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Another disc gone bad

mcdermojummcdermoju Posts: 24
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I had an ACDF C4 to C6 Aug 2009. I've been having pins/needle, numbness, and stabbing in my arms, shoulders and upper back for about the last 5 months - some days better and some days horrible. Thought it was just part of what life was going to be like. It got so bad last week I ended up in the ER. I saw my spine surgeon yesterday and the x-ray shows the disc btwn C6 and C7 has basically bit the dust. Compared to the x-rays, etc from last fall - there is a big difference. I'm going for an MRI Tues the 27th so we can get a better picture of what's going on and I'm trying an epidural steroid injection on the 29th (although neither the doctor nor I are optimistic it's going to help).

Has anyone had a fusion and then had to have another fusion because of issues above or below the original fusion? If so, what was done, did they have to redo any of the original fusion, was recovery any different?

Sorry for the long post. I'm nervous about the potential of yet another surgery.


Feb 2007 - L3 through S1 fusion
Aug 2009 - C4 through C6 fusion


  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    My spine issues started with c3-4. A year later we threw c5-6 in. Had surgery to correct that. It is known fact that a fusion will cause strain to the disc above and below a fusion. Hopefully the ESI will help and you will be able to avoid another surgery. Good luck
  • I see you've had two spinal fusions, wow. Don't be nervous about posting you have every right to be a little freaked out. I haven't been fused yet but I just wanted to give you my support. From what my surgeon has told me unfortunately when you fuse the stress on the surrounding discs can cause things to happen. I have multiple lumbar discs that are bad so he is trying to hold off fusing if possible for that very reason. But sometimes it just can't be avoided. I'll be crossing my fingers that maybe the steroid injection will help. Let us know how your MRI turns out. Hang in there!!
  • Unfortunately this "domino effect" with the discs is not uncommon, and is often cited as one of the risks of having a fusion.

    The discs are the "cushions" between the bony vertebrae that make it possible for the spine to move and bend. When this action is interrupted through surgery, the patient ends up with a segment or more that cannot move, so the adjoining segments take on that work plus that of the fused segment.

    Plus people rarely just have one disc that is damaged. If one disc is degenerating, chances are others are degenerating to some extent as well. So it's not like suddenly you have surgery and then the damage begins. Usually there is some problem that had already begun.

    Sometimes, as was my case, multiple levels were questionable to begin with, but the surgeon elects to just operate on one level, hoping that will solve the problem. But the patient ends up with little resolution of symptoms, so another surgery, down the road is inevitable.

    I'm sorry but I do not know how cervical fusions are done when they have to add on. In the case with my lumbar surgery, the plan was to leave in the screws where I was already fused, but remove the rods, install more screws at the adjacent levels and then connect the whole thing with longer rods. But as it turned out, the screws were not "compatible" and the doctor ended up having to take out the old screws and put in new ones.

    For me, recovery was easier the second time, but I'm not sure why as I ended up having a "bigger" surgery.

    Hopefully additional surgery won't be necessary for you!
  • I'm going through a similar incident. Will see the NS in two weeks to find out what is causing the return of neck pain, shoulder pain and throbbing hand. I thought the ACDF c5-c6 would last forever, but here i am back again 5 years later. I wouldn't be back at all but I can't live on relafin, scalaxin and oxycotin. The other side effect of being pain is that my blood pressure is climbing...
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