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Does cervical facet joint ever fuse after ADCF ?

nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 131
edited 12/28/2015 - 5:08 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
In March, 2014 I had a C3/C4 carbon fiber cage ADCF fusion. The neurosurgeon told me that my C3/C4 right facet joint should spontaneously fuse since it is "bone on bone". The need for the fusion was an old rear-end vehicle accident with whiplash where I was paralyzed for several hours on my right side (including arm and leg). Yes, the vehicle was legal at the time even though it did not have a headrest.

I had improving recovery for the first five months after the ADCF fusion. At my six month check-up with the neurosurgeon, I was complaining of pain / pressure in the right facet area of my neck. I was told it was healing pain. At eleven months, I had to take time off from work because of the severe pain. I begged for an RFA in right C3/C4 facet joint and finally was able to obtain the RFA at 16 months post ADCF. I obtained 90 percent pain relief from the RFA that lasted for about three months. At 19 months post ADCF, the facet pain came back so bad that I had to again take time off from work. This time I lost my job.

From multiple SPECT bone scans, it is documented that my C3/C4 right facet joint swelling keeps getting worse than it was before the ADCF fusion. The swelling is now so bad that I now have dysphagia and can only eat pureed foods. I had an ENT second opinion and she agrees that the cause of my dysphagia is neurological, likely from the facet swelling. I have had second opinions from both neurosurgery and pain management. They both are telling me to "live with it". I have requested an evaluation for posterior facet surgery and they both tell me it is too risky.

I'm trying to live with it, but not doing very well. Quality of life is very low. Any ideas?


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 12/23/2015 - 6:38 AM
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  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 131

    An update to my own question that I posted eight months ago "Does cervical facet joint ever fuse after ADCF?".  I had a ct/myelogram two weeks ago and the radiology report states that my facet joint has finally fused.

    One big problem though, my condition continues to deteriorate.  I am now having burning/stabbing/shocking pain in both legs/feet, both arms/hands, shoulders, neck/continuing up into the right side of my face.  If one googles "SCIWORA", the medical write-up articles almost exactly describe my symptoms.  I need to give credit to itsautonomic for pointing me to SCIWORA.       

    My neurosurgeon who did my last fusion at C3/C4 in March, 2014 informed me last Tuesday that there is nothing he can do for me.  I am still meeting with him in three days to hopefully obtain some diagnostic codes so that I have a chance of getting some LTD.  Also, he knows that I want to discuss with him further his comment after my March, 2014 fusion that he "never in his 25 plus year career saw such a bruised spinal cord without it being severed".  I am still trying to understand why I had five months of good recovery after the March 2014 surgery and since then it has been a continuing deterioration for the next two years.  It is like something triggered in my neck to create a spinal cord like bruise or injury.  Since my March 2014 surgery, I've had two MRIs, two bone scans, multiple flexion/extension x-rays, an EMG and ct/myelogram.  Nothing of significant structural failures found in my neck.

    This entry is intended to be informational for readers.  I'm not really looking for any "silver bullets".  After my up-coming visit with the neurosurgeon, I'm planning to pursue a neuromuscular specialist.  I'm hoping that I can get a referral from my neurosurgeon. 

    If anyone has any additional ideas, feel free to post.                  
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