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Neck Surgery

Mindymork62MMindymork62 Posts: 207
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I found out today that I need neck surgery. I have two nerves that are compressing the spinal cord almost completely, and two discs that are ruptured. I just had a double fusion at L 3/4 & L 4/5 last July, so I wasn't expecting this, and totally not expecting another surgery so soon. I've been experiencing like electrical sensations in my neck for the past few months, so I knew it was getting worse, plus not being able to turn my neck very far in any direction. If I said I wasn't scared, I'd be lying, but I am. My neck is the one part of my body I don't like anyone touching. I'll have to check out some of the posts here on what to expect. He said he would be going in through the front, and also taking bone from my own hip to do a fusion. Any comments or words of encouragement would be appreciated.


  • Howdy Mindy,

    I've had 2 surgeries for my neck now (fusions), and most likely this year a revision + another level, and my C2/3 will need to be addressed soon as well. NOT happy about C2/3 over all of it.

    Anyways, like any surgery, we tend to worry a lot (NORMAL!!), and then find that when they do the surgery, we awake, zing pain gone, numb gone etc. I had that with my first fusion. I was so dang happy I cried in the recovery room! The poor nurse, she thought I was in pain! (G) I too wasn't to thrilled about sharp objects near my spine in my neck. My second one I wasn't as lucky as when the disk herniated, it did it rather strongly, and damaged my nerves permanently. But progression was stopped, so I don't see that surgery as a failure either.

    You seem to be reacting normally. Mine were ACDF (discectomy from the front, bone graph to fuse, hardware). They tend to follow the creases in your neck, so the scars aren't that bad, and they don't cut much muscle, so not so bad there as well. My next (revision) will be a diagonal, and then they will finish from the back to shore it all up.

    If I can help answer questions, please ask, or feel free to PM me. Sorry to see you are now part of the neckie club! I'm pending L2/3/4...as well.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,846
    I've had two ACDF's about 4 years apart. First was for C4/C5 and the second for C6/C7. Both times I was fused with bone taken from my hip. After surgery, I had to wear a hard collar 24x7 for 7 weeks.

    Looking at my cervical and lumbar surgeries, I would have to say that the cervical was an easier recovery for me.

    Being multi-level fused, I still have restrictions moving left to right and up and down

    Take a look at these Spine-Health articles Back and Neck Surgery
    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
  • Sorry to hear you are joining the Spiney club however you came to the right place for support. This forum is filled with many wonderful people in the same or similar situations!
    I had a 2-level ACDF surgery (C5/C6 & C6/C7) on Dec 6th so I am almost 3 months post-op. Dr's said I have "crappy" discs probably Degenarative Disk Disease and while I was caring for my 4 year old son who was in a body cast for a broken femur bone I injured my neck. I lifted his wheelchair out of my car and felt something pull or pop in my neck. I continued to care for my son for about 6 weeks (sleeping on ice packs for the pain and taking over the counter meds) When I finally got my MRI I had 2 disks compressing my spinal cord severely with no strength in my right arm at all and no feeling in 3 fingers. The last 2 weeks before my surgery my pain was severe! I was scared to death of this surgery because like you I did not want anyone let alone a surgeon opening up my neck. Like the others though found immediate relief from the moment I woke up in recovery. The severe pain was gone. I still have minimal muscle weakness in my right arm that I am working thru in Physical Therapy. I still have some pain but now on the left side which they believe is muscle and when I over-do it .. I had to wear a hard collar for 2 weeks and I wear a bone stimulator for 10 hours per day as they used donar bone on me ...
    the hardest part is the 1st week - needing help even with personal care stuff and then after that got easier!
    I was released to begin Physical Therapy at my 1 month Follow-up appt and hoping at my 3 month appt next week I will be released back to work!
    Is your surgery scheduled yet? Which Disks are they removing? Keep us posted and we are here for you! Take Care!
  • Hey Mindy,

    Well that bites about having another surgery, but the good thing is you kind of know what to expect in the way of surgery. Sense they are using your own hip bone, as I have as well, most of the post op pain your going to feel should be from the hip. Sense you had lumbar surgery and using your hip bone just be extra careful not to injure your back in anyway trying to get up with a hip incision. Typically the pain from a neck surgery itself isn't as bad as a lumbar surgery, which leads patients to a false sense of security thinking they can do more. However it is major surgery and you need to follow the lifting restrictions to the letter. Keep in mind the risk involved in neck surgery are higher as they are working around the cord, hence the cautions post surgery. Your biggest issue is going to be in doing things with your arms. For example while pouring milk right now may not be hard for you post surgery that might be a little challenging. Of course the other thing you might have some issues with post surgery is swallowing which some get and some don't but usually subsides in a few weeks.

    There are lots of threads here dealing with the surgery itself, along with the animated video which shows the procedure that you can watch. As far as the collar goes depending on the degree of the surgery will depend on wether a collar or brace is needed. Of course there are many of us with neck surgery floating around and willing to offer any knowledge we have, as questions or concerns arise.
  • I have Osteoarthritis in my spine and hands, knees etc... so I know I will need extra help. I use a cane to get around, and I have Osteoporosis. I've lived with my neck problem for yours, but this last MRI looked very bad, that's why he wants to do the surgery as soon as possible. he wasn't trying to scare me, but I could see concern in his eyes. I have recovered very slowly from the fusion in my lower back and still have much pain, but the fusion itself looks great. he said the cage and screws were giving me most of the problem now, which he will take out in August. Thanks for all the good advice here, it really helps. One question though. Will I have to be on a breathing tube afterward? he also says I will be in the hospital 2 or 3 days, is that normal? It will be nice to be pain free and no numbness again.
  • I have had bone marrow removed from my hip and deposited in my lower back L3-L4-L5-S1. I have also had Cadaver bone installed in my neck C4-C5-C6-C7 instead of bone from my hip. The bone marrow from your own hip has been proven to be more successful than any other type of fusion. They call it a Gutter fusion. I will be very honest with you about this! The removal of the bone from my hip, in my opinion, was a lot more pain full than the back surgery. Have you asked your Doctor about the Cadaver bone instead of the hip bone marrow? I have had very good success with both. The cadaver bone is also one less area of surgery to worry about. This statement is what Doctors have told me in the past. I am not a Dr. I can only tell you what my past experiences have been. Good luck to you in the future. P.S. I have never been on a breathing tube.
  • Hi; and i have been thru that twice.
    In 1992, i had a c3/c4 fusion, and in 1995 i had a c6/c7 fusion.
    Both times the NS used bone from my hip and went in thru the front.
    I had a 5 day hosp. stay and i was completely healed and back to work driving a semi-truck in 3 months.
    I wore a hard brace for 6 weeks, and then a soft brace for 6 weeks.

    My hardest part of healing was the hip pain.
    I could'nt wear pants or sweatpants, due to the pressure it was putting on the hip.
    So i got a pair of them "farmer bib's" to wear and that was fine for me to wear.

    I smoked at the time, and did not use a "bone growth stim" and had no problems fusing.
    Now with my lumbar a 2 level fusion i had 3/19/10, it's a different story. Lot's harder recovery,

    Hope this helps you and the best of luck.
  • I'm sorry to hear that you need surgery, but sometimes it's the only way for relief and stopping progression of future problems.

    I had a breathing tube in during my ACDF surgery, in fact I think most, if not all, need this because they move the trachea out of the way and it could collapse without it. I also believe that's what causes some people to have swallowing problems post-op, soreness being the least problem (that's all I had).

    So I don't know if that answers your question, but what I've posted is pretty standard. I wasn't catheterized for my cervical surgery like I was for my lumbar surgery, so hopefully you won't have to experience that. I was only in the hospital 1.5 days, but each patient has their own experience and I wouldn't worry about being in the hospital for an extra day, if they deem it necessary.

    Take care and please keep us posted. Oh, what levels are they wanting to fuse? And do you know if you'll be wearing a brace?
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    either way... you'll be fine .. we'll be here to help!!

    Warmest regards,

    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

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