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kj10601kkj10601 Posts: 18
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am five months out of C6 and C7 surgery with plates and screws. I am still having pain. My right hand goes numb, the pain is now down my left arm to my index finger and thumb. I have this horrible burning across my shoulders. My surgeon said he doesn't know why and sent me to a pain clinic. All they want to do is the steroid shots. I hate them. I had them before my first lower back surgery in 2005, the side effects were horrible and I do not want to put myself or family through that again. Besides hating what they did to me, they didn't work, I had no pain relief. I am also 17 months out of lower back surgery, cage and screws.(december 2008) I'm still in pain with numbness in my foot, pain down my legs. I went back to work after my back surgery. I went back out of work right before my neck surgery and haven't returned yet.
I was told that because I am not paralyzed, the surgery was a success, even though I'm still in so much pain. That the surgery was not for pain relief.
I have never been in an accident and we don't know why my back problems started. My surgeon said before my back surgery that he only sees this extent of damage in accident victims.
Is this burning normal that I feel? Sitting at my computer is when it gets worse, which isn't good for my job. I have a desk job and am in front of the computer all day.

I'm so frustrated with the pain, the not sleeping, I'm angry all the time. I feel like no one is listening to me. I ask for some sort of pain relief and am treated as if I'm a druggy. I've gone days with nothing, just popping ibprofen to see if maybe that will help. It doesn't touch it but it does give me great heart burn.

I have made an appointment at a Spine Center. That's in a couple weeks. I'm hoping they can offer some sort of relief. And maybe they will listen to me.

If anyone else has been feeling this way can you let me know? At least then I know its normal.


  • was your surgery done posterior - if so then the burning is to be expected,,, yes it's normal & pain can get up to 10+ & stay there... try ice packs,,, you may be resistant to all other means of trmtns, but worth a try...
  • I had anterior cervical disc. with fusion. I don't expect to live pain free, I just expected some sort of relief from this and I haven't gotten any.
    Thank you
  • i truly am very sorry you are hurting so bad. i see no reason that you are being ignored in your pain. i know in the beginning of my episode my good ole general practitioner would help me with meds if all was lost waiting for any future aptments. sounds to me like your surgeon is doing you an injustice and should have referred you to a neurologist to investigate the reasons for your continued problem. the neurologist may also help you with relief in the interim. i see no reason for you to suffer while waiting for the spine center to help. more people on this site may have better suggestions. i hope you can atleast get temp relief till you can see the spine center. john
  • Thank you John. I love my surgeon, I've been with him for over five years. The first time I met him, he wanted to do my surgery and I insisted that I didn't need it. We could try everything else but. He just let me rant and rave and did what I asked of him until I was begging for surgery.
    When I saw him three years later, I just listened to him. I was great for three years. I had a discectomy the first time around, in 2005. But it only lasted that long before I had my second surgery in 2008, with the screws, cage and fusion.
    My last appointment I felt rushed and not listened to. Totally unlike him so I put it off. I know he had an emergency surgery that day and his office was packed. But all he said was, I don't know why and I'm going to send you to the pain clinic.
    I made the appointment for the shots but I don't think I'm keeping it. I had a horrible time with them last time and they didn't work. If they worked, I could probably get past the side effects (not sure my husband and kids could) but they didn't for me. And the more people I talk to, they haven't for them either.
    I'm just so fed up. I hate not being able to play with my grandchildren.
  • i am about to head in on the 26 for a c6-c7 discotomy with the plate and screws from the front on my neck. i refused the cervical injections also, it was sugested by the surgeon but shot down by my neuro/pain management doc. told me the risk of neck injection problems were to great and packed me back to the surgeon. thats when the surgery was scheduled. now its the waiting game. i just felt really bad that you were in soo much discomfort. no one should have to suffer. i hope you have some meds to ease the pain. keep your chin up, better days are comin kiddo. gl john
  • Good luck! You are having the same surgery as I did. Keep me posted. The thing the bothered me the most was my throat, it was sore, and the collar. That drove me nuts :)

    I hope they will call me in something. I always feel like I'm doing something wrong when I ask.

    Thank you for getting back to me, it does truly feel good knowing there are others out there!
  • hey kiddo they are there to serve you, not the other way around. i think everyone feels funny about "bothering" the doctor. if there is one thing i have learned in all this is that the sqeeky wheel gets the grease. call those emergency numbers till they respond and help you. thank you for your wishes and ill be around whining and moanin soon after my surgery...lol. j/k hope ya feel better, john
  • thank you for listening...I did finally get something called in this morning. I took a walk in the cold drizzle...figure some walking would do me good to go get it.
    Today is a better day, of course I say that now because I have some sort of pain relief.
    I will be thinking of you! Whine all you want, you're talking to the queen of it!
    I'm sure I will be back on here to vent some more to people who totally understand.
  • kj maybe I missed it. Are you doing any PT? Even with anterior you may still be getting muscle spasms. Doesn't take much for them to get aggrivated. When you said sittin at the computer brings it on it makes me think its posture and muscles.

    Something to try is realigning yourself when you sit. Start with your feet flat on the floor. Then make sure your knees are at a 90 degree angle. same with your butt . Shoulders should be back against the chair and make sure you have an adjustable arm rest so your arms are at a good angle. Then look straight ahead and see if thats the middle of the screen.

    Everytime I start to feel achy I stop and work through it. Alot of the time it's just a little adjustment that will relieve the pain. Hope this helps.
  • Yes I am going to PT.
    I will try your suggestion on posture. I always think I'm sitting correctly but will watch more carefully now. I have more than enough support for lower back, its all my neck and shoulders. I also have to look down and back up constantly for my job. I have large drawings in front of me that do not fit on a standing clip board. I know that does not help any either. Thank you.
    I was trying to explain the burning I'm feeling, the only way I can is it feels as if I'm being burned from the inside out. I'm not sure that makes any sense to anyone but it is the best way I can explain it.
  • oops meant to put this somewhere else,,, I delete thx
  • kj, I hope its not "frozen shoulder syndrome", but sounds like the beginning of it with the burning
    perhaps the numbness & tingling are compressed nerves due to adhesions/scar tissue... quite common if so....
  • Ms. Julie,
    I have never heard of that but am going to look it up. Thank you!
  • Frozen shoulder is more likely when you have had surgery that affects the shoulder capsule (i.e. rotator cuff repair) or have had your arm immobilized for a long period of time. It's a complex diagnosis that can only be made by a physician.

    kj, I had a 3-level ACDF with hemicorpectomies and instrumentation in November of 2006. My case was severe, as my spinal cord had been compressed, as my neurosurgeon said, to the size of a strand of dental floss. Post-surgery I wore a hard collar day and night for 9 weeks, then a soft collar afterwards. Physical therapy began after the 10th week or so. All told, I was out of work for 3-1/2 months.

    I think the most critical things for me in making the surgical experience a bit easier was that I wore that collar for 9 weeks; it held my cervical spine in the correct position, something my weak muscles were unable to do. The most valuable exercises for me were the chin tuck (hard for many people to do correctly, pain or not), combined chin tuck with neck extension (done while lying flat with my head just off the table), and the same chin tuck/neck extension while lying face down.

    I'm concerned that at only 5 months out you are spending so much time in front of a computer screen -- it's so hard to keep correct posture in that position, and next to impossible with the condition/surgery you have had. Please, please try to limit you time on the computer if at all possible. Raise your monitor higher if you have a desktop computer, or buy a laptop lift and a mouse if it's a laptop. Ask you doctor about wearing a soft collar while you are doing computer work, it could help.

    Sitting in that position also encourages internal rotation of the shoulder joint and slumping of the upper back, which may be part of your pain. I'd make a note when you are seated to stop every 5 minutes or so, roll your shoulders back and *down*, try to squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for 10 seconds. Make sure you stretch your chest, it's used to doing all the work and most likely is very tight. Posture, stretching and strengthening are the most important post-op roles you have. Please don't skip them!

    I'm sending my best wishes for your recovery. Take good care!
  • Thank you for your advice :)
    I'm actually not on the computer that much. I'm not back to work yet. I do hop on to check emails, here, and work emails, but I don't stay on. Minutes after I am on, the burning begins.
    I'm doing my exercises but to be honest can not afford PT two to three times a week. Trying to support my family on only my disability is really hard so 50 to 75 dollars a week is just not going to happen. I'm still going now but will have to tell them soon that it's just not possible anymore. Its either feed my children or PT, I feel feeding my kids is more important.
    The burning is still there, sometimes all day when I do nothing, not even get on here, sometimes it comes and goes. I'm also having horrible pain in my right shoulder down the middle of my back. Past couple days have been rough ones.
    This weekend I'm going to relax, do my home exercises and hope for the best.
    Thanks to all! Hope every one has a great Memorial Day!
  • A significant number of studies show that patients following cervical surgery significantly increase the possibility of frozen shoulder. The reasons it is still not clear, probably is due to spinal nerve root pain or muscle spasm in the shoulder caused by reduced activities, or cervical disorders of the nervous system dysfunction, especially caused by autonomic nerve involvement.
    It is a very painful event & slow to recover from!
  • Thank you Ms.Julie! I do have an appointment in Boston next week and can not wait to go. The pain clinic was no use to me. I will continue with Pt and just hope for the best.
  • glad you got an appt to see whats going on,,,, pls let us know whats going on with your burning, etc.
    have a good wkknd
    you have a positive attitude & don't let that ever slip away
  • Today is the day. I hope this works out for me and I find some answers. Thanks for all your support! I will let you know how it goes.

    Kristen :)
  • Hope its just "normal" stuff. Cant wait to hear back from you about what is going on with you.
    take care, talk to you soon
  • I am 3 months post op w/C4-c7, got the cadiver bones, plate and screws. I hurt everyday. If I sit too long I burn in my shoulders badly. I have bad muscle spasms. I take Neurotin, Flexril, and pain pills and still hurt. I have limited mobility in my neck. The new thing is getting up off the bed, both sides of my neck hurt badly. If there was another way I would not have had the surgery. The spinal cord was almost completely pinched off and the doctors were ready to put me on a ventilator. My surgeon was an idiot, he told me if I could find a job I could go back and just wear my collar. OMG, it has been three months and I have never had a great day.
  • you're in so much pain. I'm still not as good as I thought I would be by now. I'm not sure why. Still not back to work and will be surprised if I still have my job. From the sounds of it, its not looking good.

    The doctor I saw was fantastic. He actually said I made the right decision NOT to have the injections. He doesn't think they will help. He sent me home with some info to research, when I'm done, and if I feel it may help he wants me to make an appointment. But not until I have researched it all fully.

    I'm nervous about it, but only because its still needles in my neck and lower back. I am to look up Diagnostic medial branch block and radiofrequency ablation of medial branches. I have read a few things on it, but was hoping to get some opinions if any one else had this done.
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