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one year post cervical fusion question

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
HI everyone,
This is my first time posting on here. I had a cervical fusion C5-C6 on Feb 25, 2008, I had a slow recovery due to frozen shoulders, then found out I had a rotator cuff tear , which was repaired on Oct 15, 2008, I am currently still out on disability as I have not regained good use of my arm yet. I still have neck pain even after the fusion and severe headache for which I have to lay with a heating pad wrapped around my head. I am now starting to experience pain in my lower back (thought it was because I was over compensating for the neck and arm) but the pain is now going down my legs. My question is has anyone had this after cervical fusion and could this pain be coming from compression in my neck again - there was another area that was slightly compressing the spinal cord when the surgeon decided to do C5-C6. I am 48 and this is ridiculous as I can not even load my dishwasher without my back hurting so bad that I have to go lay down sometime using heat and my tens unit. Also can not sit at my computer more then 5-10 minutes without my back or the headache starting This was all due to a car accident on Sept 3 07. Any help would be greatly appreciated.



  • I too have leg pain after cervical fusion. every spine is different so you really have to look at your individual case.
    i guess the main question is where is the pressure coming from that's causing your new pain. you mentioned an area prior to surgery that had some issues. where was that problem area.
    you mention headachs....are they a new symptom or did you have them before?
    based on what your new symptoms areand based on further examination by your spinal surgeon a determination has to be made on your current situation.
    in the mean time i know how difficult it is for you as i too have shoulder, cervical and lumbar problems. continue with your shoulder rehab, watch your posture, take frequent rests and hope that this isnt anything serious.......best to you....pete

  • here is what the report from the Neurologist after an MRI

    "HPI - The patient brings her cervical MRI for review. The MRI was abnormal with degenerative disc disease and small disc herniation from C3-7 and significant stenosis and cord compression without spinal edema. The degeneration and stenosis was maximal at C3-4 and C6-7. With cervical spine flexion, the degree of spinal cord compression was increased, maximal at C6-7. The degree of cervical degeneration is significantaly greater than her prior report of 2005.
    On VAS; cervical paion is 5/10 the increases with right lateral and flexion-extension. There remains no *** radicular pain.

    P/E - There was no significant change in her neurological exam and no new focal findings.

    1. Traumatic cervical pain with decreased ROM.
    2. Facial, bilateral arm and leg, and anterior body paresthesias. The cervical MRI reveals significant degeneration and stenosis at C3-4 and C6-7 with mild cord compression.
    3. Increased parethesias with cervical extension: myelopathy was increased with cervical spine flexion."

    This is from the neurologist, not the radiologist on 11/1/07

    the symptoms now post op from pre op are: still neck pain and stiffness, still feel the parethesias though not nearly as much as pre op, now the lower back pain and pain starting to go down legs , both go down to the knees but the right is going down the front of the right leg occasionally now. I still have the excruciating headaches, and I believe them to be worse then before the surgery

    This was all from being rear-ended at a red light and I am at my wits end I just want it all over so I can get back to work (have to find a new job because I lost mine due to time lost from the surgeries) and just have my life back.
  • i assume those reports were from before the surgery. i see what you mean by another problem area..c3 & c4 had significant problems of stenosis and degeneration. the fact that you feel worse means you now need to
    get the opinion of a spinal surgeon, be he orthopedic or neuro surgeon. if you dont feel comfortable with first surgeon the find a new one...in fact why not start with new one. i would not seek opinion from neurologist.i hope there is an easy solution but until it is resolved it appears pain will continue.
    i am so sorry. please feel free to check back here at sh regarding surgeons recommendations......pete

    by the way you may want to try sleeping with just something like a rolled up towel under your neck. that might help reduce pressure. has your dr recommended physical therapy. it might be worth a try. if you sleep on your back and shoulder hurts try putting the bad arm on top of a pillow at your side.
  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. There is a lot of information to utilize here. Besides the forums there is doctor written and per reviewed articles. This can give you tons of information regarding your condition.

    I see somethings here that just don't add up. Maybe I am reading this wrong. But I would definitely go see another surgeon. First your films prior to surgery are no longer valid. While they can serve as a baseline as to the other levels that may or may not have been touched during surgery they are obsolete looking at the level you had surgery on. Second they are saying you have myelopathy. Those symptoms don't go away with surgery it is to stop the progression of the disease. Myelopathy will get your legs. Next I am wondering why any surgeon left a area alone that was touching the spinal cord as it shows with the c3-c4 level? What I don't understand is what was touching the spinal cord. It says small disc herination is seen at levels c3-c7 so there is something not right with those. Last I don't understand how a look at a mri can even talk about a flexion? I have never seen a Mri that was done in any other position than laying straight with you neck in a fixed position. What does the fusion itself look like? The fusion itself should have been followed with x-rays and a Ct scan should confirm the fusion. I see this nuerologist was seen before you had your fusion surgery. Who is treating you condition now. I think you need a new set of films as well either a MRI or a CT or myelogram but a surgeon should decide on what type of films would be best in your situation. Furthermore a good nuerological exam is needed to tell if your symptoms in your lower back or coming from your neck and or you have another medical illness that is presenting the pain in you lower back.

    Anyway just wanted to stop by and welcome you to spine-health and let us know how you get along.
  • Pete to answer your question yes those films are before the fusion, I think I had 4 sets of x-rays done to check the fusion (mostly because I kept complaining about a clicking when I swallowed, the neurosurgeon basically swore that my problems were coming form the discs that he fused. I was going to PT for about 11 months - haven't been April 09 though, trying to get my lawyer to send me to another Ortho and back to my PT therapist. I have tried the rolled towel and that gives me one of those dreaded headaches

    Tamtam exactly what is Myelopathy? My lower back actually started from my shoulder blade area after the rotator cuff repair and then worked it's way down the entire left side to my lower back (on the left side) I sort of thought it was the way I was carrying myself (protecting the neck and shoulder) but now that the pain is going down my legs I'm getting worried.

    I'm afraid the lawyer or doctor will say that this in not from the car accident in Sept of 07 but I didnt have any problems in my back before the accident.

    Sorry to babble, and thanks for the welcome

  • Here is just one link to understanding myelopathy. You can use the search feature at the top of the page to discover other articles as well. There are to many to list here. As far as you lower back, you need to contact a doctor and let them examine you. If they started following you shoulder surgery and were not present within a reasonable amount of time proceeding your accident, i bet you will have a hard time make a connection to the two. If you have a lawyer involved why is that they are letting a cord impingement go on taken care of? Furthermore your attorney should be able to provide a new set of films of your neck rather they pay up front and bill back later to the insurance in the suit. If the insurance carrier is refusing you medical treatment, they just need to provide a letter stating this and you will have no problem getting it taken care of.

    If the neurosurgeon believes that you issues are coming from the fused areas there are some test he can perform to see if this is so. For example they could provide nerve blocks and check adjacent disc such as the one they believe to be pinching your cord or a discogram and even a emg study. If there is a emg study prior to your first surgery, they will have a base line. Should any new levels be the cause of you current situation they will see it. If there is nerve damage from prior to surgery it will point back to the fused level as well.

    Since you have a attorney involved and they are going to get a cut of your money, I think you need to force them into helping you get the right medical treatment. I lumbar mri would provide insight if it is coming off your lumbar, but like i say I doubt that you could connect the two of them at this point in time unless a specific event in a therapy session happened and you reported it ant the time. Good luck. keep us posted.
  • To answer the question about flexion this was an MRI that I sat up for and once the normal one was done they bent my head forward took some films and then backward and did the same.

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