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Occiput to c3

jfupjjfup Posts: 1
edited 04/22/2013 - 12:30 PM in New Member Introductions
I woke up with severe neck pain in Nov. 2012. Because it was Thanksgiving weekend, noone was working! My husband took me to a walk-in clinic where they took xrays and told me I had some serious issues in my neck. I was given oral steroid pack and steroid injection, as well as a muscle relaxor, and told to get to a Pain Clinic ASAP. I was able to get into a hospital Pain Management Center the next Monday, barely able to walk or hold my head up. I was given more steroids and NSAIDS (which made me sooo sick) and set up for facet injections as soon as they could get me in. I was given the cervical steroid injections on
the left side only. Within a few days of very little relief or sleep, I was brought into the hospital with a life threatening infection, and spent a week in intensive care and left with a PICC line and 8 more weeks of antibiotic infusions at home. The pain was awful, and I could hardly hold my head up. Needless to say, I lost a great deal of weight and strength. To make a long story short, I have been told by a neurosurgeon and his team that the infection caused the dens in c1 and c2 to dissintegrate. The cervical instability alarms all doctors that I have seen for 2nd, 3rd, etc. opinions. Even a cervical spine chiropractor (after telling me that once I have occiput to c3 surgery, that would be the beginning of the end of my life...I would loose my memory, mobility, and basically be drooling in a wheelchair) agreed that the surgery would be my only option. One wrong move or car accident, and I could be paralyzed.

Meanwhile, it is now mid April and I am seeing a neurosurgeon who has written books on this surgery, tomorrow. I have done as much reading as I could find on this surgery. Because it is so rare, I am having the hardest time connecting with anyone who has gone through this procedure.

If you have any personal information that you could share about the surgery, rehab, healing time, limitations, residual pain, I would greatly appreciate it. I am petrified about the quality of life I would have.


  • patrain17ppatrain17 Ottawa area, CanadaPosts: 103
    Hi jfup,

    In november and december of 2011, I had decompression surgery to relieve pressure on my brainstem and cervical spine followed by an occiput to c3 fusion. Following the surgeries, I was in a hard cervical brace for 14 weeks. It was a tough time but I had to go through it because like you, one wrong move could've left me paralyzed. I was already in pain, had trouble walking (entire left side numbness) and my surgeon discovered than even my breathing functions were affected by my condition.

    Sixteen months out of this troubled time, I can honestly say that I feel much better today than I did then. Obviously, some days are harder than others, but all in all I took the right decision. My life is far from over. Can I still practice all the sports I used too, no but I am not always in pain. I lost a lot in range of motion (40-50% neck rotation and 20-30% neck extension). Driving can be a challenge, but I can function without being afraid of what could happen.

    For me, it was the only decision I could make. As for yourself, I can only tell you my story. You're the only one who can take the decision and nothing guarantees that the outcome in your situation will be the same. In other words, I can't help you take that all important decision. Only specialists can.

    I hope my story will inspire you. Don't be afraid the communicate with me. Take care!

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