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c5-c6 ACDF/Anxiety/Depression

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am a 33 y.o. male who happens to be an RN. I had ACDF c5-c6 on 9/14/09. In July I started having numbness/tingling to my right arm associated with intrascapular pain as well as left shoulder pain. Prior to surgery I was very physically active and would compete in jiu-jitsu. To make a long story short my symptoms became so severe that on 8/17/09 I collapsed at home after a minor routine physical workout. When I came to, I literally had the feeling of what we call in the medical field "impending doom" or feeling like your going to die. On my second ER visit the MRI showed severe spinal stenosis. Although my surgery went very well with no complications, I have not been myself. Positives-no more numbness/tingling, pain decreased. Negatives-The worst is the anxiety/depression(never suffered from it before).I've tried numerous medications from otc to prescription to help with both the emotional and physical pain. So far the only thing working for me is Zoloft for depression and Xanax for anxiety and even more as a muscle relaxant. What makes this hard is that I have no recollection of any known tramatic event that may have caused this. Basically, surgery and recovery went well, it was the actual spinal stenosis that threw my central nervous system out of whack!


  • many members here have had depression that was caused by the anesthesia they give you during surgery. i too have had that depression but it subsided about 3 months after the procedure.
  • I am also a nurse who just had ACDF c6/c7. Funny how we can treat/explain to patients but have a hard time with ourselves. I too am experiencing the depression. I was already on Effexor XR which took the depression away, but now since my surgery its back. I plan on talking with my doc about it when I go for my postop checkup. I take Valium for spasms which totally zonks me out, but it does help me sleep at night also. Im not as lucky as you though...I have numbness in my right fingers and am very scared it will be permanent...I need my feeling especially in the fingertips for when I do IV's and bloodwork. I am still having pain also, alot of it. I hope you feel better soon. I think some of our depression is rooted in the back of our minds that our body has been changed forever and fear of any future complications. But you have had good positive results so hopefully soon you will begin to feel better emotionally as well.
  • I am also an RN and had a one level fusion 4 weeks ago. I am also very active, and this is the first surgery for me, ever. I am 44 and in good health, but I too am dealing with depression for the first time in my life. I am feeling very inadequate in all areas of my life right now... maybe it's just post surgery stuff, but I am really fearing never being physically 100% again. Depression seems common among spinal surgery patients, I guess for a number of reasons. I don't take meds of any kind, and have only had one pain pill since my surgery, so I certainly can't say meds are causing my depression. Oh well... it's comforting to know we're not alone....

  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You'll find a lot of info here and the members on the forum are knowledgeable, helpful and supportive. I'm glad you found us.

    I understand about wondering where this all came from. I had a sudden onset also with surgery soon thereafter and I couldn't pinpoint where the heck it came from. After talking with my PCP, surgeon and PT, we figured it had to have started almost 20 years ago when I was in a terrible car accident. I was going up the side of a mountain in an old car with a metal dashboard and I was in the passenger seat with no seatbelt on when we were hit head on by a drunk driver. I was thrown forward and my head hit the windshield and my chin hit the metal dashboard.

    I probably had something bad happen with my neck and over the years it was a domino effect until May 2009 when it all came to a head (pardon the pun). So, you might find an answer to your "why" and/or "when" question if you look into your past and what might have happened to start your troubles.

    Take care.
  • I had c5&6 fused w/hardware March of 09, facet joint injections, epidurals, nerves deadened,yada yada yada. I have been on antidepressants before, it has been a number of years ago, but ever since my surgery my depression/anxiety spiked to a point where i was crying/depressed almost every day. Needless to say I am back on Prozac, among still being on muscle relaxers and pain meds. I think the thing I can not seem to get out of my head is the thought that this is it, I am not even 30 yet (well I almost am :), will be in two months)and have pain every day of my life. I wake up in the morning and do not want to take pain meds but have to to function and make it through the day. Not to mention the stress I have about wondering how long my husband can handle seeing me in pain, not wanting to do all of the stuff we used to, I know it stresses him out too. I am thankful he is very understanding and loves me very much but sometimes I feel guilty that he has to limit some of what he likes doing because I do not have it in me to do anything. By the time I get off work I do not want to do anything. I have always been fairly active; coached my sons soccer team, exercise, etc. I am very obsessed with my weight, always have been, and have gained ten or more pounds, which just adds more stress. I need a light at the end of the tunnel!

    Well i am off to type up a contract for my hubby and then try to get some sleep. One piece of advise is to try and see the positive, not that it sounds as if I do from what I just vented :), but I am grateful to have a loving husband and two great kids and just hope one day to be pain free. I have to think I will be pain free one day to keep me sane!!!! Good luck to all.
  • Has anyone had any luck w Lyrica? I have chronic pain in my neck and between my shoulder blades. Herniated C5-6, C6-7 w degenerative disc disease and bone spurs... Also suffering fr depression and anxiety.

    I'm only 29 and have been out of work for almost 2 yrs!!
  • I have the same problem. I know how terrible it is. Have you considered surgery?

    I think you will get better response if you start a new thread and introduce yourself, all symptoms and test & diagnosis.


  • Hi

    The pain has been worse during the past few months. I feel that the percocet isn't working as well anymore...or the lyrica!

    Any suggestions on pain meds???


    I'm a 29yo female w chronic neck and upper back pain. I was diagnosed w fibromyalgia and suffer fr migraines, insomnia and depression.

    I see a neurologist, orthopedic surgeon, and have seen a neurosurgeon twice. I'm scared to have the surgery! The neurosurgeon said he wouldn't recommend surgery for someone my age...

    Findings on 5th cervical MRI 6/08
    - degenerative dics disease at C5-6 w a lt foraminal region mild mass effect on the lt C6 nerve root.
    - disc herniation at C6-7 extending into the rt neural foremen exerting mild mass effect on the rt C7 nerve root.

    PT 2x week on and off since 2005
    daily percocet,lyrica,flexeril(as needed)zoloft,ativan to sleep

  • Hi Sarah,
    I am on Lyrica Three times aday, 150 mg each Time.I thank God for It,With out that I would be in server Pain. Do you have burning stabbing in your neck and shoulders?
  • Hi Julie,
    I went to the Doctors today to get Shots in my lower back.I had Neck fusion surgery second time. C3-C6 with 16 screws and two plates. About a month are so after the surgery. I stared getting sharp shooting BURNING pain, Like someone was dragging a ice pick across my back. So I asked the doctors about it, If anything could help mewith my neck and shoulder because it HURTS SOOOOOOOOO bad. I am sorry to tell you this but he said there is nothing that would help. But if you find anything that helps PLEASE let me know.
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    Welcome to our forums. I am a former paramedic and still work in the Healthcare field.

    It like the question of which cane first .... the pain depression anxiety surgery or ......

    Since my first round or surgery 3 years ago (and in the 5 or so years before) I have been battling with at times crippling anxiety - depression and have found myself in tears more often now then ever before in my life. (I'm 48).

    I currently take 60 mg hydrocodone and 60 mg MS CR and up to 4 mg lorezapam QHS .... other stuff such as Robaxin and Motrin clonadine .... also.

    My question and concern is how much of my "mental health" sysmptoms may be caused my the meds - and how much is caused by, my overly demanding job, recent divorce, financial problems, chronic pain, isolation .....etc

    Our bodies have been through an assult ... a violation of the rudest kind .... surgery to our cervical spines ... That in itself and the chronic pain as certainly reason to be feeling a bit "blue".

    I have been on several anti-depressants and personally have found they just fuzz me out worse that the pain meds that I'm on. So instead of anti depressants - I spend time here, and at Bill W meetings, and in meditation.

    Feel free to IM me .... Join the chat here ... anything and everything to help lift your mood up.
    We are stronger together - than attempting to deal with all this alone.

    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

  • claudia29cclaudia29 Orlando FLPosts: 1
    I'm 31 and had a car accident in April, recently had a new doctor of nine request an MRI of cervical and lumbar. I have a c4-c5 herniation. This affects the deltoid and I would imagine extends to the pectorals pn my left (due to the pinched nerve). My point is I have been dealing with depression and anxiety for the first time in my life, so much so that it was debilitating and oddly enough massage and trigger point therapy have been the only things provide me some relief. It seems to me that perhaps the herniation is lending itself to tighter muscles in the chest area which sends signals to the brain that fight or flight mode is needed. I would highly recommend trigger point or pain neutralization therapy in the head neck and chest to help get you back to "normal" or close to it. 
  • dukedvk1ddukedvk1 North CarolinaPosts: 1
    I am glad to know that I'm not alone! I am a 35 year old male in very good physical shape. About a year ago, I had a "panic attack" for no apparent reason while sitting at the dinner table with friends (leaning on my elbows). I have no history of anxiety and have never experienced anything like this "attack" - I was not hyperventilating or cognitively panicking, but I began sweating (down my left side only), became nauseous and had an "sense of impending doom" that I could not explain. A "hot tingle" (similar to butterflies) emanated from the left base of my neck and ran up my neck, down my left arm, and down the left side of my chest to my stomach.

    Over the next 6 months, I had several more of these "attacks," each getting consecutively worse and more painful. Fearing heart trouble, I first saw a cardiologist - everything checked out. I then saw an orthopedist, gastroenterologist, neurologist, and psychiatrist (to discuss possible panic disorder). The orthopedist and neurologist discovered moderate foraminal stenosis between my c5-6 vertebrae. The psychiatrist prescribed me Zoloft (150 mg daily) and Xanax (as needed). The only thing that has truly helped is avoiding physical activity altogether. Twice now, I have returned to running for exercise, only to have a "panic attack" following my first run. The strange thing is that I am fine when I exercise - the attack doesn't come about until an hour or more later.

    I work on the business side of health care and know just enough about medicine to be dangerous. I understand the radiculopathy that I experience but I don't understand the "panic" symptom. I have asked about potential involvement of an autonomic nerve - e.g., phrenic or vagus nerves - either via my brachial plexis or other path from muscle tension or otherwise, hoping it will explain the tachycardia, upset stomach, and occasional feeling that I can't get a good breath. Unfortunately, no one seems to buy that theory.

    In the meantime, the best treatment I have found for symptoms has been neck stretches targeting my scalenes, levator scapulae, SCM and traps. Sometimes this gives me immediate relief. Othertimes, nothing.
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