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Pain 3 years after 2 level ACDF

LindaM1652LLindaM1652 Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
My husband may not have fused at one level. His bone scan was inconclusive, and the Dr. ordered an MRI which didn't show it.

They want to reoperate, but my concern is that everytime they do a level, the level adjacent will be compromised. I think they would do c3,4 this time. When his aunt had c 2,3 done, she was left with not being able to use her arm, so this scares me to death.

He hasn't had any pain managagment, and I think he should try a Physiatrist first. It has been 3 years since his surgery for C 5,6,7. He seems to think he should be pain free. He says he cannot do his job (he is an electrician). Maybe he should apply for SSD.

Should he put off surgery for as long as possible?


  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find others dealing with pain long after surgery. As far as your questions I see a few different issues that might be going on. First failure to fuse could cause issues, which is completely different that fusing another level. There is a condition called psuedoarthrosis which won't show on standard images. When you say bone scan was it a CT scan? The only definitive way to tell if someone is fused is by direct examination of the site, which usually isn't done, but they can get a good idea with x-rays and CT scans.

    Now if he is having issues at another level that is a different story, and if they did surgery they would look at the original surgery site to check for fusion. As far as to do surgery or not, it depends on how bad the level is? Do you know what risk he would be assuming by not doing surgery? Is there a new herniation or a bulging disc? There is really none of us whom can tell you wether he should or shouldn't do surgery. But it sounds as though you have doubts and unsure which way to go, so a second opinion would be a good idea. Not everyone will loose function of a arm or body part, but it is a risk of any of the surgeries, along with other risk. But the risk sometimes has to be taken of paralysis becomes a issue, as the risk of surgery will out weigh the risk he takes everyday.

    AS far as should he apply for SSDI? That would be a decision you and your family would need to make. Does the surgeon or any of his treating doctors believe he is unemployable? When you make that application you have to have a doctor stating that you are not employable due to injury or illness. The injury or illness has to be expected to last longer than a year. So while he might be in pain now, but some other treatments might help reduce his pain. Has he not worked in three years? If not how is he getting paid now? HIs credits will begin running out as well.

    Is your husband taking any medications to help with the pain? Some medications like lyrica can help with nerve pain along with a opiate regimen. A physiatrist would be a good place to start and see if they could bring the pain down to a manageable level for him. It might be the physiatrist finds out what is the real pain generator and treats him and gets him back on the right track

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. Keep us posted on how you get along.
  • Thanks for your reply. My husband has been working. Only recently he has been complaining it is harder for him to do his job---looking down and the radiculpathy (shaking hands) makes it hard to hold onto small objects. He certainly would be able to do some sort of job.

    The reason they want to do surgery is that they think he hasn't fused at one level. It is "exploratory" From what I have read here (I was active 3 years ago presurgery) it is best to wait as long as possible because of the next levels becoming compromised. This time, they would do 3,4 as he has a bone spur there. He had it before his first/only surgery, but the surgeon didn't want to do it. He had a bone scan, not a CT. It showed "uptake" where there is arthritis. Also, the uptake at 7 could be inflammation from the plate/screws.

    I am going to make an appt. with a Physiatrist. Perhaps he will make my husband understand he may never be painfree. And, maybe convince him to put off the inevitable surgery. He will need to have 3,4 done in time. However, this surgeon never even mentioned it---I just saw it on the MRI report. He is focused on the possible non fusion.
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