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posterior cervical fusion pain

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am 14 weeks after post cervical fusion/laminectomy with instrumentation after a mtn biking accident with imcomplete C4 spinal cord injury. Doing well walking and getting arms back. biggest problem is can't get comfortable lying down in any position and tried many pillows. I have to used sleep and anti anxiety meds and sometimes percocet to get to sleep at night. Sitting is not comfortable. It seems most everybody has had anterior approach (which I would have preferred but it was emergency situation and I was not given a choice). Is there anyone out there doing well after a posterior procedure?? By the way, I am a PT and my experience is that the anterior patients do better than the posterior patients but in 25 years I did not work much with this population. So now I am "one of them" and would really appreciate some insight. Thanks


  • I forgot to add that I had C3-6 fused.
  • I had the posterior approach after a failed fusion done anterior so I know how it feels from both sides and the posterior is a lot more painful. As you probably know they have to cut through a lot of muscle and nerves so it takes a long time to heal. Mine was not due to an accident so I can imagine that you had no time to prepare. I am fused C4-C7 and had a corpectomy done. It will be 2 years next month and I still have pain which is mostly nerve pain. I wish you the best and hang in there because it will get better.

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  • Welcome to Spine Health. I am not fused, but have had two posterior surgeries at C1 and C2. I have also had 7 posterior on my lumbar spine and I can say without a doubt that the posterior cervical approach is a "bear" when it comes to recovery discomfort.

    As a result of my cervical surgery, I have had two muscles atrophy away completely on one side of my neck and developed cervical dystonia on the other side as my body compensated. I have worked closely with a very good PT and one of the ways I was able to strengthen my neck a bit was through isometrics. My shoulders are messed up as a result of this too, and I do a lot of light weight work at the gym and at home. Much of it developed around problems with winging scapulas and also a scapula that rotates up and over.

    Moist heat and light stretching also provide me some relief. Of course since I take Zanaflex every 6 hours, that helps a bunch too.

    I think what did the most for me, was gentle stretching, lots of moist heat and the isometrics (the majority for the anterior muscles). My PT has found that many pts. with posterior cervical issues, wind up having very weak anterior neck muscles as a result.

    Hang in there, it does get better.

  • I've had anterior and posterior cervical surgery, and the posterior is much more painful. But the incision pain does get better with time.
  • I had both surgiers, Anterior was 4 years ago, I healed quite fast and was back to work in 3 months. This surgery was a walk in the park next to the one I had in August. On August 26th I Had a posterior Lamenectomy with Bi Lateral screw fixation. I stayed in the hospital for 8 days and am still wearing my hard collar most of the time. I wore it 24/7 for the first 18 weeks, and I still am wearing it most of the day and for sleeping, I take it off for PT and when I am not doing much but relaxing. I have an enormous amount of muscle spasms and nerve pain. I would have to say this has been the most trying times of my life. My NS deemed me permentaly disabled. I must also tell you I have c3-7 fused from the front and back. 13 screws and plates and rods. My NS came in to tell me the next day after surgery that it was going to be a long recovery. I was open as your know with the muscles and nerves pulled away for 6 hours while he did the surgery. Every case is different though, and I am 50 years old with alot of long years in the food service industry that has caused alot of my damage. Please dont get discouraged though you will come through this fine, I will to it is just going to take me time to get there and patience. Once I can drive again even just to town I will be happy to be able to start walking. I have learned that I have to not push it though because it just sets me back more. Getting comfortable in bed is horrific, expecially with the brace. I to have to medicate to get myself to sleep. Good luck to you.
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  • Hi, my husband had a posterior cervical laminectomy two weeks ago today. He is in some serious pain. The pain was so bad that he's gone through all his meds and now has nothing to take but ibuprophen. However; all that aside, I wanted to direct this to your comment about not being able to get comfortable to sleep. We realized after his first night home that my husband was not going to be able to sleep in our bed, on our sofa, in the computer chair or on virtually any other surface in the house--because he tried them all. So I called the place where I get my asthma medicine and machine from and they do hospital beds too. So I called the doctor and he faxed a prescription in for the bed and they delivered it the next day. It has really been a godsend. He has the little controller and can just push the buttons to raise and lower his head and feet and can keep tweaking it until he hits as he calls it, "the sweet spot" where he is most comfortable. I would really recommend getting one because rest is super inportant in your recovery. Good luck.
  • Thanks to all who replied. Somehow I did not know there were reply's till just now. I have gone through two mattresses and now have a feathertop/down topper which is somewhat better. I still can't get comfortable or to sleep without medication.

    I am three days without pain meds (my choice) but still in terrible pain all day and whenever I wake up. My strength and function continue to improve but I also continue to overdo everything. Still not back to work. Right side of body still not normal and terrible nerve pain in hands/arms and numbness and paraesthesia legs/feet and arms/hands. This has been very frustrating.

    I got a 2nd ortho opinion cause I thought I had hypermobility of the segment below the fusion but he said no. I do have bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome in addition. I am at my wits end. I see the physiatrist next week.

    I think because I had such serious injuries including spinal cord the docs just act like I'm supposed to be grateful that I have what I have. I'm just thinking I may as well accept that pain is now a part of my everyday life. But I do thank you for your replies and hope you are all doing better yourselves.
  • Hi I have had both anterior and posterior operations. in 2006 i had the anterior fusion 2 levels. 6 weeks ago I had the posterior foraminotomy and laminectomy. The anterior was easier in my opinion. I am still in pain. 2 weeks after I was crying I hurt so bad. I am starting ultra sound heat therapy soon because of my shoulder pain and back of neck pain where incision is. I have no energy and I sleep all the time. I got a travel pillow from cracker barrel and a pillow from contur pillows. I sleep semi elevated with pillows around my neck line. I don't want to fall off a pillow and wake up with a stiff neck. I am still taking all my pain medicines too. Only relief I have is the arm pain and shoulder pain that went numb is gone now. Good luck to everyone. :)
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • Ricochetred, I had acf-(4-7) & pcf (3-7) in Nov 06 which failed in sept 08 and had to be all tore out and replaced in Dec 08 and I am now fused from 3-7 anterior, and 2 thru t1 posterior. I feel for you, and I understand your pain. I have ongoing numbness in my left hand and muscle spasms in the back of my neck that are unrelenting! Ultrsound and Botox injections in the upper neck area help a little, but are quite expensive, and only last a little while. I'm glad I'm not in a wheelchair, but would love to be pain free. One can always wish! I will continue to do my stretching exercises from PT, and take my pain meds, and hope all goes well for you.
  • I am just about 4 mos post op from the surgery. The post op pain was sooooooooooooo BAD,,,, so PAINFUL,,,, I never asked about the recovery part, because the surgeon made it sound so very simple. And they aren't there for you while you are recovering. So you'll have to go back to primary doc for any help. It was all muscle pain in upper shoulder. Heck, my shoulders were up to my ear lobes for several weeks, from the way they positioned me for the surgery. I am still using the heating pad at work & at home & getting deep tissue massages now. Seems like the muscles are finally reconecting from the trauma. Was scared. Surgery was a great success & I am so excited the original pain is gone, but this post op must be the worst in HISTORY of operations.
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