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New Member Scheduled for 4 Level Cervical Fusion 8/17

ValgalVValgal Posts: 38
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi and thanks for all that I have learned from lurking and researching on spine-health!
I'm a 48 year old female, mom to 5 and 6 year old boys and have had shoulder pain and muscle spasms in the upper left quadrant of my back for about 12 years. It got much worse in 2010 and early 2011 resulted in numb left arms and fingers, atrophy of tricep muscles and inability to move left arm to tie shoes, reach down or up,etc.

After 3 months of physical therapy, a ct scan and mri showed broad based disc protrusions C4-5, 5-6 and 6-7, anterolisthesis C3 on C4 second to facet DJD. Multilevel degenerative cervical spondylosis with kyphosis centered at C4, disc osteophype complexes C3-7, Multi level foraminal stenosis.

I'm scheduled for four level disectomy, fusion and decompression THIS WEDNESDAY. I like and trust my neurosurgeon (Atlanta, GA) but I'm getting nervous. I started taking Neurontin and Tramadol around July 1 to deal with pain, prior to that I refused to take pain meds because I can't take the side effects.

Which forums on here would best help me? There are soo many and so much negative talk about four level fusions. I have very limited neck mobility right now but plenty of chronic pain. My Doc says I'm not a candidate for artificial disc so I'm getting those plastic cages full of BMP and a titanium plate with screws. Incision through front of neck. I rely on my voice for work! I plan on taking 4 to 6 weeks off.

(side note: I believe I may have been misdiagnosed 10 years ago and given a cortisone shot to the shoulder. It gave me huge relief but what I chalked up to normal aches and pains and many muscle spasms in my back continued




  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. It is natural to be nervous over any surgery, but spine surgery is major surgery so the nerves are to be expected. I am glad you have been reading the forums and learned from other post. As far as where you should post, you will get more responses from cervical spine patients in the neck forum. As typically all the cervical spine patients will post there however if they are having surgery sometimes they post in the surgery forum, but you will get answers from both cervical and lumbar in that area.

    AS far as your surgery, the only question I have is why the BMP? If your relying on your voice for your living, is there any specific reason your surgeon is using bmp, on a first round surgery? The reason I ask is the FDA has put out warnings as of July 17, 2008 of the use of BMP in the cervical spine. The caution comes with the swelling associated with BMP, along with other new side effects that have been found. BMP in the cervical spine is safer(if there is a safe) used posteriorly. I personally have had BMP and used in the anterior spine, and the biggest issues was the swelling, part of the caution on the cervical spine. When I say swelling it is not normal swelling from surgery swelling. Do you know how many days you will be staying in the hospital? For myself I was what was considered a out patient surgery, although I spent the night. The swelling didn't start till the second day out. Hopefully they will be giving you a high dose of steroids which can off set it, which I didn't have. I am not trying to alarm you, as I think it is important people know the FDA warnings on BMP.

    AS far as your range of motion(rom), as a 4 level fusion you won't have much of that, as you loose about 10 percent each level. I am a 4 level and don't have much motion at all. But if you don't have any now, that may not bother you going forward. My 4 level was not done in one surgery, but over multiple surgeries. I happened to have found all those little risk of surgery, so it has been a ride, not fun though. Hopefully your surgery will be done in time so you haven't suffered permanent nerve damage. I am sure you have had multiple opinions as reading the boards you know that is one thing we tell everyone.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. Good luck on surgery and keep us posted on how you do. Oh you might check out the surgery post op must haves that is located at the top of the page in the surgery forum. Some things will apply while others not.
  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. tamtam has given you some good advice already! be sure and check out the "Back and Neck surgery forum" for more input on your upcoming surgery.. good luck and all the best for a healthy and complete recovery.. this is your chance to become pain free!! following your doctor's orders is so important.. please be sure and follow his guidelines to the letter!! stop by the forum during your recovery.. it can make a long day go by alot faster! Jenny :)
  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    Wow, I can imagine the pain you're having with stenosis, facet problems and disc protrusions. I also had those prior to my 3-lvl ACDF, also done anteriorly and with off-label BMP.

    It's perfectly normal to be nervous before any kind of surgery, but spine surgery is particularly nerve-racking. But the general consensus here is that the anticipation is worse than the surgery, but you won't realize that until after it's over.

    Tam's the expert on the cervical area as she has had so many surgeries and problems in that area, so she always has good words of wisdom.

    As for the voice thing, it's always a hit or miss. Some have problems with swallowing after surgery and some only minor issues, like myself. I at a pork chop the night I got home after my surgery (the day after). My voice was raspy for about 6 months, but it cleared up, although my singing voice is about an octive lower that previously. LOL

    Do look at the post-op must haves in the surgery section - you won't need everything as much of it is for lumbar, but do make sure you have your "station" set up. Mine was a recliner with a rolling table next to it so I could just roll it in front of me to eat and get on the computer.

    If you're like most of us, you'll wake up with all your arm symptoms gone, just pain and muscle spasms to deal with. And know that recovery takes quite a while, especially with 4 levels. Be patient and follow your doc's orders to a "T" - no BLT, etc. Also try to measure you recovery in weeks, not days. It's a long one, like I said.

    Take care and I wish you a successful surgery. Feel free to PM me if I can help you with anything.

  • I appreciate you taking the time to respond :)
    Both Doctors have said that although I am 48 my neck looks around 80 and they think better fusion will be achieved with BMP.

    The neuro did say he planned the high dose of steroids and that I will be spending one night in the hospital. The surgery is at 8am Wednesday and I will probably get to go home some time Thursday.
  • Just wanted to introduce myself.

    I'll certainly be wishing you the very best. Glad you are comfortable with your surgeon. That is important. When is your surgery date?

    I am still pre-surgery but don't know what tomorrow will bring. I am looking at a 2 level ACDF. I know, I'm just a lightweight. lol. Really, really wishing you well. Keep us updated!


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