Pain for over a year, contemplating C1/C2 fusion

Pain for over a year, contemplating C1/C2 fusion

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achyneck
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Pain for over a year, contemplating C1/C2 fusion

I started having problems last April, which I thought were tension headaches. What started as tension headaches progressed into muscle spasms throughout my neck and shoulders, and I could not move my neck laterally at all. I am only 36 years old and do not have a history of headaches. I tried everything from osteopathic manipulations, acupuncture, cranio-sacral treatments, rest, pain medications/muscle relaxers, and finally got the most relief from chiropracic care. My C1 and C2 are chronically mis-aligned, and even with adjustments they are back out within a day. My chiropractor has never seen anything like it. Long story short, I finally was referred to an orthopedic who specializes in spines. His office gave me a facet injection 2 weeks ago, but he said the only fix for my problem (skeletal abnormality of my C1, mixed with arthritis and disc degeneration, causing C1/C2 dysfunction) is fusion. The injection gave me brief relief for several days, but now the pain is back and is so severe that I cannot wait for a fusion. I used to be a runner and backpacker, now it is all I can do to make it through my work day. Has anyone else out there experienced these symptoms and had a posterior C1/C2 fusion? I would love to hear anything encouraging......I hope that someday my pain is gone and I can have my life back.
Monica

John
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Good luck to you.

Monica,
A year is a long time for anyone and as many here they all try new ideas intended to give some long term improvement or pain reduction. What do you view as your pain range on a good or bad day, although we may be in the minority based on all the fusions performed, fix is not a word you will hear frequently. Perhaps having less pain is a consequence of invasive surgery and everyone is expectant of eradicating the pain with varying results.

My own spine fusion put extra pressure on those external disc support the surgery and encapsulated some of the symptoms, if as you say you have disc degeneration now, how will that impact on your surgery in the longer term from other discs. Some of this is a leap of faith into the unknown and many who have gone though this process wish you well. What are your options if you delay surgery and the benefits of not waiting. Does resting or medication help in anyway.

Take care and good luck.

John

achyneck
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John, Thanks for your

John,
Thanks for your response. My pain varies from the always constant nagging at the base of my skull (probably a 2 on the 10 scale) to the feeling of monkeys on my head putting my head in a vice. I would say that would be an 8 or so. My neck constantly feels 'tired' and unable to support my head, and I am now unable to even drive for over an hour. I am taking pain medications, and have tried anti-inflammatories to no avail. Also, and perhaps most importantly, is the effect this misalignment of my C1/C2 is having on my mood......I have no motiviation and feel like I am probably depressed. Although who knows if that is a direct effect of my C1 problem or just being in constant pain. What I do know is that when I get adjusted by my chiropractor (and my C1 and C2 are always way out of alignment) I feel instantly better (although this only lasts a day or so before the alignment is off again).
There is some degeneration and arthritis, but it is limited to my C1 and is a result of a skeletal abnormality on that vertebrae. My doctor has advised me not to run or hike, or do any jarring activities, which is very tough because I am an active person.
Thanks!

April 2011 C1-C2 Fusion (Brooks wiring)
January 2012 C1-C2 Revision Fusion (Harms Technique)
2010 - current: Trigger Point Injections, Epidural Injections, Bilateral C2-C3 Radiofrequency Ablations

achyneck
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fusion surgery

I had it done april 6th...fingers crossed for fusion!

April 2011 C1-C2 Fusion (Brooks wiring)
January 2012 C1-C2 Revision Fusion (Harms Technique)
2010 - current: Trigger Point Injections, Epidural Injections, Bilateral C2-C3 Radiofrequency Ablations

frenchfri
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Joined: 01/13/2011 - 11:43pm
Hoping your recovery is quick and easy

achyneck. I understand your pain and which you a speedy recovery. Keep us posted on how you are feeling
*************************************** **********
12/9/2010 ACDF C5-6 C6-7 with plate, screws,
BMP & bone fragment filled cages
2/14/2011 trying to go back to work as a teacher
2/17/2011 starting PT
wearing bone stimulator 4 hours a day
DDD, arthritis, herniated disks, pinched nerves
3 months saw a little bit of bone growth (YEAH)
4/15/2011 Home Tens Unit (helpful)

Dealt with the pain and issues for more than 5 years
tried PT, chiropractic, acupuncture, cervical epidural shots and selective nerve root blocks prior to surgery

achyneck
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Update

My first fusion failed....doctors didn't know why. I used my own donor bone, don't smoke, took supplements, and ended up wearing a bone growth stimulator for 4 hours/day. Had my revision in January 2012. 35mm screws in my C1 and 15mm screws in my C2, with rods in between. The surgeons used BMP and my own bone again since I already had one failed fusion and my anatomy is such that this was my last chance. Fully fused now, but a year after surgery I found the cause of my headaches (which came on suddenly)......this sounds crazy but we had toxic black mold (Stachybotrys) in our house (it was inside the walls, so it wasn't visible), and it releases a neurotoxin. So, now I'm faced with the realization that I had 2 surgeries, 2 rhizotomies, and multiple injections due to toxic mold. AND I'm stuck with hardware in my neck.
I wish a doctor would have asked me if anything had changed in my environment, because my headaches started within months of buying our house. Good times

April 2011 C1-C2 Fusion (Brooks wiring)
January 2012 C1-C2 Revision Fusion (Harms Technique)
2010 - current: Trigger Point Injections, Epidural Injections, Bilateral C2-C3 Radiofrequency Ablations