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One year after surgery, why am I still in pain?!

QuiltinouslyQQuiltinously Posts: 152
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
This week, I saw my neck surgeon for the one year appointment, and he said that my fusion is solid, but he has no idea why I am still in so much pain. Right after my surgery, he told me that when he did my ACDF C5-6, that I had one of the biggest bone spurs compressing the nerve root that he'd ever seen and removed.

My surgeon and regular doctor have no idea why I have the same pain that I had before surgery. I actually think it is worse, but it's been a gradual worsening. My symptoms are:
- sharp pain at the base of my neck, like a pinched nerve feel
- right hand and arm pain and weakness
- neck pain at where the C5-6 site is on the right & back
- migraine headaches that come when I do much & irritate it

The post operation MRI and x-rays do not show any reason for the pain. I do not know what to do next. I'm afraid that it looks like I'm making things up for pain meds, but I'm not!

Does anyone have any idea why the pain is still there?
What should I do?
Thank you, Dee


  • I am 1 1/2 years post op from a double fusion of my C5-7 and continue to have the pain I had before surgery. The pain is getting worse as time goes on. Only indicators are signs of mild arthritic area right above the surgery site
  • Hi Tom,
    Sorry you are in the same club of no help post surgery. It really stinks and makes all the surgery pain and money spent a big fat waste.
    Anyone have an idea why? Is it nerve damage or scar tissue or what?
    Thanks, Dee
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  • Sorry to hear your still enduring pain. When is the last time you have had a MRI or a CT done, Was the pain ever better after the surgery did you get some relief at first and then it came back. Maybe you need to get a second set of eyes looking at the films. What types of things have you tried to get rid of the pain. Are you doing exercise on a daily basis. Have you been able to return to work and if so could your job becausing some of the pain. Please share with us some more information and maybe we could give some advise.
  • My surgery is also 1 year post-op and the pain I have mostly is at the base of the back side of my neck. I have limited movement of my neck and when I ride on a dirt or bumpy road, my pain increases. My NS has told me that what he did to my neck was about the max that could be done in one surgery, and the pain is likely from scar tissue and arthritus. He does not prescribe pain medications for me anymore except once in a while because I see my family doctor for this now (I guess NS's just follow up with xrays and office visits after about 1 year post-op. I also still have numbness and a cold feeling in my hands and forearms that comes and goes. I also don't know if everyone continues with some type of pain long after surgery has past.
  • I have never stopped hurting.....it has been over 18 months since my surgery which was a revision. I have come to terms with it, I have heard scar tissue, nerve damage, arthritis. I think it depends on how bad your neck was before surgery and how much you had done. What can you do? Not much but do what the doctor tells you and pray.

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  • Thanks, Sharon, KC & others too ~ I'm sorry you're still dealing with pain as well. We pay to go through surgery with time, money, and pain; it doesn't work! How discouraging!

    KC, you really had quite the surgery. Did it help at all? If I want to go back and read your previous posts, can you or someone else tell me how a person can do that? I remember on the old set-up, it was possible, but I can't figure it out.

    Sharon, I agree with you about praying. When you've had one or two surgeries and they don't work, what else can you do?! And God does answer prayers. He just may not answer them the way we like. I like to think that He is saying to me, "Not yet. I am not ready to heal you just yet as you have more to learn." And learn I am. How to be patient. How to empathize better. How to trust God more. Etc.
    God bless, Dee
  • No prior symptoms: 2005 fell on icy conditions, immediate paralysis ensued neck down - no feeling or ability to move. ER: MRI, CT, X-Ray showed mass on cervical spine, (Malignant Spinal Cord Tumor) w/compression of C2-C6. No option - do or die. Partial laminectomy/decompression surgery removed bone from C2-C6 and as much of tumor as possible. Followed by (I-131) spinal tap radiodine injection, 22 days of radiation to neck region and year's worth of R-CHOP chemo. 2008 severe collapse of C2-C7 cervical vert. ensued (result of first laminectomy), 20 hour surgery added new bone with reinforcement rods, plates and screws posterior and exterior to shore up head...Prepherial neuropathy pain is premanent, chronic soft tissue pain is permanent, but may dissapate with time - unknown. Deep bone pain is likey permanent, but may also dissapate with time - unknown. Extensive trauma to mind and body equates to: "Post Tramatic Stress Syndrome" Rehab Psych, (helps patient manage pain in other ways besides medication) and may help decrease need to depend soley on pain meds. The mind and body have been wounded and the bodies defense is to inhibit activity in order to heal. However, this inability for people is not healthy and therefore other means are necessary to work to manage handicaps...its going to take a long time to heal; patience, perservance and a good attitude are key to quality of living with this new "monkey" on our backs.
  • Dee i am alive and walking around so i guess my surgery was a success. i had my surgery 5 days after my mri and was told by NS's if i did not have this surgery that i was looking at death. the damage was already done to my spinal cord so my goals in life has changed. my goal is to keep my chin up and deal with the pain as good as i can. as you know we all have good and bad days and we all have pain everyday. as for the old post you might pm one of the moderators for this site. 7 circles you are in my prayers and i wish you the best in your recovery. btw 7 circles welcome to the forum.
  • Quiltinously: Froma fellow quilter. I am sorry and wish I could give you good news. I had a laminectomy almost five years ago. The pain is worse and am told it is Failed Back Surgery Snydrome. The pain keeps b=getting worse and I am losing the use of my right leg. THE major problem is no doctor wants to have anything to do with me. I am out there on my own.

    Just keep bugging your doctor to help you find relief.
  • Hi 7, KC, Normie,

    All 3 of you have been through way more than I have. I should not be whining when I read through what you all have been through as well as many others on this site. If I better understood why I hurt still... is it Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (but I've only had two on my spine plus carpal tunnel), is it Fibromyalgia, is it nerve damage, is it scar tissue, and so on??? I hope to find an answer as I'm really tired of doctors who are clueless or worse, think I'm faking it - and that really stinks!

    Good night and thanks again,
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