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What should I expect from post surgical pain management?

I have been reading up on pain management and it seems the majority of it is geared towards those with pain that is "pre-surgical." Being that I have already had fairly extensive neck surgery what should I expect? I have been reading up and it seems the only thing that may be mildly effective for me will be an RFA. I am not allowed to have a pain pump because I am going through a Physical Evaluation Board right now and the military requires anyone going through that to not undergo any surgery that is not emergency/life threatening in nature. So pain pump is out. If I am not mistake steroid injections could cause issues with my fusion process because I am only 5 months out from my most recent fusion surgery so that is likely out. I am not going to immediately dismiss prescription treatments though I would prefer to avoid them. Anyway, just looking for insight. I luckily have someone in my command that is going to the same pain specialist and she loves him. I am also prepared for him to be surprised at the level of what I have going on as compared to my age (it seems everyone is, I am so tired of hearing how they can't believe I am 29 and have this going on haha). Anyway, thanks for any input you may have.


  • And welcome to Spine Health! If you follow the links on the left hand side of the screen , you will find links to the forum FAQ, forum rules and the various boards. You will also find links at the top of the page to Conditions, Treatment, Wellness and Resources. Make sure to check them all out , as there is tons of helpful information for your recovery, treatment options and therapy information.
    As far as options regarding pain management post op, there are many options available, injections, physical therapy, neuropathic pain medications like Lyrica, Topamax, Gabapentin, and of course others.
    RFA may be an option if the pain does not calm down over time. Radio frequency ablation is a procedure where the nerves are burnt, and seems to offer many pain relief for several weeks , months and sometimes longer than that.
    Doctors tend to want to use the least invasive procedures first, then if there is no benefit, they will go to the next step.
    They may offer injections as a means to reduce inflammation or swelling if needed, before going with other modalities. The most important part of your recovery is to follow your doctors directions and phyiscal therapy directives as they allow and remember, fusion surgery can take up to a year to recover from so slow and steady is best when it comes to your recovery.
    Best wishes to you,
  • Um thanks for the welcome lol. I think thats the firt time I have been welcomed in the almost year Ive been here haha. I have already been to PT and they did absolutely nothing for me. Went for 3 months with zero results sadly. Currently ob lyrica and it helps mildly with the nerve pain but my biggest problem is the pain the is still present in my neck/upper back.
  • Oh Bpreachers, I am sorry you are still having pain from your surgery. I was hoping it would be the answer to your pain. I alo am still having pain from thoracic microdiscectomy on May 24, 2012, almost a yr. ago :( I am trying to get appt. with specialists to talk about a SCS but it has been 4 months and still no appt :( I had knee surgery in Jan. of this yr. and am having complications from that surgery also and may be looking at a knee replacement. It just never seems to end does it? I hope you are able to get your pain under control and again thank you for your service to our country :)

  • I am hoping so too. Supposedly the pain specialist I am going to, a Dr. Jolly, is a very sought after specialist that does many publications and speaking engagements around the country. He is an anesthesiologist so I am certain he will be more comfortable doing things like nerve blocking/cryo blocking. I have been looking into this for a while and it honestly looks like RFA may be the best option for my situation but I will have to wait and see what his input is. I go on the 21st. I can't wait to just lower my pain level a bit. Sadly, the surgery I had was done only to keep me from furthering the damage to my spinal cord and stop me from possibly becoming a quadroplegic. My spinal cord was almost entire pinched off in two spots with a 90% compression at C5 and C6 along with a growth (can't remember the name they used) at T1 that was putting pressure on my spine. The surgery was successful but I am still in pain daily, about a 5-6 out of 10. Some days its a bit better, especially in the morning, but by the end of the day I am in pain all over again. Anyway, thanks for the support and thank you for allowing people like me to serve :D

    I just wish there was a way to avoid pharmacology entirely but I know that will be one of the routes he will want to take because Physical Therapy, Massage, heat, ice, and TENS gives me zero long lasting relief. Never had any steroid injections so I don't know if it will help or not but I am worried about having something like that done considering I have read that it can interfere with the fusion process.
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 05/16/2013 - 6:53 PM
    Steroids won't interfere with the fusion process, that medication is anti inflammatories. I had my first fusion in 2006, and had a couple of injections with steroids afterward to help reduce inflammation.
    I hope that your appointment goes well and you can finally get some relief. I know that things have continued to change for me, even all of these years later, so don't give up hope.. I remember that first year post op and there were days when I just didn't think that it would ever improve. Are you resting when you can, during the day? It does help to take a break when and where you feel that you need it.......it's a long haul after a fusion surgery and learning to listen to your body is one part of the healing process . Taking short breaks or stretching for a few minutes might help with the end of the day pain levels if you can manage a few minutes several times a day to rest or move around, whichever option helps you most.
  • bpreachersbbpreachers Posts: 147
    edited 05/17/2013 - 9:38 AM
    Its very hard to "take breaks" during the day in the military lol. But I do what I can. I have been resting a lot this week because I took a week of leave to finish up my Capstone exam for my grad degree.
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