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4 months post-op -still in pain- what MD told me

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:28 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I had a 2-level ACDF levels C4-C5 and C6-C7 on 10/30. The surgery did help with the pain/ burning sensation in my forearm & numbness in first two finger, but now my symptoms are different.

The neck pain has never resolved. It is getting worse and I have developed burning pain in my upper arm and my pinky/ ring finger are numb! So, the surgery basically just moved my pain!

I called my MD a few weeks ago and he was not available for an appointment so I saw his Associate. That MD told me I "can't be having numbness/ pain because the discs were removed". He put me on a Medrol dose pack.

How come so many of us post-op people are in pain? I see my 'real' MD on Tuesday and I will ask him. I am not looking for medical advice. Just wanted to see what others thought about this comment.




  • Hi Elle,

    my first reaction is ignorant ;) . which discs goes to those fingers again??? I would wonder what your surgeon would say... as opposed to general medic?? but deffo ask your regular doc.

    Good luck
    L4-L5 fusion 1998; ACDF C4-6 2008; DDD
  • Hi Elle,
    I wish I could get the answer to that question as well. I had a one level fusion shortly after you and I am in worse pain now than prior to my surgery. Some of the pain is the same, some is different. My fingers go numb etc. My surgeon started me in physical therapy but that made things worse. My therapist asked me to stop coming for a week to see if things would calm down, I'm supposed to go back tomorrow but things are definately not calmed down. I am so frustrated right now I could scream. I just want you to know that you are not alone. Sorry that I cannot answer the "why" for you. When I turn my neck to the left and then bring it back I feel something "catch" and it hurts so bad and it's scary. I feel like something is wrong with my fusion. My next appointment is on the 25th so I will be asking a lot of questions and they will take an x-ray too. Will you be seeing your surgeon again soon?
  • Yes, I will see my surgeon on Tuesday. I have not had any PT to date and wonder if he will recommend it. I had x-rays a few weeks ago that show that I am fusing and 'making good progress'. Then why, oh why does my neck hurt so much???

    I need to return to work at soon as possible. Right now, I am frustrated and wondering why I am still in pain. My family is getting impatient with me and that makes me feel worse.

    I will let you know what my MD says...


  • Elle,
    Oh can I so relate. That is what my last x-rays showed too. I went back to work this past Monday for half days and man has it been difficult. I have a desk job so I am sitting at the computer and it's not good. I have the same issues with my family as well, they try to be patient but they don't understand and I guess shouldn't be expected to because if you haven't gone through this you wouldn't get it. I hate chronic pain and all that it brings with it. The question I ask daily "why am I still in so much pain"? It's so comforting to be able to come here and vent. Hand in there Elle =)
  • I had my fusion last summer and the pain has gotten worse. I was made aware that I would either get better, feel the same, or feel worse prior to having surgery. Recently I have a deep aching burning pain in my back and numbness, cramping, burning, stabbing nerve pains in my leg. I'm going in for another MRI and follow up appt. These back problems seem to have no end.

    Are you taking something for the pain other than Gabapentin and Ativan? I'm sorry you're still having pain. Maybe the nerve is still irritated and it needs more time to heal. I was told this for a long time both my surgeons. My last surgeon said the nerve is permanently damaged and frankly I wasn't surprised-it's been three years since I last sat pain free. I know I'll wind up having a neurostimulator implanted sometime this year. I have to do something to improve my quality of life.

    Well, I hope you get some answers when you see the real doctor on Tuesday. Please keep us posted on how it goes. Take care
  • Permanent nerve damage NEVER goes away, but it can get better.

    My doctor was upfront with me, said I ran a risk things might not improve, but he also gave me an 85% chance everything would be fine. I was also informed that the best thing I could do was not wait too long.

    I hope you get some better answers, but I know I would have had a few words for that doctor... Yup, the disc were removed, not your nerves and everything else that those disc were messing with for however long it was.

    Best of luck, hope you start to feel better soon enough!!!
  • I had C 3 4 5 6 7 fused 2 mo. ago, my arm pain went
    away. and dexterity came back in my fingers, so i
    can type to you all now. the nerve pain in my legs
    and feet seemed to get worse, doctor will offer
    no prognosis in that. Heh- I am truely amazed by
    jersy that her doc offers percentage odds.

    The neurontin I'v been given is helping this
    but i'm a real-space case now. I've heard
    that you get used to the drug. I sure hope
    so. Nerves are such a dicey thing and do
    all kinds of things. Its sure a scary prospect
    I might not get better, but I think I am very

    good luck

  • My sugery will be 2 years old this end of this month and for the first time I am starting to feel normal. A lot of my pain has let up and I have more energy. 2 years to get to this point, it takes a long time for muscles and nerves to heal. My surgeon told me this up front and I called him several names in the past 2 years but it seems he knew what he was talking about.

  • your not that long since your surgery for all your nerves to be healed it does take a long time.You still have a lot of healing and inflammation in your neck that could be causing your symptoms.thats what i was told anyways.i started having symptoms that i hadn't had in a long time.i'm ten months out of surgery and and still have issues with pain from inflammation.
  • I saw my original Surgeon yesterday and he feels the pain is coming from the disc below my fusion. So, I will need an MRI and EMG. He did say I can start taking Naprosyn because my fusion looks great!

    I can also start PT. So, hopefully time will tell and now I know not to see his RUDE Associate.

  • Wow.........I certainly hope you all start feeling better......

    I am so afraid that I will end up having some sort of surgery......I see my Phsyiatrist tomorrow........and I am afraid I already have some nerve damage.........

    I also sometimes get numbness in my head on the right side which is really frightening..........and all kinds of clicks going on in my neck.........

    I hope you get some relief to your pain.......I hate living in pain all the time too........
  • Hi there

    Please let me know how you get on. I am experiencing very similar problems to you and understand your pain etc. I too am waiting on an MRI etc but not sure what will happen next, does it mean more surgery, or what??

    TaKE Care. Keep in touch.
  • Hi

    Have you had the tests yet? whats happening? I am really keen to hear from you as I HAVE DEVELOPED VERY SIMILAR SYPTOMS BUT INFACT THE SYMPTOMS NOW ON both arms and on my good leg. Let me know how you are please.
  • I had my MRI and am waiting for the results. They gave me a copy of the MRI and I can see something going on with the disk below, but have no idea how bad it is... I did start taking Vicodin again because the pain in my arm and nexk is so bad.

    EMG is scheduled for Monday. The MD did mention I might need C6-C7 fused depending on the results. But, like I said, I cannot read the MRI.

    Keep me posted on how you are doing, too.

    Wishing everyone a great weekend,
  • Many Thankks for your reply. Keep in touch re the results. I am having a MRI & CT myelogram soon. I had a c5/6/7 Laminectomy in 2007 for cord compression. Aside from permanent damage [mobility problems & weakness in all limbs etc etc, post surgery still had some problems with right arm/hand pain due to exisiting root pressure. Had c4-5, C5-6, C6-7 ACDF in September 2008 which helped the right arm/hand pain but now have pain in different parts of arm and hand like you. Particularly on Back of upper arm , upper arm, from elbow into little finger and ring finger and armpit upper chest areas. Recently this has migrated to similar pattern in left arm but not constant like it is with my left arm now. Also feel more pain/weakness in my legs etc.
    Hope you get it sorted soon I too have been told maybe pressure on disc below ACDF?? Not nice so soon since surgery.

    3 LEVEL LAMINECTOMY C5-C7 cord compression, cervical myelopathy, have some permanent damage. Myelomalacia.
    3 Level ACDF C4-5, C5-6, C6-7 2008 for root presure etc.
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