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Swallowing problems

L-DoggLL-Dogg Posts: 101
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
How many people have ongoing swallowing and throat problems after cervical fusion surgery? How long were you told it would last and what is the reality of that?
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Comments

  • Howdy L-Dogg,

    My first fusion I only had a sore throat similar to that with a cold for about a week, week and a half. My second fusion it lasted around 3 weeks. My surgeon tells (told) me that I could have it for up to 3 weeks, but a little over a week was more common. Hope that helps. :)

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I am showing there was a reply to my thread by a Dave. I also show that there are 2 new posts yet I only see the one from Aviatrix36440.

    Can a mod explain what thew deal is. Do I have a reply from this Dave or not?

    Thanks aviatrix.
  • Actually he (Dave) by mistake posted a reply to another thread in here, and he moved it over to where it was suppose to be is all! :)

    I guess his "ghost" name stayed on here (this thread) though! Hope that helps! Happens once in a while! (G)

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I had a sore throat for a couple of weeks, but the swallowing issue lasted I think about a month, if I remember correctly, but it did last longer. It does go away though!
    Kelly
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Hi L-Dog..I had 3 levels fused in my neck in February 2009 and it took around 6 months to be able to swallow properly without painand for th swelling to go down too..I still have to chew my food more as sometimes it still happens..My voice comes and goes from being husky to normal at anytime without notice.
    I became concerned after 6 months of having food stuck etc so my Dr sent me to a Throat Surgeon and he said there was nothing he could do to fix it and in time it should settle..
    As I mentioned before it still happens sometimes, but each and every person is different and also on how many levels were fused..
    If your concerned I would speak to my Dr ASAP..
    Hope this was helpful to you.
    Shelly :H
  • About 3 weeks for me. It seemed really bad for the first two weeks and I was quite certain it would never get better and then the third week it got better very quickly. I am now almost 5 weeks and have no issues whatsoever.
  • Thanks everyone. As much of a genius as I consider my surgeon....and we have a good relationship over the last 3 years since my fusion he did at L4/5....... he told me I would get no throat issues and I wonder if this is just to not freak me out. I sing you see, I am a musician and I have a recording studio that I am in whenever I can get in there.....I write songs etc.

    He even pulled out the type of plate he will use and showed me how he uses the lowest profile plate available and how he also uses special screws that do not protrude at all.

    I have to ask myself, surely all surgeons today in the US use the same hardware?

    So why won't I get the throat pain? I mean probably a lot of the pain and hoarseness is from the invasion into that area and how they move stuff out of the way to gain access.

    I guess there is no worrying about it...I have to just move forward!

    Having said that.......I watched a video at YouTube of a cervical fusion surgery........

    :jawdrop: :sick: :SS I might should have not done that one really, I just freaked myself right out..... :D
  • L-Dogg said:
    I mean probably a lot of the pain and hoarseness is from the invasion into that area and how they move stuff out of the way to gain access.
    I think that's pretty much it, that, and some surgeons are incredibly rough when they get in there, it's like they forget they're working on actual people sometimes!! @)
    Kelly
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • I was lucky in the short run and strange in the long run. My immediate problem was just a sore throat, but my hubby made me his famous pork chops the night I came home and I swallowed just fine. Little sore, but not a problem.

    Later, I burping problems. That lasted about two to three months. I don't know why the bubbles would be caught in my throat, but they did and out they'd come. I could only excuse myself, but because I was wearing a collar, it wasn't too embarrasing.

    Now, two years later, I've lost almost an entire octave in my singing voice. I couldn't sing at all for the first three to five months (well I could, but it was real ugly) and now, like I said, my range is lower than before. I sang in the church recently and had to do the lower harmonies.

    But, L-Dogg, everyone is different. Maybe because of your situation, your doctor will take extra care of your throat. Like I've said before, surgeons sometimes take extra care of things if something is important to you and my surgeon specifically told my PT to have me change my swing after my lumbar surgery so I could golf this year without the screws shooting out of my back.

    Take care,
    Cathie
  • Aside from the "you'll have irritation from the trach tube” this was something that was never mentioned. Today I’m 22 days post op and it feels like I have one of those big football shaped vitamins stuck in my throat. It’s not getting any better and is actually a little worse now than it was the first week or so. From what I’ve read here, on other forums and discussions with people I’ve met who’ve had the same procedure it can last weeks, months and in one case years. It’s pretty frightening because it feels like I’m choking all the time. So I’m hoping it subsides soon.
  • A friend of mine had an emergency neck fusion when he drowned surfing. He was brought back after no vitals for 30 minutes. They fused his neck and it is now 6 or 7 years later and he still cannot swallow food properly.

    We talked a week before my surgery and he specifically said to me to ask my surgeon about swallowing because that has been the absolute worst thing about it for him.

    Well I did and my surgeon went through this whole rigamarole.... showing me this super low profile plate and the screws and yada yada and gave me a lot of reassurance that throat problems would not be long term.

    I don't know. I suppose I just have to ride it out and hope I don't end up having a great fusion surgery but die from choking to death in the meantime.

    The Perdnisolone prescription is now a done deal and I am paranoid my throat will close up again, however I also really do not want to be on that long term, as it sends my blood sugar way high.

    It really sucks to see the rest of the family eating anything they want and I am gurgling and choking on a small piece of food that I've long since masticated into a tasteless pulp. Doesn't matter how liquified I get it...something will hang up. I blew a piece of pasta out my left nostril at dinner tonight. Right side produced a tiny bit of carrot. :sick: Cuisine Le Nasal! =))

    I can try joke about it, but truth be told, the family is stressed out over it...... especially my young daughters.Everytime I have to clear my throat they ask me what's wrong....if I am okay? The missus is just over it already I think.

    Wonderful stuff. Even a sip of water will get hung up. Milk is the easiest I think. Plus, many is the time I have had one of my 400mg Neurontin capsules sit there and dissolve at the top of my throat.....other meds too, but the Neurontin is particularly foul tasting. So now I have to have Jello or yogurt handy. Swallow the pill with milk, use the Jello or yogurt to dislodge it and move it down the pipe followed by another glug of milk to move everything along.

    Total BS.

    I gotta tell you, I have already gone from "hey let me try deal with this" to now I am just thoroughly pissed off about it. Reading that so many of you have had this for 6 months or more........... I dunno?

    I am just venting but seriously....this seems to be the major complaint. Almost everyone bitches about this over the actual incision pain or tenderness/pain in the neck or throat.

    It seems always about not being able to swallow and fear of choking.

    Plus, to add to my overall bright outlook on things right now.... whatever I do get down stays down....way down.....down low....all the way down.....the impact of it is huge.......it refuses to budge...."mmhm, move, nope not today, not me, I don't care if it's been a week, I ain't goin' nowhere...I'm on strike bitch......just see if you can get me to move. And don't go bringing in any kinda assistance to try make me move....nobody is crossing this picket line.....you can call in the naval FLEET itself......all's you'll get is a whole lot of pain but still no movement from me! I don't care if you are cramped out, I'm camped out......."

    LOL.......actually it can be very serious. I think it is the anesthetic that does it to you so bad. I read today that people have died from straining........I can see that happening.

    The things we go through. I think too that most of us keep the gory details of what we are going through from our spouses and they end up thinking we are mostly fine. I mean I try not to show I am in pain, don't discuss the bathroom end of it, try to eat and do meds when I am alone etc etc etc

    Sorry for the long post.... a bit bored tonight.
  • Hey L-dogg,

    You are still so early in recovery, and while it is hard, take your time. No sense pushing anything along as it will happen in good time. No pun intended there, sorry.

    AS far as the swallowing issues go, if they are still a issue at the 6 month mark a swallow test can be done to see what is could be causing the issues. I did have them for quit sometime and finally had the test done and it was a hardware issue. But I had two plates attached together, so to high in the area for anything to pass. Good news I was fused so the hardware doesn't do anything once your fused and it was removed. Most don't have it removed as if it is not causing issues no need to take it out.

    As for as the bathroom issues try something like collacel, ducolax or go lightly to help. Also be sure you are drinking plenty of water, which will help. Keep in mind it is not the amount you are releasing just that you are releasing something is important. So while it is uncomfortable as long as you are going somewhat you should be good. But when in doubt call your surgeon.

    I got a good laugh out of your idea of all surgeons using the same hardware. Well you would think. Went through one surgery and the new surgeon assumed what plate was in my neck, well unfortunately you know what they say about assuming? Long story short why he attached the two plates together. Seems it requires special tools to remove different types of hardware.

    Anyway hang in there and give it a few more weeks as to the swallowing issues. Of course write all you want we get it and understand the boredom. Soon you will be busy and out doing stuff and won't have time for us again, Ha at least I hope that is your plight as I do for everyone on the boards. While we enjoy the reading, will be happy to read of your success and how good your doing? Well that is my hope for you at least.
  • My husband had his second fusion c3-4 on October 3rd. His first one was eight years ago c5-6. Now with all this hardware in his neck he is having trouble swallowing and is restricted to small sips of water or ice chips orally. He had to have a stomach tube put in for nutrition. He has had a few barrium swallow tests and they show a very narrow esophogus and the liquid just trickles down. His swallowing muscles seem to be working ok, but they can't compensate for the narrow passageway. I was wondering if anyone else has had these type of problems and if and how they were resolved. I know it's only been 7 weeks since surgery but that is a long time to be living on ensure through a stomach tube. Right now he is receiving vital stem treatments on his throat to try to strenghten his muscles. The orthopeadic surgean says it will most likely get better on its own and that the hardware is very thin and should not cause problems. Any suggestions?
  • This is what I am concerned about too. I'm to have a two lvl fusion in the next few months. They are taking two discs out, putting donor bone in, then titanium plate and screws.

    I've talked to ppl who had almost zero problems swallowing after this surgery to the various shades of problems you guys speak of.

    I'm thinking I'll have to start with liquids only. I had a 4 lvl lumbar laminectomy in May of this year, a several lvl cervical laminectomy 2 yrs ago. In both cases I went home from hospital the 4th day.

    I'll share with everyone here post-op. I'm on a medicare advantage insurance plan now as I'm permanently disabled, on SSDI. I'm 58 yrs old, 59 in March this next year. My wife works at the hospital where I have my surgeries. She works in medical records. I therefore have my 20 percent of my stay waived.

    Ken GreyEagle
    Greyeagle
  • GreyEagle, make sure you have lot's of soft food at home before you go in. I have Jello and Yogurt to help me get my meds down and soups for meals.

    I also got a pill cutter and am about to go get a pill crusher to make the pills more manageable.

    I am now at 2 weeks 5 days and am having the devil of a time swallowing still and I have gone hoarse now.......my surgeon has been telling me to stop talking and said it is critical to my throat relaxing. How do you do this with a 9yr old and a 4 yr old?

    I also sat up one night about 2 days ago and I felt this sharp pain right at the fusion sites. :SS Now since then I have had increased pain levels and increased radiculopathy. Sucks!! I guess I have to wait a week or two for the CT Scan.
  • Hey I had a fusion on C5-6 and i had swallowing problems for several weeks.Also after thatfor another couple of weeks everytime i bent over it felt like i had a lump coming up my throat i know it sounds weird but that was my experience.I hope u get better soon.
  • Wondering,

    I am not sure what type of hardware your H has but there could be a problem that there is to much hardware. By chance is the hardware connected to each other from the previous surgery to this surgery or did they remove the old hardware? One thing to keep in mind if the hardware is the issue, it can be removed once fusion is achieved as it is not needed any longer. Hopefully the swelling will begin to go down. Have they tried a dose of oral steroids on your H? That might be something to give him a boost on the swelling.

    Have you also discussed this issue with a GI doctor? There is a procedure they can do, that stretches the esphoguas to allow for more room. But if the hardware is the issue that really won't help much as the hardware will still be there causing the problem. Did they say exactly why the space is so small?

    Keep us posted on how he gets along. Also welcome to spine-health.
  • Today makes six weeks since my C6-C7 fusion. Have gone through all kinds of crazy this hurts that hurts coming and going since the surgery. The one constant is the swallowing thing. It's still pretty prevalent but not as bad as it was sometimes it's barely noticeable. However, when it's noticeable it very noticeable. My wife said she could hear it clicking when I tried to swallow. Saw the Doc for first follow up since surgery last Wednesday. He said it's normal and should go away in a few weeks. But that was what he said day I went home. I was also having the issues with burping and having them get stuck but that seems to be getting better. Reading the Mfg info from Medtronic about the Zephir plate and the literature suggests removing hardware after complete fusion. Dr Never mentioned this has anybody had theirs removed or had any mention of removing the instrument?
  • I am 1 week post op was told sore throat would be 2/3 days. I have a cough, sore throat and trouble eating. Must chase everything with a liquid or soak food in gravy or sauce. From all the posts was hoping it would be relieved already but some of you are months/years in. Frightening.
    Patricia sepulveda
  • Cath111 said:
    I was lucky in the short run and strange in the long run. My immediate problem was just a sore throat, but my hubby made me his famous pork chops the night I came home and I swallowed just fine. Little sore, but not a problem.

    Later, I burping problems. That lasted about two to three months. I don't know why the bubbles would be caught in my throat, but they did and out they'd come. I could only excuse myself, but because I was wearing a collar, it wasn't too embarrasing.

    Now, two years later, I've lost almost an entire octave in my singing voice. I couldn't sing at all for the first three to five months (well I could, but it was real ugly) and now, like I said, my range is lower than before. I sang in the church recently and had to do the lower harmonies.

    But, L-Dogg, everyone is different. Maybe because of your situation, your doctor will take extra care of your throat. Like I've said before, surgeons sometimes take extra care of things if something is important to you and my surgeon specifically told my PT to have me change my swing after my lumbar surgery so I could golf this year without the screws shooting out of my back.

    Take care,
    Cathie
  • I have had two neck fusions and am scheduled for my third surgery. First surgery in 1996 was to C6-C7 with no issues. Second was in 2003 after being hit in the head with a heavy ball. C5-C6 and metal plate and screws. Last year I was rear-ended in my car and wound up with a broken screw (C-5) and another herniated disk. C4-C5. I will have to have all the hardware replaced. I haven't spoken with the Surgeon as to what method he plans on using. I am very nervous about the cage and I am worried about my singing voice. Yes, Cathie, I have experienced the same thing. I now sing and talk at a lower octave. I had to struggle to be able to sing at all. I was doing well, however, since the broken crew, I can seldom sing.
    Cath111 said:
    I was lucky in the short run and strange in the long run. My immediate problem was just a sore throat, but my hubby made me his famous pork chops the night I came home and I swallowed just fine. Little sore, but not a problem.

    Later, I burping problems. That lasted about two to three months. I don't know why the bubbles would be caught in my throat, but they did and out they'd come. I could only excuse myself, but because I was wearing a collar, it wasn't too embarrasing.

    Now, two years later, I've lost almost an entire octave in my singing voice. I couldn't sing at all for the first three to five months (well I could, but it was real ugly) and now, like I said, my range is lower than before. I sang in the church recently and had to do the lower harmonies.

    But, L-Dogg, everyone is different. Maybe because of your situation, your doctor will take extra care of your throat. Like I've said before, surgeons sometimes take extra care of things if something is important to you and my surgeon specifically told my PT to have me change my swing after my lumbar surgery so I could golf this year without the screws shooting out of my back.

    Take care,
    Cathie
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