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Neck pain gettng worse with no relief

RICKRRICK Posts: 136
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I have C4-7 surgery Dec 9, 2009 with plate and cage, was off work for 8 weeks and did PT, returned to work and felt good until March when I started to have pain turning to the right, up and down. Changed to Kaiser May 1st and saw my new doctor, he took x-rays and everything looked ok, did show O.A. he gave me pain and muscle pill, sent me to P.T. I saw him last week and complained the pain is worse, the pills don't do very much to relive it. He is sending me to their "Spine Clinic" he thought they would be sending me back to my surgeon who's group Kaiser out source to. Does anyone have any suggestions or experiences like I am having? I never expected this neck would be a on going problem, it is really effecting my daily life.


  • What did any docs ever say about how much you were fused at that point? If you are not fusing or fused this could be causing some of your issues. Like Bg I would get another opinion not affiliated with your first surgeon. I would hope that they will be doing a MRI to look further if the pain is returning. Keep us posted on how you do.
  • and like the others have said everyone is different, but, I can tell you Iam still in pain almost 1 1/2 years after my surgery. The surgeon did tell me though that the surgery is not to stop the pain but to help with stability. I could have became paralyzed or or death if it had not been done. He told me from the begining it does not stop the pain...My pain never got better, in fact I had to quit working and now am on SSD. But, that's not to say this will happen to you, everyone is diffrent.
    I went for second opinions and they told me the same, there is nothing more they can do, I fused well and everything on MRI looks goo except the fact that I have now herniated above and below my fusion.They tell me this could not be causing the pain, so, I've given up on a "fix" and just came to terms with what I have and just have to figure out what I can and what I can't do...
    I think it would be wise to go for a second opion just to see what they have to say and that way you know you have tried your diffrent options...
    Good luck and I hope you can be pain free...
  • Well I got a appointment with the spine clinic for Thursday this week, I have to attend a 90 min pain management class first this see the doctor. I don't know if he will give me trigger shots in my neck or send me back to the surgeon. The good news if he sends back to the Nero surgeon I will see a different one this time which will be good for a 2nd opinion.
    I do not have myelopathy. Thank you for all the input, I hope this isn't going to be a life time of pain I don't think I want to even think about that, I hope they can find what is causing this, it is worse than before the surgery.
  • Try these exercises Rick...

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  • 4jkasper,

    I also had my cervical spine fused (first surgery in '96 then subsequent surgery of lower c spine with hardware, etc. in 2004. The doctors told me the same thing you've heard. The threat of paralysis was real, but the pain really wouldn't go away. I have learned to try to live with it but recently it is getting worse. An MRI done in Apr. showed 'compromise'??? in the area, but I pray I won't have to have another surgery for I cannot swallow well at all any more. The neurosurgeon said in '04 that the fusion gets 'heavy' and weighs on the supporting one and usually it needs repairing in a few years or so. With my entire c spine fused, this leaves me open for whatever is next??? I guess the T area? I really am resisting anymore surgery because of the swallowing issues. I cannot eat anything but moist chicken, or ground beef, etc. Even bread gets stuck if I don't have water to help it down. I have obstrutive breathing at nighttime according to a sleep study, etc. I wondered if any of you had these problems?

    Also, I've had a very bad time with dizziness since the last surgery. It is now worsened to the point that it affects me even if I turn my head during the night. I have fallen a few times and balance is getting to be a problem. Does anyone know if this is 'hardware' related? I have two steel plates, a basket, and the re-done fusion.

    IF I could have said NO to this surgery, I definitely would have, now that I see the after effects. But as some of you have seen, it isn't always an option. Please - IF you've not had this surgery, get a second and third opinion before you do and deem that it is positively neccessary.

    I hope I haven't discouraged anyone, I really do hope most of you did get relief with your surgeries. Perhaps because mine was done more years ago, the cadaver bone was used and not the newer 'appliances' I've heard about? I really do pray that you have gotten relief or it is available for YOU.
  • glad you made the appointment and also happy to hear there are no pains down arms and legs. i think that means there is some stability in your neck and no pressure on the spinal nerves. further tests should provide answers...good luck...pete
  • I'm trying to decide about a 3 level cervical fusion. I've been evading surgery for about 17 years and think I finally have to give in. I'm told that the posterior surgery where they create holes in the area that's cramping the nerve might help but it wouldn't fix the problem. I was also told the fusion could help with pain but the goal is to prevent nerve damage.

    The swallowing problem really scares me. I love to eat!

    I'm also going to have to change my career. I'm a fitness instructor and owned a martial art school.

    Eight weeks sounds good to me. I was told 2 years was the recovery time. 3 weeks assisted care then 3 weeks no lifting and must be careful then 6 months before you can really have some freedom.

    Hope you find some answers! Any tips you can throw my way would be appreciated. I'm new to the forum.
  • I had 2 levels fused in 2006 and was told the surgery would help my arm pain only. But I did get some pain relief in the neck area. Its never going to be the same but it had gotten better until January 2009 when I started going numb again. so I had all the diagnostic testing done and ended up with a C3 cervical laminectomy above my C4 to C6 fusion. And again was told my surgery would only stop the arm pain. My range of motion is limited. when its humid or raining my pain increases. I am always taking anti inflamatories for inflammation which helps some. I am dealing with it daily. It sucks really! but having both arm and neck pain was worse so I had the operations. I would do it again because half the pain gone was better then nothing.
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • Dear Lynn

    I can relate to your problem. Hit by three drunk drivers within a 10 yr. period. Had first disc removal C6-7 1990 left to fuse alone and then continued with pain and 2000 had C5-6 removed with cadaver bone and titanium plates inserted. Pain has continued and now goes into my arms. Last MRI showed the two discs above the ones I had removed are bulging and I have bone spurs and cervical stenosis (narrowing) in the areas of prevvious surgeries. I do have daily pain that becomes excruciating with the smallest of things (opening a can of vegetables/cleaning the house etc). The neurosurgeon told me that if he were to fix my problem I would be completely unable to move my neck. I work from home as an Aesthetician (skin care) and our family relies on me to be able to provide my income.

    My friend told me that there is a new procedure called cervical laminoplasty which is new and supposed to be better. I follow with my neuro. every six months so I swill ask him about this. Look it up online - it seems less invasive from what I can tell.

    I have sympathy and will keep you in my prayers as this is a difficult problem.

  • Hi!
    Stop medication for a while and sleep on low pillow for some days. This would certainly help you. I am saying this because I had the same problem and I did the same. I can assure you that my neck feels much better now.

    The information provided by members of Spine-Health should never be considered as formal medical advice. It is recommendations based on member's personal experiences only. This can vary from person to person, so do not take comments as medical rules. Edited by moderator Paulgla
  • I saw the spine clinic yesterday, the doctor during exam said both my hands are numb and when I turn my head in any direction, he would push down on my head which caused bad pain at the base of my skull shooting down my neck. He is having a MRI done one the 17th and sending me back to my surgeon for his opinion. He thinks there is something going on but not sure what.
    I did go to the pain management class yesterday also, it was interesting, I did not want to hear that if I have pain from more than three months months it would not be going away. I am hoping the MRI will show what's wrong for I am in more pain now than before the surgery.

  • Rick,

    I am so sorry you are still having problems; I do hope things go well for you and your MRI shows something that is fixable with minimal invasion. I feel like I've discouraged you and that was not my intent at all. As Terri said above, maybe you can look into cervical laminoplasty; my doctor was a specialist who was among those working on it at the time of my fusions. He said it was too late for me but many recent patients are having it done and doing quite well with it.

    Please know that I will pray for you, Belinda
  • I am having a MRI of my neck July 17th and I have a appointment with my neck surgeon July 29th, I hope he can tell me what's wrong and how it can be fixed I am getting really tired of this pain.
    I saw the knee doctor today, he said my right knee if 70% worn out and will need a need replacement within the next 4-5 years or sooner if the shots he started today don't work, I can get four per year. He said my knee cap is worn out also so the roster comb shots won't work for me.
    It's really sucks getting old, but it beats the other option.
  • I had my MRI this morning, it took 30 min's and the pain I had laying on my back was a 10, the neck pain was off the chart. Just at the end when I said that's it get me out of this thing I can't stand the pain. Lucky it was just when the test was finished. I don't understand why my neck hurt that bad during the test, it has hurt all day today. I will see the doctor July 29th for the results.
  • I had a appointment with my neck surgeon, but all I got to see was his physician assistant. He told me my MRI didn't show anything, then asked my why they did not do a "Contrast MRI". I was ticked off told him I didn't order it. He did a 30 sec. exam by having my squeeze his hands and push/pull my forearms, never touched my neck. I explained in detail the past five months of problems, PT and doctors I saw. He left the room to talk with the nero surgeon for 3 min's and came back in and said "We looked at the MRI again and don't see anything, so we are sending for neck shots for "Muscle problems". I was really mad and told him how I felt that my spine doctor did a 30 min exam and said I do not have a muscle problem and the tigger shots would not work. I went back to Kaiser and filed a complaint for a half bake exam and did even see my doctor.
    I will see the pain (shot) doctor next Wed and if I don't like what he has to say, Kaiser will send me for another opinion out of town.
    Sorry this is long but I am really hot, I have been in bad pain for five months and feel like I have been just crap on.
  • Wow that bites. I bet you'll be charged for seeing the doctor too which sucks even more. Does your Neck hurt the most? describe your pain to me please. Thanks
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • I just thought of something mister, I had a ct myelogram before my last surgery. It showed scar tissue above and below my fusion along with bone spurs. Maybe that test would show why you hurt so much. Its a suggestion to throw at the surgeon to see if it helps. Good luck... :)
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • I have constant pain in the mid neck area, hurts more turn head in any direction, some pain down right arm. Hurts even more laying down. The pain level has gone up the past five months.
  • Sounds like a nerve issue to me, I had arm pain before both my surgeries. What meds are you taking?
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • Rick, I have read these posts but have seen nothing about getting treatment for your muscles.
    One doctor indicated that this was a likely cause, but it seems you have discounted it.
    Having such a problematic neck will mean that your movement and activities will be severely affected, and no doubt with no regular exercise.
    Your muscles are very likely to be a mess as a result, with knots, spasms, weakness and so on.
    The back muscles will knot and pull down on the neck muscles, giving awful pain at the base of the skull, to either side, along the sides of the neck, arms and shoulders.
    Muscle relaxants will do nothing for these tough knots, I have found.
    The pain persists as the muscles cannot relax.
    I have had enormous relief from these sorts of chronic pains by having a weekly remedial massage.
    So many muscle problems in the back and shoulders but she is working through them.
    My pain level has dropped to just an ache from the arthritis.
    These knots have formed over many years, so will take quiye a while to get rid off, but at least I know what the problem is and how to treat it.
    My previous treatment was just facet joint injections, which did little.
    After 20 years, the awful tight headaches have gone.

    Everyone would benefit from a proper massage, but none more so than those with spinal problems.
    Surgery and drug free. Why wouldn't you try it???
  • I do 20 Min's daily exercise my PT has me do, when the spine doctor did his exam three weeks ago he felt from my head, neck, shoulders and back, he found no knots or muscle tightness. That's when he told me what ever is gong on with my neck i was not the muscle. He did notice that when he pushed down on my head I had sharp pain shooting down my spine, he didn't think trigger point injections would do any good. When I see this other doctor next week I will ask him about massage, I don't discount any kind of possible treatment. What I do not and will not give into is being discounted by these doctors who seem to minimize my pain level and cause.
  • Hi RICK, well that is good to see that you have been thoroughly checked for muscle problems.
    I had been having treatments for 5 years for my neck pain, comprising pain meds and facet injections. There was never a physical exam, just x-rays and my descriptions of the types of pain.
    Enter a new pain Dr., and he examined my neck, finding very tight muscles. Long story short, my remedial massages have cured those awful headaches. Still get the arthritic ache.
    So a physical exam is vital.
    Yours sounds like a definite spinal problem, with a disc or nerve in trouble.
    Pity it wasn't muscular!
  • Are you on any pain medication? If not ask for some and also try non drug treatments to help get rid of some of your pain.

    Good Luck!

  • Hi Cindy,

    Yes I am on Zanalex and Vicodin/lortab but it didn't do much for the pain but I have to work if I tank anything stronger or more of the above I could do my job.

  • I can only imagine how frustrated you maybe at his point and time. I am happy that you went and lodged a complaint as well. You have to advocate for your care. You know your body best more than anyone and you know the pain and how it feels. I had something similar to what you are speaking of. Rotations would almost drop me to the floor with pain. If I stopped the movement and waited for it to pass was ok, but there was still pain. I ended up having to go back in surgery for a hardware issue, per the words of the surgeon had I not had the hardware issues, he doubt he would have believed me. The issues were found and addressed. Unfortunately it went on for to long and cause some permanent damage. I can say I have had two myelograms and both found what they needed to at the time. They were followed with Ct's as well. Not sure if you have mentioned this somewhere but what about a emg study before the first surgery and one now to see if there is a change? Just some thoughts as well, as those were done on myself to. Another tool that was used was nerve blocks, it was used for diagnostic purposes not to stop the pain. I am multilevel as well and there was some confusion as to what level was problematic. Not necessarily that you need surgery but it is hard to treat the pain when they don't know the source, in my opinion. finding the pain generator leads to finding things to alleviate it as well. I hope this new surgeon has some answers for you as well. Sounds like you have done rather well getting yourself back on track and leading as close to normal as possible. Lets hope this is just a minor set back and you can get past this hurdle soon. Good luck and keep us posted on what they find.
  • Well after the big let down last week seeing my (ex) nuro surgeon I saw a pain doctor today and was given "The Rest of the Story". He did a complete exam and asked about my history before my surgery in Dec. and what has been going now. When I told him the surgeon AP said the MRI didn't show anything, he had me look at the MRI report which did show a bulge at C-7 and this is what is causing my neck pain and systems down my right arm and tingling down my neck. He gave me three shots in my neck with a strong steroid, he said if the muscles are causing any of my pain this should help, but so far no change. Next week Thursday he is going to give me epidural shots in my neck to see if that will help with the pain. We will see, if after a couple attempts with these shots nothings improves he will send me out of town to a new surgeon to fix C-7.
    I don't know what will happen next but I am happy to have some positive answers and not talked down like I happen last week.
  • Some progress at last. What are the surgery options for C-7?
  • The neck pain is still the same, the shots yesterday so far have not helped any, still have the tingling down back right side of neck and arm pain.
    The doctor yesterday said if the epidural shots does not give any relief with my problem than they will address the bulge on C-7, how I don't know but I hope it's simply and works.

  • I have good days and bad days. I am hoping to get off the pain meds. I only take them on the days that are really bad. I am 5 weeks out so hopefully I will feel better but I'm told this is a long recovery.

    How are you feeling? Are the shots helping? I do hope so and please rest. It does help! Good luck with everything!!!

  • Hi Cindy,

    The shots did nothing for my pain, on Aug 13th they are going to do a epidural in my neck and see how that works. The pain I have is way worse than before my surgery 12-8-08 C4-7, My job requires I do a lot of computer, office work and walking the plant (2) looking at equipment. I am a maintenance manager for a couple of wineries, we work seven days a week Sept. Oct. I am not looking forward to it this year.
    I hope you start to feel better soon also.
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