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New here, bad neck

cathy1836ccathy1836 Posts: 18
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi, I want to introduce myself. I'm glad I found this site.
I had a successful C5-C7 fusion with titanium cage in 1999. Now I have significant osteophytes trying to fuse levels above and below the fusion. My reflexes, arm muscle weakness and tingling suggest possible nerve involvement of C6 and C8. My neck mobility is severely limited. As of a year ago, my MRI did not confirm more than arthritis. Then 3 months ago I was rear-ended at a stop light. At the time I only had aching in my neck for several days. 6 weeks later I took a driving trip which kicked up considerable neck pain and radiating arm and back of head symptoms.
I saw my spine doctor 2 weeks ago, went on 5 days of prednisone, and started aqua therapy and neck exercises. I'm also on meloxicam (NSAID). Several times a week I have to take Vicodin ES or a muscle relaxer. I'm feeling better but by no means healed. Will have an MRI in 2 months if I'm still having overt problems. I dread the onset of problems as severe as before my 1999 surgery. I am 58 and understand that I can look forward to worsening of whatever is going on. I'm on SSDI for another condition. If I were employed I wouldn't be able to work.
At this time I'm seeking support and information.


  • Welcome to the spine-health site. I've found it really helpful in gathering information and getting advice from the various resources on the site, and the open and friendly people who respond.

    I hope you get some relief soon. It's such a shame that you were in an accident. All of my issues with osteophytes and whatever else is all from me. I'm 52 and on SSDI, and at 40 I was asked if I was in an accident because my neck looked so bad.

    Good luck.
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • Thanks for the welcome, Karen. Sorry about your accident and problems. Do you know what can happen with osteophytes over time? I'm wondering if they will inevitably cause nerve or disc problems, or if they can just (!) fuse things up without more than mobility impairment. I haven't gotten to discuss the long term with my doctor.

  • :H

    What were your symptoms that led to your fusion in 1999?

    I am having physiotherapy on my neck to try and settle the pain and symptoms down. I have got back more mobility and I think it is helping with the pain. I am still getting horrible headaches though.

    I have cervical spondylosis and stenosis (congenitally small canal) throughout my spine. I also have protruding discs and osteo ridges at C3/4 and C4/5 which are compressing my cord.I don't think they will go away! As far as I know they are trying to stabilise my vertebra / facet joints, so I suppose they will continue to grow larger until they have achieved that. As they do this, they are reducing the space for my nerve roots and spinal cord. I have also been told that my condition is likely to get worse as I get older (55 now).

    There are lots of friendly people here who will support you and can empathise with you. As you have already had a cervical fusion, you can probably help us out too. :-)

  • Jellyhall, thanks for the welcome. Yup, I'm experienced with this neck business and happy to share.

    My 1999 fusion was for cervical spondylosis, stenosis, a bulging disc, compression of the spinal canal to name a few things. I tried everything for a year prior to surgery: Physical therapy of several types, epidural steroid injections, facet injections. . . PT helped the most, but not enough and I was trying to be in school, write a thesis and work, all of which compounded things.
    My symptoms were severe neck pain and headaches most of the time, worse with movement of any kind and computer use. I had tingling and numbness in my left arm/hand, where I also have carpal tunnel syndrome and pain radiating into my shoulders.
    I was told after my surgery that the PT I did beforehand was not lost and that it helped my recovery. I had lots of manual PT following the surgery and still do exercises.

  • Cathy, I fear that I may be following you down this road. I am in the process of trying to avoid surgery, although the surgeon did mention that he thought my symptoms would be more serious in 2 or 3 years time. I guess he may have been saying that I might need surgery then. (!??)

    I am awaiting having EMG and nerve conduction studies. Did you have any of those?
    The reason for them is that I do have a symptom of myelopathy but other tests don't show it, so he wants to test the nerves and muscles for compression and damage.

    I am also being referred to Pain Management for cervical steroid injections. I have tingling, pain and numbness in both arms and hands, pain in shoulders, frequent headaches as well as various neurological symptoms in my legs and feet. My lower spine MRI scan doesn't show pressure on nerves that could be causing that, so it is thought that it is coming from my neck. My thoracic spine is also 'playing up' so at some point I will have an MRI scan there too to rule that out. Here in the UK, we have long waits for everything!

    Good to know that all the exercises I am doing to avoid surgery will be helpful if I do end up having it. That happened with my lumbar fusion. My recovery was very good quite quickly and the physiotherapists told me it was because I had been exercising so much.

    Did you have the cord compression during the year you were trying conservative methods to avoid surgery? It does concern me that I might end up with permanent cord or nerve damage due to waiting. I will see my neurosurgeon again in October to see how I am progressing.
  • You might be. If leg symptoms are coming from your neck that could be serious. All of my radiating symptoms were upper extremity and are now again. I had all kinds of tests when I was doing conservative treatment. I've had several EMGs/nerve conduction studies. I have had carpal tunnel syndrome for a long time, confirmed by nerve conduction studies, but also had some tingling from my neck. They're not pleasant tests, but not too bad. I did have some myelopathy.
    I had some cord compression from the stenosis which was relieved by the surgery but no permanent damage.
    I waited through several years of pain before I sought treatment. By the time I went to the surgeon I was in constant severe pain and ready for surgery.
    I wish you the best. Keep in touch.
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