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anyone had cervical and lumbar fusion?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
:( Hi, I've been on the message boards before but now am involved with making a huge decision regarding my neck. I've had lumbar fusions from L3-L5 and an SI joint fusion that I'm still recovering from since last December. Five months ago I slipped and herniated 3 discs in my neck and found it's bad enough that I should have a 3 level fusion. My doctor isn't pushing me into anything which I repect him for. I don't know if I should go ahead at this time with surgery again or play the waiting game. My restrictions for my back are very very limiting, is it going to be a bigger problem if I have the neck fusion as far as restrictions go or should I just leave it alone. I'm so confused--I like the old days when the doctor just told you "you need surgery, let's do it". Help me with any responses.



  • I'm so sorry you're in this predicament! Unfortunately, I've been there and done that!. My neck was fused a year after my lumbar. Only one level at a time, however! I was experiencing a great deal of pain and discomfort and was very happy to get the neck done. I sort of felt like since I'm already rehabbing, I might as well get fixed. It's certainly your choice, but if you feel the pain and whatever sypmtoms you are having are not going to resolve themselves, you have nothing to fear by getting surgically repaired. Best of luck to you in this awful decision process.

  • mmarsh

    How long was your recovery on your neck and what kind of restrictions do you have with it
  • Neck surgery is way easier than back surgery! The restrictions are similar but the pain and discomfort are much less. As I recall I was down for several months after the neck and almost a year with the back. After you wake up in recovery, you're not quite as sore and you are much more able to turn yourself over. The aftermath is that your hospital stay is slightly less and your ability to recover somewhat easier. I hope this helps.

  • well i had a 3level fusion C4-C7. i was very very restricted before my surgery i wasn't allowed to do anything.the first two days was hell from pain but after that it was tolerable.i have to say that my post op pain was much easier for me to handle then the pain that i had prior to my surgery. whether you should wait or not is up to you.is your quality of life good or bad. no one can determine that but you.good luck with your decision
  • Is quality of life determined by how much your neck dictates your life? I've had people tell me not to worry about my future as far as work goes. I use to be an athletic trainer-loved my job but never appreciated it as much as I do right now. I will never be able to go back to my old job so the future is totally in Gods hands. I wish I could believe that everything is going to work out ok, but I'm just down right scared. Quality of life. Hard to wonder what that really means right now.

  • I had a great conversation with my family doc. Helped me weigh the pro's and con's for surgery. He convinced me that quality of life would be better with the surgery, anything is better than what I'm going through now. Pain, headaches, weakness, burning....To be able to continue with back rehab on normal basis without having to have my neck stop the progress.
  • Ilike what your PCP told, but it's your decision, as always.

  • I've decided to go ahead with the surgery. It looks like it will be the end of August. Still would like to hear from everyone regarding their experiences.
  • Monday was 4-weeks since my ACDF of c6-c7... Recovery has been great so far! I wont lie to you, the first few days laying down and getting up from bed were hard for me, but I was eating just fine about three days out.

    I'm going on about two weeks only taken two pain pills... Went for a short drive with the wife the other day, cars rides still bother me just a bit, but since the first week, I really hardly needed anything, as the pain is gone. Some minor muscle discomfort after sleeping at first, but nothing that bad.

    I feel so much better since having the surgery, but you also need to know what collar, or if any collar you will be in?

    I am very lucky, been in a soft collar since I was moved into my room after recovery. I was in some sort of hard collar, my neck all out of whack, must not have fit me... After I woke up, one doctor trimmed the neck cushion back some since I looked very uncomfortable (and was), then once in ICU (standard for my doctor's patients), the nurses checked about a soft collar because the collar they had me in sucked, my neck felt like it was way back there.

    My neurosurgeon has me wearing a soft collar 24/7 until I see him on August 5th, after my first x-rays are done... Thats two months in a collar!

    Some doctors believe in hard collars like the Miami-J... Some soft collars... Some hard for a week or two, then soft... Some no collars, so your recovery will be somewhat affected by the collar, not a big deal, but many patients say some collars are better, or worse comfort wise.

    I truly think my very slight muscle discomfort is caused by my collar... Things aren't moving, so I think it might bother whatever can slightly move, or bother what can't move because it stiff, I don't know, but it ain't nothing big enough to worry about - LOL.

    I just know, when I take a shower, and the collar comes off for that short period of time, my neck feels just great, and for a LONG time afterwards too.

    I had the plate w/ four screws, think its very common now, but some say you don't need anything (collar wise), because the hardware holds everything in place, and it takes a lot to screw it up, and them some say...

    I have a friend who works in a hospital, actually works in recovery room for ESI and ACDF's... She is very concerned about my only being in a soft collar, as she swears that the Miami-J holds you in place great, and most doctors in her hospital make their patients wear them.

    We all are very different, from our pain, to how we recover... I think your PCP is right, its all about your quality of life.

    Best of luck, keep us informed.

    The worst part of my recovery is being stuck in the house... No driving for me until at least August 5th, that part sucks, but as you can tell, I live the nightlife some, then sleep way in after the wife goes to work... No worrying about being bothered, or bothering her sleeping - LOL

    Sorry to blab on and on, just trying to give you all the info I can.
  • Thanks Jersey, sounds like everything is going pretty good for you. I hope and pray mine will go smoothly. How long were you in the hospital? My doctor believes in wearing the hard brace for 4-6 weeks then working into a soft collar. He's the same dr. that did my lumbar fusion and I have a tremendous amount of confidence in him. Did you have any breathing issues right after surgery? How about voice changes? Sometimes I think they tell you the worst cases. Thats ok, I'd rather be prepared for the worst than have something suprisingly show up.
  • I have been told I need 2 surgeries. Both cervical and lumbar so I know where you are coming from. I decided to ease up on my pain meds to see how I was "really" feeling. Well, needless to say, in a very short amount of time I realized that unless I want to take pain meds every day for the rest of my life, surgery is the only answer. And from what I understand from information I have gathered, the sooner the better.
  • Sorry, didn't mean to post again.
  • They were ready to kick me out as soon as my neuro came in the day after!

    My surgery was just before 10:00AM on a Monday, had me walking around ICU by 8:00PM, and again at 6:00AM the next morning... Home by lunchtime the day after, Tuesday.

    I did have a little discomfort in my upper chest/lower throat area... Deep breaths seems to be worse, but that went away within a day or two, then just a little bit for another day or two if I really moved or took a deep breath. I was told that was from the tube they put down my throat to help me breath and keep whatever from closing during surgery.

    They will encourage you to takes deep breaths, that helps make sure you keep your lungs clear, and that air goes throughout them.

    Yes, my throat bothered me, more the night just after surgery, and the next morning while in the hospital, but I was talking fine and eating well... I was back to normal by Wednesday night for the most part. It was just a bit rough talking right after I woke up, but then again, I didn't even have a drink of water yet.

    The hardest part was getting in and out bed at first, that really bothered me.

    I'll tell you, I have noticed that when I swallow a drink real fast, my throat does fell a little weird, not bad, and not all the time. So, as some say, we may feel a little "different" afterwards for a while, but I can't really tell anything otherwise.

    I have a real nice doctor, very old school, but that little annoying muscle thing I just started having... I called, he wants to just check everything out anyways. I told him I really don't even need anything for it, but I guess I am glad that instead of him thinking I am a problem, he'd like me to come in anyways.

    While my insurance coverage really sucks, I do have a dedicated nurse from my employer, and the insurance company to call, she was great calling me and checking in on me. She's the one that told me that the collar keeps my neck in an unnatural position from how I would/did normally hold it at.

    I swear, this collar sucks... Again today, once the collar is off in the shower, I feel like a million bucks and afterwards for while.

    In all honestly, only a single darvacet is all that I ever needed, even right after surgery... I still even have a few pills left out of my original 60 that I got the day after my surgery a month later!

    I wish you the best, after all, we deserve to feel normal again!!!
  • Thanks so much for the advice. It's sounds like recovery is pretty easy compared to the last few back surgeries that I've had. Yes my dr. says I'll be in a hard collar for 4-6 weeks then work into a soft collar. Now I'm just waiting for my dr. to fill out all the paper work to get a specific date set. My kids are going to have a hard time with mom having another surgery. My daughter still has issues about being away from me for awhile. She sleeps on my bedroom floor almost every night. My surgery will be in Minneapolis, 4 hours away. I know she wants to come with but I'm also scared for her to see me hooked up to all the machines when I come back to surgery. Help from anyone?

  • Just sitting here at 1am nervous about surgery on Aug. 19. All the issues about swallowing, swelling etc... My daughter is so scared about me leaving her at home while I have to travel 4 hours to the hospital and be gone for approx. 5-6 days. I'm going to bring her with so that I know she's alright and not nervous missing me.

    The pain is soooo bad tonight I feel like there isn't enough pain medicine in the world to help. I feel like I'm going to go insane before surgery.

    Help me with advice. Please.
  • I wanted to wish you good luck with your surgury,I sorry your in bad pain,i hope with your surgury you will get better,...take care...
  • thanks big cat. I know you understand the anxiety involved with waiting for surgery. Trying to remember to just "breath".
  • Well surgery is setting in in a matter of days. Tuesday is the day and starting to feel very sick to my stomach. Of course trying to get everything taken care of in a matter of just a few days. Biggest wonder is what life is going to be like in a collar. Help me understand the best I can.

  • eddy65, I know how you are feeling. I am scheduled for 2 level ACDF in Sept. Keep me posted on your progress and good luck with your surgery. Looking forward to hearing from you post-op.
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