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Recovering from spinal stenosis with myelopathy

Hi everyone! My dad was diagnosed with cervical spondylosis and with Myelopathy and radiculopathy and a doctor from the Orthopedic and Trauma unit did an operation on him last month (on the 8/14/2013). It was an anterior spinal fusion approach with an implant, and he said it was to “decompress the nerves.” (The findings from the MRI showed severe cervical stenosis. The operating doctor said it was so severe that he had to do operation instead of taking the wait and see approach. Looks like the damage has been done for at least 5 years.)

Right now, my dad has to wear a Philadelphia neck and body brace (back and front piece), and will have a follow up appointment about one month from now ( 2 months post surgery) to go for an X-ray scan. His gait seems to get better, and incontinence seems to have disappeared. What worries me however is that his physical conditions do not seem to improve, and most of the symptoms that existed pre-surgery still persist till this day. For example, he is lethargic, dizzy, and still having mild insomnia and the heat sensation down his calves during afternoons (even more feverish than post-surgery).

Right now, he is taking

1) Methycobal tablet 500mg, *3/day

2) Frisium tablet 10mg, *1/day @night

3) Revicon forte tablet, *1/day @morning

It is to note that before the surgery, he took Remeron Soltab 15Mg, *1/day and Rivotril Tablet 2Mg, *1/day, prescribed by a psychological doctor, because we thought he had depression. He stopped taking these two medicine after the surgery.

I would appreciate it if you could give me some advice.

1) Is it it’s normal that his conditions do not get better, or actually, get worse post-surgery? The doctor said it takes time for the nerves to recover, and some of the replies above said the pain is due to the awakening of the nerves, but I couldn’t help to get skeptical since my father is in a lot of pain and distres during this "recovery phrase." So, should i be worried?

2) I think the fact that he has to wear the body brace together with the neck brace has in some way made him feel tired. Do you know if it's necessary to wear the body brace actually?

3) He has some atrophy in his muscles and complains of backbone pain sometimes. Do you recommend that he takes some calcium supplements? What are the supplements that you would suggest?


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
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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
  • Or take him to the ER! Do not ask for advice on forums in the event of serious medical emergencies.......
  • RickilalasRRickilalas Posts: 559
    edited 09/16/2013 - 5:31 AM
    By luck I checked my PM and found yours. I don't have a lot of time tonight and want to touch on a few things with you to watch based from my experience.
    If there is a major change and even minor changes that could effect life yes get some medical help. I get the feeling he is slightly better then from before surgery but not has good has you may have expected. The ACDF is the best surgery to decompress the cord most of the time. After this is done a few things have been shifted around which can cause more new issues. In my case I had the ACDFof 5/6/7. The surgery was a easy one for recovery. Now in my case after the decompression was done I started having problems with my feet that was new. I started dropping things and could not write. A second MRI was done which now showed the cord damage that had already been done. Keep in mind I had no cervical issues and went in for lumbar pain. They found my neck issues. A second surgery was necessary because my cord was now decompressed but the canal was still not large enough to give the cord room to work. I am making this a quick answer that has more parts but time is a issue right now but I did not want to let this go. The second surgery was laminectomys of the the same area removing bone from the posterior side, back side. This gave the cord room and allowed spinal fluid to flow all the way around the cord. This may need to be checked and it's
    Not unusual to have a second surgery from the back side. This is a posterior surgery and is much harder for recovery.

    Now the problems, some cord and nerve damage will get better and some will not.
    Sounds like some of his issues are better and a few are the same and maybe even worse.
    Has long has it isn't life threatening you have to wait it out. The most improvement will come in the first six months and then even more improvement in the second six months.
    About one year out you pretty well know what you have left. Keep in mind this is from my experience and what my medical reps said and did with me. We all vary and the skill of the medical staff can make a difference also. I have personally watched a full quad gain many functions back over ten years so anything is always possible. Never take no for a answer.

    Your still early on in this journey which can take a lot of time. I wish him the best and Hope time helps him out. Just be prepared if you need more surgery.

    Last point I want to cover tonight is simple and very important. If you have questions I will answer here or PM. Ok my simple possible fix. My team of doctors( about nine) always blame everything on my spine . I asked my GP to treat me like I had no spine issues what would he look for. I had all the issues he has now. Look up low testosterone and check out the issues compared to the symptoms of low T. It's interesting and you will be surprised.
    A simple blood test will get you the information if it is a source of some of the problems.
    It's now thought that males with spinal cord injury have about a 85% chance of low T.
    Two weeks ago I told a retired surgeon this and he had no idea. He has a friend who is a retired MD with the same issues. He is being treated for low T and in just two weeks he is doing better. Two doctors in trauma care that are retired now did not know this. I can not say this will help him but it's worth a check. It's made a major change in my life in less the six months.

    OK I lied a couple more things LOL
    The collar can depend on what was used for surgery, the age of the person and even the doctors choice. They don't always agree on this. Play it safe and follow directions is important. A failed fusion is not a good thing to end up with. Look around the forum for failed fusions.
    Ok last for tonight I would check with your doctor before adding any supplements what may sound good could be a issue. Error on the side of caution follow surgeons advice. He has seen more of these then any of us. This was a hard surgery for your dad and keep in mind he was down in strength and pain. This will take time to get over.
    He may even be doing good and his meds may be taking him down so again discuss this all with his doctor. I would call and call until I got answers.
    In the mean time read and learn everything you can. You have to know what is going on with his care he needs a advocate to help him out.
    I have a feeling in time this will all work out but keep a eye on any changes, breathing and anything that could effect his life. I know this is a lot to take on from the start. Many people here were there once too.

    Good Luck and feel free to ask me anything
    PS I didn't have time to proof read this so near in mind I may have a mistake or two
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