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Question regarding lifting heavy things with cervival issues

grandmesamomggrandmesamom Posts: 181
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I have had 2 seperate cervical fusions,had a spinal cord compression and diagnosed with cervical myelopathy and radiculapthy.My left arm has never recovered from the pain and weakness and now I have severe pain in both arms. I was on light duty for 5 months and put on full duty thereafter. My job requires me to be able to lift from 5 to 65 pounds on occasion.Thankfully I have wonderful coworkers who look out for me and will do most lifting for me. Recently I have been required to lift heavy things. It has made my hardly bearable condition unbearable!! My arms hurt and burn and I am very uncoordinated with the use of my arms. They are weak! Why would a NS tell me its okay to do this heavy lifting. When I talked to my Physiatrist about this she felt that I gave it my best shot and I should consider disability. I want to work but do not want to make my situation worse.Am I crazy thinking heavy lifting can cause further damage? Thoughts anyone?



  • O:) I am almost identical in your description of your situation. I can not lift over 10 pounds ever. I have nerve damage in the left arm/hand/thumb. Yes that side aches and throbs daily, even on my medications. I was not able to return to work and have filed disability. My ns was not supportive, his job was to secure my neck and take the pressure off of the spinal cord. My neuro doctor and regular doctor are supportive. I can only speak for my own condition, but I would certainly be cautious in lifting.

    Best wishes in your recovery.
  • Hello Betty,

    I too have 2 separate fusions in my neck. My NS basically said "let your body tell you what you can and can't do." With that said, if you are feeling pain, or (worse yet) "new" pain, you can be doing damage. My second fusion was due to 'adjacent level failure', and 6 or 7 months past that surgery, guess what? My next level is now failing! Your LIFE's health is not worth any job! I was a pilot and in law enforcement, and like you after my last surgery, a lot of the pain was gone, but the weakness, numbness etc., still there. I was forced to retire via disability.

    Have you talked with your supervisor or HR department to see if they can adjust your main job duties (accommodate you) to fit your medical issues? Some employers will work with you. But your health is not worth any job in my opinion. Please keep us posted on how it goes. I hope you are feeling better soon. Gentle *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • your surgeon sounds like mine.He states he repaired the cord compression so I should be near normal. I think all of my problems had to do with heavy lifting and not being kinder to my spine. It took exactly one year for the adjacent disc to fail after my first fusion.My family doc and Physiatrist want me to try for disability but I never brought it up to him because I am a little intimidated by him. I can tell you this a neurosurgeon would not be able to perform surgery if he had what I have.
  • Brenda you are right that my health is not worth any job. I have not talked to HR as they are in another state and they have no idea the level of my disability. I am a very cheerful person and I am embarrased to discuss my complicated issues with anyone. I am way too young for this. Disability sounds so final to me. I also know if I keep on ignoring my symptoms I may end up far worse than I already am. I a scheduled for a MRI next week and flexion xrays. The bright side of this is if I don't do ANYTHING with my arms the pain is bearable.
    I can't even clap my hands at my sons football game without extreme pain and weakness. Things gotta get better soon. I may need to ask some members of spine health wheter my condition would qualify for disability.
  • I like that name "Bethy", cool! I was with the federal government (US), so when my spine issues caused the weakness and mobility issues (hands / legs)critical (or they call it 'essential') issues required of my job I could no longer do. I was therefore given 4 options:

    Retire (I was a year short at the time)
    Transfer to another job (couldn't as none in my pay grade within the commuting distance)
    Retire via Disability (The option I took)
    Resign or...
    "We will begin process to remove you from your position.

    Fair options, but rather stiff of course. The ironic part? I was approved to retire (dis) 2 months before I could have retired regular! $$ wise, no real difference.

    I don't consider retirement as a 'final' to my life. A LOT of my stress reduced, so mentally I am in a better place. It took me like 4 months to really *realize* I was "retired" done, no more bosses, no more 'asking permission', no more work stress etc. If you wrap your head around that *you* as a person are still the same, your job is all that changed. You would then be financially where you have an income, but too can find another job if you really want that won't increase the risk to your neck. :)

    When I was a year and a month post fusion, I yawned, yep, just yawned and blew my C6/7, now 6 or 7 months later (was just retiring when this happened), my C7/T1 started to go! I think I signed the wrong warranty card! (G) So as you can see, heavy work alone might not ruin another level! I will keep you in my thoughts. Try and talk with your supervisor if you can. I fully understand your reluctance on "telling" this boss your personal health issues, but it might let you stay in your job that you love "with" modifications. *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Wow, that's some heavy lifting for any spiney, especially one with myelopathic and radiculopathic problems. It seems that with the lumbar, you can make accmocations for lifting (using the legs) but being a neckie also (I have had a lumbar surgery, but my cervical is still my biggest mess) I know that it's so easy to hurt that area. (Ok, it's not easy for a lumbar spiney to lift either, I know.)

    I really feel for you. I'm trying to find a job that's not going to bother either of my areas and if the economy were better, I might just be able to find one. Isn't there a publisher out there that would like me to read books, proofread them and even lay them out on a computer and rate them? Is that too much to ask? LOL Yes, it is.

    How does your family feel about disability? How bad will it affect you financially? What about health insurance?

    In understand the very difficult situation you're in and hope that you can find a resolution to the problem and not be too adversely affected. We spineys have too much going on sometimes and have to make difficult choices.

    That's why this is such a wonderful place to come and put down our problems, thoughts and reach out to others. My thoughts are with you and hope you find a way out of this situation without any further burdens to you, your family and your finances.

    Take care, Bethy. We all understand your frustration and are here for you.

  • Thanks Cathie for your reply. I know I would be in a much better place mentally for myself and my family. I get so frustrated at home because I can't do the housework I used to do and I hate a messy house. The family and especially my husband help as much as possible.They are supportive and my husband thinks I should go on disability but he doesn't realize how difficult it is to get approved.
    I only have a short term disability that will pay for 15 weeks of my pay.After that I guess I would have to appply for SSD. I would do it in a minute if I thought I would get approved but you hear all of the stories of denials and we could not survive without my pay.
    I really feel my life is at risk if I continue to lift heavy things. The NS had told me I was millimeters away from being paralyzed last surgery.
    I hope someone on spine health can give me advice on social security disability process. I am just very scared. I know that my job can't make any accomodations for me and if they know the level of my disability I may be fired. I almost feel I need a plan to out smart my job.
    Sorry for the ramble but I really do appreciate your advice and thoughts. You guys are able to bring things to light I didn't think of. Thank you again. Bethy
  • Grandmesamom, I think you should think about a couple of options:

    1) You say your doctor and neurologist support you. Use their support to get an opinion (ASAP) from another neurosurgeon. Like Cathie, I have had both cervical and lumbar surgeries; I still have significant problems at both levels. What you are describing is serious enough that I think a neurosurgeon should be brought up to speed and his support sought as well.

    2) As for the horror stories about Social Security Disability... Yes, it is a slow process, many times too slow. But don't go into it afraid that you'll be turned down. Most of those first-time denials are because files are incomplete, the patient never had a history of treatment for any condition, or they had never had a job where Social Security taxes were withheld. You'd be surprised at some of the stories of people trying to get disability because of pregnancy, or migraines. I just went through the application process, and I used a lawyer. We filed in mid-March of this year, when I was about 4 weeks away from my 50th birthday. I had multiple supporting documents (MRI, CT, myelogram reports) as well as letters from my GP (internist) and neurogurgeon. My GP filled out a Residual Fuction form that showed fully my problems. I found out on Wednesday that I had been fully approved (after a week or two at Quality Assurance), so in total it was about 7-1/2 months. We were cruising on one paycheck, used all our savings and retirement funds, and were terrified we'd lose our new house (the only one I've ever owned). In the end it worked out. Get your paperwork, files, doctors all in a row... think about hiring a lawyer who specializes in disability... and do what you need to do to take care of yourself.

    3) Remember, if you keep going you put both your health and your employer at risk if you have further injury to your neck. Think about the job you do, and how others are needed to cover for you. It's wonderful that they would go the extra mile for you, but sooner or later everyone wears down after regular heavy lifting.

    I wish you the best of luck with your situation. Just remember, it *can* get better -- if not your neck itself, at least the circumstances that lead to extra pain.

    Take care!
  • Thanks Babybubbles that is a little more encouraging. I feel that I have all of the documentation needed.
    I too had lumbar fusion at 37,cervical fusion at 47,another cervical fusion at 48. I have diagnosis of myelopathy,radiculapathy, and kyphosis. I also have a neurogenic bladder from the spinal cord compression and I have to cath myself at times to empty my blasdder. Everyone tells me I should qualify for SSD but you never know what they consider serious enough. I always overthink things.It's a big fault of mine because I always worry what people might think of me.I guess I want to give the apperance that I am mentally and physically strong when I am not.Bethy
  • Bethy, you *are* mentally and physically strong... just not for that job anymore. We're all much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. But I do understand what you're saying.

    Gather up your paperwork and go talk to your doctor about this. You'll need his/her support with this, as well as any medical provider you can think of. You should also be seen on a regular basis by your doctor(s), at least every 3 months or less.

    Sit down with your family and discuss your options. You do need to have stopped working before you can apply for SSDI. See what you have in savings, where you can cut your budget down. Do you really need cable TV? Can you go out to dinner once a month, say, instead of once a week? Things like that.

    Not to say it will be easy, or you won't have moments of worry. But with everything being submitted in a timely manner, and the support of your doctors and family, I think you should come through the other side ok. :)
  • i can understand your situation about being told by a nerosurgeon that you can lift,(heavy things).my thoughts are they do not fully understand the outcome of patients after the surgeries.with pain issues.that'a my thought's,i ended up on disability 1/12 yr after my second surgery. actualy at the age of 36 my first surgery my pain specialist suggested disability and i looked at him and laughed- i was in pain at the time but-i i dealt with it for 71/2 yrs later and ended up doing more damage to myself. so my best advice would be- no heavy lifting- i had a job that had alot of lifting involved, and i do believe that's what happened with my neck, i made it worse. so please a kind word of advice- protect yourself from a bigger ordeal down the road.
  • Thanks for your input. Thats exactly how I feel regarding bigger ordeals down the road. I really don't understand the Neurosurgeons idea that I can do full duty when his partner who is my pain specilaist suggests that I go on disability. I am 49 now and everytime I lift up something I am so scared of further injury. You know when they do the flexion extension xrays on your neck? Mine shows cervival movement and I already have small bulging disc above and below the two fusions I already have.I really do worry about causing more damage than I already have. I don't get these Drs . They all act like your a big baby.
  • For a second, pretend your NS is a "normal person." I say that because unless *they* have been through this sort of pain, even though they know more than most the physical aspects of the plumbing, they're not the ones with the abnormal plumbing!

    They get the book knowledge and learn the physical knowledge through experience, but other than that....until they walk in those shoes for a mile...it is easy to see them figuring they fixed this or that, so you shouldn't hurt anymore. My NS was very supportive to my disability retirement, but just seeing the expressions on his face at times told me he didn't truly understand the levels and extent of the pain I felt.

    The NS also remember his specialty is cutting, so he does his job, did it well, but your body didn't respond as he predicted. Your PM specializes in addressing the hows and whys of pain generation, and as such can empathize with you and too the connection and effects of your working. Hope that helps. Support *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • You are so right Brenda in how you explained it. I remember the Ns telling me about 3 months postop "I fixed your cord compression so work with your pain md" My Physiatrist would tell me that surgeons do surgery and they don't care about follow up.I remember that he also documented that life stessors were getting in the way of me getting better. Isn't that some BS?If he had very weak arms he would be stressed also.
    He also told my husband that surgery would stop the progression of the myelopathy but he wouldn't commit to me getting my strength back. I'm not sure how much support I can get from this guy regarding disability but I have come to realize that my health is more important than a job. Bethy
  • Glad to be able to help! :) My NS and GP take care of my pain medications, but when my surgeon saw I did not improve on the last surgery, he kind of, well, brushed me off sending me back to the Neurologist! Phooey!

    The one good thing I will add though for my NS, he was very clear on both of my surgeries that the procedure would stop further progression, but no guarantee to resolve present symptoms. My second one is proof of that frank warning. Given a 're-do', I think I would have made the same decisions, so I guess that's a good thing - no "decision" regrets. :)

    My GP "gets" the pain issues. I don't know if someone in her family has spine issues or what, but she seems to understand. Plus is commonality. Most can relate to a person with cancer, or a broken arm (sadly, common), but spine issues are so varied, and most times invisible, so people don't get it, nor understand it - they can't compare it to what they know.

    Stress, stress, did you mean STRESS!! (G) I think at times stress adds so much to the day to day pain. With stress comes emotional ups and downs, and with the changes (chemically) in our bodies, it all ties with sensations and for us, pain. I have my down days no question, but I am working hard of late to keep the "sad me" out of the room! I hope you are feeling better today. *HUGZ*

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