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C-3/C-4 Disectomy/Corpectomy fusion 12 wks post op, big pain

Ok, So I had a herniated disk with spurs, narrowing of the spinal canal, significant impingement on the spinal cord, myelopathy and other issues. I had the surgery at the Center for advanced medicine and when I came to after surgery I thought I was hit by a truck! OMG! What an eye opener!! My first major surgery! Got home at day 2 and have been recovering since. After 6 weeks I went back and the surgeon said another 8 weeks in the collar and no driving, no lifting etc. So, here I am at week 12 and the incision site has healed nicely and has no real pain. The back of the neck and spine though is another story!! I still cannot sleep in my bed without waking up in severe pain and the recliner is not much better, but at least it is not as painful. I have not done much of anything for 12 weeks now. I haven't been working and at this point have no idea what the surgeon is going to say when I go back and see him in 2 weeks. Has anyone else had this big of an issue with this type of surgery? Can anyone give me any insight on what to expect? When it may start to feel better? When I may be able to return to work? Any help with insight would be appreciated!!


  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 08/23/2013 - 1:28 PM
    I have had an ACDF of C3/4 and C4/5 which was done 9 months ago. I am feeling recovered from the surgery although I do still have most of my symptoms. I was warned that the surgery was being done to get the compression off the cord and that it may not help with the pain and symptoms I was getting. At least my cord has been freed up and now has fluid around it again so my myelopathy symptoms shouldn't get worse.

    I had 3 months off work but my job as a teaching assistant involved lots of bending and stooping otherwise I could have returned to work earlier.

    I did get, and still do get, some pain in my neck and shoulders. My surgeon warned me before the surgery that I would be likely to have very sore muscles in the back of my neck and shoulders after surgery. Have you tried heat to see if it will help to relax the muscles? Also I read that many people are put on muscle relaxer tablets which help.

    I hope that you will get some good news when you see your surgeon in two weeks. :-)
  • erolartaneerolartan Posts: 8
    edited 08/23/2013 - 1:44 PM
    Well this seems to be more than just minor pain! I am on morphine and have tried muscle relaxers as well and they help somewhat but not to eliminate the pain. Sleeping is intermittent at best and is more of a dozing/napping style at best as I wake up in pain about every 30 minutes. I cannot imagine living like this the rest of my life. I am an industrial maintenance manager by trade so in repairing industrial lasers and other heavy equipment would be almost impossible at this point if this does not get any better. The pain is daily and pretty much non stop even with taking morphine. To say I am concerned and scared would be an understatement...

  • I do hope that you have let your surgeon know how much pain you are in despite taking morphine and muscles relaxers.
    Getting so little sleep is not going to help your recovery.
    I wonder if if would be worth your while contacting your surgeon and letting them know how much you are suffering even though you have an appointment in 2 weeks. They may have an idea of something that could help you before you see them.

    I am not a doctor, but I don't think you should still be in so much pain after 12 weeks.
    I understand your concern and really hope that your surgeon will be able to help you.

    Please do let us know how you get on.

  • Yes, I went to see him a few times and he said that my neck was a real mess, much worse than what he had expected. He said there was significant spinal cord impingement, bone spurs and he really had to stretch my spine back out. He installed a plate and cage system where the vertebrae were and I am hoping that fusion is successful as I cannot imagine going through another surgery. He said it was a mess and that it will take time to recover from the surgery. It just seems that if I have a good day that it is soon crushed by significant pain shortly afterward.... Its just wearing my down and I am tired of hurting so much and for so long...
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 08/24/2013 - 2:43 AM
    I am sorry that you are having so much pain still.
    It does sound like your surgeon is not surprised about it.
    I hope that when you see him, he will have some ideas of things you could do to help.
    Perhaps you could prepare a list of questions for him.
    Have you had x-rays to see if fusion has started yet?

    Have you tried taking frequent short walks?
    Many people do find, even after neck surgery, that it helps to relax the muscles.

    I think I would ask the surgeon if he felt that doing very gentle physio would help.
    Other things you could try are warm showers, applying a heat pad to relax the muscles or applying ice packs.

    Make sure, on a good day, that you don't overdo it.

    I feel that I don't have much of use to help you.
    What I can offer though is an understanding ear to listen and support you.
    Do know that you are not alone and that there are others who are still having a lot of pain after their surgery.
    It doesn't mean that the surgery has failed and there is still time to make a full recovery and feel much better.
    I hope you won't have to wait for too much longer.

  • I had surgery on July 2nd, 2013. My Dr. Did not want me in a collar and I went home the same day as surgery. That night the pain was as expected terrible! I can't take pain meds as I have a reaction to them all so you can imagine. Since then I have had very little restrictions other than lifting and normal cautions. I have great range of motion, my pain level ranges from a 5 ( that's how I wake up) and on good days it stays at a 5 or a bit lower. Of course some days are harder. I am only about 7 weeks out of surgery but after reading others I feel blessed. I should mention that in 2003 I had a fusion of C5-6-7. The same thing, I did not wear a collar at all, was up walking the next day and was almost pain free since then. In Jan 2013 I fell and had to have Neck and Knee surgery. I can only think I got extremely lucky in having the best of doctors!
    I wish u all the best and if you need an amazing doctor recommendation I think I must be the poster child for mine.
    God bless us all!
  • I was on SH before surgery and very prepared or thought I was. I'm a almost complete metal neck. I had so many pillows to help me sleep, I also had a remote recliner. On my couch I think I have 7 or more pillows. I'm 9 weeks post op and still have discomfort but tolerable with 10/325 norco maybe 4to6pills a day and flexeril 10 mg. When I start to do allitle much my shoulders and neck sure let me know it. Something does not seem right with your pain 12 weeks post. So I just lay straight back on the pillows on my back is the best for me since I also have compressed L5/S1. I'm going to try to go back to work a couple of hours a day starting today. Office job. Hope things get better for you soon. My collar comes off Sept. 25 th have no idea how that will feel. Been wearing this thing 24/7.
  • I understand your pain, as do we all.... I can say that I had not only the first surgery,ACDF C 3/4, 4/5, 5/6, 6/7 in Dec2011 but after 6 months had to have a second on; Posterior Surgery. The nights are the worst, so I really had to find ways to work thru it. I can say that your BEST news was that it was healing good, you didn't show any signs of infection. Because we are dealing with nerves, which are VERY SENSITIVE, the damage and stress and trauma can not be understated. They take considerable longer to recover then we can even imagine. Traditional surgery dealing with other organs and bones or even muscle does not compare to the healing of nerves. I CAN ATEST IT DOES GET BETTER. Do to my two surgeries I have lost range of motion in my neck. I still sleep elevated. I can also say that feeling a sense of the blues comes from not knowing when it will get better... Before surgery my pain level was 12 on a scale of 1-10, yes 12. One year after surgery it 10 on bad days, but 7 on most. Find things that reduce your stress level, as stress tightens your muscles and adds to the pain...I found that sharing my feels and communicating with people who had surgery like mind was also a stress reducer. I ignition all went back to work part time to ease my way back in...again to be mindful of the stress inducers. Hope this helps.
  • Donnaq1DDonnaq1 Posts: 2
    edited 08/28/2013 - 1:36 PM
    I had surgery on my cervical discs 3 years ago for degenerative disc disease after pain worsening for about 10 years. At that time I had a fusion of c4-5 and c5-6, with 2 ADR's at either end. The pain and right sided headaches continued after I recovered, so I saw a pain specialist who gave me several radio frequency ablations over the last 2 years with some success. Yesterday I had the treatment ,which involves first getting shots of lidocaine in the neck prior to beginning the insertion of the instruments. As I lay face down on the table as the doctor was finishing , I suddenly had intense dizziness, nausea and a buzzing sound in my head so loud that I could not hear what the doctor was saying. They helped me turn over at which time I began vomiting. The nurses put cold wet towels on my head and neck and handed me a barf bag. I have never experienced a reaction like that before. I was then monitored for about an hour before I felt well enough to stand up and walk. They said my blood pressure had suddenly skyrocketed to about 200 over something...and after an hour it had come down to about normal.The doctor said he thought I may have absorbed too much of the anesthetic (lidocaine?). Today I am still not right...slightly dizzy and light headed...slight headache behind my right eye, fuzzy thinking. Has anyone ever heard of this kind of reaction?
  • Well, early this morning around 3 am? I was asked to try and lay down for a bit in bed rather than in the recliner. I did because I feel really bad not being able to sleep in bed and to be honest I really miss having a warm body to cuddle up with. Well, I woke up around 7 am and boy was I in pain!! I did my usual screaming and moaning, bitching and complaining and got up and I felt like a 90 year old man scuttling out the bedroom door on my way to the recliner to take morphine and pray it helps! How did I end up like this and when will it end? I feel so betrayed and cheated right now. I want to go back to work at this point and I know I need to in order to keep my job! Yes, I am on disability from work right now, it just transitioned to long term recently after 3 months and I know they will only hold my position open for so long without having to do something! I am in management so I understand that they can only hold it open for a certain length of time. What scares me is I seem to have hit a brick wall in my healing! I hurt 24/7 it seems, and if I do feel better for a short period, it is only temporary!! I am afraid if I don't go back to work that I will end up losing my position and then I will recover and not be able to find a job that pays as well. Yes, I feel that I am well paid and do not want to lose that good fortune! Jobs that pay well are few and far between anymore it seems.. So, that is my dilemma! What can I do? Nothing until I see the surgeon on the 9th! Will he allow me to return? God I hope so... If not? I guess I will just have to keep the faith that everything happens for a reason no matter how screwed up the situation may seem... Praying for healing in the near future!!
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