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Partial fusion of C3 & C4 NOT due to surgery..anyone else?

blu_river5bblu_river5 Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:51 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I have been dealing with neck & shoulder pain and overwhelming headaches for about 16 years now. The pain has grown in intensity causing more and more concern as the years passed. My first course of treatment some 10 years ago was to go a chiropractor. Due to my symptoms he did an x-ray and quite seriously asked me if my mother had ever admitted to dropping me on my head as a child..I laughed..At first, he then explained what he saw which was as he stated " a fusion of C3 & C4 and degeneration of C5 due to it's overcompensating for the fused vertebra. At last, I thought, I'm not crazy, lazy, hypochondriac etc.. A real reason for my pain. Moving forward, I did have an MRI set up by my GP with a neurologist. She stated quite matter of factly there was no real reason I should be in so much pain (although she saw the fusion and arthritis) and the pain pills I had been prescribed should be replaced by muscle relaxers- end of conversation. OK?? My GP listened to me and believed I was not a "drug seeker" he has been my provider for years so we continued on. I, on my own accord saw an orthopedic DR., he quickly did the series of flex tests and made a couple snide remarks and sent me packing. Hopelessness again that I would never find a cure if you will, a true solution to what could be done to end this misery. Finally my GP has referred me to a pain management DR. He has started with steroid inj. in the right side of neck. One month later upon return visit we decided to to epidural midline? (base of neck) inj. He has told me that I have stenosis, spondylosis, something wrong with my facet joints I guess based on the old MRI. I have now at his request had a new MRI at a different hospital ( a point he made) and will see him Friday for the results and next set of inj. I suppose. My goodness, I forgot to mention he believes the fusion could be due to a violent car accident (air bound and impacted 4 times on the topside of the car) but upon my own research all I ever find is either find is fusion from surgery or congenital. Any input would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.


  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find many whom deal with cervical spine issues including myself. I think if the fusion is not congenital then there is such a thing as a auto fusion. Meaning the disc is gone and the vertebra began fusing together. Don't try to focus on what happened sense it is so old, but focus on what they can do to help the pain.

    At the top of the page is a search feature and some of the terms you listed above you should place in there and it will lead to some great articles, written by doctors and peer reviewed. Just get very knowledgeable of the cervical spine. You might also want to learn about cervical radiculopathy, and chronic myofascial pain syndrome. Both of which we have great animated video's on.

    How have the injections done so far? It is true that neck patients usually need a lot of help with the muscle relaxers, so be sure to stay up on those. Let us know how you make out on the MRI results. Once again welcome to spine-health.
  • Thank you for your welcome and advice. I have been looking into the terms you gave me and will see what the PM doc has to say about the new MRI. Thank you for your concern. Samantha
  • Here is the report..Maybe you can help tell me what this means to you.--Findings: Obtained w/o contrast. A posterior lateral disc herniation is identified on the left at C4-C5. The disc herniation narrows the left C4-C5 neural foramina. Degenerative disc disease is identified at C4-C5. There is narrowing of the disc space between C3 and C4 which may be congenital.

    1.Posterior lateral disc herniation on the left at C4-C5 narrowing the left C4-C5 neural foramina
    2.Degenerative disc disease
    3. Narrowing of the disc space at C3-C4

    I was stupified that the first MRI and DR's missed the herniated disc. I have been in so much agony for so long I actually cried..more for finally being validated. BUT from x-rays in the past I was clearly told I had a fusion of C3-C4. Does this report state that? The doctor acted confused when I asked him, but while giving me medial branch/facet block injections said "yep, there it is, do you see that" to the nurse. Anyway back to the point. He said surgery is an option to consider. Again, any and all feedback would be appreciated. Oh, and no, to date the injections are not doing any good. I was in the E.R. 3 days after 2nd set in severe head, neck and shoulder pain (mainly raging out of control on the left side). My saving grace was 6mgs of IV Dilaudid and my husband. Thanks again. You'll be happy to know my yapping must come to an end as I can't sit here any longer. :-)
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