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Surgery c4-c7

Monica LynnMMonica Lynn Posts: 43
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:43 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Has anyone had the surgery on c4-c7? The doctor put donor bones c4 -c7 and I also have a plate. This was all done on Wednesday and I got out of the hospital today. I am on pain pills, spasm medication, and other medication. The incision was done the right side of my throat. I am in a collar for 8 weeks. Is this normal??? What can I expect about having other peoples bones? I am still numb in the right thumb, but pain is gone in upper right arm. Will I ever be normal, will I have to be partially disabled? My neck is very sore as well. Need advice or to hear what happened you guys. Thanks Monica


  • Glad you found our spine site, I hope you are recovering and will follow doctor's orders.
    I have my first surgery 12-8-08 C4-7 with plate, cage and 8 screws from the front side and donor cartilage. I wore my brace for 6 weeks and did about 3-4 weeks afterwards of PT. My only long term disability at that point was limited turning my head left, right, up and down.
    Three months later I started to have new neck pain on opposite side, 9 months later they found out my plate was loose and I never fused. So on 12-2-09 I had a 2nd surgery this time from the back of my neck with rods and 8 more screws and bone graft from my hip (they left the front hardware in). This surgery has worked as far as my neck fusing and being stable, the bad news is my pain level is worse (he gave me a 50% chance that the pain would improve) so now I have applied for SSDI and retired from work at age of 60. I take three kinds of pain meds which help some but I am limited to what I can do due to the pain and my limited motion.
    I am really grateful for this site to talk and write to others who are in the same boat as I am.
    Take care and remember not every has problems like I have encountered there is hope and lots of successful stories here.
  • I had a neck surgery after I met with a car accident seven months back.Titanium rod was implanted limiting the movement of my neck.I am60.what is the life the implant? what is the maximum movement possible.I request expert advice

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  • monica, welcome to spine health, in answer to your questions, you will be on med's for a while, your pain will get better each day,as for the collar everyone is different.i had a doner bone and so have alot of other people on this site, my best advice is try to rest and not to over do it, listen to what your dr tells you. i know it's scary, it takes a while to heal. as for your neck being sore that will go away in time , did you have anterior and posterior done? front and back? this is my second surgery the best thing i can tell you that every one is different, everyone does not turn out the same way. keep a positive attitude and just get alot of rest. take care.
  • Hello, First thing no you will never be like you were!! Could be better or could be worse. I had a 4 level fusion and still have pain but at least I am not in a wheelchair. Hope you get better soon. My name is also Monica Lynn so a special Hello to you!!
  • Monica,

    I had ACDF on C-4/5/6 with bone bank (cadaver) implants back in 1995. Each person is different, depending on spine anatomy, co-existing factors, degenerative conditions, procedures done, how many levels done, what levels are done, etc.

    My surgeon did bone bank implants versus (surgery into your hip to take bone) less complication/pain (two incisions to heal and recover). It was quite successful and I was grateful my surgeon did the bone implant fusion vs. instrumentation (plates and screws), and of course, I was a good candidate for just needing implant to fuse itself for stability.
    And the advantage of not being dependent on plates/screws for fusion and added risk to have failure of the plate(s), screw(s)and causing internal complications and interventional surgery. (Please know in some cases, plates/screws are the best method to be used, depends on the degeneration,type of procedure done, stability necessary for fusion.)

    Muscle spasms are consistently an issue anterior and posterior surgeries. My muscle spasms were pretty severe, but I believe that was from not getting good follow-thru with pain meds (prior to self-administration iv) and a motor vehicle accident 4 months post-op. I came home with pain in shoulders/arms/lumbar spine lots of pain, needed pain meds round-the clock for 3 weeks.

    My bone implant fusion on 3 levels was totally successful and complete within 9 months (I was 40 yrs of age). Wore the cervical collar for 6 weeks in car as passenger, drove at 7th week post-op.

    I had no problems even with a complication of a motor vehicle accident 4 months post-op ! It took my neuropathy (numbness and tingling symptoms to reverse complete approx. 12-15 months - - also know my DDD had gone into radiculopathy, numbness and tingling for over 15 years (long and slow)and because of my cervical spine having compromise of deformity above where the degenerated discs and spurs were it had to progress to severe advanced phase and I had three spurs one touching the spinal cord, with whole left side body going numb. Many years of nerve inflammation 18 yrs.
    (as I said, take into account each person's anatomy and possibly co-existing pre-surgery factors are different).

    It was 4-6 months for major recovery healing taking it easy - - follow doctors orders, wearing collar, driving, lifting. Really take it easy. Each day you'll see progress past that 2-3 weeks post-op phase and for me (probably because of mva setting me back with muscle spasms in shoulders).

    By the way, something that really helped was body/muscle massage shoulders, arms lower back!

    Keep the faith, it's a slow process, but you'll see once you get past that 3-4 weeks of recovering from the surgery itself, I believe you'll be able to a continuous progress in your healing.

    Oh one thing I wish someone told me, don't fret or worry if you may feel better one day (periods thru the day accumulate over time) but then then the next day / have episodes of not feeling good = true healing with spine surgery is slow and it's

    one step forward, one or two steps backward, two steps forward, one or two steps backward, with less and less occurence of those backward step moments / hours / days = really continuously getting better !

    Take it easy and hope you can rest comfortably in the coming weeks until you check-up time, next phase of your recovery.

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  • Hi Monica, I have been told I need a c4-c7 fusion and am seeking infomation to what I am facing. It's hard to find folks who have had a 4 level. I suppose we are just special. My pain is manageable at this time but yhe stenosis has it's own set of problems. I am told mine is severe at 6.7 mm. I know it's very scary.
    thanks for anything you can offer.
  • I am so sorry. This isn't an easy surgery. We all are so different and our outcomes are unique to us. I have found what I experienced is probably closer to the norm, but others have had great results. I am almost two years post op. I still hurt, limited mobility, trouble driving, can't sit or stand too long. I rest my neck often. I take neurontin, tramadol, 2 blood pressure pills, and an anti depressant. All of them since surgery. I still have choking issues. Best wishes and prayers! :)
  • Hi Everyone, my name is Will and I'm 34yrs old. I had a diving accident 13 weeks ago, today, and I had burst fractures in my c5 and c6. Miraculously, I am walking. I am so grateful!

    At the time of the accident,I almost drowned and was completely paralyzed. I had 2 surgeries totalling 10hrs with both anterior and posterior entries. My c4-c7 are fused. For about 3 weeks I had no use of my left hand and my left side was very weak in general. Today, I am able to open and close my left hand but it is quite difficult. The right side of my body does not feel temperature and I have constant nerve pain in both of my hands. My sexual function took about 2-3 months to come back.

    I feel very lucky to be walking let alone, to be alive. I know it is still very early but I'm wondering if this nerve pain will ever go away, if the sensation in my right side will come back, and what the risks or effects of all the titanium in my neck are.

    I would really appreciate any advice and I am so glad to be able to talk about my injury with people who have gone through or are going through a similar challenge.

    PS - I've tried acupuncture twice and it was very uncomfortable both times. I am wondering if there are any supplements or vitamins that I should be taking to help with the recovery.

    Thanks everyone!

    Will - Vancouver, B.C.
  • to Spine Health. :H

    You have found a great place to get support from others who know how hard it is to have spinal problems. There is also a wealth of information here.

    13 weeks is still very early days in spinal surgery recovery. It is said that nerves can continue to heal up to between 18-24 months, so don't give up.

    Sometimes however, nerve pain can continue. My brother-in-law had a cervical fusion due to an disc injury at least 5 years ago and he still has nerve pain and burning. He has been told that his pain will not go away now.

    The titanium hardware in your neck will probably stay for life. Its purpose is to hold things still and in place while your neck fuses, but there is generally no need to take it out. Occassionally, if it causes problems then a further surgery is used to remove it. From what I have read that surgery is not nearly so bad as the fusion surgery.

    It is interesting to hear that you have found acupuncture uncomfortable. I have thought about trying it.

    Some people take Calcium to try to help with fusing and also Vitamin D. My lumbar fusion was slow to fuse and later it was found that I was very low in Vitamin D and Calcium. We don't know that was the cause of the delayed fusion, but if I have another fusion (looks possible in my neck) then I think I would take them. I am also now taking Vitamin B12 to try to help my nerves which are screaming at me.

    Keep walking and following your surgeon's advice. You want to give yourself the best possible chance of a full recovery.

    Nice to meet you :D

    Oh, and by the way, just thought I should mention that this is an old post and it would probably be better to start a new thread. There is a section for new members, and also a section on neck pain and another on back and neck surgery. Any of those places would attract others going through similar problems to you. :-)

  • I had that exact surgery August 29, 2011. I'm 2 months post op now. Mine was result of a car accident 20 years ago, back in 1990! Bone spurs completely compressed my nerve root in 3 places and I was bone to bone. I had the dead bone inserted, the plate and 8 screws.

    I have random muscle spasms even now. But definitely week by week it is getting better! Before surgery I had no use of my left arm. After surgery I had numbness and strong tingling on both sides on and off. Some days better than other. I'm still under 10 lb weight restrictions. Very little range of motion with neck still. I will start physical therapy at 3 months. I am driving now. I have a 17" long rear view mirror and bought a rear camera which has helped greatly. My arms and very weak still and the muscles in my upper back do not tolerate much strenuous arm movement before they spasm. But still, I can do much I couldn't do prior to surgery and definitely are happy so far with results. It is a week at a time, and knowing your limits. If you over due it, most likely you will feel the pain. Heating pads are still a very good friend for those days!

    I hope you continue to heal. Try to remember that it is simply a one day at a time process for any major surgery..

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