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Posterior Cervical Fusion Recovery

police340ppolice340 Posts: 21
edited 07/08/2012 - 8:44 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello,

I am 17 months post-op posterior cervical fusion, C4-5-6 and about a year and a help before that anterior fusion at c4-5 or 5-6, i can't remember! I have very limited neck extension and somewhat limed lateral movement. It almost seems like I have no neck muscles anymore as I tire very easily when I am moving head. I mainly sit at desk right now and can get that way through the day but once i start moving, I tire. I used to teach and I think if i were still teaching i would not be able to continue.

It gets to the pint that it gets painful and the only remedy is to lie down. Yesterday my wife and I spent the afternoon walking at a festival and i was in extreme pain. When I got home I layer down for a while.

I would think after 17 months, my neck muscles would have gotten stronger. I almost feel as if they are not connected. At middle of collar bone at back of neck, I feel like a mass of muscles that should be going somewhere! I have gone to PT, do modified pushups to help build my muscles. The middle of spine at back of neck feels like if someone hit me there it would do some damage, as i feel it going right up to my brain and sort of jolting like. I never noticed this feeling pre surgery.

Are these feelings normal? What can I do about the pain when I can't lie down as I want to be able to enjoy doing outside things without running into pain and I can't always lie down.

Thanks,
Bill
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Comments

  • Anyone monitoring these boards? Just looking for answers. Tks.
  • First let me say welcome Bill. Have a look around and you will find other dealing with the same issues, including myself. Have you tried or are you taking anything for it, such as a muscle relaxer? When is the last time you have had any images of your neck. Has this been this way sense the surgery or was there a time it get better post surgery then got worse? Does Ice or heat help? What about some trigger point injections or massage therapy? Have your doctors given you any suggestions as to what might be going on? If you have not talked to your doctors about this, I urge you to do so. Sometimes even a ESI post surgery can help with some of the residual pain, provided nothing is going on.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. look forward to hearing more from you.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I also had the posterior cervical surgery and what you describe is a day in my life. I was told by Neuro that the muscles in my neck have died and nothing will bring them back, I take medications daily to reduce the pain and make it able for me to work a desk job. When I am having a bad flare up the only thing that helps is laying down and heat. Have you tired the Therm-care heat wraps? I find that if my neck is beginning to bother me while at work I can get some relief using them and am able to work a full 8 hr day. Also does you chair at your desk have a head rest? This also helps as I am supporting my neck. At times my head feels so heavy and it just needs to be supported. Do you take meds to help with the pain?
    Susan
  • I had an ACDF 2/3/4 in September 2010 and Posterior Cervical Fusion 5/6/7 plus plating to facet joints in December 2011. Despite extensive physio and massage my neck muscles are still very sore particularly when I raise or lower my head. When the pain gets really bad I wear a Sports collar for 10-15 minutes which helps greatly. The muscles in your neck do not die off so whoever told you that is lying. My Spinal Surgeon is recognised as being one of the best in UK and Worldwide and he told me that continual exercise should eventually bring my neck back to almost normal. I also had a PLIF + rebuild done in December 2008 and the scar tissue around that area of L4/5 and S1 is causing me a lot of knee and leg pain. However I am due to see my Surgeon tomorrow 27/7/12 and will let you all know what he says. Good luck from the UK.
  • Saw my Surgeon on 27/7/12 and have to get another Lumbar Caudal Epidural Injection to see if it helps knee and left leg pain. Had an injection on 15/5/12 but it only took away pain for six weeks! Surgeon has said that if this does not work he will have to look into perhaps that trouble is coming from Sacroiliac Joint. Keep exercising neck muscles but it is a slow and painful problem. I fortunately have plenty willpower and keep pushing with the exercises as I want to get well sooner rather than later!! Amitryptline tablets help to relax muscles during sleep. Hope this has been of some help to you.
  • LSLSLLSLS Posts: 10
    edited 08/09/2012 - 6:19 AM
    I have had a C1 C2 PCDF. I also get very tired and have neck spasms after walking around a lot. I usually sit in a recliner with some heat on my neck and sometimes a soft cervical collar to take the strain off. When I know I am going to be gone/up for a while, I place a Therma-care heat pad on the back of my neck. This helps to keep it relaxed at least (especially in the winter). When you are out for the day, maybe take a break and sit in the car and use the head rest for a few minutes (and a soft collar) just to let the spasm loosen. Laying down just doesn't work for me. Sleeping in bed is almost a thing of the past. I bought a really nice soft and expensive ;( , recliner that fits me very well. It has been a God send. I have also found that the collars that travelers buy for plane travel are very supportive and comfortable. They are stiffer and don't let your head fall into a bad position when napping or sleeping at night.

    Keep up with the PT neck strengthening exercises, they will eventually help at times when you need to relieve spasms.

    Good Luck!
    LSS

    C1 - C2 PCDF 2003
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I have been told that the muscles and tissue in my neck have died by my neuro, I was told too much trauma and damage. I have a 2 inch hole in the area where the tissue and muscle should be. So call it a difference in beliefs by 2 different Drs. I believe that there also is another member on this site that has been told the same thing. Be careful calling another persons Dr a liar
    Susan
  • Susan, I am sorry if I upset you but here in UK I have one of the top Spinal Surgeons in the world! What happened to the tissue and muscle seems a mystery to me. What trauma and damage did you have? I have had 3 Cervical Spine Operations in 12 months and was told if I exercised correctly muscle power would return. My last 2 ops were in December 2011. I am not yet back to normal but well on the way. Again my sincere apologies if my accusations were taken in the wrong context.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    Muscle and tissue require blood supply to remain healthy. Without it , it dies. Can muscle regenerate yes it can but unfortunately in my case it will not. I along with you have had my share of cervical surgeries, I am at 5 for now looking at another when i feel physically and mentally prepared for it.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    edited 08/13/2012 - 11:44 PM
    WTH my post just posted before I was done!. Wonderboy thanks for the apology I along with you have great respect for my surgeon and I will defend him till the end.lol. Although we are all spineys we have to remember that everyones issues are different as for my trauma too long of a story to go into , lets just say a bad surgeon and leave it at that.
    Susan
  • Hello to you all. I had a whiplash accident four years ago and ended up needing two spinal fusions to save my life just over a year ago. My second surgery was an anterior fusion to C4-6 and a posterior fusion to C2-T4. It was able to save me from paralysis and death but I never regained much range of motion and lately I have been noticing that at the base of my incision is a void where the muscles never reconnected. I had a huge blow out with my surgeon so I refuse to return to see him for follow up. I am glad that this almost seems 'normal' after this type of surgery. Does anyone also suffer from nerve damage? I have no sensation superficially around my incision down my back but the area feels cramped, tight, and itches lately. Muscle relaxers are not effective for me. Any advice on how to cope with the nerve damage and deformed musculature?
    Laura
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,198
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!

    moderator, ~~savage

  • It has been eye-opening to read problem areas with procedures. I was kind of rushed into surgery after debilitating neck pain, MRI findings and need to get back to function mode. My biggest issue at this point is with swallowing. I have to eat extremely slow and everything feels very "stuck". The Physician Assistant says it is normal but if not she will call in an ENT doctor. What? I read on the John Hopkins medical center website a condition called oropharyngeal dysphagia which can occur post anterior cervical spine surgery. Has anyone had any problems with this in the short or long term?
  • I had an ACDF 4-7 5 weeks ago and also had the " stuck "problem , for me it improved in the 4th week. There is still a feeling of something in my throat and I still must chew food up well but it is much better. So hang in there .
    rob
  • Where do I start?  I had Posterior Cervical Spine Decompression and Fusion on Dec 8th 2015.  Fusion was C2-T2.  Yes, you read that right.  Mine was due to Ossification of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament.  I went to a top surgeon in NYC, and he saved my spine.  I am having a horrific time keeping focused through recovery.  It has only been 3 in a half months, but I feel like a 200 pound man is constantly sitting on my upper rear neck and shoulders.  PT helps, but I always need to lie down, and rest my head.  Driving is a challenge now, and I am almost afraid of getting behind the wheel.  I feel for anyone who has had spine surgery, and welcome thoughts, or feedback.  I am pretty well educated in this stuff now, so I also welcome any questions to those with similar surgery.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,198
    Hello Jmills7408!
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!

    moderator, ~~savage



  •  I feel like a 200 pound man is constantly sitting on my upper rear neck and shoulders.  PT helps, but I always need to lie down, and rest my head.  Driving is a challenge now, and I am almost afraid of getting behind the wheel.

    I can relate to that feeling of a 200 pound man -- I had that feeling pre-surgery although I described it a bit differently as feeling like an angry little man lived in my neck and was constantly hitting me with a hammer.  Thank goodness that feeling went away immediately after surgery. I am sorry you are stilll feeling it.

    Although I have had a relatively easy recovery from a 1 level ACDF, which has to be a hugely different than recovering from a 6 level fusion -- I am still not driving 8 1/2 weeks post surgery. Perhaps I could drive, but I would rather wait until I feel 100% comfortable. Thank goodness for Uber. It helps that I live close enough to walk to work.
    C6-C7 fusion -January 20, 2016


  • Where do I start?  I had Posterior Cervical Spine Decompression and Fusion on Dec 8th 2015.  Fusion was C2-T2.  Yes, you read that right.  Mine was due to Ossification of the Posterior Longitudinal Ligament.  I went to a top surgeon in NYC, and he saved my spine.  I am having a horrific time keeping focused through recovery.  It has only been 3 in a half months, but I feel like a 200 pound man is constantly sitting on my upper rear neck and shoulders.  PT helps, but I always need to lie down, and rest my head.  Driving is a challenge now, and I am almost afraid of getting behind the wheel.  I feel for anyone who has had spine surgery, and welcome thoughts, or feedback.  I am pretty well educated in this stuff now, so I also welcome any questions to those with similar surgery.



         HI JMills7408,

           I am awaiting posterior laminectomy with fusion surgery this May. I am also using a doctor from NYC hospital of special surgeries. Is this where you had your surgery ? If so can you share your experience with the hospital and doc including follow ups etc. This is my 3rd cervical spine operation and I have some anxiety about the procedure and recovery. I do not live in NYC so post op is going to be challenging. I would love to hear your story and if there is any advise you can pass along that would be greatly appreciated. I wish you a speedy recovery ! Pain free !

      

    Tracy~
  • I had Posterior Fusion and Laminectomy from C3-7  due to OPLL in Sept. 2014.  According to my surgeon the fusion went well. I have had neck and shoulder pain since the surgery. I finally got off of the pain meds after 4-months. Doc said to stop using them like that was easy. Here I am post op 19 months and I am still in pain. I have neck pain, pins and needles at the incision area, a very deep pain between the shoulder blades and mid back pain. I never realized how much muscle I had lost due to the OPLL. My Pain Mngt. doctor says that my right shoulder blade is 3 inches lower than the left. My collar bone slopes downward due to the loss of muscle. I have been doing extensive PT 5-days a week.  Sometimes I feel it helps other times it seems to increase my pains. I attribute my pains to the extensive atrophy. The surgeons do not care or want to deal with this side of the equation. I take 800 mg Motrin along with muscle relaxers and High CBD Medical Marijuana for pain relief. It takes the edge off for a bit but the pain still wears you down. I had a nerve test and the doctor said to just keep doing what I am doing. It is a long process to recovery.
    jim hill

  • jimhill88 said:

    I had Posterior Fusion and Laminectomy from C3-7  due to OPLL in Sept. 2014.  According to my surgeon the fusion went well. I have had neck and shoulder pain since the surgery. I finally got off of the pain meds after 4-months. Doc said to stop using them like that was easy. Here I am post op 19 months and I am still in pain. I have neck pain, pins and needles at the incision area, a very deep pain between the shoulder blades and mid back pain. I never realized how much muscle I had lost due to the OPLL. My Pain Mngt. doctor says that my right shoulder blade is 3 inches lower than the left. My collar bone slopes downward due to the loss of muscle. I have been doing extensive PT 5-days a week.  Sometimes I feel it helps other times it seems to increase my pains. I attribute my pains to the extensive atrophy. The surgeons do not care or want to deal with this side of the equation. I take 800 mg Motrin along with muscle relaxers and High CBD Medical Marijuana for pain relief. It takes the edge off for a bit but the pain still wears you down. I had a nerve test and the doctor said to just keep doing what I am doing. It is a long process to recovery.

    Which hospital did you use ? Sorry to hear you are still in pain !!
    Tracy~
  • Hi jmills, I am struggling too.  At 52, I had a C1-C2 posterior fusion 20 years ago after discovering nearly 6mm of instability to my odontoid ligament. Twenty three years later and not to much of a surprise I just underwent a C3-C7 laminectomy and C2-T1 posterior cervical fusion.  I am tired from jousting sitting here typing all that, lol!  But dear I don't want to bust your bubble but I worked what seems like a lifetime, after my first neck surgery to get out of pain, keep my neck warm, safe from further injury and the body isn't that hard to figure out, sometimes.  I knew 20 years ago that  withC1-C2 being fused it would create a lot of extra stress to the vertebrae below!  I prayed to not of this extent, but another year I would have been a total quadrapelegic!  So when I think of it that way, I am fortunate!  But to get to your questions about the pressure, pain etc.  I deal with a great bit of burning sensation!  Right now it feels like the left lower quad of my skull is on fire!  But I also am great dealing with the weight of my shoulders.  I also need my right hip replaced and a possible beck surgery.  I had hoped that this surgery would help in some way.  Know I just get yelled at by everyone to stand up straight because my surgeon said my posture was only a bad habit I acquired. I have to keep reminding him of the need for a hip replacement and back surgery.  AND the severe pain I had in these areas, not my neck, that brought me to his office.  I want to worry when the numbness is worse some days then others, thinking it should just continue to go away and get better.  But he said these things would change day by day and that I can expect to deal. With these issues for 6-18 months!  Everyone's body is different.  You said you work at a desk all day?  Watch your posture carefully.  If you are not sure if you hold your head up the entire time you are working, you probably don't.  If you are allowed to have a cervical collar with you, wear it when you catch your self allowing your head to droop down.  From what I read on all of these spine sites, it's a long road of recovery for anyone who has had spinal surgery and certainly an unknown.  God Bless and good luck to all! Sheiba
    Rebecca miller
  • Hi Spine People:  Hoping someone can help me?  Please I know everyone only wants the best for everyone else but no "preachers" please! LOL!  I am 52 and have smoked for 35 years of that 52.  When I had a C1-C2 cervical fusion the subject of smoking wasn't even a subject.  Now that was 23 years ago.  Two months ago I had a C2-T1 cervical  fusion with a C3- C7laminectomy.  Although I was prepared to come home on the morning of the third day post surgery, a resident came in to pull my drainage tube out and did "something" that stressed out the muscles or nerves etc that I could not sit up more than 6inches off of the bed.  As days went by  doctors couldn't understand and neither could I.  I was home in 3 days following my first fusion.  Anyway,  I spent 2 extra weeks in the hospital and needed 2 weeks in a physical rehab hospital. Still not being able to sit up, I was transported in an ambulance to the rehab hospital and had my first few pt sessions in a broda chair, which is a special wheel chair that you ca be lay down .  But to get to my question alreadty,  before my surgery I had serious numbness in my hands.  In fact the doctor said I would have been a quadriplegic within a. Year without the surgery.  I also had a hole in my spinal cord.  So I have two questions,  FIRST-after surgery and during rehab I had a lot less numbness.  I also didn't smoke that entire 32 days.  Now smoking again, which I kick myself for,  my hands seem more numb and some days equally numb as before the surgery.  Can anyone share their stories about smoking and their cervical llaminectomy and fusion?  GOOD OR BAD PLEASE!    'SECOND QUESTION- the first thing that my spinal surgeon saw when he cut open the back of my neck was a small needle or pin size hole in my spinal cord with fluid leaking out.  Has anyone else heard this and did you question how it got there?  I had many nerve blocks and epidural so and am thinking that this is the only way I could have gotten this type injury to my spinal cord! PLEASE SHARE YOUR STORIES WITH ME.  THX

    Rebecca miller
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