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Post-op C5-7 fusion complications

It's been over 4 years since my last surgery on my cervical spine. Symptoms are still no relief from numb, tingling, thumb, index and middle finger on right hand. Feels like the skin is on too tight and get electric zap feelings and can not stand to have them touched lightly, feels like they are touching raw nerves. Also index and thumb will ache for hours at a time Pain spasms are still in right forearm, like muscles are being stripped from the bone, don't last too long, or I'd be in the ER, pain is a 9-10 on scale, burning in right shoulder, and noticeable tightness, swollen area just above shoulder blade, frequent headaches, pain spasms in neck, feels like screws are pulling loose, but know they are not pain level of 8-10, these are sharp pinching sensations that do not last very long and increase with activity. Have ringing in my ears, hearing every heart beat, began after first surgery in 08. Tremors in right hand began in 2010 and depending on activity can be quite severe, often have to use left hand to click a computer mouse, because right hand will be bouncing. I also will have difficult swallowing on occasions or if I yawn my neck will tighten up and I can't hardly breathe or swallow, scares me, only last for a short time 3-5 seconds. I often notice on a daily basis that I get a body buzz, somewhat like a cell phone vibrating.
I also now have severe obstructive sleep apnea and HBP
Please respond if you have any of these post-op issues. My Doctors don't seem to have any answers for me and see nothing on films or in testing that explain it, but then again, saw nothing on films before 1st surgery either that explain my severe pain in my arm, shoulder and neck +10 on scale, I wanted them to take my arm off it was so bad. All that was noted was a slight bulge, and after 6 days did surgery and removed a chunk of bone big enough for the surgeons dog to chew on, was his words not mine, with second surgery, again just slight bulge and had 3 spurs pressing on spinal cord. So not very trusting of films and tests. Good news is, been tested twice for carpel tunnel and both negative, but I knew that before tests....haha
Note: first surgery accessed neck through left side front of neck and second was right side, with noted tearing on scar, not nice and neat like first. PT does not help me yet, last visit made things worse, do not think muscles are totally to blame and Dr.'s seem to think they are.
Thanks for your help


  • davrunnerddavrunner Posts: 478
    edited 11/27/2013 - 7:40 AM
    Have you seen a Neurologist?
    HBP? High Blood Pressure? if so, it's understandable as when you are in pain the pressure will increase. Mine gets scary high when my pain increases above a 7/8 and have been given the ok by my Dr to take extra BP meds when it happens.
    Have they given you any anti-convulsent meds? sometimes those help with spasms as well as nerve meds/muscle relaxers.

    My first spine surgery was also in 08, had a laminectomy at C4/C5, before I had a myelogram the surgeon kept saying there was nothing severe enough to do surgery on. The surgery laster 4 hours as it took him for ever to free the nerve.
    I hope you get some answers.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • I've been through the pill web before. They've had me on lyrica, Neurontin, Norco 10/325, Elavil and Trazodone, also tried amitriptyline, cymbalta and a couple others I can't recall. They did not kill the pain, just made it so I didn't give a #### about it. They would put me on one pill and then a few weeks later another to help side effects of that one or one that had to be taken with another to get best effects. I saw no future without pills and just didn't want to live as an addict. Those pills were going to kill me eventually. I'd get so sick if I'd forget to take one on time, even just an hour late. It took nearly 3 months to recover from taking the pills for 3 years and I never took more than I was suppose to and weaned off for over 4 weeks, still went through terrible withdrawals, even went 3 days that I couldn't sleep at all. Pain wouldn't kill me as quick as those pills would. I don't need a band-aid, I need to fix the problem, not cover it up. Plus, my pain tells me to stop doing things that makes things worse.
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 11/28/2013 - 3:37 AM

    I am sorry to hear that even after surgery you are still suffering so much.

    I agree with davrunner that seeing a neurologist may be helpful.
    I had an ACDF of C3/4/5 a year ago and am still having most of my pre-surgery symptoms and pains.

    I was sent to a neurologist before my neck surgery to rule out MS and some other conditions that they didn't name as I had so many symptoms all over the place. The neurologists felt that all my symptoms could be coming from the compression of my spinal cord in my neck. I had the fusion surgery.

    Now, a year later, I am still suffering most of my symptoms and my neurosurgeon wants me to see a neurologist again. He ordered a full spine MRI scan and my neck no longer has compression of the cord. I think that some stiffening spasms that I get in both legs and around my abdomen is puzzling to him. From what I have read this 'spasticity' is caused by spinal cord damage. I asked him about this and he agreed with me. I wonder if I was left for too long before I had my neck surgery as it was over two years.

    I also get that buzzing that feels like I have a mobile phone on vibrate inside my leg. I was told that it could be coming from the compression of my cord, but I am still getting it although not as badly.

    For the last month my right hand has become much more painful and I am finding gripping anything and writing anything is extremely difficult.

    I do sympathise and understand how difficult it is to still have so many symptoms and yet the doctors aren't sure why. I am really hoping that I will get some conclusion to my problems. Even if they say that it is permanent cord or nerve damage that is causing it all. Just to have an idea of why I still have so many symptoms would be good. Then I can get on with my life and make the best of how I am right now.

    I hope that you will get some helpful answers too.
    Could you ask to see a neurologist?

  • WonderboytwiceWWonderboytwice Posts: 149
    edited 12/01/2013 - 4:55 AM
    I had the above operations in September 2010 and December 2011 respectively, the latter having to be done twice as screws and rods became loose! Pain I had before these operations was quite bad but has become much worse since the operations and became very severe in October 2012. When they at last decided to give me a Spect Scan in July of 2013 I then discovered the problem that neither operation had been successful and had not fused in fact parts had become loose!

    Previous ops :- TKR to Lt Knee and TKR plus revision to Rt Knee. PLIF L4/5/S1 plus rebuild. ACDF C3/4/5 and POSTERIOR CDF C5/6/7.
    Why did I have to wait for so long to have these problems discovered? Kept complaining about pain but nothing concrete was ever done until July of this year. I am now due to undergo a MAJOR 6 hour operation on 4th December 2013 to hopefully correct all that has gone wrong. Main operation will be Cervical Laminectomy from C2 to T3. I sincerely hope that this relieves me of the dreadful pain I have been suffering. I shall let you know the outcome in a few weeks time. I am in the UK based in Hertfordshire and have a renowned Neurosurgeon doing my operation.

  • Good luck to you, must be a relief to finally get an answer to why your in so much pain. I am awaiting my medical records to see if I received a graft that has some serious issues, perhaps they used this type of graft on my neck, maybe that is why I am having the issues I'm having. Would be nice to find out an explaination, I swear, if the test me for carple tunnel again I will scream. Is it just me or is there not enough research done on spinal complications post-op. I fell like my old Dr. had an attitude, "I fixed you, your neck is fine, you must have something else wrong with you or your simply exagerating your symptoms". So frustrating!
    Hope your upcoming surgery goes well for you........speedy recovery.

  • Thinking of you Alistair and hoping that all is going to your surgeon's plan and that when you wake up they will keep you comfortable.

    Patricia, I think there are many of us here who still have problems after surgery and can't get definate answers as to why. I suppose the human body is complex, especially when you start talking about nerves and how they heal or don't heal.

  • 6 hour operation today. Hopefully this will be the last operation he will need.
    Patricia, my surgeon told me that there was no guarantee on having a decrease in pain, he was doing the operation to stabilize my neck and prevent anymore loss of strength in my left arm. Will be having ACDF C4-7 Jan 20th next year. I say next year as it seems so far a way lol...
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • Just an update; Still having various pain issues. I've learned to ignore the continuous level 2-3 pain/discomfort. I avoid quiet rooms, so the ringing in my ears isn't so noticeable. I've also learned that if I turn my head the ringing will quit in the left ear when I look left and in the right when I look right. If I could look both ways at the same time I'd be all set.
    I had surgery for the deviated septum I had had since I was about 12. Nice to be able to breath out of my nose. I still can't talk or breath right when laying flat on my back. Was never a problem before my neck injury.  I have not been tested again for sleep apnea without a c-pap machine since my surgery on my septum. I do notice that I no longer snore before I actually fall asleep any more. I feel rested when I sleep, but still get periods when I feel like I need to sleep a lot.. I recently went in for injections in my spine, which I will say relieved the horrible headaches I was having in the mornings. A few failed attempts to insert an IV has caused a problem with my right thumb. Both failures in each wrist did something to my thumbs. The left thumb always had a lump for as long as I can remember, that is quite painful  right on top of the first knuckle. This lump moved down toward the wrist about 1/4 inch. I'm not complaining about this, because it's located in a better place now. The right thumb has a lump on the underside of the first knuckle and is quite painful. I can't open doors that have a push button, the thumb locks at the second knuckle and hurts when I bend it. I see a specialist at the end of the month to see what happened and if it can be fixed.
    Still having blood pressure issues. Some times it's actually low, other times it's way up. I can not seem to find any triggers or activities that cause it to get so high (180/105) or to be nice and low (115/68). My BP is the same (irregular) whether I take medication for it or not. I'm guessing it's stress, pain, depression related. To top it off, I've been having hip and knee pain of the right leg. I personally feel it's my back, but don't really want to know, it's not so bad to want surgery yet. Seems surgeries often cause other issues in exchange for fixing the issue your having the surgery for. Can't win for losing, it seems.
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