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Complicated: issues after 3 cervical surgeries

I am having a lot of daily headaches that start in my neck and progress to the back of my head. These are debilitating. They feel like migraines but worse because they end up hurting over most of my head. I also
Get upper arm pain and bad shoulder-shoulder blade pain. It sucks. I had a mva in 2003, ACDF on C5-6 in 2004, then C6-7 in 2005. Last year found out the
Fusion failed...had posterior fusion in August. 2014. I have been hurting and finally got my surgeon to do a CT scan this past week. It said new retrolisthesis at c4567 that wasn't present pre-surgery. Greater than Grade 1. I am not impressed AT ALL with the way my surgeon has handled this case. Do doctors routinely take on new cases like mine? I really want to see if there is anything else I can do to end daily awful
Pain. I do not want to take any narcotic pain meds. Any ideas? Thanks


  • Robin LongstrideRRobin Longstride Posts: 22
    edited 04/19/2015 - 12:40 AM
    I too feel your pain! I had cervical surgery and the surgeon said it was a success, and said he was done. I asked around a lot about what to do for pain. Surgeons won't help with meds is what I discovered. So, book an appointment with a PM, or some people go to Psychiatrists. Nerve medications will help way more than narcotics (or a combo of both). Your body will eventually get used to the narcotics and won't work- so I'm told. You may need to be patient to find which med will work best as sometimes they don't work for a few months. I tried about six nerve meds/anti depressants and had bad reactions & side effects. Finally I found Lyrica and it works on my neck only. The migraines and shooting pains up my head as you describe are gone. Gapepentin is another med people say work- I had bad reactions. An anti-depressant is also helping with pain. I've heard it has something to do with the way your brain interprets pain, even if you are not depressed. Also, have you tried topical solutions? I use Lidocaine patches which numb the area, helps me sleep or get thru a bad day at work. I also discovered BioFreeze thru my Dr. (Spray or roll on- it's cool comfort- but you smell like menthol.)

    I'm not a Dr- so please make an appointment and speak with the Dr. I just wish someone had told me about a PM and nerve meds after surgery instead of suffering for months. I also see my Primary Dr. every couple of months to monitor how my body is reacting to the meds- just a precaution I have other stuff going on with my body.

    This website has helped me so much with finding answers or just venting. Hang in there it gets better.

  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    Sorry to hear about the pain.
    I agree with Robin who did great job with suggestions for you to think about! My primary doctor finally referred me to pain management when she ..well was exasperated...I think. :)
    PM best thing to happen to me!

    I just wanted to tell you also, you are not alone!
    Let us know how you are doing ....good luck
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • rtconant1rrtconant1 Posts: 348
    edited 04/22/2015 - 4:18 PM
    I will give you the short version but I have been suffering for 4 yrs with issues with my neck and shoulders. I would get flare ups and not be able to turn my head because of them. Last year I finally got an answer for my pain and it was C5/C6 herniated discs with C4 and C7 bulging. THe C5/C6 disc was compressing my spinal cord. I had acdf surgery in September last year to relieve the pressure on my spinal cord. Since then I have daily headaches just like what you were describing. It was the worst with a nonstop migraine like headache for a month. I barely functioned at all because the pain was so bad. I was eating painkillers like candy and nothing helped. I was prescribed gabapentin and cyclobenzaprine. I was also prescribed a round of steroids that did nothing. The headaches started to taper off in intensity but they were always there. I was sent to a neurologist and they diagnosed me with cervicogenic headaches with migraine like traits. These headaches are caused by the degradation of the cervical nerves. They put me on nortryptiline and gradually increased the dose. They also prescribed a rescue medicine for when the headaches are the worst but I cant take it more than once or twice a week.
    My headaches were just like you prescribed. There were times when I just cried and prayed to God to take the pain away. I was also banned from taking Tylenol because I overused it and it wasn't helping anyways.
    I really understand what you are going through. Can they send you to a neurologist to help with the headaches? I have also been going to physical therapy and had a couple rounds of dry needling. The dry needling actually made things worse so we stopped but it might work for others. Basically though, if you are not getting the treatment from your doctor that you need then you need to move on to someone else that can help you. Easier said than done, right?
    Tracie C
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