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ACDF Post OP 6 weeks-New symptoms-HELP

asignor908aasignor908 Posts: 339
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi, I am nervous and need some imput. As of last Friday started to have some bowel control issues, can tell when I need to use rest room and some accidents. Also numbness in left arm returned especially in my hand, totally numb, sort of comes and goes. Stll have neck and shoulder pain.

Called NS office nurse told me to call my pain management doctor for pain and pcp for bowel issues, or pharmicist for constipation. I said i am not constipated, I have issues with loss of bowel control and left arm. She said we did the surgery and that's done you need to call the other doctors for help.

I am very depressed and must admit tearful. My PM is very conservative on meds and I'm sure this bowel issue is related to my ACDF as i read up on bowel issues and cervical spine injury can cause this. Feeling alone and hopeless.

Any thoughts, Please


  • I can say I had a similar situation, but it was that I couldn't void my bladder. While that is text book, signs of spinal issues and we all knew I needed another surgery, still went through my pcp. Far to often there could be another reason for the condition and is unrelated to your spine, so they need to rule everything else first. My PCp send me to a urologist who ran all the test ruled everything out said it was a nerve issue and call the spine surgeon. When I called the spine surgeons office first question was have you have a urological work up. So while it sounds like they are doing wrong I think that is typical response. I myself didn't want them blaming my spine go through surgery to find out I had another larger problem that should have been addressed and could have been more urgent.

    In your case your pcp can either order test or can get you a appointment with a gastro. But just take the advice they gave you and follow the plan. If it leads back to your spine, then you will have the answer, but better to rule out any other issues.
  • Thanks for the comments, I was in pain and freaking a little. I made calls to PCP and will get it checked. It's been a rough week

    AL S

  • I hope that you are feeling less alone and helpless now. :-)

    It is amazing that your NS office nurse seemed to be sending you on your way just 6 weeks after your surgery! #:S

    I guess, as others have said, do what they say and contact your PM. If there is a problem due to your surgery, they will refer you back to your surgeon.

    Hope that you will get some help soon. :-)
  • Al, sorry to hear you're having some things occurring which can certainly seem to be just too much and I can understand your upset and anxiety.

    Re: Bowel Issues / Lack of Control

    Yes, this could be from cervical spine, as well as other factors. It really is a process of considering those factors that could be happening for you. It could occur with diet, too much fat, medications, bile issues = digestive/gallbladder dysfunction, and of course, could be a combination of factors bringing it on.

    Re: Finding Cause

    Process of elimination and medical sites are great to help us with previewing to relieve your concerns of which factors are more likely.

    I've experienced bowel control very sporadically and it was difficult because of that to accurately have it diagnosed. Had gallbladder removed and change in digestion/bowels is a factor that runs more high on the list versus cervical spine/neural foraminal cord issues. Fiber and level of fat in a meal is also high on my list.

    There are things you can do to support yourself to prevent those "accidents". Suggestions of what I have made a practice to do...allow time after a meal if I am away from home and do restroom time wherever I am, to monitor what's happening with bowels. At home, again when urinating, be sure to take the time to assess my bowel needs and not rush the process.

    Your Prim Dr or a Gastro Dr should be your best support to determine what factors may be causing it for you.

    Re: Numbness and Pain

    Al, sorry you surgeon's office is not attempting to support you in any way with the numbness and pain issues and with being just 6 weeks out.

    Please know it is not unusual to have these symptoms post-op and with my own situation of bone spurs removed and ACDF with bone implant, I did not see relief of the numbness and pain in hands/shoulders until 2-5 months with it occuring gradually during the time span. As you probably have read others experience and posts, there can be a window of these symptoms being resolved and prior to 6-8 months is not unusual at all.

    In my opinion, you need more time to relax and trust the process of healing for your body from the actual trauma of the procedure, and multi-level healing, nerves, muscles, ligaments all take time.

    I sure would hope that you have more follow-up options with your surgeon. When is your next appt. with the surgeon with post-op recovery? It would not be appropriate to have a surgeon write-you off and not follow up your recovery/care prior to a year!

    Do everything you can to find ways to not worry and get your stress-level further up and have the doctors supporting you with your concerns, as well stay in touch with so many here that can help your discern how concerned you may need to be or have.

    My first surgery was my C-Spine 3/4/5/6 and it was a balancing act for sure with having a serious surgery requiring much patience, balance of meds, physical therapy, massage and support.

    Best to you and hope this helps as well as others along with me...who have been right where you are...I believe you will find as your recovery/time progresses you'll see your body healing and the various issues that can be upsetting and concerning and put you into "tilt" actually typically improve.

  • The internet (including Spine-Health) is a chock full of information on every conceivable medical condition. That can be a benefit or a liability, depending on what you do with the info. It's so easy to look up symptoms and then self-diagnose a problem. The trouble is, none of us are doctors and proper diagnosis involves way more knowledge and training than a layperson has. I encourage you to visit your PCP and explain exactly what's happening with your bowels, including all symptoms that may or may not make sense to you, and let him take it from there. If this is an issue of your spinal cord being compromised at the cervical level, your PCP will know that and proceed with the appropriate care for you.

    I am just sharing what I would do if I were in your position. Best wishes on finding out what's gone wrong. :)

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
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