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Post surgery ACDF C6-C7 with myelopathy

Curious how long others have dealt with myelopathy after ACDF surgery? I had surgery in May for a severe herniated disk with myelopathy. Symptoms started at the end of March from a cough. I was losing my grip in both hands, could hardly lift my arms, was hard to do normal things like brush my teeth and hair, was effecting my walking, and a lot more. I went to the doctor multiple times before an MRI was scheduled at the end of April. I was basically told if I didn't have surgery I could be paralyzed, because of how bad my spinal cord was being pressed on by the disk. My surgery went well and the pain was mostly gone right afterwards, but the myelopathy has not gone away. Still having pain in the back of my neck after doing normal day to day activities and the myelopathy comes on strong. Also still having muscle wrakness mostly just on my right side. I also get twinges by my scar area if I move my head and neck just right. I asked my doctor if the twinges could be muscle spasms and he said yes. I'm not back to work at all, because I can't do much and I get uncomfortable. Not on any prescription medicines just over the counter Tylenol when needed. I know the healing process can be long, but it is just getting frustrating. I want to feel normal again. Will the myelopathy ever go away?



  • I'm eagerly hoping someone has an answer.

    I am two weeks post of with the same thing slh76!

    Prior to surgery the bone and joint dr said I had frozen shoulder(s) due mostly to the cervical issues.Mine has not resolved either. I still have limited use of my arms (from the shoulder) they simply don't work right. I am still dizzy and still having severe restless legs.

    Someone told me, maybe the Ortho's PA that the myelopathy may never go away, it is nerve damage. But I have researched on my own, some nerves heal, some don't, it's hit and miss.  I also get this odd uncomfortable feeling, it's not pain, it's not cramps, it's more like being rolled in a blanket tightly and not being able to move.

    Are you walking? PT yet? Did any of that help?

    I am not on any muscle relaxer or pain med either, my body simply can't handle it. I'm also just using otc tylenol, Surgeon said no Ibuprofen for at least 3 months.

  • MetalneckMetalneck The Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,778
    edited 09/09/2017 - 12:06 PM

    Hello Folks - In my experience - I have been told or have read - that myelopathy is damage or "brusing" of the cord itself .... and currently damage to the spinal cord itself is not typically reversible.  If your symptoms are being caused by stenosis - (Canal or foraminal) facet arthropathy - disc compression ... osteophytes .... those issues have a chance at regeneration or restoration of sensation or motor control.

    As ALWAYS it is best to talk directly with your providers - for their prognosis in your case - as they now have your inside story..

    Best Regards,


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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,371

    hi slh76!
    wellcome to spine-health.

    it's nice to see metalneck here, he's got a lot of experience and knowledge in this area.
    as with any surgery it will take time. but reading past post from other members this is one that takes more time.
    go the the top right of this page to the search box and key in myelopathy, scroll down and read other discussions on this subject.
    please click on the welcome link below for more information.

    welcome to spine health

    take care and please keep us posted.
    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator
    Please read my  Medical History
  • Slh76,  I had surgery for the same condition one month ago. I was told by my NS he could not "fix" the damage to the spinal cord , that it would be permanent. Luckily  it was caught in time.I am able to walk unassisted (some balance issues) and have use of my arms, however, clumsily. I also had severe foraminal stenosis,bilaterally which was "fixed" Now I must play the waiting game to see how much improvement I will get . Numbness and tingling has stopped but I do have some loss of sensation and weakness. I do feel nerve pain which , for me, is a good sign that they are re awakening.I have been told the nerves heal more slowly. My surgery affected C4,C5&C6. Not sure if this info helps, but know , you are not alone . Happy Healing -Lore

  • Yes Buttons 16 I am walking. I'm not on any medicines  except for over the counter Tylenol when needed for the discomforted in the back of my neck and shoulder blades. Before my surgery I could walk but not very far and going up steps hurt in my whole upper back and neck. My NS said physical therapy will not help. I was in physical therapy before I was diagnosed with the herniated disk. It helped me get movement back, but still hurt and had strong myelopathy. As soon as my regular doctor found out I had the herniated disk all PT and all the exercises were stopped as it was making it worse.

    Metalneck my spinal cord was over 50% compressed from the images the doctor showed me. He did say the surgery was only to replace the disk so there would be no more compression and only time will tell if the damage goes away or not. Just curious as to how long others have experienced the myelopathy. I know it may never completely go away, but when it comes on strong it bothers me. The doctor knows about it as I have told him.

    lore I'm lucky mine was caught when it was. It came on all of a sudden no symptoms at all till I got a bad cough. Took another month and many doctor visits before an intern and the doctor she was working under got ahold of a neurologist and said I needed an MRI. I saw a neurosurgeon the day after my MRI and he recommended me to another neurosurgeon that did that particular surgery. I had that appointment a week after my MRI and the NS didn't even want to wait to do the surgery he said it needs to be done now. Two days later it was done. There is a very high chance if I had waited to have surgery I would be paralyzed. That was what the NS told me.

    Thank you all for the information. It is great to be able to communicate with others how I feel and they understand unlike the people around me who just look at me weird when I try to explain how I feel.

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  • Slh76,  I know how you feel, it's difficult to be waiting to see what the long term results of the surgery. I ,like you,am grateful that it was discovered in time to keep me from being in a wheelchair. I know I will never fully recover because  of the severity of cord compression did cause some spinal cord damage. I knew that going into surgery.I'm hoping for the best and prepared for the worst. If I can function at the level I am now for the rest of my life I shall forever be thankful that I can walk, I can control my bladder and bowels, and will try to live this life to the fullest. I wish you the best with your recovery. Take care -Lore

  • Thank you Lore. I am also thankful I can walk and do things. If the myelopathy and weakness in my right side never go away I can live with it. Just happy I can walk. Another issue has came up, but more in my lower thoracic spine and have contacted the doctor. When I had my appointment with the neurosurgeon the day after my MRI and he showed me the herniated disk in my neck he said he thought he had seen something else in my thoracic spine, but did not see anything when he showed me the images. I have contacted the neurosurgeon who did my neck surgery to see if my MRI images can be looked at again to see if there is anything in my thoracic spine. Feeling weird pressure there while lying down and sitting in our re liner and it was on and off over the last month till the other night I could feel it while walking. Doesn't hurt at all it is just uncomfortable and bothersome. Hoping and praying it isn't anything serious. Just scared as it has only been a little over 4 months from my neck surgery. Guess I will never be going back to my housekeeping job at the hotel I worked at. Hopefully I'll be able to work again soon.

  • Hi , I know how you feel . I have some lumbar issues too. I will do some further imaging once I'm further in my recovery. The issues with my neck were the most urgent. I wish you well with your additional testing / imaging. I hope for you and for me, that additional surgeries will not be required!Take care-Lore

  • PS. I find myself getting almost paranoid sometimes .my original diagnosis was such a surprise. I catch myself attributing everything to my surgery/ spinal problems....  including the symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn . I didn't pick up on the original symptoms for such a long time that I am now hyper- aware of any/all symptoms.  Lol 

  • Since having my surgery every little bit of discomfort I have somewhere else along my spine has me worried. Like what is going on now. Scared to even get a slight cough, because that is how my disk got herniated from a bad cough. I think it was more than that since I had some upper back and chest muscle pain for a couple weeks before I got the cough. Thinking it was from my hotel housekeeping job, but have no proof and the doctor said it was from my cough. 

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