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1 year post acdf c 5-7; new mri because of pain-Another surgery??

sinatrafan44ssinatrafan44 Posts: 64
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had ACDF c5-7 June of 2009..For the past several months I have been having constant left shoulder to elbow to wrist aching and throbbing pain..My NS ordered films and cervical MRI for my appointment in Pittsburgh on Wednesday..I had the tests done in my home town and picked up the cds and radiology report..Being of curious mind, I read the report and looked at the cd..It seems that the ACDF c5-7 area that I had my surgery is fine. What is causing me some worry is the level above c4-5.)The radiologist reported "interval progression/development of a 3-mm focal left paracentral disc protrusion at C4-C5. This appears to compress the exiting nerve root at this level. There is also mild to moderate left-sided neural foraminal narrowing at C4-C5 due to the facet hypertrophy." From what I understand is that I have a buldging disc compressing the nerve hence causing Pain in the left shoulder on down..How many have had subsequent surgeries from something like this? i am pretty upset..i was hoping I will still in the healing process and now possiblly looking at surgery again...I know I should wait until Wednesday but this is worrying me..thanks for any insights that you may have...Amy


  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364

    I have had the experience of a "failed" three level ACDF.

    In my case, I had a combination of occurances that included non-union (no fusion), adjacent disk disease (the level above my hardware) herniated), One of the cadaver spacers impacted down into C6, and I developed an osteopythe (bone growth) anteriror (in front of) my plate that caused the entire three level construct to bang into my cord - whenever I swallowed solid food.

    It took me over a year of consults, EMG's, Mri's and complaining to finally find an orthopedic surgeon who
    slapped my MRI up on the screen and said "we will have to redo the entire shabang". At the time it was music to my ears.

    This led to an 8 day stay in the hospital - 3 days in ICU - 4 surgeries over a three day period. This resulted in what you see in my little picture. Four level ACDF - posterior rods two removed vertabrea replace with a cage full of my hip bone ... 12 screws.

    I am now a little over two years post the surgery ... slowly but surely all my problems are returning - finger pain - arm heaviness - numbness - neck and shoulder pain - numb patches in new areas also.

    Only thing worse than a ACDF ... is a failed ACDF ...
    I am grateful that I can still walk ... I am grateful for the support I receive from the members of this forum. i never thought going into the first surgery that this was the beginning of a major life changing event. Today I know better.

    I pray for you and yours that there are some simple straight forward resolutions to your problems.

    We are here for ya ... please stay in touch and keep us posted.

    Warmest regards,

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

  • thanks for your information, sharing, and support..it is terrible that we have to go through such pain, but wherever there is a dark cloud we can all finds things to be thankful..I'll be on the boards to be sure..it has been a welcome support especially when it seems no one in the daily real world "get" it..I find my family getting frustrated and my teens saying, mom stop complaining..and co workers just giving a look..I'm scared because I have no sick days left..lost them during the last surgery..but then again I have insurance, and my job is safe. I just feel like I am missing out on life...but I guess I just have to find life that works with my condition..thanks Dave
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    go get them doctors and have them do what they do! Help - Fix - Releive - Restore!! As for for family and others .... Many find this to be helpful in explaining where we are at:


    Please let us know how your appointment goes and remember - you are the only one - who walks in your shoes - feels your pain - to everyone else its just a story or at best a guess. (we that have been down this road has a little better understanding) but just that ... a little better understnading.

    Happy Fourth! Better 5th 6th 7th 8th etc,

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

  • Saw the NS today and I felt like he was blowing me off big time..spent at most 10 min and he implied he was coming back but never did and I had all these questions..He really brushed off the MRI scans..oh it doesn't look that bad..I told him that I have been in pain for months..so after looking for a few minutes and ga gaing over his ACDF work
    He recommended a selective spinal nerve root block..I am at a complete loss at why this..he didn't explain why this instead of that..I'm not sure if it is supposed to just be a pallative treatment to deal with the pain and do these protrusions/buldges heal or go away on their own..

    I am relieve that I don't have to have surgery,,,yet..but I will have to look up this procedure a bit more to find out..He did caution that I needed to find an experienced doctors as this is a risky procedure.

    It is even worse that I am in so much pain tonight..the 6 hour total drive probably did not help..If anyone has had this please let me know your experience..thanks...Amy
  • Amy,

    Wanted to share my own experience in having ACDF since 1995 (when I was 45 yrs old) C-3/4, 4/5, 5/6 as well being involved in two MVA collisions in the past 5 years, 2005 and 2007. With severe neuro-muscular pain and inflammation, neck pain, headaches, whole upper torso, shoulders, arms, scapula, hands and critical diagnostic studies. My c-spine is more complex with greater degenerative and deformed issues, but I thought my experience may shed some light on your situation with the chronic neuro-muscular pain / radiculopathy ? from your c-spine.

    The MVA collision set me up for some pretty severe neuro-muscular pain along with cervical spine pain and migraine headaches. It was with the encouragement and full diagnostic studies MRI, CT, myelogram, positional fluoroscopic scans to assess if surgery was necessary for the last 2 C-7/8 levels advancing to severe degeneration. I have been under the care of both a neurosurgeon & orthosurgeon monitoring complex degeneration C-7/8 and upper severely deformed maladaptive C-1/2. C-7/8 is severe DDD and it has been necessary to take a very conservative approach to surgery going into T-1/2 levels and deformed C-1/2 level further vulnerable.

    Re: Non-Interventional Treatment - Post MVA

    After the MVA broadside collision, it was miraculous I was not severely spinal injury - cord damaged! (thank God) BUT I had a total of 14 months doing all I could to not succumb to having those highly complex not one but two, anterior and posterior bridged c-spine into thoracic spine surgeries, if at all possible, by doing every non-interventional treatment for the neuro-muscular inflammation and chronic pain symptoms I was having.

    I can tell you I did everything to do so, knowing the high complex surgery ahead of me and my complex issue of severe scoliosis and malformed C-1/2 critically vulnerable.

    The full workup by an excellent neurosurgeon heavy into exhaustive diagnostic studies confirmed I could the interventional surgery IF I could heal the neuro-muscular symptoms and the radiculopathy/neuropathic symptoms became tolerable.

    I had 10 months of having electro-stimulation for first 6 months of neuro-muscular pain, shoulders, arms; therapeautic massage; anti-inflammatory meds meloxicam, hydrocodone and weaning to ibuprofen. Also warm showers, and aqua-therapy. The episodes were constant the first 4 months; then would shift and change from left arm to right arm, right shoulder to left shoulder, with different intensity.

    I was able to achieve in those 14 months post MVA getting relief and seeing it was changing and improving and I was able to avoid having those highly complex anterior/posterior surgeries.

    My fate is different now the past 6 months, with progressive large spurring at C-7/8 causing bi-lateral (right and left) nerve compression that also has been alternating and thus far not constant. My surgeons' assessment to do surgery only when neuropathy is more constant and the spinal cord is being compromised.

    My spine has some highly complex parameters and deformity issues different from yours, however, I can tell you this, since my ACDF at 45 years of age (after 15 years of only doing surgery when neuropathy/radiculopathy and compromise to the spinal cord was the issue), I have found how to treat those phases of neuro-muscular pain and inflammation that can be treated and does improve (even when I thought it wouldn't or couldn't from a serious MVA and my complex C-Spine issues).

    I also was glad that the conservative surgeons were wise to not jump in and do surgery any sooner than it being absolutely necessary and while doing thorough diagnostic scans/studies assessment, could safely encourage me to any and all non-interventional treatment
    to forego surgery if I could.

    The formula continues to be only do surgery if there is neuropathic compromise to nerves and/or spinal cord and not because of spinal or neuro-muscular pain.

    Hope this may shed some light on the pathway of dealing with trauma, post-mva, post-surgery recovery.

    Also hope that you can have thorough diagnostic studies done for what can be done by neuro/ortho surgeons who are committed to a conservative approach regarding spinal interventional surgeries.

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