Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

New Cervical Fusion--Questions on neck mobility?

charlie6017charlie6017 Posts: 412
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Good Morning Everyone!

First time poster here, but spine surgery is not new to me. I have Degenerative Disc Disease---I have already had surgery on my lumbar spine three times....L5-S1 anterior approach (Feb '06), Same level posterior approach to add screws/rods to stabilize (Nov '06), L4-L5 posterior approach and new screws/rods from L4-S1 (July '09). I also have had a double fusion on my cervical spine (C5 thru C7) anterior approach in Sept '07. Now that you know my history, here's my new problem: For the last 2-3 months, I have been having neck pain again, pain down the left arm and some tingling into my left ring and pinkie fingers. Also, some pain between the shoulder blades--and lastly headaches that radiate to the forehead and top of the skull mixed in with what's best described as a "creepy-crawlie" feeling on the right side of my head above and at ear level.

I did have a myelogram w/CT Scan, and MRI, and a separate CT Scan. I went over them 2 days ago with my neurosurgeon and the tests showed that my C3-C4 disc is pushed out against the nerve and he said that is likely the cause of the headaches/ and weird feeling on the side of my head. Also, the C4-C5 doesn't look the best--and I do realize that it wouldn't be prudent to fuse C3-4 and have C5-C7 fused and leave the C4-5 alone. So.....what I am wondering is: Does anyone have any clue of what mobility would I have left in my neck? I wonder if I will be able to drive sufficiently? I have been a school bus driver for over 9 years.....would that end? I know none of us has a crystal ball, but any feedback would be good. Thanks for reading, and enjoy your day.......Charlie


  • Welcome to Spine Health Charlie :)

    I am sorry I can't answer the question about mobility. I just have c5-6-7 fused. I didn't notice a big issue for mobility/ it seems better than before the fusion. However all my tests say it is reduced. I am happy with it though :)))

    I wanted to know if your NS offered or recommended any other treatments for your c4-5-6? Did he want you to try oral steroids or discectomy etc? Or do you really need the added fusion do to forminal stenosis and instability etc? It may be standard to just add the fusion levels.

    Interesting about the itching. I have been itching a lot on my head recently. It started after my last sales meeting when my neck started hurting again. Also I started having cervical headached again. I was thinking it was a reaction to my new medications (I am currently being treated for Thoracic problems)....

    I use a lot of ice packs and by bed buddy (heats up in the microwave and wraps around the neck). It fits the neck better than the heating pad.

    Feel Better,

  • Thanks a bunch for the nice welcome! When I had the C5-C6/C6-C7 fusion, I didn't notice a tremendous loss in mobility......just a bit. The way I understood it when we went over the results, he said the C3-C4 disc was pretty much pushing into the nerve--therefore causing the headaches and that crawlie/itchy feeling. The way I understand it--it would be standard to fuse the additional levels, making it a full fusion from C3 thru C7. I would rather not do the "steroid thing", I am a little on the heavy side (but way far from extremely obese) and don't want to run the risk of gaining any more weight and more complications.

    It's so easy to get tired of it---I have dealt with back/neck issues for 12 years plus now. But I always try to remain upbeat.
  • Hi Charlie,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. There is a thread over in the neck forum that talks alot about fusing from c3-c7. So have a look in that thread and maybe you will find some other answers,

    Also I am fused from c3-c7 and sense I am still in a miami j from the last surgery, I am not sure how much ROM(range of motion), I will have. But I can tell you I was a three level before and yes i lost some ROM. But the good thing as a bus driver and even driving my personal vehicle my mirrors are my best friend. Now I don't turn so much with my neck on things but more with my body not sure how that would work for you with the lumbar issues. Also as far as looking up or down i just need to be further away from things to see it, as I can't get the full extension you need for both of those. Now sense I have permanent nerve damage I am more symptomatic when i am using my neck for for left to right and up and down. But I am holding the jury out right now to see what this last surgery helped.
  • Hey Charlie,

    I've had C5-C7 fused and every once in a while I'll get pain in my shoulder blades as well as pain shooting down into my pinkies. In my case they're from muscle spasms. My doc was concerned it was from C7-T1 (C8 nerve) but my MRI was clean, and muscle relaxers really help calm things down. Exercise also helps keep them at bay. I only get them a couple times a month.

    I can't say how much range of motion you would lose fusing the higher levels. My doc once said that most of the movement in your neck happens at C1, C2, and C3. I'd have to imagine you would lose some at those higher levels though. Like you I'd didn't notice much loss at C5-C7. Good luck and welcome!

  • Charlie,

    First off Welcome to Spine Health!! I too had fusions at the C5/6 & then C6/7. I have similar symptoms, but mine *is* the C7/T1, and the headaches for me are behind the ear and wrap around the base of my skull - that is from my C2/3. I have a trip coming up, then getting a new MRI to see what plan A is now going to be. I was told most likely a revision plus C7/T1 and maybe (and this one scares me) C2/3.

    As for ROM, I can't touch my ears to my shoulders - not even close, have to arch back to look up to see the top shelf in the super market, can't see to shave my arms, and can't touch my chest with my chin. Hope that helps.

    Has your doctors had you undergo a NCV/EMG testing yet? This way they can hopefully tell if the issues are from the neck, or you have a 'crush' somewhere down-line in your shoulder, elbow or hand. Please let us know what you find out. Again, welcome aboard!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thanks for the warm welcome--so much appreciated. I have not had a NCV/EMG test, but my NS did show me where the problems lie right on my imaging on the computer screen. The headaches are not horrendous, but are constant and I would say, a definite nuisance. Thanks so much---will keep everyone posted. I have a surgery date of 12/20/10--so long as Blue Choice doesn't hassle me on it.

  • Hi Charlie,
    I had anterior fusion and posterior laminectomy October 7, 2009. I was very concerned about my ROM afterward. Now that it has been a year, I have more ROM than I expected. I always had issues turning my head to the left and that hasn't improved except it doesn't hurt as much. But I can look over my right shoulder look up and down, though I can't stay in those positions for any length of time. My point is, I have excellent range of motion considering my neck is mostly metal now. I am surprised I can look up at the sky or a squirrel in a tree. I can look over my shoulders when driving now without any problems. It was difficult to do when I first began driving after surgery. Everyone is different, so I cannot speak for others, but I am very satisfied with the ROM results of my surgery from 1 year ago.
    Good luck to you!
  • Robin,

    I'm impressed! I must have drawn the short straw as I have far less ROM than you, and you have more levels than I. Wow! Haven't thought about looking over my shoulder - just tried, can't. Weird how that works. Maybe my C2/3 spurs and bulge is restricting me more than I thought!


    One thing I forgot about that Robin brings up. Before each of my fusions, my ROM was reduced a lot due to pain, and after the surgeries, the ROM *might* have even been the same, but with no pain, it felt like I got more ROM back! So hopefully you will experience a similar result. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hey everyone, it's been quite awhile.....and I did read everyone's posts, thanks for your help and wishes back in November. I decided to put off this surgery, in part because I can't really afford to take time off, and after 4 total surgeries between Feb 2006 and July of '09, I had enough (3 of these were fusions and hardware add-ons for L4-S1, combined).

    Certainly, my situation isn't any better. For awhile, I have "gotten by", but I'm getting worse. I still have the same symptoms as outlined in my original post, the tingly/crawly feeling near my right ear and right side of my head seems more pronounced, and now I have weakness in right shoulder and soreness along with it in the shoulder.

    My Neurosurgeon's office (NS is Dr. Zeidman in Rochester) also has a doctor that does fluoroscopic injections and I'm seeing him Thursday (6/2) for consult. Does anyone here think this is a good or bad idea? Would it help? Any input is good and Thanks!

    Well wishes to all!
  • I had to have 2 cervical injections with fluoroscopy in order for comp to approve my much NEEDED surgery...

    With the first injection I felt good the very next day...slightly tender where the injection was given on the side of the neck...but the high dose of steroids made me feel like super woman along with the numbing meds...it numbed the arm for about 12 hrs and I felt NO pain in it...but within 2 wks it was wearing off and I felt like Oscar the Grouch again....

    With the second injection they went in from the back of my neck and I thought I was going to go through the ceiling from the very beginning...my injection site needed iced for a week....bruised...VERY tender...they gave me a HIGHER dose of steroids that ended up giving me MAJOR side effects....

    I had to go to another town to get the injections...so we were staying in a hotel room while I was having hot flashes...headaches...nausea...diarrhea...sorry just want to let you know...and the damn thing didn't even make me feel one bit better!!!
    Those are my 2 experiences with the injections...

    As for ROM I am 7 wks post op yesterday and my ROM is somewhat like Aviatrix36440...as she described in her post...

    Hope this helps...keep us updated....
  • Hi Sarah,

    Hope you're feeling better post-op. I have been doing quite a bit of reading on the boards here and other sources on the internet. My NS (whom I trust and believe in) says I should get it fixed.....I just have been through 4 previous surgeries already, one being the fusion on C5-C7. My real trouble spot as of Nov 2010 is C3-C4 and 4-5 doesnt look great either, so that would fuse me from 3 to 7. Symptoms are worsening rather fast and from all I have read, injections are a crap-shoot and it seems many folks go through similar things you have. Somethings telling me I may be better off just getting it fixed, mine isn't comp so hopefully it will be easier with my HMO.

    I appreciate your input, Sarah and hope you have a speedy recovery! :-)

Sign In or Register to comment.