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7 months post op and right back were I started.

I had ACDF at C4/5 on April 28 of this year. After a car accident I began having neck pain, burning in my right shoulder blade, debilitating headaches and neck and upper back spasms. MRI revealed disc herniation at C4/5 and a small disc bulge at C5/6.

During my surgery, it was discovered I also had a torn ligament. C4/5 disc was obliterated but C5/6 "didn't look bad enough to include in surgery, but we will have to keep an eye on it".

As levels above or below fusion level have added stress on them and can have issues post op, I was told by my NS that he would keep a close eye on C5/6. But I probably wouldn't be needing to think about surgery for 5-10 years.

About 6 months post op all of a sudden, my pain levels started increasing. I was having more high pain days instead of low pain days. I was needing Valium for the incessant muscle spasms and "guarding" I was having in my neck (like I used to have before surgery). The debilitating headaches started coming back too. Then my right arm started feeling like it was in a vice. This was a new pain for me.

Called my NS, he ordered an MRI and now it looks like the small disc bulge at C5/6 is a large disc bulge and it is pushing up against my spinal cord. I have been ordered to get a series of epidurals to that area. If the epidurals don't work I was told another ACDF at C5/6 this time, would be the next step.

I am so upset by this news. I have been so depressed at the thought of having 2 fusions in a year. My first fusion isn't even fully fused yet. Has anyone had this happen to them? Any recommendations? Were you able to buy time?


  • Nick.nyNNick.ny New York,NYPosts: 121
    Hi Adela, and I'm sorry to hear that. I feel your pain,frustration,disappointment and possible anger.
    I had ACDF C-4/5/6/7 four years ago and all kind of problems since the first day, pain,swallowing difficulty,and disc bulging on the level above the fusion,,,,,all kind of medications (about 20-22 pills a day),4-5 rounds of trigger point injections and 3 rounds of epidurals(didn't give any relief at all),and not fully fused yet! This was result of a car accident, and had 5 more surgeries from related injuries.any way after four years in living hell last Monday and after the results of my last MRI my surgeon told me must have a Surgrery ASAP.. I knew it was on the way , and didn't surprised me . And since I trust him very much I just open my mouth and said "okay".......! So I'm having second neck surgery on January 6. And since I've been there before and I know what is it I'm very nervous , very depressed.I didn't feel it was thanksgiving yesterday and nothing interests me any more .. I don't know how I'm going to make it to that day . just thinking starting all over again I'm loosing my mind.I can't take it anymore! This will be the my 7th one in four years. Besides my ACDF I had 4 rotator cuff surgeries ,and one for broken collarbone. Wishing you luck and to find the strength to go through it.
    As for buying time? I depends how much pressure it puts on the spinal nerve ! My self I felt it and I knew it before the MRI, but again your surgeon is the one to make that decision ,if or when is the appropriate time for surgical intervention.
    Good luck and hope everything is going to be alright .
    2011 ACDF C 4/5/6/7.
    2011 repaired sternum with fixation plate and 9 screws.
    4/2011,3/2012,11/2012 and 6/2013  Rotator cuff surgeries.  
    1/6/2016 revision ACDF C4/5/6/7, plus fusing the level above that C 3-4.
    Pending L5-S1.
  • Thanks for the reply. It is the starting all over again that has me so depressed and angry. It's like the past two years of initial injury, pain and surgery have been in vain. I am literally starting all over again. I was so ready to get back to my active life and get as back to normal as possible. I feel for you, 7 surgeries in 4 years, I can't even imagine.
    I take it the epidurals did t help you much? I've never had one. They scare me so much I didn't even have one when I had my babies. And the thought of getting one in my neck scares me to death. I've had facet injections in the past and they flared me up horribly. So I am quite nervous about the epidural.
  • Just wanted to reassure you if I can...I had an epidural in my neck in September.
    I'm not scared of needles, however, when I realised I wasn't having any sedation I was a little bit scared!!
    Anyway, the process was quick, pretty painless (more uncomfortable really) AND it worked! I had much reduced pain for 4 weeks. I'm hoping to get another soon :)
    Kirsti x
  • I guess they want me to do a series of them. 2-3 injections but I don't know how often they spread them out. I'm not afraid of needles at all. I'm just afraid of something going wrong and causing me more pain. It's reassuring to know they gave you significant relief. Keep me posted when you go another.
  • I'm sorry that you have to go through another surgery BlessedMom. In adults the fulcrum of the neck is between C5 and C6 so it was probably just a matter of time. Don't forget that your injury came from a car wreck and not the premature breakdown of the discs. As long as your surgeon does his job right you have a good chance of healing fine.

    Are your other discs okay?

    Best wishes,

  • Small bulged disc showing at C3/4. It's just started to show so it's very small. The one that has progressively gotten worse is C5/6. I'm really putting a lot of faith in the epidural to buy me some time. I am not even ready to think about another surgery right now.
  • Nick.nyNNick.ny New York,NYPosts: 121
    Adela,a year ago and after going from bad to worse , pain by my shoulder blades,forearms and tingling ,numbness in the tip of the fingers ,I was sent to a neurologist to have neurological studies(EMGs upper& lower,and another one forgetting what called but he put electrodes on my head too) at the same time recent MRI and 3 years after ACDF C-4/5/6/7 with Corpectomies at 5/6,6/7 sawing mild disc bulging and spondylosis at C- 3/4,5/6,6/7.to my complains to him about the situation and the pains he said it best,...your neck will never be the same,you will end up having surgery after surgery for the rest of your life,learn to accept it it's a life time injury.....! Now a year later he's proven right and I'm wrecking my brains in to what cause it : disc herniation at C-3/4 with severe spinal canal stenosis and central cord compression ,moderate disc herniation and cord compression at C-5/6 ,moderate bulging at C-6/7 and not fully fused after 4+ years.WHAT happened in one year and hell broke loose over my head? The domino effect....it's very common the levels above and below the fusion to get pressure and go bad as well by time. Why so fast with us injured in a car wrecks? Who knows..! Bad luck? I'm not superstitious and don't believe in luck. Any way I'm starting all over again,my date is set for January 6 , I'm going with orthopedic spine surgeon,he's going to try anterior approach but possible anterior/posterior.my only problem it should be faster because I lost my little sleep I had and I don't know how I'm going to make it waiting another 35 days , not to mention how to make it Christmas,New Year.... I have family wife and two big children living together and I don't want to kill the holyday spirit so pretending been brave and keep everything in my stomach.sorry for the long post wish you and every body best and don't worry about the pain from the epidural...it hurts more to have a flu shot,just pray to work because it's not guarantee.for some are good for up to a year , some For 6,or3 or 1 month and some like me it didn't work at all.
    Good luck,
    2011 ACDF C 4/5/6/7.
    2011 repaired sternum with fixation plate and 9 screws.
    4/2011,3/2012,11/2012 and 6/2013  Rotator cuff surgeries.  
    1/6/2016 revision ACDF C4/5/6/7, plus fusing the level above that C 3-4.
    Pending L5-S1.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,832
    The spinal column, cervical, thoracic, and lumbar along with the spinal cord are very complex. It takes years of intense medical training to better understand this.

    While many of us have had some recent experiences with spinal problems, had surgeries, done research. Or you may have been doing for decades.

    But, please lets not try to fool ourselves into thinking we are medical professionals. Leave that up to the professionals and only the professionals.

    Its great to give suggestions, ideas, opinions,, we encourage that, but its not great when it comes to read what I just did.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • If it were me I would wait until the area at C4/C5 had fused and also wait until the new bulge at C5/C6 either healed or was corrected before I declared victory or accepted a fate of life long pain.

    Good luck.

  • You might need to be a doctor to perform surgery but you do not need to be one to know when it is wrong. Four years and no fusion is a failed surgery, pertaining to the poster above. And in Adela's case her own surgeon thought she could go five to ten years before needing surgery again. Boy was he wrong. We should never put up with crap care when there are surgeons out there that have the skills to do it right. The cervical area leaves little room for error both in the judgment to have or not have a treatment and also in the execution of that procedure.

    Don't water down the site too much.
  • Don't water down the site too much.

    ^ Agreed. It's honestly ridiculous to butt in on people literally talking about their real life first hand experiences. It's people like us, Ron, that makes this site. Continuously e-policing everyone from talking about spine problems...on a spine health forum is asinine.
    ACDF C6/C7 on 05/20/15
    ...and it was the best decision of my life :-)
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