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Been There Done That What now (issues 4+ years after cervical surgery)

edited 03/08/2013 - 8:15 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I'm not even sure where to begine with this. 4 plus years ago I talked myself into having cervical surgery. 3 disks removed and a 3 level fusion from C3/4 throu C5/6 was the result. After surgery I attempted to do everything I possible could to be healthy and enjoy the rest of my life. I lost weight (almost 100 lbs). I work out (daily) and walk over 3 miles about 5 times per week. I eat healthy. I retired from work. Ok here comes the sucky frustrating part. For the last several years I have been having pain in my right shoulder, arm and hand and its been getting progressively worse. I finally decided to go for a new MRI and find out what was happening (oh first I saw a doctor who ruled out carpel tunnel. MRI makes me want to cry (correction, MRI makes me cry). I have a right parcentral osteophytic ridging compressing the ventral aspect of the cord at C3-4 and exiting right C4 nerve root. I have a disc osteophyte complex with a right paracentral disc protusion resulting in mild central canal stenoisis at C6/C7. My big concern is the osteophyte at C3-4. I believe it's most of the cause of the pain in my right arm and hand. I figure the one at C6-7 is just adding insult to injury (pun intended).

So what to do? As mentioned been there, done that. Since I am very arthritic and more surgery is most likely going to result in more osteophyte growth that does not seem like a good option. On the other hand this constant pain is not a heck of a lot of fun either.

Oh by the way I am a firm believer in limiting pain meds as much as possible. I can't take things like Motrin which actually do provide some help because they make my blood pressure spike. I don't want to take any of the heavy hitters that are perscription because I just don't want to live my life that way. So what do do?

Guess I will go see the doctor who orginally did my surgery and see if he has any good ideas (any good ideas short of more surgery that is). Why would I do something I already know is not a lasting solution?

Thanks for listening,
Fused and Frustrated
ACDF C3-4 C4-5 C5-6 Sept 17 2008.


  • I understand that it's tough to think of surgery again. Sometimes you can chase from one surgery to another. You have to weigh the possibility that you might have some relief for some amount of time or it may not work or live with the current symptoms or more.

    Good luck with your decision..
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • edited 03/10/2013 - 2:12 PM
    Thank you for your reply. I can see that you have had 3 surgeries in the last several years. I hope that you are feeling good these days and that the surgeries were a good choice for you. I am going to speak to my original surgeon at some point. However, because what is currently causing the most problem is the arthritic growth, my thought is that more surgey may not be a good option for me. I wish someone would suggest something less invasive that would give a good outcome but I'm sure lots of folks on here would like that option.
    Again, Thanks for the response,
    Fused and frustrated (but grateful to be alive and able to do things)
    ACDF C3-4 C4-5 C5-6 Sept 17 2008.
  • I think you need to call your surgeon and schedule that appointment ASAP. I also recommend explaining upfront that you would like to try any and all conservative treatments first. If he only wants to do surgery, then I'd get a second opinion. However, he might have some really good conservative options that could help your specific issues. I have been surprised at how much widely excepted and encouraged conservative treatements are out there and supported by the surgeons. So go ask and keep us informed.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • edited 07/25/2013 - 4:37 PM
    It might be a comedy except its not very funny. My NS sent me to a pain doctor who was very encouraging about what he thought he could do to help me. Before he tried anything however he wanted me to have an MRI of my right shoulder because after he saw me he felt a lot of my pain might be coming from my right shoulder. The good news is he was right, the bad news is he was right. All kinds of nasty stuff showed up on the MRI of my right shoulder including but not limited to a labrum tear. After the pain doctor saw the MRI he suddenly felt he could not help with conservative treatment and sent me to an Orthopedic surgeon. Actually he tried to send me but after I sent my MRI report to the OS the office called and told me I needed to see a surgeon who did total shoulder replacement because that is what I needed. This is crappy enough but while I was searching for someone who specialized in shoulder replacements I had a repeat biopsy on my thyroid (did I mention that my neck MRI also showed nodules on both sides of my thyroid and a sonogram and biopsy later came back with atypical cells of unknown significance and a need for a repeat biopsy. I really thought it would be a pass and I could go back to looking for solutions to the neck and shoulder issues. No pass................Looks like cancer and I'm having my thyroid out in Sept. I am scared to have this surgery because I am concerned they will hurt my neck and/or my shoulder while doing it because they will be focused on my thyroid not these other issues. Anyway sorry for the long post, just going a bit nuts lately. Fused and Frustrated
    ACDF C3-4 C4-5 C5-6 Sept 17 2008.
  • Sorry this is all going on... the old saying, "When it rains it pours" seems to be so true. My sister had to have her thyroid taken out because the biopsy kept coming back inconclusive... so out it all came. Thankfully the biopsy of the entire thyroid came back clear, so no iodine treatment.... I've heard and been told many times that thyroid cancer is in general, and "easy to solve" issue, though clearly anything that requires surgery as well as post op treatments isn't "easy". I had to have a thyroid biopsy and it was no walk in the park... in fact, it was pretty awful.

    Please hang in there. I'd just let the general surgeon know you have these other issues going on and I'm sure they will take good care of you. Best of luck.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
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