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scared 3 level fuse please help me

ellineellin Posts: 188
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
ok i have not been on here in almost a year. I have been going threw hell with pain now taking pain meds everyday. i have a bad lower back and neck but the neck was never a big deal. Now i have had too many injectons nerve burn that did nada. I did it i finally got fed up with the pain and went to see a good nurosurgon, He told me i was a mess. My big problem is my neck of all things its worse than my back which i never thought i would have to have surgery their. Well the pain in my shoulder is terrilbe my trap area is terrible and the neck so i am to have a 3level fixation done. this means i have to have the metal plates in my neck with screws and than the back he wants to do in 3-4months another 3-4 level. I have a post op appt on the 10th of next month and have qwestion written down for the Dr. My issue is that this Dr. owns his own surgical hospital and they say only one or two days in the hospital. OH NO WAY for me. I am verryyyyyy low tolerant of pain all my out pt surgeries i have had 75%of them eneded up in pt. SO, i called the surgical hospital and said what happens if i cant get under pain control well we can keep you for 4 days we have a case mgr here. I wish he did this in a reg. hospital it would make me feel better. I do not know if i am going threw with this Dr. I may have to find another good one. Also my dear friends can you tell me what to expect with this surgery???????? Can you feel the metal in your neck or back. I met a lady shopping and she was wearing a cervical collar which the Dr. gave me a script to get and asked what happend and she told me she had neck surgery and only 3 days ago OMG!!!!!! and this is how i found this Dr. please help me i am a nervous wreck!!!!! i just cant deal with the pain and how it interfears with my life. thx so much


  • oh forgot to say that he told me he drills the disk out and puts something their and it is up to me how fast i heal. he said the bone has to grow threw??
  • oh my goosh one more thing my ins approved this got a letter and it says approved for insertion of spinal fixation device i thought this was for cervical and what is fixation device?? sorry see i told you i am not doing well.
  • Have you had more than an opinion for this particular surgeon? You are facing a lot of surgery, both now and in the future. You want to be sure that you are getting advice that is mainstream and within the norm of most spinal specialists.

    I think most people here would advise you not to rush into this without having at least one other opinion.
  • yes i have been to nuro Dr's and told me that i need surgery for 9 years. But, i was too chicken and wanted to try anything i could before surgery. I thought that the nurosurgons were always to quick to cut so that is why i only went to the nuroolgists. I am tho going to see another nurosurgon i need to find one. let me tell you i never thought i would have surgery i always said i will be in a wheelchair befor anyone cuts on my back let alone my neck. Have you had a fusion done???
  • oh forgot to say too that my Dr, thought I wanted to have both neck and back done at the same time and he told me to find another Dr. and walked out of the room I never said that i asked his ma what happend and she told me that some pts want it all done in one day and this dr will not do that I told her oh no me either i scared with just the one could not imagine 2 in one shot. Anyway all got cleared up.
  • You might want to read through posts on the cervical area of the forum to see what others have experienced. I had a lumbar fusion two years ago. it is a big surgery with a long recovery.

    You might want to see a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon rather than a neurosurgeon just for comparison. The part about the doctor owning his hospital might make me a little suspicious...but, that's just me.

    Spinal fixation is just insurance language for giving blanket approval for a particular type of hardware to be used in your surgery. It might refer to a cage or to a plate and screws, rods and screws, whatever it is your surgeon is planning on doing.
  • Welcome back.

    I've had a 3-level cervical fusion, done Oct. 21, 2008. I know it sounds horrible and very intensive, but it's not as bad as it sounds, at least for me and many others that I know. Your incision will probably vertical instead of horizontal (you can't even see mine any more and I have no creases in my neck), and I can't feel the plate and eight screws.

    I also wore a hard collar which I found very comforting and took it off for showers only for four weeks. Since I felt uncomfortable without my brace and couldn't bend my head back to wash my hair and stuff, I got a shower chair and my hubby washed my hair while I put my hands over my face and then he helped me with everything else. He changed the dressings and the pads in the collar. You should have at least two sets of pads so one is always clean to replace the others since it gets hot and you might sweat under the collar.

    I found that after about two weeks I was feeling pretty good. My range of motion is pretty good for a 3-level fusion and my only problem is movement I still have at C6/7 due to not totally fusing. That's creating a bit of pain at the base of the back of my neck and some spasms sometimes, but it's not bad.

    Try not to freak out. I realize you have a lot going on and I agree that another opinion from a fellowship-trained spine surgeon, ortho or neuro, might be in order. But if you end up with a 3-lvl cervical fusion with plate and screws, I'm here to help you get through the nervousness. It really won't be a bad as you're probably imagining.

    Take care, keep us posted and don't hesitate to PM me if you have questions or want to vent.
  • HI Ellin,

    I second getting the second opinion. They may both agree what needs to be done and then maybe not but at least you will be more informed and have a better understanding. I have had multiple surgeries on my neck and am three level fusion as well, using my own bone. All of my surgeries were done in out patient facilities places. I basically stayed the night and left by 6-7 am on one occasion I stayed a bit later. My experience was better than any hospital. I had a private duty nurse and was catered to. I prefer being at home in my own bed and surroundings. If the surgeon is only a spine surgeon chances are they are set up the very best for spine surgery. If it is the surgeons facility they know exactly what he/she wants for you following surgery. All in all I can say I had a very positive experience by using a my surgeons private center. With that being said I would still get the second opinion. Keep us posted on what you decide.
  • Thank you so much for the comforting words. I will go to another Dr. for another opnion. this Dr. only does backs and necks, I do really feel like he knows his stuff. I am just worried about my pain issues after, From what I have read on this site it seems like you wake up with so much less pain just a sore throat. I was up and down all night my neck hurts so darn bad!! I kept putting the heating rice bags in the miro. it is soothing to me. I cant stand this pain i cry and cry and my poor hubbie i do not know how he has put up with me and my pain for all this time. I am is shock tho about this. I always thought maybe someday i will agree to back surgery never my neck. The pain in the neck was ok to deal with. I think know could it be all the injections and nerve burns to that area??? I found out threw this Dr. that the RF is differnt than a rhizotemey cant spell it sorry. What is werid or? is this Dr. did not look at the report from the neck or back he looked only at the MRI fram by frame. He told me that the back he will try a rhizitomey but needs a current MRI that was the firs vist. Than after the MRI he told me he feels that the rhizotomey will not work. I would like to try anything first before surgery. My quality of life stinks and i hate and i do not like the word hate waking up with this pain and going to bed with this pain and having to take all this pain Meds. Well, thanks again for your help and words for me to understand this. Hope you all are feeling good have a beautiful Day.
  • Hello Ellin,

    It sounds like you are in so much pain! I am sorry for that. I just recently had a 2 level fusion on C5-7, I probably could of had 3 levels done as my C4-5 is also buldging but my NS did not want to do 3 and thought that I would not have to worry about that level for 10-15 yrs. I am only 29 but have had neck pains since I was a teenager. I have a pretty high pain tolerance so I actually was only taking tylenol and Advil for years for the pain. My situation worsened very quickly the last year and I have been having loss of feeling in my hands and weakness in my arms with a shocking feeling every once in a while that radiated down my arms. I was also starting to show signs in my legs. When I saw my NS, who is known as a very conservative NS, he instantly said I had no choice but to have surgery as my MRI showed mild Myelomalacia which is bruising/softening of my spinal cord due to compression of the Spinal Cord itself for years. So my pain was not just in the neck, I felt it in my shoulders/arms/fingers and starting to effect my legs.

    If you are scared of the pain I would say my first week I was uncomfortable after surgery but not really "in pain", especially compared to the pain I was in before the surgery. My surgery took 4 hours and I was in the ICU for about 25 hrs and then released and once i was home I was nauseous the first night, could not eat much the first week and then at 2 weeks in I actually went to a baseball game (in my lovely hard PMT collar). Probably not the best idea but I was okay and was off of all pain meds at that point and only taking Tylenol.

    Neck surgery is scary, but if you are confident in your surgeon and you are in a lot of pain now you will make it through it. This website is great to get information on what to expect as I have logged in every day since finding out I had to have surgery and then during my recovery. Hang in there and ask as many questions as you can. If you are in pain after the surgery do not hesitate to tell your doctor anytime and he/she can get your meds right.

    Good luck and defiantly keep us posted.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    A cervical ACDF is a relatively easy surgery. I had mine done at a private surgical hospital owned by a bunch of physicians (my doctor and a bunch of other doctors ranging from gynecological surgeons to orthopedic spine surgeons). They can keep the patient longer than just a day or two BUT the issue is often insurance. My insurance authorized 2 nights for my cervical ACDF and truthfully that was enough. If my doctor had felt a medical necessity to keep me longer he would have had to provide that explanation to the insurance company for their review. If the cervical surgery is an ACDF and thus done from the front there is minimal surgical pain. They are not cutting through muscles or ligaments, so thus the post-op pain at the site is minimal. Many people who have an ACDF wake up with significant relief from the pre-surgical pain that whatever post-op pain they do experience is minimal.

    I also recently had a posterior and lateral lumbar fusion. The side (lateral) incision was used to access the disc area to place a "spacer" where the disc used to be (disc removed and then this implant was placed in that space instead to maintain normal disc height). The posterior incision was a little more painful that when I had anterior neck surgery, but by day 3-4 the pain was under very good control.

    Are you currently treating with a Pain Management physician? I had been for about 2 years before my recent surgery. So the surgeon prescribed about 2 weeks worth of post-op medications and then I went to my Pain Management doctor for further pain management.

    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • ok ACDF I dont even know what that is I am lost. All i know is the Dr. told me he was drilling out the disc and putting in a spacer and that plates and screws. Is this right??? Is this a differnt type of surgery? More painful? my preopt appt went out the window it was for the 10th today i told my boss that i needed that day off and i was told no too many people out that day so i need to call them and get another appt. I also have a question for you all what is the comments about bone growth and using your own bone this i am lost more thx to all
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