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Help Me

SaddleSSaddle Posts: 9
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:52 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
In August I had ACDF replacing C5-C6 with my own bone transfusion. I had problems originally with neck pain, left arm and hand numbness and chronic headaches. I woke up from the surgery in intense pain..below the c5-6 - in the spine right between the shoulder blades. They gave me Demerol and said it was muscle spasms. The pain resolved itself for a while.

At about 8 weeks or so, I realized that everytime I bent my head forward, my right pinky finger began tingling and then would just go numb. If I raised my arm to brush my hair or blow dry, I had the same problem. My doctor said it was muscle spasms.

I am now 8 months post ACDF and in incredible pain. My right shoulder feels like there is a pin or something poking into the center of the joint all the time. The pain radiates up the right side of my neck and down to the shoulder. I still have the problem with bending my head forward and NOW my hand burns above the thumb and pointer finger.

An EMG was done that indicated permanent damage from the C5-6 and then said something about the C7...when I asked the neurosurgeon he once again said "muscle spasms" and gave me a script for muscle relaxers. When he showed me the x-ray of the fusion which was successful, the vertebrae above the fusion looked like it was "wobbly" and out of place now. He performed an MRI and again said "everything is o.k., the fusion looks good" and dismissed me.

My GP has ordered another MRI on his own and said he was intending to send me to another specialist. This is miserable.

I can't figure out my question though. I guess I want to know if fusion surgery can cause an alignment problem and other disc issues. Oh- my original MRI analysis said "multiple bulging discs" but the neurosurgeon I saw only wanted to treat the disc that had actually ruptured and was completely gone. That was probably a good plan but now he looks at me as if I am from outer space when I complain about these problems.



  • And take it to your Primary Care Doctor, You could also ask for a Extended report from the Radiologist.

    I would not give up though. You have valid concerns and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

    I have found that Writting a letter to your Doctor telling him you do not feel as if he is listening to your concerns often helps!
  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. There are many of us floating around whom have had the surgery and had issues, so your not alone. One of the risk of doing fusion surgery is a issue called adjacent disc disease. Meaning all of the weight and stress of the fusion is place on another level. Sense your original mri showed multiple levels it is very possible. Not saying that is what happened here it is probable. Take a look at a dermatone map and see if any of the patterns match the pain you are describing. Also I would go get a copy of the mri you have already had done and read the report. On the emg study did it say denervation or did it say radiculopathy indicated. Look for those words. When you go for the new mri please be sure to do it at a different imaging center, sense you are seeing a new specialist. The opinion will be completely independent of the one you already have. Sometimes in my experience they will need to use a myelogram to really see the issue. But that would be up to the doctors of course. Are you currently taking any muscle relaxers? If not I would ask for some and see if they help. I know myself personally I would be in serious trouble without mine.

    Another thought to think about is they can put in a hardware block to see if your hardware could be causing any of your issues. What type of test did they use to confirm your fusion?

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. If i can be of any help don't hesitate to pm me. Keep us posted on how you get along.
  • I did not get any hardware. My doctor said since I was my own bone donor, that hardware was not necessary. The last x-ray he showed me the fusion had "completed" and it looked like a big long bone between the rest of the spinal bones, but like I said, the vertebrae above the fusion was "teetering" above the fusion. I was already complaining to him about the symptoms prior to this x-ray and he also did an MRI but he did not show me the MRI itself. He only said that things looked o.k. I have requested a copy of the EMG report and they refused to give it to me but said they would forward it to any doctor who requested. Since I had hand carried it to my neurosurgeon I simply remember seeing the words "permanent damage" in regards to my C5-6 and the responses and then seeing something about come C7 issues.

    When the doctor was performing the EMG, he kept telling me to relax as he poked the muscles on the back side of my right arm- the arm with the problems. It old him I WAS relaxes...I could not feel the needles so the test was not bothering me. That is where he said problems were indicated...and then of course, the nerves going into my pinky finger on the right which he said was the C-7.

    My husband has had this same surgery with a different surgeon. He frowned when I told him how mine was done and that I had no hardware and said that was "old school". He said he respects the doctor who had done my surgery of course. I asked would he take my case and he said he would only if my GP referred me. So my GP has ordered a new MRI of his own and then has agreed to refer me to the other doctor if necessary. My new MRI will be next Friday morning- it is the soonest I can get off work.

    Interestingly enough, I had way more trouble with my hip initially than my neck. I was back at work part time within 2 weeks and full time within 4 weeks. I recovered really fast and felt so much better. I strictly followed all lifting and bending rules even at work because my co-workers would assist me with doing whatever needed to be done outside of my restrictions. I have a great team of co-workers so they made things pretty easy on me. I am an accountant so I work a desk job.

    My neurosurgeon described the condition with bending my head, etc. and even ordered a brain MRI. He announced to me a month ago that I did not have MS or he could not see it on the MRI but again offered little assistance. He DID prescribe Flexeril and that has helped me a good bit.

    Can muscle spasms cause all these other problems? As time progresses though it gets worse. I am not losing sleep and feel like I am right back where I started. I walk around like a little mummy holding my arm as if it is dead most of the time, trying to find the comfortable spot. Of course, at work, I am right handed so I use the mouse, etc. with it. Everything in my work area has been ergonomically redesigned so I am pretty sure that my work environment is not the problem here...I am just falling apart.

    By the way, I am 48...and have also been diagnosied with Osteoarthritis...I am sure that's not helping either.

    Thank you for the response. I think this MRI will help a lot. It will be independent of the MRI that was done for my Neurosurgeon but at the original place that I received the original diagnosis that lead to my referral to him. I am so tired of how this has completely effected my life. I raise and train horses but in the last year, I just raise them! I have only ridden once and then it was on the most mannerly horse I have for fear of one of them making this situation worse. I think the horses are pretty glad I am disabled right now! They definitely are more willing to socialize with me!

    Like I said- thank you so much. I will let you know what I find out from my MRI. Meanwhile, I will take the muscle relaxers and pain killers as little as possible. My other fear is an addiction to them. But I think I am doing ok with that. I take a Lor 5 once a day right now...I can take another but try to avoid it. Usually taking one first thing in the morning will take the edge off and then I can function. I can take muscle relaxers at night enough to get some rest and then start over the next day.
  • I also am on Neurontin 300 mg 3 times a day. THey do give relief from the tingling and twitching of the pinky finger.
  • hey saddle I having the same problem with my neuro I have multiple problems below my surgery sight and still having same pain i had before surgery in middle of back and chest hope all goes well
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