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New and scared as well

vandvvand Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in New Member Introductions
Hi Everyone...
I just found you and I'm happy there is a forum for this.

I'm 30. I was in a pretty serious car accident on Sept 5th, 2011 and have been undergoing treatment with a chiropractor and my regular doc since then. Things have been going pretty well but at the 60 day mark, I was still having pain radiating down my left arm, left hand numbness and weakness, headaches, pain in my left shoulder, and neck pain. My chiropractor decided to do X-rays of my neck to see what was going on and diagnosed me with "os odontoideum."

Apparently, I'm missing the top part of the C2 vertebrae which causes a pretty marked instability in my neck. This is more of a childhood injury or developmental issue but the car accident kind of jolted everything around and caused the pain. I've been prone to headaches and neck pain my entire life but I thought it was just tension and would take a tylenol or something. According to the docs I've seen, this condition puts me at greater risk for being paralyzed or killed in a minor accident. The only reason they think I did so well in this accident is because I saw it coming (I was rear ended) and braced.

Anyway, the X-rays were on Friday, Dec 2nd and since then, I've been to two neurosurgeons, had an MRI, more X-rays, etc, etc, etc. The car accident caused some problems with the space where the nerve (for my left arm) exits the C7 vertebrae so the neurosurgeon wants me to take an oral steroid for 6 days to see if it helps with the swelling. If not, then I get some sort of injections (steroid again?) and then move on to surgery. In 8 weeks I'm meeting with my neuro again to plan the fusion surgery for C1 and C2 as well as the possible surgery for C7 (they'd do it all at once).

Needless to say I'm scared to death. I've never had anything major like this. My work pays for time off for 30 days and then they pay something like 40% of my normal wages. My family is supportive but I'm getting quite a bit of "oh, you'll be fine."

I'm scared. I'm working full time and in school at nights and I just can't quite wrap my head around this yet. Has anyone else had something like this done? What can I expect for recovery time? My surgeon said 4-6 weeks but it sounds like that's on the low side.



  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,865
    I am certain you will find much valuable medical information on this site in terms of articles and videos. As a side benefit, these patient forums provide a great vehicle to exchange information, discuss problems and many times act as a support group.

    Your condition is new to me,so I started to do some research. You will find another member here who has the same condition: http://www.spine-health.com/forum/back-surgery-and-neck-surgery/os-odontoideum-new-forum

    It is natural to be scared. Much of this is so new to you and the terms and treatments they are throwing at you all sound so foreign.

    But as with any spinal condition, the conservative treatment route should always be taken before surgical procedures are being realized.

    Talk to you doctor about all the conservative treatments. The steroid (oral) is one, as well as steroid injections. But there could be others to explore, such as physical therapy, traction, cervical collars, etc.

    But only your doctor can identify what is the correct path for you.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks Ron.

    I did find some of the articles from other forum members with this same condition and it was helpful/scary to read.

    I'm all for conservative treatment for the C7 issue but it sounds like the os osdontoideum issue is a surgery-only option. My doctors say I cannot do anything "dangerous" until I get the C1 and C2 fusion done. That means I can't ride my horses or my bike to work. They didn't even want me driving a car without a collar!
  • One more thing...today I talked to my neurosurgeon and his office staff said that generally, when the surgeon meets with me (like we're supposed to in 8 weeks), the surgery would be scheduled for 6-8 weeks AFTER that. Does that seem normal? I know I've lived with this for quite some time but I also got the distinct feeling from the surgeons that I've seen (3 opinions now) that this is fairly serious and needs to be taken care of sooner rather than later. Has anyone else dealt with this?

  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    Although I do not have the same condition as you I also had to have cervical surgery due to instability and the risk of paralysis if something was not done. Its scary when all this is thrown at you! The surgery I had or should I say my first surgery was c3-4 and c4-5. The recovery was about 6 weeks and it was a easy recovery for me. Good luck and try not worry too much. Easier said then done!!!!
  • Sara,
    I have had 2 cervical surgeries, and getting ready for surgeries 6&7 in the lumbar area. I can tell you from personal experience, my father was a chiropractor and always said "x-rays first and if not better after six treatments STOP" chiro, time to see an MD. My spine surgeon saved my life eight years ago, and I saw docs from NY to Miami, FL. No one wanted to touch me, I found a remarkable spine surgeon in Ft. Lauderdale by accident and he has been doing right by me for eight years. Considering I was about to be a quadro, I am very lucky. This doc believes in surgery as a last resort and I have met patients from all accross the USA who come to see him.

    I would get multiple opinions, do a lot of research long b4 the knife. I just came off a high prednisone regiment to help get the swelling down for some relief b4 next surgery January 9th.

    Good Luck
  • Thank you Rick and Susan for your replies.

    I got 3 opinions and all three said "you need surgery." Now, it's all just a waiting game I suppose.
  • HI,
    Sounds fairly normal to me...after you see the dr., you'll need pre-op testing, probably at the hospital and an ok from your primary dr. If there is any reason to do it sooner, the dr will say so...it's amazing how quick things can happen if need be.
    If you're having it from the front, it wasn't too bad of a surgery for me. If it's both anterior and posterior, they do the front first, rest a day in the hospital, then do posterior, rest a few days and go home. For me, the posterior was much more involved and took much longer to heal and get rid of the pain. But we are all different with different problems, so I will tell you to relax, let things progress along, and I'm sure you will feel better after all is said and done!
    Merry Christmas!
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