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Good News/Bad News

lisa burekllisa burek Posts: 855
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi All,

Today I saw my surgeon. My ALIF surgery is 10 1/2 months out and he said its looking excellent. That was the good news.

The bad news: my cervical spine has gotten seriously worse.
I know its bad when he gets worried. My C2-C5 is a complete mess, severe kyphosis, DDD and it appears that c2 & 3 have auto-fused. They also have lost a lot of the normal shape that they should be. This bites!

Have to get an MRI ASAP and see him with the results in 2 weeks. I just need time to wrap my head around this and try not to freak. I just can't believe how bad it got since the last x-rays.

Oh well, got to go to the bus stop now.


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    What do you think your doctor will advise regarding your cervical issue?

    Have they contributed any cause to your cervical area?

    Hope things get back into order, so you have to deal with only one issue
    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
  • Oh Lisa I am so sorry *** HUGS***

    I know how scary it is when there is a newer spinal problem that we are forced to start dealing with.

    Maybe the MRI will be not so bad and things will get better sooner. Try to stay positive.

    Can you get the MRI on CD when you get it? Also try to get a copy of the report. Makes it nice to read what they say.


  • Unfortunately my Dr. is totally baffled with my spinal problems. It would make sense if I was in a car accident (or crashing my helicopter!!) or had some heavy duty lifting job for years, but no. Again he asked permission to show his colleague my x-rays due to my age (44) and complete mess with no known causes. I guess I should feel special :)

    Ron, I'll know more after the MRI. I have a feeling he's going to suggest surgery in order to keep my cord intact, nip it in the bud before any nerve damage happens. He was pretty concerned at how close things were getting to the cord.
    Also want to wish you good luck with your own surgery.
  • Lisa, good to hear how well your checkup was on the ALIF!

    And then sorry to hear about your C-Spine assessment and the changes. So typical for many of us, one part of spine improves the other part goes chronic and major changes!

    That's interesting your C2-3 auto-fusion going on - - from my experience / and learned, auto-fusion can be considered in many cases a spinal adaptive process for a degenerative deformed condition !

    Wondering what your history of diagnostic radiology on your C-Spine prior to this. What was assessed previously on those upper levels.

    The severity of DDD certainly occurs unfortunately, with the adjacent abnormal "adaptive auto fusion" and depending on why (could be for a number of reasons, one such could be an injury, fall, undetected as a child or an unknown deformity weakness in that vertebrae/discs to fuse) something to this manner would be adapting for weakness and the fusion of the C-2/3 above.

    It was only three years ago that my C-2/3 was fully scanned and observed and with full assessment on a fluoroscopic lateral scan (and I got to see it !!) to have true diagnostic understand of the partial-fusion tethering and severe angled. That was not seen on flexion x-ray or prone MRI CT (no flexion)

    Anyway that being said, living with DDD and kyphosis below fusion can be of long duration without having to do interventional surgery. Depending on symptoms, function, conditions of facet joints, present of osteophytes, progress of osteophytes (bone spurs) and size, etc.

    Not minimizing your concerns in any way, but in terms of being "bad news" it is subjective to what conditions are in those levels and the degenerative process going on.

    I would caution you if you are doing manipulative adjustments of the standard kind by a chiropractor knowing you have DDD and kyphosis going on, to not allow any spinal manipulation be done on your cervical spine. Alternative non-interventional electro-stim & heat/cool wraps can be non-intrusive.

    My C-2/3 is where I was born with a deformity, a hemi-vertebrae and severe angled scoliosis and motion from one-side tethered on left side only, quite malformed, but very adaptive :)

    Also have severe advanced DDD with kyphosis (only other 2 levels left unfused) process of 7 years and serious MVA to get there (most symptoms tolerable though until past year nerve compression with multiple osteophytes growing.

    Wondering if you have highly symptomatic pain or if it is mild to moderate episodic ?

    With you mentioning your age of 44, I had 3/4/5/6 all degenerate with spurs and discs and need for interventional ACDF with bone implants at that time as well.

    Which suggests to me again, you had abnormality with your upper C-spine C-2/3 causing those other levels to not function well, taking the load and movement of the head.

    I know how it can be shocking and scarey when you begin to learn of what advancing changes and degeneration can be doing. Just know in many cases, depending on the conditions, it's amazing how functional and depending on how symptomatic those levels become... as well as sparing any kidn of trauma (fall, motor vehicle accidents, etc) it does not mean interventional surgery in the short to near future.

    Lisa, my first, 3 levels all DDD kyphosis with spurs went 44 years since birth, before interventional surgery....my second, 2 levels now severe DDD kyphosis with multiple spurs went 17 years to now with pending surgery (last 3 years post-mva broadside collision) bring me to needing interventional surgery = nerve compression / spinal cord issues = it's time!

    So hope that helps, even at your age you can get some living / mileage with your C-Spine in advancing DDD....just depends on level of symptoms and neuro intervention necessary.

    Let us know how your MRI diagnostics and appt. goes.

    Hey, Lisa, your a C-Spine Warrior now! :) lol!

  • Lisa, I'm so sorry to hear of the accelerated degeneration of your cervical area. If you do have to face cervical surgery, at least it will be about a year since your ALIF. Time to recover from that is important. Will be thinking about you as you wait for MRI results. >:D<

    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

  • Good to hear that your ALIF is looking great.

    So sorry to hear about your worsening cervical problems. What symptoms are you having?

    I am also waiting to have an MRI scan on my neck (22nd October) due to various symptoms caused by my neck.
    Before my lumbar fusion 6 months ago, the surgeon said that some of my symptoms then were caused by my neck, and he would fix that next time. Not what I wanted to hear!!

    Well since my surgery, my neck seems to be getting worse; or is it just that now my lumbar problems are fixed, I am noticing it?

    Hope that they will have some non-invasive ideas to help you. Do let us know how you get on.

    There do seem to be quite a few here, who have had both lumbar and cervical spinal surgery.

  • Lisa,

    You pick'n on me, you pick'n on me? Huh?? You're just jealous you didn't get to destroy a pretty helicopter! (G) Actually in all honestly Lisa, at first my NS said my crash was too far back to have caused all my issues. I found the original neurological assessment letter I had a few months after the crash, and short of one level, it is almost the same areas as I have going bad now! My NS has since agreed with me history is history, and hence the affects.

    Did you have a Tom-boy like upbringing? Any accidents as a kid? Contact sports? I hope your neck doesn't turn out as bad as you posted. At a minimum, the MRI will at least pictorially be able to add to the rest of your exam to come up with a plan. Sorry this is going on. Support *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Janelle for all of your input, I really appreciate it. C-Spine Warrior, I love it!!

    Brenda, yes, I am jealous of the "helicopter crash did it to me"! Hehehe....much cooler than "gee, I don't know why this is happening".

    But, yes, I was a tomboy growing up, and in my younger adult years I did a lot of physical stuff renovating a home, making garden rock walls, etc. so who knows, that could have had a big impact on my spine.

    I'll try to keep a positive attitude. Thanks spiney friends,

  • Lisa,

    I look at a lot of this like how arthritis forms - wear and tear over the years!! I was a tomboy, fell out of trees, got into a few scraps over the years, 11 years of gymnastics (6+ hours a day), then my career and its affects. I truly believe it all adds up.

    From what you described, it could very well have added to all this down the road. Short of some weird disease, we probably will never know what *specifically* caused said disk to fail, while others stay good! :) Now we have issues, so now the eye on the new ball is treating those areas as they come up. *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hi Lisa. I'm so sorry to hear about your deteriorating cervical spine. I'm pretty much in the same boat with additional stenosis, facet problems and swelling above my fusion and am now prone to occipital headaches due to the problems. But I'm choosing not to deal with it until it becomes unbearable.

    But I understand the tennis-spine game. First the neck, then the lumbar, then the neck - ack. If only we could keep our problems localized.

    All of my docs think that my neck problems began about 30 years ago when I was in a terrible car accident where we were hit head on and my forehead hit the windshield and my chin hit the metal dashboard. At the time, I had to have ultrasound for six months just to get my mouth open enough to eat any solid food. But I never went to the doctor because I felt no pain my in my spine.

    Since then, of course, I can look back and see all the things I've done that most likely made my cervical spine worse. It's the old addage: If only I knew then what I know now. Things might be very different. I'm not at the point where I'm just happy and frankly, surprised, that I didn't break my neck that day.

    So you never know where this all comes from. Some know and some can only guess, but it is what it is. I hope they can get this under control and that you can find a good way to get this taken care of.

    Take care and let us know what the NS says.
  • I know that its not easy to deal w/ news of more possible surgery! I was dealt that blow, as well - a while back..and can still vividly remember how upset and depressed I felt back then, after hearing about all of my other "issues". It turned out that I did not need more surgery (just more PT and injections..so far), but its a hard pill to swallow, as we think that we've "fixed" the spine issues, and then more crops up. My only advice is to have a good support system to vent your feelings (from an actual social worker...even though I counsel kids... but we can all act like big kids sometimes!). Vent your feelings of depression/anger.. don't hold it all in and let the pain win!
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