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Lots of neck problems!

charlie6017charlie6017 Posts: 412
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:53 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi everyone......I orginally posted on my neck issues (as well as lower back issues) back in November. I received some good responses, and wish to update. The original thread is in the Back/Neck Surgery forum, but wanted to cross-post here in the Neck Pain forum as well.....so my original post from November is next below, and the following post after that is from earlier today......any input and thoughts are great and Thank You!!

Charlie
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  • 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

  • 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!
    Charlie

  • Sorry I can't help much other than to say welcome back and I hope someone who has more experience than me will give you some good advice.

    I am new to cervical problems (or newly diagnosed anyway). I will be interested to hear what others say as I also have C3/4 and C4/5 compression on my cord. I also get frequent headaches and have the tingling/crawling feeling on either side of my face in front of my ears.

    Did you find that your surgery gave you relief?

  • Hi Jelly,
    Thanks! I can relate, as I also had cord compression before cervical fusion in 2007. Before that, I had trouble lifting my arm up above my shoulder. Afterward, I had much improvement. Dr. Zeidman is a very good NS, no doubt. This is discouraging, it's getting harder to function again due to increasing weakness, and I find myself frequently moving arms and fingers around, and kind of "shaking them" to get feeling. Not sure if epidurals will help or not.
  • I never heard of fluoroscopic injections which you mentioned. I used epidural injections for years for help with cervical related pain. It stopped working. I recently had ACDF 4 level surgery because of pinching of the spinal chord.

    I am glad you have confidence in your NS. It really helps when you're in good hands.

    KarenD
    KarenD
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • Hi Charlie,

    If I was in your shoes and there is no risk of paralysis I would most definitely being trying all conservative approaches to include injections. I have seen members come here and utilize conservative therapy and it worked for them and they are out living busy everyday life. If they don't work you can always do surgery later, but I would give it a shot. I am a 4 level fusion myself and there isn't much movement or rotation. Keep in mind surgery doesn't always fix the pain either. It sounds as though you trust and respect your surgeon so I would go with the treatment he/she is prescribing for you.
  • I agree, and that's why I put off the surgery at the end of last year. Dr. Zeidman, my NS actually wanted to do the surgery when I visited his office last November, and it was such a whirlwind (as it usually is) and we set up surgery for 12/20. Ultimately I cancelled, and put off everything. Now I have gotten even worse and it's not even easy to sit here and type. More symptoms and pain......are epidurals worth it?

    Thanks :-)
    Charlie
  • Welcome back. I'm also having problems above my cervical fusion and because I had a 3-lvl at C4-7, the problems are pretty high up at C2/3 and 3/4. Surgery is absolutely a last resort for both me and my surgeon, so he'd like to do injections also.

    I can't afford them at the moment, but will widdle down my deductible throughout this year (with additional problems in my lumbar as well) and hopefully be able to afford injections at the end of the year as well as a MRI on my lumbar to see what's happening there.

    It's just too difficult to even fathom having more surgery at those upper levels, knowing it'll have to be posterior and a long recovery, not to mention what it will do to my cervical spine once the surgical part is healed.

    So I'm anxious to hear if you have any success with injections if you decide to have them. I'll have to be on my death bed to have more cervical surgery and that's a long, long ways away.

    Good luck and please do keep us posted.
    Cathie

  • I am also interested in this questions.

    I suppose that if they reduce the inflamation then they could help, perhaps even in a case like mine, where there is a disc compressing the cord.

    I have been referred to pain management, but there is no way I will have epidural injections into my neck before I get a chance to talk to someone about what they hope to achieve and what the risks are. I have a small spinal canal so things are pretty tight in my neck. If they are only hoping to gain some pain control for me, then I will pass. I am managing my pain and headaches fairly well myself.

    I'll be watching your story Charlie, to see how you get on. Do you have a date for epidural injections?

  • Hello,
    No date as of yet, have to have consult and to see if he wants more new imaging because my myelogram was in October, and I have had more new pain and symptoms since.....we shall see! :-)

    Charlie
  • Hi Charlie,

    I have c3 thru t1 level fusion front and back. Your question about mobility. I'm pretty good. I can't look at my toes without bending forward. I can't turn side to side all the way anymore but have ajusted. I can look up with no problems. I do have some pain everyday. But I don't shake like crazy anymore. and I have no numbness in my arms. Some nerve twitching though. I'm glad I had it done. But I really didn't have a choice. Either surgery or wheelchair in the future. I chose surgery. I'm 46 and too young to be put down. I had my surgery in the Twin Cities Spine Center, Abbott Northwestern. This was my second surgery. I had c56 c67 done in 2003. c67 didn't fuse and the surgeon then put the screws in wrong and it blew out the disc below. Plus the good ole domino affect.
    It was a tough surgery this time and the healing takes awhile. I didn't think it was too bad. A 6 day stay with 3 days in ICU. Swallowing issues to watch.

    Let us know how you're doing!
  • I wanted to follow up with you. I met with a few surgeons before my surgery, and they all talked about the importance of removing the pressure on the chord to prevent further damage - first and foremost, and with the potential of improvement.

    I am 4+ weeks out from 4 level ACDF - C3 - C7. I just got released from wearing the hard neck brace, and I felt confident enough the next day to do a little driving locally. I have decent mobility - about the same looking right, a little more limited looking left.

    I hope you have relief soon.

    KarenD
    KarenD
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • Hi Everyone,
    Thanks for your kind comments. Karen, I'm glad you're doing well after your recent surgery! I postponed Thursday's consult with the pain management doc, and made an appointment for Friday with the PA at NS's office. Reason being, the recent changes in symptoms......I truly believe something drastic changed with the new weakness in right shoulder and arm, plus more intense crawly feeling by right ear and cramping in forearms and hands. This is scary! But anyway, I truly appreciate everyone's kindness here, and enjoy your night! :-)

    Charlie
  • Good Evening,

    I had my appointment this afternoon at the NS's office with one of his PA's, a very nice lady. I told her of my symptoms, she examined me thoroughly and confirmed pretty much what I figured would happen. I need to have this fusion fairly quickly, especially with the loss of strength, tinglys on side of head, and down arms into hands, and the headaches. I have a date of 7/25, and they said they will get me in sooner if there is a cancellation. The surgeon (Dr. Zeidman) will fuse C3 thru C5 to complete the C3-C7, and she also said based upon exam, C7-T1 may not be good either. Just thought I would give a heads-up. Hope everyone is well, and keep the chins up! :-)

    Charlie
  • Howdy Charlie,

    I'm glad you got in with your NS's PA for further follow up. Sorry to hear surgery is on the table, but glad to see that they are being very pro-active with you.

    Are you going for another opinion, or are you comfortable with your present surgeon?

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

    May sound weird, but I actually am sort of glad, because he is a very good surgeon and I do trust him. I have always felt relief afterward. He has done all four previous surgeries, really he has been the only one willing to work on me........before going to him, 3 surgeons passed on me.
  • Hehehe...I don't see that as weird! You know him, you trust him, and he's done right by you so far. That's the key, trust, faith and comfortable.

    Let's see, "weird" because your happy to get this surgery? Nope, been there, done that...moving in that direction again! (G)

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

    I'm totally greatful for all the support.......people are awesome here! Just looking forward to relief......they may get me in sooner, they said I am myelopathic. Both C3-C4 and C4-C5 are pushing into spinal column a bit. I hope you feel better as well! :-)

    Charlie
  • Spam spam...GO AWAY! Yeah right, yoga and twisting with nerve related back issues. I guess you don't get it (spine issues)...big surprise!! You people make me sick!

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • HI,
    Gee, another surgery, but what can you do? If you trust this dr, and symptoms are worse, you really don't have a choice.. I'm sure your dr will do his/her best on you, and you may be bit stiff but that's better than what you have now! I hope all goes well for you.
    Frannie
  • Hello,

    Yes, I do trust this surgeon.....it's just my spine that doesnt like me, like everyone here. Hopefully this will be the last one....but I said that before....and before that time, too, etc. :-P

    Charlie
  • Charlie,

    Hopefully 'sooner' will be the word of the day soon. Myelopathy is nothing to play with. You now have a trusted surgeon, you're comfortable with the idea of having surgery now, and there is a game play of action.

    As for folks on here, you nailed it! A great place and wonderful folks "who get it" as they say. :)

    (glad to see the mods got that spam crap out of your thread)

    Brenda

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

    I have a couple things and would like to know what you think.....I have been noticing that I have been dropping things more frequently as this progresses, more clumsiness/off-balance/bumping door frames and such, also more numbness in the left hand and getting harder to fully straighten the fingers after holding things---and of course, the pain. Is this stuff "commonplace?"

    Not liking it! :-(

    Charlie

  • Yes, I believe these are all symptoms of cervical spine problems.

    Are you being 'watched' by a doctor.
    Make sure that they know that your symptoms are increasing, especially about the off balance and bumping into door frames. I have that too, and my neurosurgeon told me yesterday that if it increases to become common place, I should contact them.

    Not liking it either! :(

    Hey, I just saw that you have surgery scheduled for 25th July, so they have already decided that surgery is necessary.

    I am still in the 'watching and waiting' stage.

  • Hi Jelly!

    Yes, surgery is July 25th......Pre-op appts are 7/7 at both the Neuro's office and the hospital afterward--also have to have a vocal chord evaluation 7/11 to assess those....so the ball is rolling, at least! :-)

    Hope you are doing okay!

    Charlie

  • I will be thinking of you and really feeling for you. :-)

    I am doing okay.
    No plans for surgery at the moment, and they are going to 'watch and wait' to see how things progress.
    I am being sent to Pain Management - don't like the sound of the epidural injections. Have you had any of those, and if so, did they help?

    I have to have nerve conduction studies and have had x-rays in various positions. Awaiting the results of those.

    I am still having various symptoms, which I am now trying to ignore and pretend I am fine.


    Charlie, I really hope that this surgery will place you in a position where you can get back to your life.

    :-)
  • Hey Jelly,

    Thanks a million for your thoughts, and am thinking of you as well! I considered the epidurals also, but it really sounded like a crap-shoot at best. Then after I went to Neuro's office a couple weeks ago and spoke of my increasing symptoms, they said that wouldn't be a feasable option because of the levels of damage, anyway. Really, it's pretty much, "fix it, or risk being in a wheelchair later".

    I am still working---I'm a school bus driver in New York State, today was the last day of school! :-)
    But I want to continue to work as long as I can, but I do worry that I may not be able to do that the rest of my career; I have been doing this for 10 years and I truly love it. However, they are not completely comfortable--but they're better now than they ever used to be.

    But anyway, I hope you are feeling better and I do hope everything goes well for you......you're in my thoughts! :-)

    Charlie
  • Sorry to hear you are starting to get the "butter finger"(s) going on. My right hand will always be like that, but now my left is starting to do that, and too my handwriting is now suffering the changes.

    Make sure you let your doctor know of these changes. I think I read somewhere that you were about to have surgery? If so, hopefully most of your symptoms will be resolved with it. Support *HUGZ* to ya!!

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