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posterior cervical foraminotomy

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
any one have this done and if so how was your recovery like. i had it on May 1 and still feel arm and shoulder blade pain 8 days post op. if anyone had had it please post experience.


  • Hi bkorry,

    I feel a moral duty to respond to your blog since there are so few people writing about this procedure. I had it done last October and hunted for others and there are very few people having this done.

    I was miserable for about 3 weeks after the foraminotomy. I'd had two anterior fusions that were uncomfortable but the posterior procedure was really uncomfortable for me. I had C4-C6 cleaned up and wired into place.

    But hang on there because I want to reassure you that the pain goes away. In fact I am pain free for the first time in 12 years and quite happy about it, too. Follow the doc's advise but most importantly follow your own intuition: you're gonna know what you can and cannot do each day. I had some days that were better than others, but overall each day was an improvement over the preceding one.

    I had muscle spasms and bone pain. THe Flexiril and Percocet combination worked best for me. The doc gave me Valium, but that made me too groggy and I only took it if I couldn't sleep at night.

    I wasn't prescribed PT afterwards. THe doc said that since this was the third surgery for me I probably knew more than the therapist about what to lift, stretch, etc.

    Keep your wound clean and REST when your body wants to rest.

    Good luck

    Jim in CT
  • Hi Jim,
    Thanks for the update, I am on my second week and like you said I am still in the somewhat miserable phase. I still have pain in my neck and pain and numbness in my arm. The wound is healing well and since it was one level and done endoscopically my neck is starting to feel better today. I have followed doc's orders as much as I can but have tried to carry something heavier than 10lbs a couple of times and i paid for it lol.
    Thanks for the feedback and I will post more in another week.
    Rob in Minneapolis
  • I had it done 9 weeks ago on levels C5-6 & C6-7. The doc told me he was going to cut a tiny incision on back of neck & with a small drill, grind down bits of the discs that were causing the pain in my left arm. Well, the tiny incision was 4 inches long. Maybe that is small to him, but not me. I have never had surgery before, so knew nothing about recovery. Oh man, it seems like it's taking forever. Mainly because I am so active & get bored very easy. HAD to have ice packs on my shoulder 24/7. Couldn't have made it w/o it. Muscles highly inflammed from being moved to side in surgery. All I can say is "it's a slow recovery" & was a little painful for me. Everyone is different though. Got to R-E-L-A-X, my friends. A MUST!!! Take time to heal. Hugs to All
  • I had a cervical laminectomy at C3 on 6/9/09. The incision is in the same place as yours. I know they took part of my vertebra out that was pinching my nerve and spinal cord. I m not sure what your surgery was excactly but I feel awful approaching 3 weeks. I have zero energy level. I am tired all the time but don't sleep. I use frozen bags of peas for shoulders and back of neck. The pain is miserable. I can't say yet I feel better then i did before surgery yet.
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • I will agree with you that recovery is extremely painful. Way beyond imagination. 10 wks now post op. I used ice packs for the first 5-6 weeks 24/7. I had to because the pain was so great. Maybe the ice numbs it, because they say the muscles on that side were highly inflammed. After 6 weeks, I found the ice was not necessary, and switched to the heating pad. I use it at home & at my office. (still) Just yesterday, after 10 weeks, I started to feel as though I am going to be just fine, even better than before, and that was a wonderful feeling. I think I am one of the ones that will take 12 FULL weeks for a complete recovery. They say not to lift above 10 lbs until then, & I don't plan on it. Just want you to know that I, like you, are having a tough time with the healing process. Each week I get a little better. Not each day. LOL. Sheesh.
    Hugs & prayers to YOU!!!
  • Deleted by me. Redundant post. :/
  • I had this same operation at c6/7 on July 13 and it went very well so far. I have been more worried about over doing it than dealing with pain.

    I had a very good and cautious surgeon but my pain level had gone down considerably before surgery (after 6 bad months of pain, meds, shots etc). My main indications for doing the surgery were the complete pinching of the nerve on the myelogram and the rapid weakening of the arm (it had no resistance at all and I was not able to pick much up with it so that all meant nerve damage). I could have had a bi level fusion c5-7 but my NS felt that clinically most of my problems were coming from c6/7 even though c5/6 was badly degenerated. We thought we might wait on c5/6 as it might not be causing the prob and my insurance may eventually approve an artificial disc. The foraminotomy leaves us with options, in other words.

    I did a few weeks of PT for posture and lots of deep tissue/myofascial massage pre-surgery as well as 2 x 15 minute walks a day to get ready for what I originally thought would be fusion.

    The results were great. Immediately post surgery I actually had some resistance again and the pain has been very manageable, I often only take something other than tylenol at night. But I have read elsewhere there may be a few probs between 2-4 weeks and I do occasionally have a little shadow pain in the old spots on my shoulder and elbow. But I think it's supposed to take 6-12 months for the nerves to heal and if I was in more pain from the surgery I doubt I would even notice.

    So I am taking it as easy as I can and doing my now 10 minute walks three times a day religiously. But I think it was definitely worth it all and I had a great surgeon, which seems to make all the difference.

    Good luck to everyone
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