale cannot withstand pressure and deforms quickly.

    Turns out that joints have something inside them like oil in an engine. It's called synovial fluid and, like oil, healthy synovial fluid has high viscosity (it has the consistency of egg whites). And, just like oil in your engine, the synovial fluid resists deformation and protects your bones and cartilage from rubbing on each other. But, when the fluid gets too thin, which can happen with injury or disease, it's like having ginger ale in your joint. Things start rubbing on each other and sometimes you can feel it. Your joint will feel rough and catch.

    You can change the oil in your engine by draining it and adding new oil. Not so with synovial fluid. Synovial fluid only improves from the right kinds of exercise (there are invasive options, such as SYNVISC, but your joint still needs to move to maintain the improvements).

    So, what kind of exercise do you need? To begin with, low load, slow, easy motions working up to thirty minutes per day. In last week's View, I asked you if you wondered what exercise could make your neck feel so good you would want to do it for twenty minutes. Well, here's one of them.

    We like to call this drill, "Rock N' Roll."

    Lie down on your back with your head on a deflated beach ball (see image). Your head and neck should be comfortable. Adjust the amount of air in the ball to find the right amount of support for you. If you have an exercise ball (sometimes called a stability ball, swiss ball, physio ball (and I think it's worth getting even just for this exercise), place your lower legs on the ball as in the image.
    Slowly turn your head to the right. Go as far as you feel comfortable. Then, slowly turn to the left. Stop mid-way and gently tuck your chin. Now, turn slowly to the left.
    Do this exercise for at least five minutes. You may find that it feels so good, you will want to keep going. If your neck starts to feel tired or if you're uncomfortable, stop.
    The goal is thirty minutes per day of movement. You can do this in five minute sets or longer. I suggest you get at least three sessions a day working your way up to thirty minutes. After about three weeks, you should notice improvement in the "crunchiness" in your neck. It may take several months for it to subside enough that you barely notice it. In many people, it goes away completely.

    This week I gave you one of two drills we use to help people with "crunchy necks". Next week, I'll explain how a Touch Down can help your neck and why the beach ball is the critical tool for Rock N' Roll.

    Rock on.

    Doug Kelsey"
  • I agree with Patricia. My opinion is that a lot of the noises come from joints and facet joints inparticular.

    Adrs put a lot of stress on facet joints. I've read that they allow more movement that the facet joints can handle. In turn the facets joints have unnatural stress to them. I've also read that some patients have to make themselves aware of not over extending their necks so not to irritate the facet joints. Apparently bad pain when facet joints get inflammed.

    Other than these issues how are you doing with your adr?

  • yea... cla_gua....I want a ADR but im woried about my Facets.

    But then again if I get a fusion i have to worry about the adjacent levels of DDD.

    whats worse?

    I feel I cant win..
  • Patricia thank you for posting that info...
  • I know this is an old posting and I'm not even sure who still visits this post. I'm 20 months post acdf c4-6. I'm currently in PT. Dr is talking failed fusion for 5/6. UGH. At first I had the swallowing issues which resolved about 2 months after surgery. The issues are back! For the last month I've felt like someone's sticking their finger into the base of my throat! Its worse if I turn my head to the left.

    Anyone see any change so long after their initial surgery - either good, bad or better? I so don't want surgery again. Doc says hardware might need to come out. blah blah blah
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