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Recovery from c6, c7 fusion and T1 and T2 surgery

rssk23rrssk23 Posts: 3
edited 02/10/2015 - 4:07 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I am currently 6 weeks post op from my surgery. I had a c6/c7 fusion (c6 was completely shattered) with plates and screws as well as work done on the T1 and T2 as a result of a roll over car accident. I had a very long surgery of just under 8hrs. I feel myself getting better and for the most part I am. I have a follow up this week to get the collar removed as well as xrays to check the progress. The main issue I am experiencing right now is muscle spasms and sharp right should blade pain on occasion which appears when walking around for longer than 10 min or so. The muscle spasms appear anytime I walk or move around for more than 5/10 min, I can only tolerate it for so long then I have to sit down for support on the couch. The sharp pain in the shoulder blade at times I feel like I am going to drop at my knees yet I have the strength to stay standing. If I stop walking or reposition myself the sharp pain goes away. Is this normal???

I am currently taking Celebrex and I have pain meds but I haven't been taking since my 3 week post op. I am going to ask for muscle relaxers at my follow up.

I have been out of work but I'm guessing I will be given the ok soon to return however I am concerned due to the spasing and sharp pain. I have very little range of motion in my neck therefore I can't drive at the moment. I can turn my head to the right a little, if I am looking straight ahead I can turn alittle less than half to my shoulder (if that makes sense). Is that enough to be cleared to drive? I am suppose to start PT 2 to 3 times a week for 1 to 2 months once I go to my apt this week.


  • I underwent c5-6 ACDF last April. My c6-7 was congenitally fused. So my range of motion is restricted to a certain extent. As T1-2 needs not move a lot, it is fortunate that the range of motion of your neck will not be greatly affected. Good luck and stay hopeful.
  • Hi RSSK.

    - car accident in Jan of 2014
    -C5-T2 posterior instrumented fusion w/ radiculopathy + compression
    - 3 fractures (C7 was a burst fracture)

    It seems as though our circumstances are very similar only I'm way ahead of you in the recovery process. Remember that it can take up to a full year to fuse and even if you fuse quickly, it doesn't solidify for a solid 12 months.

    My first few weeks were a disaster to say the least. I was being electrocuted left right and center, combined with severe burning pain (all nerve stuff). The only way for any kind of pain relief was to angle myself a specific way on the hospital bed and it was very, very specific. The pain you feel is very normal, especially if you had a posterior surgery. It's way too soon to think something is wrong. You should follow up with an MRI on your 3 month follow up, so don't sweat it for now. Expect to go through an acute phase pain which will last about 3 months. Lets hope you wont have to deal with chronic pain or very little of it.....

    A few q's if you don't mind. I had my hard collar on for 3 months, 24/7. Did your NS explain why he is taking it off so soon? What were your fractures? More specific info will help us to help you. Who said you would be OK to return to work soon?????

    My friend, please do not focus on a return to work right now. Your health is more important than anything. History has proven that those who return to work too early are the ones that have the most trouble actually returning to work. Does that make sense? In other words, the ones that return to work too early create bigger problems for themselves, in turn, making it tougher to sustain. And unfortunately, if we do not learn, history will repeat itself. I have been home for 13 months and I am still not ready... And if the last paragraph in your post isn't a tell tale sign that you aren't ready, I don't know what is! Again, I'm unsure who has been giving you your information, but you are going to need a heck of a lot more than 1-2 months of pt on this one.

    If you need advice or have any questions, you can PM (private message) me or continue on with this thread. Sending healing vibes your way.

    Realize that FEAR is our worst enemy. Get up & get out in that stormy weather of the real world & kick fear in the teeth. Stare at it dead in the eyes & walk right through it into the storm; because once you're wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore
  • Hello Doug. Thank you for your response.

    I had my appointment this post Thursday and was told I could take off the hard collar. I was also given Valium to help with the muscle spasms. I was also given the ok to start physical therapy. I was advised 2/3 times a week for 1 to 2 months, that's what the nuero surgeon recommended.

    I asked about returning to work and he said whenever I am ready. I personally would prefer to go through physical therapy in hopes to ease up muscle spasms as well as get motion back in my neck. Currently I am unable to drive as I can't completely turn my neck.

    My injuries are an end plate fracture to the t2 and t3, c6 shattered and c7 burst fracture. Initially I said t1 and t2 however that was incorrect. I had a fusion, with plates and screws.

    You mentioned its been 13 months since your injury. Have your spasms improved? Do you have motion/range in you neck now and or lost some of it after your surgery? I just wonder if we'll ever get back or close to normal, meaning feeling the way we did prior to the accident.

    Oh, I had surgery through the front of my neck and then also through the back of my upper back/neck.

    Thank you so much and thank you for the well wishes. I wish you well wishes as well.

  • Hi RSSK

    Your injuries are significant. Take the necessary time to heal, that is my advice to you. Everyone is different, but we all must let our bodies decide for us, not our financial situations.

    Again, everyone is different, but my range of motion is quite good from left to right. Up and down is an entirely different story. I believe that C1-C4 is responsible for left to right motion, so in your situation, it is just a matter of time for those muscles to calm down before you will be able to get that back. The fusion itself on the lower end of the cervical region will absolutely restrict your up and down motion. I still have to loosen up, but it is definitely going to be restricted significantly for life either way....

    As time goes by, the spasms will get better.... Physiotherapy will help you, but you have to remember that time is the ultimate answer....Do too much and pay the price; do too little and pay the price. It's a catch 22 for sure. There will be ups and downs throughout your journey. There may or may not be instances where you feel that things are improving nicely for a few months and then boom, right outta no where, u suddenly fall back 2-3 months and wonder how the hell it happened... I am going through some back stiff joint issues right now myself.....

    1-2 months isn't a very realistic time frame for recovery in my opinion. My own NS told me that I should be good in 4-6 months. Here I am 13 months later and I'm still not where I should be, yet I am also dealing with chronic pain now. I hope that isn't the case for you down the road. Try to remain optimistic and just do your exercises. Most importantly, do not deprive yourself of the time required to recover despite what anyone says. In the end, let your body decide.

    As for the muscles in the posterior approach to surgery? Your NS had to cut through them to perform the procedure. These muscles take tons of time to heal, hence, requiring a lot of patience on your part, so hang in there.

    Did you have any nerve damage due to the burst fracture? I ask because I did. If you didn't, you are even luckier than I am and need to thank a higher power. You certainly escaped paralysis which is very realistic when a vertebrae burst fracture is involved.

    You need to understand that this type of injury is for life. You will never be 100%. That doesn't mean that you wont be able to live a fulfilling life, it simply means that you will have to make some life changes is all.

    Sending healing vibes and wishing you the best in your recovery. Pls keep us posted.

    Realize that FEAR is our worst enemy. Get up & get out in that stormy weather of the real world & kick fear in the teeth. Stare at it dead in the eyes & walk right through it into the storm; because once you're wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore
  • Hello, As always thank you for the repsonses :)

    I had my first appointment yesterday with Physical Therapy. It was more of an evaluation to see what all they may need to do. On a positive note the therapist said he was surprised to see how good of motion I had considering the injuries. i am able to move right to left for the most part, the muscles just stiffen up when I get to a certain degree. Now looking down is a different story as I can feel all the pain through the spine. It's weird.

    I did have what seems to be some temporary nerve damage which happened right after the accident. My right arm was tingly and number as well as week to move. After the surgery it was still that way however after a few days the symptoms faded. On occasion depending on how I have my arm positioned it will tingle. I have also noticed the last week or so, I have been getting sharp pains throughout my hips a well as into my knees. I don't know if this is accident related, arthritis or possibly from the sitting I have been doing. I try so hard not to complain about the pain and discomfort I feel as I know things could have been worse and there are lots of other people out there who are in a worse situation. Due to it being an unexpected situation it's just takes time to accept it, sorta speak. I am very thankful though. I am so happy I found this site. It has helped a lot.

    I wonder if the spasms will be a life long thing or if it's just temporary until the strength comes back? I guess time will tell. or as you mentioned things will feel okay for a while then there could be a set back.

    What kind of nerve damage did you experience? Did your physical therapy help with your spasms/joint stiffness? Were you paralyzed at all?

    I appreciate all the feedback you have given me :) I continue to wish you a speedy recovery as well.

  • The spasms are normal because everything is angry and healing, especially the nerves...... The road to recovery is a long one. Everyone is different. Nerves can take up to 2 years to regenerate..... You will be on this roller coaster til u get there. Just hang in there and do what your PT + Docs tell you to do...

    My left arm is weak and I experienced some muscle atrophy.... I had tingling and numbing as well as shooting pain, aching pain and burning pain. I no longer have the shooting or burning sensations and the tingling and weakness is getting better, but in small dosages... I do deal with some aches at times... It flares when ever it feels like it. It is continuing to gradually get better and that is the important part. I don't know what I'll end up with in the end, but 'm hoping for 90 something %. Do all your exercises and be patient. That's all you can do,

    I am experiencing joint stiffness in my back and PT is helping it quite a bit. It will indeed help the spasms as well. Ask that they provide you with tens machine therapy. Usually PT Clinics have the bigger ones that are more powerful. It helps me quite a bit.

    No I was not paralyzed at all, thankfully.

    Healing vibes sent. Be optimistic, but be patient. You WILL get better in time....

    Realize that FEAR is our worst enemy. Get up & get out in that stormy weather of the real world & kick fear in the teeth. Stare at it dead in the eyes & walk right through it into the storm; because once you're wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore
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