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Dr. says neck pain is whiplash not from 4wk post-op ACDF surgery??

Mom31marineMMom31marine Posts: 3
edited 08/11/2013 - 2:16 PM in Neck Pain: Cervical
This is my first time on this website and post. I'm so sorry that my post will be so long but don't know how else to explain my situation with out explaining everything. Thanks so much to anyone who reads my novel post, lol.
I'm feeling extremely frustrated with my Neurosurgeon. I had ACDF surgery almost 4 weeks ago for severe herniated disc c-5 or c-6. My neck, shoulder, and arm pain started after the end of November 2012 after a car accident. After accident I had constant shoulder and neck pain with on & off arm pain with numbness in hand and I could not turn my neck all the way or bend it to my shoulder without terrible pain. Therapy didn't help and in May 2013 I had an MRI and referred to a neurosurgeon because of a severe bulging disk. Anyway Dr. Recommended surgery but stated some of my shoulder and neck pain was due to whip lash from car accident.
I had the surgery preformed July 16th, Dr took out disc completely and put a plastic spacer in. So the numbness is gone and arm pain, but I'm having a lot of pain at base of head and back/side of my neck. Last night I was in tears it was so bad and I had trouble even sleeping. When I saw surgeon for post op appt and told him I had this burning neck pain and shoulder pain he said that it was whiplash? This pain is a completely different pain then I had prior to this surgery and I'm confused? Unless my ACDF caused me whiplash how can this post op pain be whiplash? I really felt as though he was blowing me off and them told me he'd see me again at the end of October in three months! What do I do now about my pain and discomfort? If anyone has any advice for me I'd be extremely grateful. I'm also having shooting pain occasionally down the opposite arm that I've had no problems with prior to surgery.
Thanks for any help or advice anyone gives me..


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • RickilalasRRickilalas Posts: 559
    edited 08/11/2013 - 9:55 PM
    Your still recovering from the surgery. Nerves get moved and touched which they do not like. It can take months to calm them down. Then there is the other side to look at also, maybe something happened during surgery. Just a thought no reason to believe it.
    I would seek out a pain management doctor who may be able to help you.
    I would also get a second opinion just to check and see if something was missed.
    There are many test and scans that can be done to locate the cause.
    There are also many treatments a pain doctor can do to help a problem or even locate a problem. Just get active in finding out what is wrong.
    No reason to put up with pain when it might be a easy fix.

    Good Luck

  • First I must say that 4 weeks after an ACDF is still very early in your recovery. There is still plenty of time for things to improve.

    I do understand your disappointment and how you feel about what your neurosurgeon has said about this pain you are having.

    I hope that my sharing my experience may help you.

    I found that if I did too much in the early days (4 weeks definately does count as the early days) the muscles in the back of my neck would spasm and cause my pain to become worse. That didn't surprise me because my surgeon had warned me before my surgery that afterwards I would have very sore muscles in the back of my neck and shoulders.

    I have read of so many other people who have this problem after neck fusion surgery; either done from the front or the back. (Mine was a 2 level ACDF) Some of them seem to get relief by taking muscle relaxers and find that they help. I didn't use them myself.

    I tend to agree with Rick that your nerves don't like being disturbed by the surgery and can be very touchy afterwards.

    My ACDF was 9 months ago and I am still having lots of my pre-surgery symptoms. This is mainly nerve type pain, and I am back on nerve pain meds for that which is helping. I was warned before surgery that it may not get rid of my symptoms but was being done to get the compression off my cord to stop any further damage being done to that.

    I hope that you will start to feel better very soon.
  • Thanks so much for your thoughts and advice. I'm going to get a referral for a 2nd opinion and talk to dr about PM dr also.
  • I am having same problem with my NS. I had ACDF in April. I am still having severe pain in my neck. he keeps telling me it will get better over time but has not let up at all. My pain dr started cutting me down on my pain meds without the pain getting any better. I finally went to her and told her that even with the pain meds I am taking I am still having pain. She wants to start giving me the steroid injections again to see if that will help but I am having to wait because we are getting new insurance. I have decided that I am going to go to a spinal treatment center to see if they can figure out why I am still having so much pain. I hope you can find someone to help you with your situation. It just seems like that some of these doctors really don't understand what we are going through. I will be praying for you.
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