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Spinal cervical fusion-recovery

uhmandauuhmanda Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Just had disc fusion at one level C-3 about 8 weeks ago; Having terrible neck pain & stiffness leading to pounding tightening daily headaches, even migraine-like symptoms. I am starting to think the surgery caused moore bad than good. Anybody else having a negative recovery?? Is this normal for the pain to be worse before it gets better. I am glad that the tingling/pain in my arms and hands is gone, but the pain is worse in my neck and my headaches are chronic and display a pain I have never felt before. I sure could use some words of wisdom or courage!!


  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    First suggestion is to get ahold of your surgeon and let him - her know what is going on. Its always great to get relief from the arm symptoms - but your neck has been through a bit of a "surgical trama".

    What was the cause of your original problem? Injury or? Are you on any post op meds? Are you scheduled for (or been doing) any PT?

    Again ... get ahold of your doc and tell him - her whats going on.

    Best wishes,

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

  • My surgery was for pain/stiffness in my neck, tingling/numbness in my arms and hands, and chronic headaches and head pain. For ten years I have struggled with this (I am only 29) and have been through everything. My dad was diagnosed with DDD in his Lumbar when he was 27 (his mom and 2 brothers and 2 uncles have DDD as well and was diagnosed at an early age)so I have a family history of it, and I did construction for 10 years on a 100 lb frame so the docs think that didnt help any. I was sent to a pain specialist and he wanted me to do a Methadone regimen. So, after already turning down doing surgery a year prior, I went and got another MRI and 2nd opinion by another neurosurgeon. I wanted the Prestige artificial disc but my insurance wouldnt cover it and my middle class self couldnt pay for it myself, so I had to opt for a cervical disc fusion, which was what I was trying to avoid for so long, but wanted daily narcotic regimen to be my absolute last regimen. The nuerosurgeon had me taking 5/325 vicodin for the first 2 weeks and 350 Somas post surgery which werent even taking the edge off (I was taking a higher dose of pain meds for my daily pain than what he gave me for post-op pain!!). Then when I went in for a checkup a month after my surgery he blew me off and said I was going to be in pain but refused me anything for pain relief (I FOR SURE wont be going back to him when I have to get C-4 & C-5 done in a couple years!!). So my regular family doctor prescribed me Stadol to take in the morning and then 10/325 vicodin to take in the afternoon and evening. Also taking muscle relaxers. Thank God I have a pyhsician that listens and cares and doesnt treat me like Im out for a high when I want pain relief. He himself couldnt believe I was getting the cold shoulder from the neurosurgeon only a month after the surgery. And although my pain is being somewhat controlled on all the meds, it is HELL the first couple hours of the day and is not ever completely controlled. I feel that my ultimate goal of not having to be on pain meds the rest my life is not going to be possible. I have a 4 year old that is autistic and a two year old that is epileptic and I cannot afford to physically be out of commision. But this pain is so agonizing. I guess I just didnt expect there to be this much pain and for the pain to be on a much higher level of pain than it was prior surgery. I havent been in any PT because the neurosurgeon said it wasnt neccessary but I believe differently. However, I did 4 years of PT for the problems in my neck and head pain and it didnt do a thing! IDK~I go to a new Pain Specialist on May 5th and I will just have to see what he says.
  • Hi,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find others going through the same as yourself. You might also find more information in the neck pain forum to assist you. A lot more members with cervical surgeries reading in that forum. As D said you need to contact your surgeon and make them aware of the head pain and how bad it is. I am no doctor but you could have a spinal leak, as what are seen with some injections. That headache is like non other, so I would want that ruled out. Like I say you need to contact your surgeon and get their attention about how bad the headache is and have them give you the answers as to what is causing it.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health if there is anything I can do don't hesitate to pm me.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    hey amanda,

    First off, welcome to spine-health. I hope you find this site supportive and informative as much as many of us have thru the years.

    At 8 weeks out that still is very early in the recovery process. A lot of that pain you may experience could be healing process but as "D" (metalneck)
    had said it's not a bad idea to contact your surgeon.
    Be patient, try not to over do it, and obey Dr's orders. This is a major surgery that you have been through and the odds are in your favor that it will be a success.
    Take care and keep us posted as to your recovery.
  • As I said in the reply above, my neurosurgeon is not taking my pain or my headaches seriously. I had an Xray done a couple days before the checkup that looked good so he sent me on my way with what seemed like no cares or concerns. BUT an Xray isnt going to show everything. All it is gonna tell him is whether the bones are fusing and if everything is in place, not if something is pinched, inflamed, or oozing!! I would need something like an MRI to detect something like that, correct?? I have been having chronic daily headaches and frequent migraines for 10 years so I am very familiar with garden variety headaches and migrasines. But this pain is different. It is like a PINCHING TIGHTENING PULSATING pain like everything in my head is being tied in a knot. Not like a tension headache band-like feeling and not like a migraine, but very different. It is hard to explain. I did explain it to the neurosurgeon and he didnt seem to have concerns. But I am worried. This headache has been persistent, with no end or easing up, for going on 3 weeks now. :(. Maybe the Pain Specialist can help me me.
  • I would keep calling the surgeons office. He is responsible for your care following surgery. If you get absolutely no where with him I would find a neurologist (not surgeon). They need to rule out complications from the surgery since the pain is new.

    I personally shy away from pain management because in my experience they are long term maintenance. Before going that route I would want to be absolutely certain there is nothing else going on. Healing does take a long time but what you are describing is not normal healing.

    Good Luck and keep posting.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I have to agree with Kris. If you can't get anything from your surgeon and they're blowing you off like you said, I know there are other spinal specialists out there (also neuros, like Kris said) that are willing to see you knowing your situation. With my particular spine surgeon, one of his specialties is fixing botched ACDFs. A strange specialty for sure, but there are spine docs out there that understand what can happen and should be willing to take you in.

    I'm not saying that your surgery was botched, just that there are other spine specialists out there that might be willing to help you.

    I hope you get to feeling better and am sorry you're going through this.

    Take care,

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