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Post op Cervical posterior foraminotomy how long pain last

allicat2000aallicat2000 Posts: 26
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:18 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am almost 2 weeks post op foraminotomy and still have numbness in left thumb and a lot of pain. This feels awful compared to my ACDF C5-7 almost 3 years ago. Either I do not remember to well or this really is worse. I was told to expect neck pain so my question is for how long... :jawdrop:


  • allicat,

    Posterior cervical surgeries are agonizing for several weeks. They are completely different then an anterior cervical approach or even a posterior lumbar approach.

    You just have to keep your chin up and know that just like your other surgery, you will begin to feel good as your body heals.

  • Ugh! I am 6 days post op. c-8 foraminotomy. I can hardly sit at this desk and type for 15 minutes. I had a complication so incision is 4". I really want to discuss what happened but I have to go back to the recliner. I will check in later.
    Severe DDD. Klippel Feil Deformity. Cervical Foraminatomy that turned into Lamy. I have tried so many treatments, therapy's and medications.
  • Posterior approach takes much longer to recovery from the actual incision pain along with the muscle spasms. On the posterior approach they cut the muscle in the back of the neck most times which will take much longer to heal from than the anterior incision. If your pains are to severe call your surgeon and ask them to call you out a stronger muscle relaxer. My experience was i didn't need stronger pain meds but rather a stronger muscle relaxer and the surgeon put me on valium which reduced the pain a lot for me. When they do that surgery also has a lot to do with the way your body is held that causes the severe spasms. Take care and keep us posted on how your getting along.
  • Thanks, to everyone who replied. At my 2 week post op visit NS said not near where they would like me as far as recovery as still have arm pain, due to the extent of the nerve swelling. So on 2nd steroid pack since surgery and upped the neurontin dose at bedtime. That was they stuff I wanted off!! The arm pain seems less the neck and muscle pain less but still hurts :(
  • I had the Post C6-C7 Cervical posterior foraminotomy done last week, since then my left index finger is still quite numb, left arm that had severe pain is now just tender, the upper back and neck are real sore yet. I have a soft collar, taking percoset for pain. I'm only one week out so far...Since you posted this originally in June of 2008, how long did it actually take? how are you today?
  • I am also 10 1/2 weeks post-op posterior cervical foraminotomy and feeling very good. Zack (MsJulie--good morning!) had two levels done and is taking longer to recover.

    The first three weeks or so I would get up and eat breakfast then go back to bed until noon. Just wanted to sleep and figured that was a signal that my body needed that healing time.

    One tip: Avoid tipping your head forward (reading a book, cooking, etc) anymore than necessary. For me, that caused nasty burning muscle pain and greatly increased the painful muscle spasms.

    nmac - Sorry to hear you're not having the relief expected from this procedure! Hopefully this will turn around for you. >:D<

    I had oxycodone for pain and Robaxin for muscle relaxant (which didn't seem to do any good at all). I used the oxy 5 mg in decreasing amounts for the first 5 weeks and then I stopped it and switched to ibuprofen.

    Let us know how you're doing. It's good to read what others are experiencing with this surgery. :H


    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • I have had 5 level posterior and anterior fusion on 5-26-09.
    I still have pain in the back but not really too bad. My os told me this could take several months to calm down. I am not on any pain killers as of now except tylenol when needed. My Post op went very well as my OS told me I was doing remarkably well. I have 3 incisions 2 in the front 1 41/2" down the back of my neck. My problems are swallowing and swelling from the 1 incision in the front. He assures me this will pass and it takes a good year for full recovery. Keep your chin up it will get better. I'm looking for a long summer of golf next year. I know the outcome to be a good one. Possitive attitude is needed for recovery!!
  • I am so sorry to hear the pain stories everyone has given here but hope that everyone is healing nicely now.
    In case anyone needs a good story for this operation, I had posterior foraminotomy at c6/7 on July 13 (nearly two weeks ago) and while I had pain and dizziness the first day or so I actually have had very little pain that was not easily manageable with heat or hydrocodone 10mg (or even 5mg).

    I originally thought I would be having bi-level fusion C5-7 but after the final test (a myelogram) showed that the nerves were most pinched at c6/7 my NS and I decided to try and hold off on c5/6 until we could get insurance to approve an artificial disc. I had physical therapy for a few weeks before surgery assuming I was going to have fusion. They did lots of deep tissue massage and gave me posture exercises and I walked twice a day for 15 minutes each.

    I also had an amazing result, immediately after the surgery he did a resistance test and my arm, which was like spaghetti before, actually gave resistance. I should say, however, that the weakness and total pinched nerve on the myelogram were the main indications for surgery, as the pain level (which had been terrible for the previous 6 months) had actually gone down to quite low when I did the surgery (possibly the nerve had been damaged). I have to credit my surgeon (Dr. Jerry Marlin in Dallas) alot for the result, he has been very cautious and precise and warned me I was likely to have more pain after the surgery but so far so good.

    On the downside I also had a weird episode of Sudden Hearing Loss following surgery, which all the docs say is unrelated but I will post on that elsewhere. Anyway I am very happy with my surgery so if you are waiting for a similar procedure it can definitely help.

    All the best

  • What tamtam said is "right on" - this surgery will take alot longer to heal because of the muscles being spread apart. Post op is painful to the muscles. Muscle relaxers are the most important part to recovery. Still recovering after 15 weeks here. Just got some more muscle relaxers yesterday. Went to my general physician, because surgeons don't care much about you after their work has been done successfully. Learned that on my own. Horrible people they are. LOL. Hope everyone is keeping their heads up & know that the light at the end of the tunnel is not the train. Although you may feel that way. This web site helped me tremenously after surgery.
    Hugs to ALL. #:S
  • so im exactly 3 weeks post op from a double cervical foraminotomy posterior on my c5 c6 c6 c7 and though im doing much better then when i first came out im still having burning in my shoulders and neck. I cant reach for anything unless its right in front of me i cant hold my arms over my head ( to wash my hair or shower) my fiance has to help me everytime and i also can put on my shirt without this burning in my shoulders i just scream. Recently (past 2 days) my left arm and shoulder are feeling as if it did before i had the surgery. The tingling and such. I havent been to the docs yet for my first visit not til the 14th of october. But im just wondering if this is normal? i know they spread my nerves and muscles apart and there working there way back together but really how much longer of this???? and will the burning stop? any tips?
  • I think what you are feeling is normal for this type of surgery. I know it took a very long for me to be able to raise my arms over my head, etc. Are you still wearing a collar? This type of surgery is very painful, and the healing goes slow.

    My doctor's nurse told me that once people get past the 4 month mark on a posterior neck surgery they typically do well. I'm still waiting for the feeling good part, but it does improve.

    Just to be safe though, I think you should call and report what you are feeling. Your appointment is still a week away. Maybe they can increase your prescription for muscle relaxers or give you some pointers on things to do to help with the pain. Your doctor can't help if he doesn't know what is going on, so give him a call.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • thanks for the response back...i called my doctor a few days ago because the burning in my shoulder was so severe i couldnt take it. silly thing i had a huge hiccup and felt something "rip" so to speak in my right shoulder my doc. perscribed me some valium and told me i had multiple sutures inside and might have torn one. I dont know ive had a few surgeries and this is by far the worst. yes im still in a soft collar they had told me i had to wear this for 4 weeks though at times i take it off and it feels much better. well im going to keep my chin up and try to relax i just get so anxious and frustrated. but thanks for the tips...i wish you just as well!
  • I've never been so uncomfortable as I was after having posterior cervical surgery. Compared to that, everything else I have gone through, has been a walk in the park. 3 weeks is really really early in the grand scheme of things for the type of surgery you had. Hang in there and it will get better!

  • I had same thing almost 6 mos. ago
    a dbl post. cerv. foram. c5-6,c6-7
    I had to keep ice packs on the area 24/7 for 6-8wks for the burning. Constant unbearable, 10+ pain. Couldn't make it from the bed to the bathroom without the ice.

    Let me know what the doc said.
  • I wanted to touch base & drop you a line so it would make it back up to the top of the readings. You should be about 5 wks post op "post. cerv. foram. 2 levels". How are you feeling? I was blown away to hear you are already going to PT. I am so anxiouly waiting to hear how that goes for you! Please keep us all updated!
  • #o Surgery was April 27 2011, at C-7-T-1 level. The new device the O-Arm was used on me and I was the first in our town have it used on. The surgery in and of itself was a success, in that ALL of my left arm pain in gone. Had been through epidural injections, which did help but still alot of breakthrough pain.
    The surgeon used a clear coat on my incision on the back of my neck, and I stayed a day and a half in the hospital. Once he removed the would drain, I went home.
    A few days later the normal drainaige...orange (blood and serum) kept getting worse. Literally running down my back after soaking through the gauze. I was changing the gauze at least ten time a day and by then of course the tape, no matter what style I used, was tearing up my skin. Called the dr, went right in. He put three staples in the top on the incision and hoped that would work. It didn't. Three days later, he now felt I was draining spinal fluid.He then sewed up the entire incision tightly and ordered me to stay at a 33 degree angle for 48 hrs and then to come back in, unless even ONE drop of fluid came out, night or day before then. So I did as instructed and it stopped. The main fear here was not only having go back into the hospital for 3-4 days and have the drainage tube put back in, but HIGH risk of bacterial meningitis. So needless to say, I had a few setbacks but seem to now finally be on the right track. Took out staples and sutures a week ago. I STILL cannot do much of anything physically, and still take percocet and valium, but truly the ice packs are a god send.
    Now, depression has set in. I try not to bitch too much to my family members, they know I hurt, they don't need to hear it all day and night...but this depression is kicking my butt. Here is the worse part. I am an RN! I know what to do and what to expect but the setback with the leakage didn't help with regard to healing time.
    Can someone tell me honestly who has been through this...how long does it REALLY take to get my life back? I was in the gym 4 nights a week and now I cannot lift even a laundry basket.
    I DO realize that with the little setback,I am a couple of weeks behind on healing but OMG. The good news again, is the surgery seems to have been a success as I have NO pain in my left arm anymore. But I want to get back to work and become a functioning part of society again. At this point, getting out of bed without crying IS progress for me.
    I would like some patient who has had this to PLEASE tell me how long this initial thing is gonna last l I was under the impression, 8 weeks. Bullpuckies. The neurosurgeon will follow me for 2 years as is routine, but I had to see him 5 times before we even got to the month post op visit! I should also mention he has been very compassionate to me and has not cut me off on pain meds. (I do however, not take the valium too often as they are SOOO addictive....so I use those quite sparingly)
    Thanks for any input anyone might have. :)
  • I have been reading the posts as I am scheduled for a 2 level posterior foraminotomy in 3 weeks. I had a 1 C5-6 fusion 2 years ago and developed numbness in fingers and arm weakness. I also have lumbar problems and am having injections and RF for those problems. It sounds as though the posterior approach is more challenging than the anterior. I also suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis with chronic pain. Since I have a high tolerance I am concerned about pain control.

    I would like to find others who have had this surgery or anyone who is about to have this surgery to be able to ask questions and for support. Everyone seems so knowledgable and helpful.

  • I am having this surgery in 4 weeks at three levels, c3-4, 5-6 & 6-7. I had an anterior fusion last August on c5-6. I have to say that reading your various posts have me not looking forward to the surgery. But the current pain I'm in has been pretty tough to handle. I hope my surgeon has the latest/greatest techniques! :-) I would really like to be back at work in 4 weeks post surgery. I'll keep checking on your various recoveries. I'm praying.
  • Christiem,I'm curious why you're having posterier surgery when you just has ACDF surgery last August? are you having any problems with fusion not happening? Maybe your pain is really bad? I've been told that any revision surgery, if needed, isn't normally done until at least 1 year after the first surgery
  • I had the procedure performed April 9, 2012 (post cerv foraminotomy C5-6, C6-7) - no fusion, four inch incision. I have to say after reading these many accounts prior to surgery I was ready for a long haul and lots of pain. I was blessed to have about 8 days of post-op discomfort, helped by Flexeril and 5mg percocet. I stopped the pain meds after three days because it was already a tolerable pain level. Went to Tylenol.
    I am now three weeks out ( May 2) and do not have pain of any significance. I still feel a bit of tingling in my left hand but no pain as before. My neck is ok but I can tell I've had something done. In all - this has been a snap compared to what some folks had to go through.
    I think the key for me is that I am a regular exercise person, three to four days a week at a health club. I am 65 but in far better condition than many people my age. I believe the muscle tone and conditioning prior to surgery helped me greatly in being able to say i've done very well through the surgery and recovery. It's not over but I am very comfortable without anything other than Tylenol as an aid. So - the recovery is not always going to be horrible ...it really depends on factors that are different for everyone...and of course your surgeon's skill level. Good luck to all. Roger
  • Hi I'm new to this forum. I am 2 weeks post posterior foraminotomy... After surgery in recovery room when I woke up I was in the worst pain I've ever felt, worst than when I got hit by a car and that hurt. It was like they didn't give me enough drugs for when I wake up or maybe that's why I woke up. From what I can remember I tried to get out of bed but the nurse was telling me to lay down cause I'd just had surgery but I wasI in so much pain.. I was swearing really loudly which isn't like me. The nurse put in morphine straight into the iv and after maybe 5 mins it calmed down. Has anyone had that experience. Also I'm doing pretty good walking every day. But the burning pain in my neck is pretty intense. Anyone tell me how to get relief from that
  • JillianDobsonJJillianDobson Posts: 2
    edited 08/14/2013 - 10:55 AM
    Im a single mum, I've had four kids, one set of twins. I'm less than 5foot and a size 8-10, but I tell you I would give birth to those twins again and again than suffer this pain. I recently had a Foraminotomy completed on my neck. The burning I's terrible and I was told not to move around unless i either have a hard or soft neck brace on. I am to sleep, shower and do everyday things with in limits always wearing a brace? Then I've read others and I see differ? This makes me so so sad? I was told 6weeks of this brace? NO I feel like I've lost so much independence! I'm such an active person, and I feel terrible that I need to rely on my kids. Is there a easier way, with no more medication to relieve the pain? When does it stop? The pain and sensations have not been much different either. Concerned
  • I've had a few operations and each one I've woken differently, once violent, once crying for my mum at 35 and recently continuous passing out! It's not nice, especially if you don't know what to expect! Lol
  • I am 56 yrs old and 12 days post op. This has been a tough recovery probably due to age. But I have not had pain meds in 5 days. My only complaint is swelling at the incision and pain in the back of the neck area where the brace hits. I have slept in a recliner until this morning. I slept in the bed normally for about 3 hours. I just have to be careful and roll on my side and ease up. I have a soft brace and I washed it on the delicate cycle and put it in the dryer for about 15 min.....it was pretty gross. My steri strips are still in place and I have a 2 WK follow up on Monday January 5, 2015. Any advice on the swelling???
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