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Broken Hardware & Non-fusion

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical

My original problem started with a MVA and lasted about 1.5 years before surgery. Had really good results on the C5,C6,C7 fusion and implementation up until I was involved in a MVA last December (07) just before Christmas. Had issues after that forced me to a doctor who wound up taking x-rays of my neck after my second visit to him, come to find out that the two top screws are snapped in my neck and the plate appears to be a little off-center now, fusion appears to not have taken either and appears to be filled with scar tissue. The doctor I was referred to did not think that I needed anything done besides PT and said that he thinks it is stable at this time. Long story short, almost a year after the MVA, still having issues that are progressively getting worse, hard to sleep and when I do I feel even worse when I get up, constant headache in the base of my skull, neck and shoulder pain that sometimes burns in the base of my neck, numbness and tingling down arms and into hands, loss of strength and mobility of arms. The PT helps for a few hours at best.

Going to get another opinion soon, trying to research a good spinal specialist to go see around the Twin Cities area. Got to get something done soon, not currently on any meds, had enough of them from previous spinal issues, but the pain really is getting to me now.

Is it just me, or do other people in constant pain sometimes have moments where they feel completely hopeless/helpless on getting relief?


  • Sorry to hear about your pain. You have just experienced what I dread every day that I drive. I was involved in a MVA in Sept. and had ACDF in Oct. A car pulled out in front of me yesterday and scared the daylights out of me. He was crossing traffic and couldn't see me because of the other lanes of cars. I would have had a panic attack but my wonderful (and I really mean that with all of my heart)put me on valium for muscle spasms and I get the added benefit of not having panic attacks anymore. But back to you. From what I understand and please do not take me as an expert or that I am replacing the opinion of any doctor. Simply what I've seen and read. You said you are fused levels 5/6/7. The headaches may be coming from something besides your spine and the levels you are fused at don't usually cause headaches. But at level 2 the nerves can. Find haglandc on here. C is full of great headache advice. All of your other symtoms do sound like your fusion levels. Why are you not a good surgical candidate? Is it because of the scar tissue. Maybe someone else around here might be able to explain to both of us why broken screws and a plate that is no longer in place isn't a problem. Maybe because they find the spine still stable? I like you would want that fixed! Start researching post trauma headaches. That's what I've been doing. I almost always get sent to websites suggesting whiplash and headaches or post trauma headaches. Oh, and we've all had our moments where we feel hopeless and helpless. I think there's power in knowing and helps us get over those feelings. So keep being your own best healthcare advocate and don't give up. We are all here for you.
  • My first acdf broke screws and bent the top ones on its own with no mva. They went through the back and now can not get pain undr control. I have rods and bolts and bridge with half cage and the burning I knwo all about. I feel the way you do a lot lately you just have to tell yourself it WILL get better. The people here....I do not know what I would have done without being able to come here and talk to these peeps. Please get another opinion. Do not wait until you have permanent nerve damage and weakness.
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  • Well, I found a spinal specialist at Midwest Spine Institute, he sent me downstairs for a new x-ray along with doing the standard squeeze my fingers thing. His conclusion at this point is that I need surgery to fix my neck, sending me for MRI and CT scan with contrast on both, 3mm slices on both. Looks like I have a new bone spur on C4. Now I have been having increased pain in my neck, shoulders, down arms and into my shoulder blades, but the thing that worries me the most now is something entirely new, I will get a clicking noise in my left ear and about 2 - 3 seconds later get hit with the most intense head pain I have ever felt, the only saving grace is that they usually last for less than 5 minutes, but are completely incapacitating. I will contact my surgeon about my new symptom and keep everyone posted.

    Tonya42, prior to my original surgery, I was getting migraine headaches, this was due to pressure being put on my spinal cord itself from the disc that was ruptured, was not found until the MRI (no surprise there), kinda wondering if the scar tissue at the C6-C7 non-union is producing the new issues.
  • I think that migraines get over diagnosed sometimes when a doctor can't figure out what else to call it. I had a Neurologist who had me basically do a sobriety test in his office and told me I had a migraine. Wrote me a prescription and told me to come back in 6 weeks if I didn't feel better. On orders of a differnt Neurologist tomorrow I am having a brain and cervical MRI to rule out a Chiari Malformation. To put it bluntly my brain is sagging down to my spine. But I am very happy to hear that you are getting the help that you need. It was just unimaginable to me that some doctor didn't think broken hardware non fusion and your symptoms weren't an issue. Keep us updated. I want to hear a good report about your symptoms and when they will have your surgery scheduled. Do you think it will be soon? I hope so for your sake.
  • My cervical issues are a direct result of two accidents. My greatest fear is to be hit again. Having your hardware compromised from an accident is terrible. I am glad you found someone to help you. I also get migraines/headaches regularly and I believe it is a result of pressure on the spine. Never had them before the accident. Take care and you are in my prayers.
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  • I didn't have to wear a collar after surgery, but I have a soft collar that I was wearing prior to my surgery. I keep it in my car and wear it when the roads are icy. It makes me very nervous to think I could get rear-ended or even smuck into a snow bank and mess up the beautiful job my surgeon did. I'm so sorry this happened to you.

    tonya, I was thinking of you the other day. I was remembering back when I had my MVA like 10 years ago that resulted in whiplash. I walked away from the accident (actually drove away) and felt fine until later that afternoon. Then my neck and head started hurting so bad I went to the doctor. I spent years with chiropractors and PT and my neck really never did feel right. So you should not compare your prolonged and painful recovery from your surgery to my "successful" one. I'm just recovering from a "simple" surgery while you are recovering from a very serious MVA....no comparison. Not to mention your other complications. Actually, I was in more pain longer after my whiplash injury than I've had after my surgery, so I definitely feel for you.
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