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Uneven shoulder height after posterior cervical fusion

so I’m 4 weeks post-op for a posterior cervical fusion from C4-T1, this was a revision of a previous anterior cervical fusion C4-C7 that was done about 1 1/2 years prior.

I’ve noticed that my shoulder heights are different and now I can see and feel a very sharp end of my collar bone on my right shoulder. The left seems as it was prior to surgery, but the right is painful to touch and visibly looks “pokey” and it also feels sharp.  My left shoulder seems to be sitting at a normal pre-operative height, but my right shoulder drops down. It’s so noticeable that you can see the difference while I’m wearing a shirt. It’s even more noticeable in a tank top or sans clothing.

Has anyone that had a posterior operation experienced the same thing? Did it ever return to normal? I really hate the way it looks and I feel like Quasimodo! 

I see my doctor in two more weeks and will be sure to ask about this, but wanted to ask here to see if anyone else has experienced the same sort of changes after surgery. I know they cut and dissected a lot of muscle from my spine, and it just seems like maybe they didn’t put them back quite right. Or maybe it’s possible I have a dislocated collar bone? Would that be painful? I am experiencing a fair amount of post-op pain, so I’m not certain that I would notice any extra pain that would be caused by a dislocated collar bone. 

If anyone else has experienced a similar thing I’d love to hear about it, and what the outcome was. In the meantime, I do plan on calling my doc and asking tomorrow. Just in case it’s a time sensitive thing and I shouldn’t be waiting for my appointment to address it. 

 I’ll add an update here if I get an answer. But I’d appreciate hearing anyone else’s experiences too. Thanks. 



  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,560

    Not entirely sure, but what you describes sounds like your upper collar bone/rib  has lifted a bit.   I have had this condition several times in the past 25 years .  I am trying to remember when I first had it and if it was after any of my cervical surgeries.

    It can be uncomfortable and it looks like you have one shoulder hiked up all the time.   Any time I had this situation, a couple of sessions of physical therapy would always put it back into place.

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • Yes that is what it looks like, a dislocated collarbone with the AC joint lifting up on me. 

    I do sure hope physical therapy is enough to correct it. I’d hate to have to endure another surgery to fix it. 

    I suppose it all makes sense, as I’m pretty sure these surgeries are violent(for lack of a better word), I woke up with tons of bruises on both my arms, I suppose that would be from them trying to maneuver my muscles to reattach ligaments and muscles to my spine. 

    I’ve got a call in, and my physical therapist also comes tomorrow, so I can ask her too. 

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  • I have this also after my posterior cervical fusion. I questioned the Dr and PT and they said it happens, nothing to worry about is the answer I received. Let us know what you are told.

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