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Cervical spiney friends with hardware ...? Please

Aviatrix36440Aviatrix36440 Posts: 5,904
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Sadly I think I know the answer, but wanted to ask those of you with hardware around the C5-7 levels, okay? Here is my latest, and want to see if anyone else has this. I have been having voice problems since around month 5 post op - I am a year now. I went to my ENT, and after a full exam and testing (scope), my ENT determined that my hardware was moving.

After he stated that, I showed him the x-ray which shows a cracked C6 vertebra that matches the bottom screw threads. At that time, most of my issues was crappy to no voice (whisper like), but in the last few months, I get a lot of "choke outs" when I drink things. In the last few weeks a weird cough if I am leaning forward or have my head tilted to the left. Yeah, weird. I am 99% it is the hardware, hence my new question.

Those of you with hardware, and really I think women can answer me a bit better as we don't have an "Adam's Apple" per say. When I feel the front of my neck in the location of my C6, I can feel one of those rings (sorry don't know the medical name?) in my neck sticking out about 4-6mm. If I lay my hand flat on that area, and gently push - ladies, the push amount is like that of what we do ourselves to check if we have a fever....maybe a tiny bit more? I instantly start to cough! It takes almost nothing to make it happen.

I know a lot of us can move (with our hands) our throats and 'feel' where the hardware is, but anyone cough if the do that, or cough if they barely push back on the front of their throats?

I have an RV road trip with the hubby shortly (my FIRST RV experience!!!) so when we get back, going to go to my GP to 'restart' the testing process, but I was just curious if anyone else had this sort of thing? Keep in mind, I have dissimilar hardware, and that wing thing (shape) might be why this is different for me, or the crack and movement.

Sorry this is long, but I wanted to 'try' and paste a clear picture. :) Thanks so much for listening. *HUGZ* all!!!

PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.


  • I think it is fairly normal for us to "feel" our hardware in our necks. Not so much that we can feel the shape or actual titanium, but I think in my case I can feel scar tissue that has developed around the hardware.

    I think I understand what you are saying by choking after touching a certain spot. I have a place on my throat, probably close to where you are describing, that if I just lightly place a finger against it, I will feel "chokey" and then need to clear my throat or cough. I also have it if I lay in a certain way or have my head tilted in a certain way.

    Honestly it is an annoyance, but I don't think it is anything to worry about, at least in my case. Go try to enjoy your RV adventure, and then you can address it with your doctor when you return. We c-spineys always have unique or crazy symptoms, but I think it is just part of what we got ourselves into by having the surgery. Of course if it is something real concerning to you, do make sure you talk to your doctor about it when you get back. If your hardware is moving, that is not a good thing.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Thanks for your insight. :) Unfortunately, my ENT already confirmed the hardware is moving. *sniff* The choke out, and coughs are a drag for sure!!! Now mind you, the throat itself is not sore per say, just fussy depending on my head position, and if dummy me presses on my neck! (G) My NS 'wants to see if the crack fuses on its own?' Part of me can understand that of course, but *HE* isn't living with this daily, right?

    I guess in part to my ENT, I'm not 'real' worried, just it adds to *me* the crack hence the movement has not, and is not resolving sadly. I was out to eat with my hubby a week ago, lemonade and me had a bad time. I thought the server was going to call 911 I choked out so bad! On a 'choke out' I have like 10-15 tightly tied coughs together - like choking on food? Yuck!!!

    For sure I will be getting with my GP when I get back. My "doctor vacation" (just retired, so took a break *grin*) is over. Thanks woman, appreciate!!! *HUG*

    I hope your neck is behaving for you! Looks like I will be joining the tiny 4+ levels club within 6 months... :(

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Looks like I will be joining the tiny 4+ levels club within 6 months...
    Not that I'm unsociable, but for your sake, I hope you are wrong. It is not a good club to be in.
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Cindy,

    From what I've seen of 'multi-level' fusions, I definitely am not thrilled at the prospect!!! I think from my "possible revision" talk with my NS, I kind of slinked off to my little corner for a bit. Of course doing nothing doesn't help, but I guess in some small "get my brain on board" way, it helped?

    I guess the other thought that goes through my mind on this is, since the second fusion is causing so many problems, what can I expect if they clean all that crap out, fix it and add a level? *shudder..*

    Hehe.. you unsociable? I highly doubt that! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • i had acdf 3 level c4-7, 3 yrs ago. still have some minor swallowing issues. liquids are lighter and cause more problems. i would definitely touch base with the doc but i do find drinking with a straw reduces the amt of choking for me. last time i choked on just plain old water and aspirated and got laryngitis.
    last ct scan showed trouble starting up at c3-4 and mild spinal stenosis c3 - t1. you feel like why couldn't they fix all these things and never have a problem again.
    good luck brenda and have fun in that rv. keep us posted on how the trip went!!
  • Howdy woman!!

    My NS basically is denying that 'his' hardware is causing this, then I have an ENT who of course specializes in necks and such saying the exact opposite. Since I pretty well know what causes me to choke out, I take little sips most times, and tilt my head back a little bit. If I am straight or leaning slightly forward, rut-roo!

    With that, that is why when I get back I'm going back to the drawing board as they say, my GP. I'm going to ask her to give me scrips for the x-rays and MRI's and see what comes of that. If it is what I think it is, chances are back to the NS, but if it isn't that bad, (which I am hoping for...), Neurology and troubleshoot me again! (G)

    The ENT and I will be getting back together anyway as I have had a deviated septum for over 30 years, and umm.. time to let both nostrils work! (G) The hubby went and did his "RV" instructions today, that way next week he can just get it and go. I'm starting to get a little excited with this new (for me) mode of road travel - should be interesting. I have my tether program set from my Droid, so I can do Internet on the road. Maybe under "Matters of the Heart" I will post of it. :) Nice to see ya Ms Rosi!! *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Brenda,

    Just catching up on some posts, and noticed what you are finding out with seeing the ENT Doctor.

    Not a spiney hardware and have been educating myself as much as I can from medical reports case studies, etc., with a c-spine t-spine bridge...have much too learn.

    But dear friend, had to post here and let you know...

    So sorry to hear the ENT evaluation points to hardware movement, dear friend, I know that was difficult to hear and more confirmed from what you were questioning. I know you have been so strong and positive through this whole pathway pre /post-surgery and the complications that are unfolding…and taking each courageous step in what you gotta do…my heart-thoughts go out to you and ((((hugs)))).

    Want you to know you've been in my heart-thoughts and prayers with the complications and concerns you were having. I'd say the plan of your vacation happening now is just perfect :)

    I bet you will fully enjoy that RV adventure from the moment your board your "home on wheels" and hit the road!

    Those fun times with your hubby, family and friends will renew your heart and spirit...and truly put things in a better light for you upon your return home.

    Happy wheels a turning :) !!!

    p.s. Sounds like you’re going to be staying in touch with taking your laptop(?) - - that’s great.

  • Howdy Janelle! *HUG*

    The ENT is also a surgeon, and he's gonna be the one I use for my deviated septum. :) After the exam he told me when issues such as mine comes up after 5 or 6 months, it is not uncommon for hardware to irritate the vocal cords. *Remember, he has no 'ego' or 'ownership' in this, as he didn't do the surgery. After I showed him the xray, he changed his opinion from hardware exclusive to 'hardware, assisted by the crack in the C6 vertebra.' I didn't yet, but I am going to get a copy of his exam notes for my file, and peace of mind.

    What is weird too? My NS did not send me a script for my 'year' post op xrays!?! Very odd for him. I am just going to have my GP give me a script when I get back. We leave later in the week...tick, tick, tick,...hehe it's getting close to RV time! Yes I will bring my laptop. I have unlimited Internet through my phone, so I will tether the computer to it, and G4! Yes!!

    Since I've retired, I am not using my voice near as much, so it only sounds "manly" now. If I get on the phone with friends, the voice goes in about 15 minutes, and I also start to cough - yuck! I am actually a bit more positive of late, as at least I *know* what the heck is fubaring my voice & my cord isn't paralyzed. So that is good news believe it or not! :)

    I've been reading your post concerning surgery - to do or not to do. Since you and I PM'd heavily about it, you already know my thoughts. :) I will warn you, vocal cords are fickle, and having had mine for 7 months now screwed up, I know mine can be fixed by taking away the irritant. I would hate to have this forever, so just make sure you keep the risk(s) to your cords in the forefront. :) *HUGZ* Thanks Janelle!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Brenda,

    Re: ENT

    I am so glad to hear how he has come through in clearly see what the problem was..and then confirming with his evaluation.

    I have seen too many times where the OS NS surgeons may lack the willingness and the ability to be objective and thorough with post-surgery complications.

    Re: NS who did your surgery

    From what I understand with the post-surgery complications, your NS has basically said to do nothing other than wait for those levels he did his procedures and wing fixation for your spine to heal.

    And you have followed that with no improvement and your laryngeal issues clearly you suspected were not post-surgical compromise from the surgical procedure itself.

    Wondering, if a good step might be for you is to not pursue the NS who did you surgery and get to a NS or OS highly specialized skilled and who will review your spine/case?

    I know the factor of "if you are under a certain time-frame from a surgery (6-mo or yr?) where another surgeon would be willing to consider consult/evaluation/treatment. But I do know that is not in all situations the case.

    Is there a good benefit for you to be pursuing the NS who did you surgery at this point, knowing what you know now and most certainly is appropriate and highly beneficial to have an excellent highly skilled-experienced surgeon assess your case and offer treatment and options of surgery.

    Why would your NS at this juncture and assuming he has results of your ENT or will have, be willig to look at the hardware and layryngeal compromise any differently than he has?

    His "wait n see if fusion will fix fracture" not also be dealing directly with the hardware being highly suspect and begin a plan of resolution and treatment as a surgeon?

    Brenda, I ask these questions from what I understand...if I am missing something here, sorry...but my concern for you is that you are undergoing progressive inflamation with your voice box cords, involving the hardware and a fracture which appears to be needing resolution.

    I also understand and I know you know as well from our nerve/ligament/muscle comrproises and journey we have from C-spine...nerves/ligaments do not say how long and far they will go with continual progressive of the source of irritation and dysfunction.

    IMO I believe there would be an excellent NS high skilled and specialized who would be more willing to review your case and offer excellent treatment and resolve for what is occurring inand be able to provide equal or much better approach or skill level than your current NS.

    So enjoy that vacation and I hope you have a great time... and my heart-thoughts and prayers for you...

    upon returning home, you'll have some good stepping stones in seeking resolve and someone in the NS or OS field, who will confirm what is going on and know exactly what needs to be done and you are clear and able to move forward to having the hardware problem and fracture fully taken care of....and it will allow your spine to be stabilized and heal well and as a result your throat and voice will be fully restored and you will be past the compromises you are now knowing !! Yes, this I know is possible and is yours to have and experience !!

    Dear friend, enjoy those rolling wheels a turnin and set your sights on the "new road" ahead :) (((((hugs)))


  • Howdy!!

    So far I haven't had my ENT hook up with my NS, nor have I taken his exam notes (which I need to get) and show them to my NS. Like many on here, I got the impression that he "doesn't want to see" that there are issues going on!! My hubby saw it differently in that he wants to know what is causing my Neuropathy before he makes plans (conservative, drugs, therapy, surgery) for me. My hubby wants me to get with another NS for a 'second opinion' if you will.

    Now, my NS's stance is to see if the crack fixes itself. What I find interesting is I did NOT get my 1 year out xrays script from his office!!! I go on my trip with the hubby in a few days, so when I get back, gonna get with my GP and have her give me the scrips. Gawd help him if that d@mn crack is still there! I know it must be, as the symptoms are still there.

    My ENT concerning my vocal cords. As I mentioned, irritated constantly, but thankfully (contrary to another Neuro) NOT paralyzed, just constantly irritated and swollen. H@ll hehehe, I don't even want to hear my voice when I sing - so I jack the volume up to sing! (G) He didn't indicate to me that if I wait there would be damage - he didn't seem worried? I have a megga deviated septum, and will have him fix it. With that, I too (after my xrays) ask him to give me his exam notes where he stated 'movement' of the hardware (later updated to movement of the vertebra due to an apparent stress fracture); to which I will bring it to my NS. I have tons of respect for my NS, but like many here, *I* sort of felt 'pushed off' on my last appointment - couple that with no 1 year xray....hummm...makes me wonder!

    Once I have those in hand (xray, MRI) I will probably do as my hubby suggested, get another opinion - I just don't want to get the "doctor run around" since some are funky on fixing others fubar'd surgery? You know what I mean. :) I will get back on my new job when I get back - doctors 101!!!

    Ps... We took my Jungle cat in the SUV for a short drive to be sure he would 'handle' driving okay, he was fine with 'mommy' there. :) Thanks again Janelle!!! *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,849
    Ever since then, I can feel the hardware, no problem.
    But what I have experienced is 'coughing' It can happen at anytime, no reason, I just start a small cough, but it can continue for several minutes.

    Generally a lot of water or hard candy or something like that stops it.

    My PM says nothing to worry about. She has seen several patients who complain of the same thing. But, she also states, that medically, she does not understand how the coughing is triggered by the cervical hardware.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Howdy Ron,

    My ENT was the one that figured out the whole hardware thing for me. The hinge on my 'wing' is hitting just right and triggering it. What is funny is I have found that gum helps me keep the coughing down! I don't know if it's due to the constant gentle swallowing or what, but it seems to help.

    Liquids get me the worst, so have to be deliberate on how I drink things. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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