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C5-C7 neck fusion+new guy

I had my surgery on March 9, 2012. I was only 30 when I had the surgery as all the nurses would say I was way too young to have that surgery.

My neck problems started while I was in the Army with a pinched nerve that would bother me while doing ruck marches. There were times with my job which we would have to carry close to 200lbs. After awhile the pain would be horrible and my right arm would be about worthless. I just rocked on because I LOVED my job.

Later in 2003 I had a bad car accident. At the time most of my problems were related to my lower back where I had a fractured vertabrae L1. However, after the accident I had chronic neck pain, shoulder, and upper back pain. Fast forward to late 2010 and I had obviously aggravated my neck as pain was near unbearable but luckily I had a very easy low impact job at the time. Chiropractor fixed that and things were great. It took quite awhile and it was my first time at a chiropractor but after 2.5 weeks and about 6 treatments the chiropractor had drastically reduced my pain. It took a few more treatments and neck stretches and some exercises and my neck felt great. Problem was I'm one that works out and because of my concussions and an underlying fear of getting another I started to add weighted neck exercises. There was always pain there doing them weighted, about 5 times, but I just kept working un-weighted figuring I would just have to build strength.

Fast forward to last day of 2011 and I strained my neck helping a friend move. About the same as before much more pain and an ER visit this time. Well x-rays were done of course the ER Dr was going to release me saying it was a strain got some pain meds and was about to go out the door. The PA had left to get my prescription and discharge papers when she said the radiologists thinks he saw something and ordered a CT scan. Well I guess I lucked out in a way because he was right. Found out I had 2 compression fractures and I should get a MRI at a later date, which I did. Saw an Orthopedic surgeon did a physical exam then started to look at MRI scan and read radiologists report. Took him about a minute to say I need surgery for one level. He went back looked at a different view and said I needed 2 levels.

Surgery went great stayed the night at hospital and was out the next day around noon. I live alone so I stayed at my parents for awhile and other than going through what felt like pure hell for a few weeks things went great. Muscle spasms are gone, I can tie my shoes without my right arm going completely numb, and you guys no all the other physical problems that can occur with stenosis.

Along with the compression fractures, bulging discs causing stenosis C5, and spinal cord compression C6.

At 2 months and 3 weeks I went back to work where I deliver furniture and appliances. My recovery is great but I do have a few issues.

My surgeon said I was in the 99th percentile as far as recovery goes but I"m still having some issues. Number one it still doesn't take much at all for me to get tired. My job is labor intensive and after a shift and even if I had 3 or more days off in a row about all I would do rest and sleep. Another is that rebuilding strength has been insanely slow as it seems that I have hit a wall. Much I believe is because my neck muscles still have little strength.

Dr. has recommended yoga for my neck and entire spine which I do and I hope I make progress with. The problem I have is that it seems I'm making little progress and I'm at a point where I worry about re-injury. I'm happy to find this site as it has given me some perspective on the life I face after the surgery.

I think one of my main problems are the expectations at work and family as far as my recovery goes. I just sat people down at work to really explain the problems I face as I am quiet about it and figure I can do about everything which of course is my problem. Family is bad though. Even with them I'm quiet but my mom recently damaged her car and went to the bodyshop where I happen to have a car that I'm to work on when I have time. He asked where I'd been and though I he understands I had surgery and everything parents say they don't know why I haven't been there. Bodywork isn't easy work and on top of my actual job I just can't muster strength and even energy to get out there to work on the car. It's frustrating because while I won't just come out and say something I do mention often how I feel like I need 3 naps a day and sleep 9+ hours a night. I know my mom atleast will see me mention that on facebook because she is on every day. Plus, there have been weddings, 4th, and other family functions I have been around them alot. Do they not see me stretching and doing yoga type stretches in front of them. I will say I'll be OK but have to do these for awhile a couple times a day to be able to loosen up my neck.

Well this is longer than I thought it would be. Just a bit frustrated and came here for some help, advice, and in hopes I can help someone/be helped.


  • First let me say Welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find others including myself going through the same things as yourself. You do need to understand that your body has just had major surgery and is still in the recovery phase. I am guessing your still fusing. I have had surgery multiple times and my take is it is about a year before the effects of surgery where off. While you will feel better and better each day, there are those lingering muscle spasms. I am sure they don't want you to re-injury yourself so you can go through this all over again, and trust me, the surgery to fix it is much harder. Only you can know your limitations and say when enough is enough. You have to listen to your body, and if rest is what you need that, that is what the doctor ordered.

    As far as working on the car, I am sure that will not be a easy task, with all the twisting and bending looking up and down and so on. I would call the owner of the shop and let them know, you have not forgotten, but your still not feeling a 100% and basically what you have said here. Hopefully he/she will understand and know you haven't just left some car sitting there.

    AS far as your mom goes, there is a letter on the forums, it is called a letter to normals from a person living in chronic pain. You should be able to click on the FAQ section and find it. Just hang the letter on your mom's ice box and leave it at that.

    I will tell you the one thing for sure is we all get it, so vent away if you need to do so. Sounds as though you have some other spinal issues, that your looking at down the road, hopefully way down the road. By the way thanks for your service to the country.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. Keep up the good work on your recovery, your doing just fine. Look forward to reading more of your post. If I can be of any assistance in the future don't hesitate to pm me.
  • Hi and Welcome....I am a new person to this group and to the world of chronic neck pain. I am 36, and have suffered with tension migraines for over 3 years. There were days where all I would do is sleep and try to knock out a headache. I am a stay at home mom to an 8 and 5 year old children. So finally my Nurse Practitioner would not prescribe me more meds unless I went to a neurologist. Got an MRI and was hit with a diagnosis I was not expecting. Left side Forminal stenosis of various levels (mild to severe) from c4-c7. Oseteoarthritis in c1-c2. DDD through out the cervical spine of varying degrees. I had numbness and loss of feeling in my Left hand/arm...spasms, neck pain, headaches, tension, burning pain (nerve?).
    So I have not even considered surgery yet. I want to make it to 40...but from the more I read the more I am understnading that surgery may happen sooner. I understand what you mean about people and family not understanding. I had to quit being a volunteer fire fighter. I only told my chief and a few other people. The rumor mill @ a fire house is crazy and I soon had people asking me why I had quit and what was wrong with my neck. I would go into the details of the MRI results and it was like I was telling someone I was dying! The looks of pity they gave me were awful...I don't want that. Which is why I kept it to myself.
    Any way, thank you for all you did serving the country. I hope to read more of your experience and learn from it.
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