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My Story - Cervical Mylopathy - C2-C5 Laminectomy w/Fusion

edited 10/11/2014 - 8:19 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
First some info about me:

I am a 35yr old male, 6'2" 175lbs in decent physical shape without any prior health issues.
I eat a balanced vegetarian diet and don't smoke, drink or use any recreational drugs.
My work is mostly outdoors, moderately physically demanding and I'm never at a desk for more than an hour at a time.

My Story:

During the last week of June, 2014 I noticed a slight awkwardness walking down some stairs.
It seemed as if my balance was a little off but I had moved a couple days earlier and chalked it up to
fatigue from packing/unpacking and driving 500 miles within a span of 2 days.

By July 1st, I had started feeling a tingling in my hands and fingers and figured maybe some tight muscles
were squeezing some nerves. I had a deep tissue massage but that didn't seem to help any.
At this point my symptoms were annoying but not really affecting my daily life so I decided to give it some
time and se if it would resolve it's self.

On July 4th, I made the 1000 mile round trip drive back to where I had moved from to finish recording
some bass guitar parts for an album I had been working on before the move. Half way there, I stopped for gas
and when I got out of the car my legs felt unsteady and weak. I figured it was from the driving. I stretched
some and the got back in and finished the drive.

Once I got there and started recording, I was having difficultly playing the faster parts as my hands kept getting
tired and week. I had played theses same parts, multiple times, just a few weeks prior with no problem at all.
This is when it finally sunk in that something might be "wrong with me".

I got back home and for the next few weeks, I still had some tingling and a little clumsiness but it wasn't affecting
my work or personal life and it wasn't getting any worse so I just kind of ignored it and hoped it would go away.

Around the 1st of August things took a turn for the worse and the tingling turned to complete numbness in my hands
and major loss of strength in my arms and upper body. My legs became heavy and clumsy.

I went to a Chiropractor who did an X-ray that showed my C3 had moved forward and was more than likely putting
pressure on my spinal cord. He said that he may be able to relieve some of the pressure by manipulating further
down my spine but that he didn't want to do anything with my neck until the pressure was off of my spinal cord.
He also said that with excercise, stretching and manipulation that my muscles could pull the vertabrae back into place.
At this time I was in the "avoid surgery at all cost" camp so I figured I'd let him try. The process was supposed to take
7 months of twice weekly visits.

For the first few weeks things improved dramatically and I was hopefully for a full recovery. After a month progress halted
and I was left with a stiff clumsy gait and not much strength or feeling in my hands. Waking fast would cause me to
fall and something as simple as 1 push-up was impossible.

Over the next few weeks things became progressively worse. I could hardly stand from a seated position and had to take stairs one at a time placing both feet together on the same step before moving on to the next. I couldn't write with a pen and had difficulty dressing myself. I would have a severe jerking reaction whenever touching something cold. I also started to fall quite frequently and using the bathroom became difficult due to the inability to push enough to get started. My mid section, starting at my pelvis and going up to the bottom of my ribs, felt numb and "frozen".

On "bad days" lifting 5lbs above my shoulders was impossible and even the smallest of task toook a tremendous effort.
During this whole ordeal, I had absolutely no pain. Not in my neck or anywhere else. There was of course some
discomfort and annoyance from my symptoms but nothing that I would describe as pain.

Around September 20th, I realized things were only getting worse and like it or not, it was time to see a doctor.
I had some connections to the "medical community" and started asking around to see who would be the best Dr.
to see conidering problems that I was having. The same name kept coming up so I went ahead and made an appointment.

My first visit was Monday, I had an MRI Tuesday and met with the Dr. Again on Wednesday. We went over the MRI
together and he showed me were the pressure on my spinal cord was and what causing it and explained that in his opinion the high signal in that area meant we needed to do something sooner rather than later. I agreed.

He went over both anterior and posterior procedures giving the pros and cons for each. We decided that for my particular
situation and for the result I was hoping to achieve, a C2-C5 posterior laminectomy w/fusion and instrumentation was
the best route to go. We scheduled surgery for that Saturday, Oct. 4th.

I am 1 week post op today and I feel pretty good! My gait is back to normal and my strength has returned. My muscles had somewhat atrophied over the course of the last few months but what muscle I have left seems to be working fine. The frozen tightness in my abdomen is gone and my bladder/bowel function is back to normal. The only thing that lingers from before the surgery is a slight tingling in my hands but it's not enough to impair function.

I do have the normal post surgery pain but the medication keeps it at bay. Since I was released from the hospital on
Tuesday, I have been able to walk about a mile each day without any serious difficulty.

Sorry this is so long but leading up to my surgery, I was a nervous wreck and reading these forums often made it worse.
I know every case is different but I kept searching fo a "success story" from someone similar to me with similar symptoms.
It was always hard for me to make an accurate comparison because a lot of the posts lacked specifics that I felt may make a difference in the end result.

Anyway, that's my story. Hopefully it can be helpful to someone out there.

Please feel free to ask questions and I'll answer to the best of my ability within the forum guidelines.


CSM = C2-C5 Posterior Laminectomy w/Fusion and Instrumentation
Surgery Complete 10/4/14


  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 10/12/2014 - 5:24 AM
    First of all , I am glad that you didn't wait any longer to see a doctor.........While I believe chiropractors have their place in the medical field, when it comes to things like nerve or spinal cord compression, or misalignment in the spinal vertebra, they are not the right option, and often wind up delaying treatment that could wind up causing permanent damage to someone....xrays are only meant to show tumors, bone fractures or alignment issues......they don't show the soft tissues of the spine , which is where the most serious damage can occur.
    When it comes to spinal cord compression, sometimes, the smallest amount of time delay can have serious, life long repercussions for the patient.......all of the signs you had prior to having surgery, indicated damage to the cord.....
    Anyway, unfortunately, in any forum, there are areas that you are going to read the doom and gloom of a particular condition and as I have told others, this is what most would consider the pre-op or trying to figure out what is happening and what are the options forum......although there are success stories mixed in, from those who took the time to come back once they were healed and feeling much better, by and large, this forum is visited by those who are either figuring out if surgery is necessary, wondering if surgery is in their future, or those who are immediately pre and immediate post op......what someone feels like immediately post op is radically different than what they may feel like 6 months later, or two years later, especially when it comes to some of the more invasive, and difficult surgeries.
    Anyway, I am glad for you that you are doing so well...........and hope that over time that your tingling will subside as well......and it very well may.
    Make sure to follow the restrictions post op and the limitations, for the time that your surgeon has recommended, and hopefully, we will hear from you that your new album is due out soon and you are back to doing what you love.....best of luck!
  • I agree with just about everything you said from Chiropractors to who, when and why most people post here.
    I also understand that as time goes on, things could get better, worse or stay about the same for me.

    I plan to keep this thread updated. How often probably depends on interest level of other forum members.
    CSM = C2-C5 Posterior Laminectomy w/Fusion and Instrumentation
    Surgery Complete 10/4/14
  • I got my staples out today and they gave me the OK to go back to work on Monday!

    I still have my lifting, pushing, pulling and twisting restrictions in place so I know I need to be carefull and listen to my body but it will be nice to take another step back towards my "normal" life.
    CSM = C2-C5 Posterior Laminectomy w/Fusion and Instrumentation
    Surgery Complete 10/4/14
  • Sheila13SSheila13 Posts: 3
    edited 10/23/2014 - 8:40 AM
    Happy Healing thoughts to you!!! I was reading your story and that has been my life for almost 3 years now, I have finally got diagnosed with a chordoma and will be having the exact same surgery as you. Did they say how long you would be off work and how long the healing process would be?
    Take Care,
  • NECKNNECK Posts: 34
    edited 10/24/2014 - 2:18 PM
    Thanks for the Happy Thoughts!
    I had surgery on Oct. 4th and returned to work Oct. 20th. From all that I've seen that seems to be sooner than most. Also, keep in mind that everyone heals differently so it's really hard to tell how long it may be for you. Before the surgery, I was told it would probably be anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks before returning to work. Your surgeon should be able to give you an estimate based on your specific case.

    I have my first Post Op appointment with my surgeon this coming Wednesday. I'll be sure to give an update once I talk to him.
    CSM = C2-C5 Posterior Laminectomy w/Fusion and Instrumentation
    Surgery Complete 10/4/14
  • whackedbackwwhackedback Posts: 42
    edited 10/27/2014 - 4:34 AM
    I'm glad you have done so well after the surgery. Make sure you take your surgeon's advice on what to do or not to do. If you get a chance and permission, work with a physical or occupational therapist to help get your muscles built back up. Protein helps with wound healing, so if you can add some Greek Yogurt to your diet, that would give you more protein.

    As for the fun stuff, I took the kid's Go-gurt pops and put them in the freezer. Great tasting and feels good going down the throat.

  • Welcome to Spine Health I have a I was wondering if your Surgeon used autograft or allocgraft for fusing your bones?
    It is Very nice to read a Sucess Story as far as the Surgery!!! You mentioned that you really do not have a sedetary work position, so has your work been modified? Just curious it's amazing after a posterior fusion such as yours, you are able to go back to work so quickly. Please do keep us here on SH updated, Congradulations to you!!!
    ACDF C4-C7 5/13/2010. Synthetic Bone Graft Failed Fusion.
    PCF C4-C7 8/13/13. Rods and Screws Fused in 3 Months with Autograft.
    C6-C7 Spineous process Surgically Shaved Off 3/11/14.
  • ondeegirloondeegirl Posts: 5
    edited 10/28/2014 - 6:42 AM
    Great story. So happy to hear you didn't suffer much permanent nerve damage from your scary ordeal. Your nerve damage progressed very quickly! Mine has been a slower process, and with much pain. But I am only looking at either fusion, or ADR, for c5-c6. I am hoping for the ADR, as all the surrounding discs and vertebra show signs of significant DDD already.

    I am definitely interested in hearing how you continue to progress. So please keep us updated!!
    I am a huge proponent of natural health care. Taking care of ourselves is important, but in a case like this is when we can really appreciate medical technology, and doctors.

    --I can do all things through Him who strengthens me--
    39 yr old, mom of 6
    Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease
    4 mild cervical disc herniations
    1 large disc extrusion (c5-c6), over 7mm, cord compression
  • NECKNNECK Posts: 34
    edited 10/28/2014 - 5:16 PM
    I'm still doing well and progressing everyday. I'm up to walking about 3 miles a day and going back to work has been fine. I've been doing more office and less field work than I used to and I'm not lifting anything over 10lbs. I believe getting back to a normal routine and feeling useful again has helped me mentally as well as physically.

    I'm down to taking three 5mg Hydrocodone and 3 Robaxin per day. I've been drinking soy and whey protein as well as taking B-100, Magnesium, Pottassium and Calcium.

    As far as the fusion goes, they used a mixture of my own bone from the Laminectomy and donor bone.

    I meet with the surgeon tomorrow to look over x-rays and see if I look as good as I feel. I'll update with any new news.

    Thanks again to all who have shown interest!
    CSM = C2-C5 Posterior Laminectomy w/Fusion and Instrumentation
    Surgery Complete 10/4/14
  • I met with my surgeon yesterday to look over X-rays of my neck. I was told everything looks great and he raised my lifting restriction to 25lbs! That means I can do just about all I used to at work. I'm still going to take it easy and be smart about how I lift and move though.
    CSM = C2-C5 Posterior Laminectomy w/Fusion and Instrumentation
    Surgery Complete 10/4/14
  • So glad you've had such a good recovery! I had almost the exact same symptoms as you, however, it took me longer to be diagnosed (6 mos.). Had a 2 level ACDF on 10/3/14 with instrumentation. The only post-op resolution so far has been with the bladder. Still have not noticed much improvement with my walking or balance and numbness in hands and feet is still the same. My NS says it will probably be about 6 mos. before I know what I will get back. Still have trouble swallowing some foods and voice is still a little hoarse (the price of an anterior surgery). Hopefully, I will get to where you are now. Thanks for sharing!
  • Your story is an inspiration to all of us with myelopathy. I had an ACDF on Oct. 3 (2level). Have not had the resolutions that you have but I know that there are no promises with this condition and surgery. It's very comforting to hear a success story, please keep us updated on your recovery.
  • nice to hear your story. i also have c2-c5 surgery in 15 days and getting nervous as expected. how is ur range of motion after the surgery. what kind of collar did u get after surgery
  • My range of motion isn't what it used to be but that's expected after a multilevel fusion.
    If looking straight ahead is 12 o'clock, I can turn my head from 10 to 2.
    I can touch my chin to my chest and look straight up with no problem.
    CSM = C2-C5 Posterior Laminectomy w/Fusion and Instrumentation
    Surgery Complete 10/4/14
  • I wore an Aspen collar 24/7 for 12 weeks.
    CSM = C2-C5 Posterior Laminectomy w/Fusion and Instrumentation
    Surgery Complete 10/4/14
  • bhasinbbhasin Posts: 3
    edited 05/12/2015 - 6:15 PM
    so as of now do u feel any pain or something. how does ur incision look now. are u back to full physical activity and did u go for any physiotherapy
  • so here is the brief abt me. it started with shoulder pain which later on got diagnosed as opll . i had severe canal shortening and stenosis and radiculopathy. my symptoms included less ROM, numbness and tingling in legs and hands. pain in and fingers, sporadic weakness in legs. i tries non conservative approach but no help. it started to get to a point that i used to fell very irritated with sporadic symptoms. whether these symptoms would progressively worsen or stay the same who knows. i didn't want to let it progress and have more permanence in the symptoms, so i decided to take the plunge
    surgery performed on 15th of this month with c2-c5 laminectomy with instrumentation and fusion
    i have a hard collar on, managing to sleep sideways. i am off any narcotic pain medicine and take robaxin on and off. i have been walking about 30 mins daily. some burning issues here and there but nothing alarming.
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