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Occipital pain 6 weeks into recovery--help!

LucyBLLucyB Posts: 3
edited 08/30/2014 - 6:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
This is my first post to this forum, although I have been reading posts since my surgery on July 14, 2014.
I had a 2 level, C5 - C7 laminectomy with fusion. I am 63 and otherwise healthy and active. I was sent home
in a hard J collar that I wore 24-7 for 2 weeks, then weaned off wearing it at home. I did continue to wear it when sleeping for another 2 weeks, although I was told I didn't need to. I think it had become a security issue. I have never had surgery before
this and was over anxious. At this point I was nearly pain free.
2 weeks ago I stopped wearing the collar for sleep and have begun having intense right side pain at the base of my skull, that radiates to my right shoulder. I am thinking it's probably from weakened muscles from staying in the collar at night longer than I should have. Ice seems to help more than heat.
On days that I have felt close to normal, with minimal pain, I have tried to go about normal activities. I went to a beach concert last weekend that involved walking in sand, turning to talk to friends, etc. the next 2 days I had greatly increased pain and was exhausted. I walk every day and am in reasonable shape for my age. Is it normal to "pay" like that for an activity that is a bit more strenuous than I've done since surgery? I do still wear the collar outside the house.
I'll see my surgeon in 1 week. I am hoping I can start PT, as I feel like my neck is so stiff it's almost frozen. I was given Soma, but it causes such sleepiness and nausea, I've stopped it.
Any advice or experiences would be greatly appreciated!



  • It can be normal, neck muscles or any muscles can quickly loose flexability. PT should help and you will find that that will e painful most likely even though it is normal movements. I actually have had 2 cervical fusions and for my first one my pain was so severe I stayed in my hard collar for 9 months and then had another surgery after the second one I was forced to get out of it but I still sleep in it for comfort and so I won't cause injury or increase in pain right now. I'm more nervous with my spinal cord injury and chronic pain but just know that it is better tht ou have gotten out of it early. Also remember your only weeks out of a major surgery so allow the pain to happen and be prepared with your pain relieving methods and everyday try to go a little further!
  • Thanks for your comments. Knowing other people have gone through this and hearing what they have to say is very reassuring to me. It sounds like you've been through the wringer, but still maintain a positive outlook. I know that's an important part of recovery in itself.
    I did so well I till this recent pain that I've gotten a bit discouraged, so I appreciate your comment that I've done well to get out of the collar. Labor Day weekend and lots of socializing and activities which I normally love, but it all just sounds exhausting to me right now. I'm listening to my body and not participating, which is hard on my very patient husband.
    Take care and thanks again for your comments.
  • What I say is take your triumphs when you can get them. So do applaud yourself for taking off the collar. Maybe just go for part of the party if you want to go or if you know there is a part of the party you were looking forward To then show up for that and then leave. The more natural you can be the earlier on the better! It get harder when you begin to get used to a new normal!
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