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Neck pain after cervical fusion

unlucky2uunlucky2 Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical


  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    It happens. Have you been confirmed as "fused"?

    Have you had any recent imaging done to see if something new maybe going on?

    Any other changes in work or meds that could be causing new problems?

    Have you had a chance to discuss this with your physician(s)yet?

    I hope your not in too much distress...

    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

  • I had surgery in May. I'm sure I'm not totally fused yet, but my surgeon said the surgery would prevent further damage but may or may not relieve my symptoms. The pain is better than before the surgery but by no means gone, but I consider it a success.

    It would help in future posts to provide a little more information so we could understand your issues better.

    Take care.
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • My surgery was about 3.5 months ago. I am not fused yet. Not even sure how much fused, my last x ray was at 6 weeks. I have another one mid Nov.

    I do still have neck pain and shoulder blade muscle spasms, but the pain is drastically reduced. I don't have any of the extremely severe pain.

    I do still take pain meds a few times a week. Muscle relaxers daily.
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg

  • I had C4-C7 Cervical fusion in Sept. 2009 and am still having problems, but the problems are at C4-C2ish and C7-T1 or T2 area. I know that posture has an impact and I try to work on it especially at my desk, but I am in pain 99 days out of 100. Most of the time I can make it most of the day with just a nagging ache before it gets to about a 5 on a 10 scale. I have tried PT and certain things work, but cant really afford to continue at $225 a visit. I have a Tens Unit and that helps, but cant use that all day. My family doctor has me on Percocets and Valium and i take it after work but would like to find out what would make it better or at least managable without drugs. My surgeon was very impressed with the healing of the fusion and my problems seem to be above and below that now.

  • :SS I had ACDF C4/5/6 in September 2010 and I am still having very bad neck/shoulder spasms which are giving me considerable pain and discomfort. I had neck injections to C5/6/7 areas on 4th August 2011 and they took all pain away however the relief only lasted 3 weeks then pain returned with a vengeance. My Surgeon is now going to operate again this time on cervical facet joints and fuse them. I am having great deal of trouble with my balance. Also had PLIF + rebuild in Decemver 2008. Hope this is of some help to you.
  • I had surgery on C6/C7 Jan. 21, 2010 and still in extreme pain everyday. I have had many MRI's, CT scans and MRI with the die and they still can't find out why I am in pain still. It is so very frustrating and see my pain management DR again in 2 weeks to discuss more options. Best of luck to you.
  • I had surgery on C6/C7 Jan. 21, 2010 and still in extreme pain everyday. I have had many MRI's, CT scans and MRI with the die and they still can't find out why I am in pain still. It is so very frustrating and see my pain management DR again in 2 weeks to discuss more options. Best of luck to you.
  • I had two ACDF (C5/6) first in Dec. '08 & second in March '10 and am still in pain. Two orthopedists say it hasnt fused which is why I'm having pain and three nuerosurgeons say it's fused enough that the pain isnt coming from there! At only 28, I have cervical osteophytes or bone spurs at multiple levels which symptoms match my pain ie more pain out of bed and at end of day/evening - stiffness and some radiating to either arm when i turn my head and tilt. I want to know if anyone has seen this type of issue before and could provide insight. I want to try a minimally invasive operation that treats bone spurs and some foraminal narrowing to give that a try instead of doing a posterior fusion. Any advice???

  • I had a bad acciedent at work had C4/C7 fused 10 ss screws..Been 47 days and the work comp surgeon is telling me i shouldnt still be in pain but i hurt (using thier own 1-10 scale) 6-7 constantly and it hurts down between my shoulder blades and my right hand keeps going numb....

    So frustrated hell never missed a days work ever and they treat me like im trying to steal thier silverware.wish i could go to a doctor i picked out.

    Please someone tell me im not alone
  • CarpT said:
    I had surgery on C6/C7 Jan. 21, 2010 and still in extreme pain everyday. I have had many MRI's, CT scans and MRI with the die and they still can't find out why I am in pain still. It is so very frustrating and see my pain management DR again in 2 weeks to discuss more options. Best of luck to you.
    I am in the same boat as you are. I had C6-7 replaced with an ADR. I am i nmore pain now than before surgery. Dr's think it could be facets, another disc buldge, etc...
    My pain is very severe between my shoulder blades and down farther to mid back. Heck my ribs even hurt alot. My neck does not have that much pain though. Frustrating

    Can you describe your pain and where it hurts?
  • My pain also is between my shoulder blades, under my right shoulder blade to my left shoulder and down to my elbow. I am starting to get numbness again in my left shoulder, elbow and hand slightly. My neck catches and clicks sometimes when I move and feels like a shock and fairly large twinge or shooting pain in my neck. It took me a few months to get used to that, but still dont know what it is. I was fully fused after 4 months, which is a good thing. I haven't had an mri or ct scan in over 20 months.
    Besides having pain between my shoulder blades it hurts in my lower back, but I think that is just poor posture and need to better work on my back during excercise. We shall see what new Doc wants to do. It's frustrating and sounds like I am better off than some of you and worse than others. I think the most frustrating thing is being told that they can't find anything wrong and cant explain why the pain is there. I am a Police Officer and haven't missed a day of work because of this other than the 8 weeks I was out for the surgery and recovery. This was not a workers comp issue, well at least I didn't do the surgery under workers comp, don't trust the doctors to do what was right.
    Has anyone been prescribed Gabapentin (sp) or Lirica for treatment? The Gabapentin was supposed to help with nerve damage, it made me lose ballance and couldnt talk. I just started Lirica and besides being crazy expensive I think it makes me very tired, a touch of loss of balance etc. Anyone have any experience with either? I dont use Gabapentin anymore.
    Good luck.
  • I had a 4 level fusion (C3-4, 4-5, 5-6, and 6-7) in Dec 09. My Dr used the PEEK Prevail disks and BMP. My x-rays show that I fused well and I have had no trouble with the BMP. However, I am still in a good amount of pain everyday. 6 Months after my surgery my doctor sent me back to pain management. He has me on Oxy IR 4xday, Percocet 10/325 4xday, Zanaflex, and Welbutrin. But the pain is still not controlled very well. The last time I was in his office he put me on the 50mcg Fentanyl patch. I wore it for about 4 days and although I was very pleased with the pain relief, the articles I read in numerous places aboutthe patch scared me to death and I told him I wanted off of it.
    I have often wondered why I am still in so much pain after my surgery. I know that I had problems with my cervical facet joints before surgery but thought that the surgery woul dhelp with them too. My PM Dr wrote on my FMLA paperwork that I have Cervical Radiculapthy. But when I look that up it doesn't seem to match my pain pattern. My pain doesn't go past my shoulders anymore. It pretty much is constant in my Trap muscles, then scapula, neck, head and between my shoulder blades. When I looked into this more, it seems that the facet joints cause this type of pain. Being that before my sugery, my pm dr did the facet injections that gave about 3 days worth of relief he went onto do a facet rhizotomy on the left side but it didn't work at all. So I am not sure what options I have besides the narcotic pain meds. I saw where Wonderboytwice
    mentioned a facet joint fusion. I have never heard of this option. Does anyone have any experience with this type of surgery. If so what about having it after the 4 level fusion on c3-7?
    Just looking for options.
  • I can't really take narcotics at work with the job I have, so I just suffer through the days. I am on percocets 10/650, 5mg valium and lyrica. I have taken gabapentin, which screws me up so bad I can barely walk or talk, and other drugs that are not supposed affect me while I work. They don't work. I only take 1/4 of a percocet at a time and it helps enough so I dont want to scream in pain. I do take more sometimes, but start with a 1/4. I am off work today and actually in California and haven't taken anything for pain, but my pain level is only about a2 right now. It will get progresively worse throughout the day.
    From some of the stories I have heard on this website, I think I should consider myself lucky?
    Don't get me wrong, my pain gets to a 5-7 level, but not every day or all day like some of you guys. Hang in there everyone, it's frustrating.
  • I had an ACDF in June 2008 C5-7 with no relief. I have tried every drug, have seen 3 more surgeons, had every possible injection, no good. I finally saw a neurologist this week he asked me if I ever tried the Lidoderm patch (yes) but it never stays put (pain mostly behind & just under ear). Plus who wants to walk around all day with a patch ? He gives me a script for a compound cream (not sure what is in it). I just started it, but not hopeful.


    Not sure what to do next !

  • I am coming here with a hope of answers.My surgeon
    seems unconcerned.He keeps saying this far out (weeks since surgery) i should not have this pain.

    The pain im feeling is unlike anything i have ever had.My neck hurts and i lost all movement to the right and most to the left cant look up at all.

    The pain on the 1-10 scale is a solid 9.5.I even called him on his service contact and all he wants to do is giver me steroids and muscle relaxers.

  • Sounds like you need to sit down with your doctor and get him to understand what pain you are having or find a new doctor. Steroids and muscle relaxers won't do much if anything for your pain. That much pain sounds like there is a problem. Try to get another MRI/CT scan? Losing range of motion after surgery is expected, I lost about 10-20% to the sides and probably 10-20% up and down. If you are still losing more mobility after this much time, sounds like something is wrong. Good luck, Bob.
  • @bob, how long have you been out of surgery? If I understand what you said weeks? Where you in a collar or brace post surgery. Your muscles will take a hit during surgery and you might have some inflammation post surgery and yes the steroids will help, with that. Also have they discussed sending you to PT? It might be they need to work on the muscles and loosing them up? Have you been using any muscle relaxers, post surgery that seems to be one of the biggest issues, is the muscle spasms, that I experienced. While yes the pain was there, but the muscles spasms really were the worse and a good muscle relaxer helped the most. If you are weeks out of surgery, most surgeons are not willing to look at anyone who is ot fused, just a professional curiosity thing. You might also check into some message therapy if your surgeon approves it and see if that will help. Of course heat can also help.


    when was the last imaging study that you had completed? There could be other issues going on causing all of your pain. If they use MRI's more than likely to get a true picture it will need to be done with contrast. You could have a hardware issue going on, and removing it is not that bad. But i think your doctors need to do more investigating to get at the pain generator. Unfortunately when you get into the multi-level fusions and the ROM loss there just seems to be more of a risk with pain. Just my observation.
  • I had posterior fusion of C 1/2 & C5/6 vertebrae in August along with a forminotomy to enlage nerve opening at C 5/6. Injuries were the result of a traffic accident that occured in February. I am now a little over 12 weeks out from surgery. My doctor has said he will not authorize rehabilitation work until my next visit in late December.

    I continue to have significant pain on either the right or the left side of my neck as well as in my upperback. I walk 3-5 miles daily and have not wore neck brace except in car and occasionally on hikes for last month. Accupuncture appears to be only thing helping with pain at this point as Valium and Ibroprofen don't help. Are others experiencing significant pain this far out after posterior neck surgery? If so, what has helped the most? I am unable to drive yet as I cannot yet as the doctor does not yet want me to twist my neck from side to side very far.

    I am guessing that my doctor's reluctance to authorize physical therapy yet has to do with wanting the critical c1/2 fusion to "take" first.

    I also was wondering if anyone had started to experience pains in their upper arms after the surgery? My left arm has become painful to move above horizontal since the surgery.
  • :SS I am getting the above operation on 20th December 2011 so will let you all know how it goes. I hear that recovery from this Posterior method can be quite painful and would appreciate comments from anyone who has had this operation. I shall unfortunately be in hospital over the Xmas period!! However Merry Xmas to you all.

    Previous operations: PLIF + Major rebuild in December 2008: ACDF to C3/4/5 in September 2010: Rt knee replacement September 1998 followed by revision in March 2000 as original operation was faulty: Lt knee replacement July 2006.

    I am British Nuclear Test Veteran being involved in UK Atomic Bomb Tests in Pacific, Christmas Island.Exposure to radiation has ruined spine!

  • unlucky2 said:
  • fxdwb69ffxdwb69 Posts: 31
    edited 11/25/2012 - 11:54 PM
    I still have just as much if not more pain after my fusion c5-6 that I had in Mar 2011. I have pain into my left arm that starts in my neck. the neck pain I have is a deep ache, deep in the core of my spine. It feels like I have jumped off the roof of a house and my spine has been compressed to the point of pain. Does that make sense? My arm constantly aches, all the way to my fingers, in my left arm/hand. Sometimes I move a certain way and something catches in my neck and pop! I get a jolt down my left arm! This has now started to happen on my right arm too. I'm not sure what to do either. My neurosurgeon doesn't believe me, says it's referred pain from my muscles and he fixed me. He feels I should be pain free and there is nothing else he can do. My PM believes me, but thinks I'm headed down a dead end and ultimately wants me off pain meds which so do I, but not until whatever is wrong is fixed. I feel very fortunate to have a PM that at least listens and prescribes meds to moderately cover my pain, although I think he could be a little better with B/T meds. I'm a 34 yr old male and constantly get the "your too young to have these problems" I think this is because I look a lot younger than 34. I hate complaining because I know there are many more people that have it way worse than I do. I just wish I could see a surgeon that was had a spec of compassion and actually listened and cared about his patients.
  • zzubzzzub Posts: 1
    edited 11/27/2012 - 11:18 AM
    Hi Guys.
    I had a c6-c7 ACDF exactly 1 week ago.

    I'll diarise my symptoms so far. Not sure if they are "normal" but here goes.

    2 hours Post op........Up and about. "Wow!! this is amazing! no pain whatsoever"
    1 Day post op........Out of hospital. Inscision site a bit tender, neck muscles at the rear a little bit sore, Throat - a bit uncomfortable and hard to swallow, but overall. Still amazed! lowest fingers on left hand - no feeling, but feel different to the numbness Pre op.
    Day 2 - caught cold off my daughter. Coughing and sneezing feels like my head is going to fall off!!!! Neck and throat are a lot more uncomfortable, but nothing like the arm pain I had before the op.
    Day3 - Still able to get up and about. Pain in my throat and between my shoulder blades is there, I am starting to get very tired very quickly. Main issue is my cold! coughs and sneezes hurt like hell!! Inscision is starting to look a bit red!
    Day 4 - Same symptoms. More tired than yesterday
    Day 5 - Pain is mainly in my upper neck- not exactly acute, more discomfort! Legs are achy....probably due to lack of excercise. left arm has isolated spats of pain - mainly muscular as opposed to pain in the bones before the op.
    Days 6&7 - Cold is worse. Neck is tender front and back. Absolutely exhausted!!!! Feels like cold is damaging my neck every time I sneeze!! I know it probably isnt, but feeling very very tender and weak so far.

    Fingers crossed as I want to be back at work in another week!!!!
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 11/27/2012 - 11:40 AM
    Perhaps it would be an idea to call your surgeon and just let him know how you are feeling and let him make the decision as to whether there is a problem or not. These surgeons do often get calls from their patients in these early days. He will probably say that all is ok, but then you will be reassured.

    I had a C3/4 + C4/5 ACDF 3 weeks ago. I know that it is normal for the pain in the back of the neck and shoulders and swallowing to get worse on days 2 to 4. I also found that when I got home I was much more tired than in hospital. My surgeon warned me that would happen.

    I wonder if all the sneezing and coughing has caused the muscles in your neck to tighten to protect themselves and that is causing the pain. Only your surgeon can really know if all is ok. For the sake of a phone call, it would be well worth getting that reassurance.

    Wow! Going back to work in another week. You have my admiration. What job do you do?

    Do let us know what you find out about your increased pain. It will probably reassure someone else having similar problems in the future.

    Take care,
  • No I never but I think you must take some excersices for it.
  • Oh you poor thing! My son was sick while I was at the hospital for surgery and I checked the next day before leaving the hospital to make sure it was ok to go home. Luckily I didn't catch it but I imagine most of the pain is from all the coughing and sneezing. It's all putting pressure and pulling on muscles around the area you had surgery. I know when I sneezed it hurt quite badly too so I can't imagine having a cold. I was so worried I'd get one too. I did however throw up from an antibiotic I was on and that really hurt, was in pain from that for quite awhile. I'm six weeks post-op and was feeling fine until I cleaned the house yesterday and now I'm having bad neck pain where they did the fusion. I'm hoping I didn't screw something up! Feel better!
    C-6 C-7 Cervical Spinal Fusion October 15, 2012
  • after reading about many accounts of pain after surgery and then ZZUB's one-week post op description, i decided to post my comments. I am now 2 weeks post-op and feel that i am improving every day. I really think it has been important to let everything heal and not rush getting back to activity. Like ZZUB, I felt a good deal of relief after a week and started doing things just to get my body moving (tidying up, cooking, light stuff around the house). at the same time, I stopped taking any pain medication to allow my stomach to attempt to get back to normal. I think the activity was a mistake and too soon. I felt a lot of pain directly in the neck and shoulder blade area. I am wondering if activity of this sort is directly related to some people taking a long time to fuse. I have since slowed down and have been very cautious about lifting and moving and have noticed great improvement. (especially with no medication)... After being on Oxycodone for 2 years this is a great relief!!!
    I think wanting to go back to work two weeks post-op is ambitious and noble... But it might be wiser to allow your body to heal properly and be better off in the long term. I think there is a good reason they suggest 4 to 6 weeks healing before attempting to do anything... It is harder to do than I thought... But worth it in the end.

  • I wanted to welcome you to Spine Health as I noticed that this is your first post here.

    I also wanted to let you know that there is a thread on the Back and Neck Surgery forum, for November Surgery Buddies. We are all now in the recovery phase and supporting each other through this. Why don't you come and join us? If you can't find us, post here and let me know and I will post a link.

    I think that there is a lot of truth in what you say about over doing it leading to an incease in pain. I had a 2 level ACDF on 5th November. Hope to get to know you better.
    Take care,

    zzub, I have just realised that I didn't mention the November thread to you. Please do come and join us!

  • SMAlb said:
    after reading about many accounts of pain after surgery and then ZZUB's one-week post op description, i decided to post my comments. I am now 2 weeks post-op and feel that i am improving every day. .
    That is wonderful that you are doing so well. I too improved and did great after my surgery. After the collar comes off though you have to be very careful and start to do things again slowly or the pain will come back or start. I never had neck pain before my surgery so this neck pain is all new to me. I am almost 7 weeks post op and my collar came off at 5 weeks. I have had pain off and on sometimes worse than the pain I felt anytime after surgery. My neuro told me it's to be expected but I'm probably doing too much too soon. Good luck to you! It's early for you yet!
    C-6 C-7 Cervical Spinal Fusion October 15, 2012
  • Sharon1959SSharon1959 Posts: 1
    edited 06/26/2014 - 7:13 PM
    I had surgery Feb. 2010, I had a titanium plate inserted, cervical fusion, and fell a year later and started having pain called the doctor to see if something had possibly fractured he refused to see me. I am having continuous migraines and neck pain. Before the fall I had no pain at all is there anything I can do? For almost one year I was free from pain until I fell, it was a wonderful feeling since I had been in pain since 1989 but the fall is what caused the pain to start.
  • you should see another spine surgeon to examine you. you may need a new MRI good luck
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