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A Dropped Head after Failed Cervical Disc Surgery

i am writing for my brother and would appreciate any insight  He had  cervical disc surgery 3 months ago. As I understand it, they fused C1 to C 7  by inserting a metal plate with screws. He wore a neck brace  it when he removed it to shower he had no control over his neck muscles and his head dropped forward to his chest. The orthopedic surgeon took an MRI and said the screws at the C7 level are not stable and loose. He wants to reoperate and replace or extend the metal plate down several levels to the thoracic vertebrae where he feels he can get the screws to hold. Two questions. First, what about the neck muscles. Why are they not working. Did the neck muscles get compromised and if so what is the solution. Second, if the screws won’t hold at C 7 because of soft bone/ osteoporosis why will they hold at a lower level. Is there another device that can be employed to give better control over the head.

Thanks for your help.



  • mt40

    welcome to spine-health

    sorry that your brother is having so many problems.
    neck muscles can become very weak from wearing a neck brace for a extended period of time, it can take several weeks of physical therapy to get strength back, he obviously cannot do any pt at present, but he does need to discuss the weakness with his surgeon.

    has he had a bone density test to check for osteoporosis?
    i have posted a link below that may be helpful


    Veritas-Health Moderator

  • MT40, Chip is 100% correct. A lot of people don’t realize that the average human head weighs between 10-15 pounds. Between the manipulation of nerves and muscles during surgery as well as wearing a collar and no Physical therapy, does not take long for the neck muscles to weaken. The surgeon probably wants to extend the fusion longer to get more stability. After stabilization occurs, Then Physical therapy can begin and he should regain his strength back to his neck muscles. I truly hate to hear of this but I can see why the surgeon is considering this procedure. ... please keep us posted!....David


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

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