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Cervical Posterior Foraminotomy

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi...I am new here and I have Cervical Spondylosis with herniations at every level of my neck as well as a lot of bone spurs........I was hospitalized for 4 days about 3 months ago with severe muscle spasms at the base of my neck.......I have had a nerve block......and a series of 3 epidural injections.......I saw the surgeon yesterday who basically told me surgery is not an option as I would be worse off than before the surgery with so much wrong with me.....however there is one disc at c4-5 that has a pretty large protrusion pressing on my spinal cord and he suggested and scheduled a Posterior Foraminotomy at that level for 12/23/09......Merry Christmas..........I am a hair designer with my own salon and very busy.......I am taking 2 1/2 weeks off........my questions are for anyone who has had this procedure........I have read about muscle spasms being a problem and am TERRIFIED about having to be hospitalized again for this.......they had me on total morphine and I was still in pain...........I am so tired of this pain.........all I do is work then come home and lay with the heating pad..........please give me some positive advice here........I feel like I have been through so much......other surgeries as well and I am driven by my clients and not doing hair is not an option for me.........Thank you for your replies in advance :)



  • I have had posterior cervical work (ganglionectomy and laminotomies)at C1-C2 level. I had two similar surgeries only 8 days apart and I felt like crud for weeks afterward. The posterior approach seems to be harder on the neck and it takes some TLC and healing time to get things feeling better.

    Is there someone who can handle your clients for you for a few extra weeks and take the pressure off of you feeling like you have to rush right back to work?

    Welcome to Spine Health Mary, I hope we can provide you with some insight, friendships and a way to gain some peace of mind.

  • I will have an assistant to shampoo for me..........I think I will be ok just standing.........not sure but I have so many clients that get color done......which isn't as bad as a million haircuts in a row.....I would get a break inbetween..........yes I have been reading about the posterior approach.....I am terrified it is going to cause another spasm.......I was in the hospital for 4 days when I had a photo shoot and I did it on my day off and I decided to get a massage and went to someone I had never been to before and it caused this severe muscle spasm......needless to say I haven't gotten another massage since then.......so funny because I never even thought I had a problem with my neck......it was always in my shoulders and arm until they did the nerve block then the pain was centralized in my neck.....It seems I am in more pain when I am off work than when I am at work and I don't know why......I had the day off yesterday and was miserable......but I felt better when I put a Flector patch on my neck.....I always forget I have these patches.......the pain meds don't really help......I am on Dilaudid and Opana and Baclofen........and terrified of withdrawls from that.......I tried to wean myself off the Dilaudid and had the most awful flu like symptoms.........but I am going to do it with the doctor next time it seems I am to be on this for a while more......I don't like taking all these drugs.....Thank you for your reply :) How long does it take to recover from this? Was it worth it? He said I am in such bad shape no one will do surgery on my neck.....
  • It was about 3 weeks before I felt like being an active participant in anything other than staying inside and resting my head against something to take the load off of my neck.

    Part of the difficulty in my recovery was that I had also gone through rapid opioid detox in between the surgeries. So I was going through some nasty withdrawl in conjunction with the muscle issues brought on by the posterior surgery.

    I find that I generally feel better when I keep myself busy, simply because I am distracted and not focusing on how miserable I am.

    Definitely work with your doc when you come off the drugs. Be very careful if and when you come off the Baclofen, because that can cause some serious hallucinations if withdrawn too fast.

    Hope this helps.

  • Thanks C......Part of me wonders if I should even consider this procedure considering my doctor basically told me that if they did surgey they would have to fuse all 4 cervical discs together and I would probably be worse off than I am now.......problems swallowing etc........there is one in particular which is pressing into my spinal cord at level c4-5 and that is where he is going to drill........I also think wow......then I am going to have a big hole in my bone....what is that going to do down the road....especially since it seems my discs decided to grow spurs all over the place.........I really don't know what to do.......I am going to write to my pain doctor and see what his views are.......I was really hoping to have the non-invasive disc operation where they use a needle to get the disc off the spinal cord but he couldn't get the needle through the bone...........It just seems like one thing after another with me........I have lived in pain almost my whole life.........I just don't know what to do.......I already feel muscle spasms coming on all the time but as you say I lay my big head down to get the weight off my neck.........I must have a heavy brain!!! I am so afraid.......

  • Hello Mary,

    I had cervical posterior foraminotomy last April at C6-7 for C7 nerve root impingement. Bone was removed from the vertebra to make room for the nerve which was being pinched. I had immediate relief from the nerve pain which had been unrelenting. My surgeon used a small instrument which he inserted in the muscle and then dialed it open to give him access to the trouble area. Post-op pain lasted about 4 months, with the worst being severe burning muscle spasms on the opposite side from the surgery, strangely. But I've been told that the neck is a unit and cannot simply be separated into left and right. The worst spasms were caused by bending my head slightly forward to chop vegetables or wash dishes, etc. If your work in the salon involves that kind of head position you would need to straighten your neck very frequently to avoid the muscle spasms.

    Your neck problems are much worse than mine were and I'm sorry to hear you're faced with this kind of problem. As for the surgery you're considering, I can't envision how a foraminotomy would relieve pressure on the spinal cord since the procedure implies the "foramen" (bony opening between the vertebrae where nerve root exits the spine) being worked on, but I'm not a doctor and no doubt your surgeon has an idea of how he can help you with this procedure.

    Whatever you decide to do, let us know. We'll be here to give you support and gentle long-distance hugs! image

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • Thanks for the hugs Inchworm.......I am not in a happy place right now........this is the procedure they are going to do:

    It mentions snipping any disc that is pressing on the spinal cord........

    Yes I do look down a lot but lately I have been sitting on a chair when I cut the bottom of long hair or on someone where I need to be at eye level.....

    I have had my work published in an International hair magazine as well as have done my own photo shoots........My aunt keeps telling me by email how I will have to give up doing hair and I just can't imagine that........I have such a desire and passion for this.........so I am trying everything I can to insure that I can continue doing hair........

  • I viewed that video before my foraminotomy, also. My impression is that it is relatively safe compared to other types of spinal surgery. What I mean by safe is, it doesn't alter the relationship of the vertebrae or completely remove a disc or insert metal or rely on fusion of bone, etc, which can apparently sometimes cause other types of problems, from what I read on this board.. I wouldn't hesitate to have the procedure done again if it was called for.

    Keep your chin up (lol)!

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • Thanks........yes I am a generally happy person so much so it's contagious! It doesn't take me long to feel happy........so I agree I think it's at least worth a shot considering I know where the main pain is coming from..........I did go out today and purchase some really cute pajamas.......so at least I will look cute recovering :)

    I am still waiting to hear from my pain doctor....I wrote him a note with questions.........in the meantime I am extremely busy which seems to keep my mind off things.......and I have my new assistant starting tomorrow.......I will start to train her.....and she's hysterically funny like me :)
  • Mary,

    Your happy attitude will make all the difference. I just watched the video you posted. I would think that this is some what minimally invasive (as it can be depending on your surgeon and your problems) and you will be back to work before you know it. 2 1/2 weeks maybe pushing it- but for me personally working keeps my mind busy and when it is busy I am not thinking about the pain and discomfort so much.

    My new surgery date is Jan 7th. I would much rather have my fusion on Dec 23rd.... I have a very busy January starting mid month.

  • Thanks Julie..........
    Yes it seems minimal......so I am pleased with this....i only hope it gets the severe pain I am experiencing.......last night pain all the way to my brain......
    I hope your surgery goes smoothly and recovery is quick for you too :)

  • MRI clearly showed C6-7 nerve impendment was main cause for pain, numbness & weakness in arm. However, surgeon said MRI's are not exactly clear & he wanted to look at C4-5 & C5-6 while in there & clean up any if necessary so I wouldn't have to go back for an addt'l area at a later date. I had a 4" incision, like the video shows. Hopefully, your surgeon is targeting only 1 area, C4-5, & should be able to do it like "inchworm's" in here was done - Endoscopically. I hope so, for your own sake. Still alot of muscle spasms, but not near as much as the long incision. It's rough either way - I won't lie to you. It's unlike any surgery I have ever had - the recovery part. Well worth it though!
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