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Assistance about Post Surgery outcomes- Cervical

BlueBBlue Posts: 74
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have been living with herniated neck disk at the C5/6 level that is pushing again the spine and cause me nerve pinch down the C6/ finger to thumb. I have done all the conservative approaches and now a full year later I have resolved to go towards having cervical disk surgery. I am taking Arthrotec, Lyrica, and Tramadol. This is a fairly recent decision, and I am seeking second NS opinion (first wanted complete disk removal and titian plate) I have researched this next NS and feel he is the best, likely will trust his opinion. My question is what are realistic outcomes of surgery? I know I have to speak with my doctor, but I want to speak to people who have gone through surgery. Has the nerve pain improved? How long did it take to fuse? Do you still have arm/finger numbness and pain? Has the pressure/pain along the spine improved? If you have had walking gait issues has that improved with the cervical disk surgery? Does the shoulder/back pain improve? How long before you were able to start back at work- did you do pt. days? I truly appreciate any input/guidance from anyone who has gone through this. I need to know, so that I have realist expections. >:D< >:D< >:D< Big hugs in advance.


  • I had my surgery in March 2008. It was a fusion at C5/6, I had the disc removed and a cadavor (sorry for the spelling) bone put in its place also a titatium plate with screws. I was out of work about 6 weeks and then went back part time for about 2 weeks, then gradually worked up to full days. I did not have to wear a collar, hard or soft. Unless I thought it would help me, I did wear it some at work, it reminded me no bending, lifting or twisting. I work at a retail store and sometimes help out with retail otherwise I have a desk job.
    My last Ortho Spine surgeon appointment was in September, 6 months and he was satified that the neck was fusing good and I did not need to come back for 6 months in March 2009.
    I have no neck pain or arm pain or numbness and all the feeling is back in my hands. Also the shoulder and back pain is gone. It took a good seven months to have all the pain gone, the last to go was the shoulder and back pain. The numbness was gone immediatly. I did not have any gait issues.
    I am very happy with the outcome of the surgery. I was in surgery for about 6 hours and in the hospital overnight. I had a morphine pump for several hours after surgery but then switched to pills the next morning, release to go home about 4 pm.
    Give yourself time to heal at home before trying to return to work, make sure you feel good. I think I went back a little early, I had some rough days after going back to work. I also was concerned that having some pain 4 months after surgery was something wrong, so my doctor had me have a myleogram, he was making sure I did not have a pinched nerve. There was nothing wrong, I just got impatient and wanted my body to be healed. Having the myleogram was the worst thing I did, worse than the surgery, I now have lower back problems that I have to deal with. But that is another story.
    I hope you find the doctor you are looking for and feel very confident with your decision. Let us know what you decide. If you have anymore questions please just ask.

  • I really appreciate your input, and sharing your surgery experience with me. I like that we can come and listen to each other and their journey towards healing. I don't want to have too high expectations, but more realistic. I know everyone heals differenently, have different surgeons/proceedures done. But going in, you really need to know what to expect, and that is where I am coming from. I am not working right now, and that is stressing me, because I just want to have the surgery over. I will listen to my body and my doctor for return to work dates, my job is fairly physical and you need to be clear thinking. Please continue sharing your stories with me, it is helpful as this process can be issolating. :<
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  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hey Ell,
    Stacey's experience is probably closer to what you may experience due to it is in the exact same location. My fusion involved C3 thru C6 with a strut, cage, plates, rods, & screws done both anterior and posterior. So please don't see this as what you will experience for results.
    The tingling/numbness in my left hand and arm has not improved, in fact it has gotten worse over time. But I knew that was possible pre-op as other factors than the surgery were involved. My surgery of 6 hours went well and I was released within 36 hours of the time the surgery ended. I wore a collar at certain times for a few months, I had lifting restrictions for some time as my career is physical and fast paced at times. I did do shorter work days at first, 6 to 8 hours, my normal day is 12 plus hours. Can't say if my gait has improved as I also have lumbar spine issues but I had been tripping and falling more pre-op and that has improved since. My shoulder pain is being controlled with Gabapentin/Neurontin, and it has provided me with some relief. Again, my situation is a little more severe than with what you are experiencing.
    In my "non-professional opinion" I would advise you not to go too long with the tingling/numbness problem, I waited too long as mine will be permanent.
    Write down and ask a lot of questions of your Dr(s) and above all keep a positive attitude, I know you will do well.
    Take care and keep us posted here,
  • I had 3-lvl C4-7 ACDF w/plate and 8 screws on Oct. 21.

    Beginning in April 08, my symptoms were wicked back spasms, pins 'n needles 24/7 in my entire right arm and I was losing use of my left arm which got worse each day. I had never had surgery before for anything, so I was terrified, but surgeon said there was no choice.

    Fast forward to Oct. 21. Surgery was at 8:30am and I was out and in recovery by 11:45. Although I don't remember, my hubby says that when I "came to" after surgery, I was (little embarrassing here) clapping my hands and giggling because my tingling was almost gone and I had full use of my left arm. Unlike some people, I didn't have severe throat issues, just a little hard to swallow, not bad.

    I absolutely hated the hospital stay, but whatta ya gonna do? I wasn't in much pain (had a duladid pain pump) and had no nausea at all. I was out the next day at noon and went home to begin recovery.

    I wore a Miami J (hard) collar for 4 weeks. I had mom-in-law staying with me for 3 weeks so I didn't have to do anything. Hubby gave me showers and changed my bandage. After 4 weeks, started a soft collar.

    Fast forward to today: I'm still wearing my soft collar and have some neck aches and back spasms still. Surgeon says it's normal and not to expect it to get better until after PT, which I begin on Jan. 21. I've been back at work part time since Dec. 15, but I work on a computer and it's hard on the cervical spine. Have no idea when I'll be able to go back full time, but I'm sure it will come.

    Good luck on your upcoming surgery and I'm sure it will be a success. Take it easy for a few weeks then start the walking, walking, walking.

    Feel free to PM me if you have any questions, or just want to talk.

  • I so thank you for your honest reflection of your personal outcomes. I have learned more in the last 2 weeks from the nice people here at SH. I think that any improvement would please me at this point. I knew the conservative approaches I was doing wasn't working. I just kept telling myself, just maybe the herniation would disappear on its own. Just maybe, the nerve pain would get better. I have to admit, my family and family doc didn't help too much here either. My doc just told me that it would take 2 years. Well it has been 1.5 years, I can't see the miracle happening in the next .5 years. I now am worrying about permanent injury/disabilty. The pain is all the time even with medication. It still shocks me how long one has to wait to see a specialist. Some people get quick care, while others don't. I am going to push, once we clear the holidays, for an earlier appointment...even ask to be on a on-call list.
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  • I had ACDF C5-C6 in Oct of this year. The tingling in my fingers and my myeolopathy (Not sure how to spell it but I was becoming paralyzed basically.)were immediately resolved after surgery. I had my surgery done within weeks of a wreck that caused the vertebrae to press on my spine. So I didn't have the torture of going through all of the pain prior to my surgery that others around here have suffered through. I was actually walking sideways and dropping things so my surgery was sort of an emergency situation. I consider my surgery a success. Oh and one other symptom I had that is now gone. I felt like I was falling out of chairs while I was sitting in them. I now sit in chairs without fears of falling. The only downside to my surgery is the shoulder and neck spasms that I have seem to have made themselves at home and haven't responded to most treatments that I've tried even with Physical Therapy. So I have a new Neurologist who changed my medication and I am praying that this works. He called my Percocet and Valium baby drugs. :))) and put me on Soma and Klonopin. I haven't been taking these very long but I am seeing some relief. At least it's now limited to one shoulder or the other instead of all the way across. I have no throat issues. I can sing to the radio again. (That one took me a while.) I have full range of motion of my neck which is important. But my doctor didn't put me in a collar and that seems to make a difference so you might ask both docs about collars post surgery. Some do and some don't. Those that do seem to have a harder post op recovery when they have to take the collar off. Oh and REAL pain lasted about a week. I was eating solids by week 2. I was able to drive one week after surgery. So all in all it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
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