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neck fusion bone stimulator side effects

CHD71CCHD71 Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had C5/C6 fusion with a synthetic disc placed in between the 2 vertebrates, one week ago. 2 days ago I was given an Orthofix Cervical Bone Growth Stimulator. After the past 2 days of wearing it for 4 hours a day, my neck pain has increased. Before surgery, I was loosing feeling in both arms, and when I woke up I immediately felt the difference. Now since wearing the stimulator, I am have intense neck bone pain. It isn't muscle pain, it is just in my neck where the discs were fused. The pain is so intense that it is waking me up in the middle of the night, pain meds & muscle relaxers aren't relieving the discomfort. I am wearing a brace, and put the stimulator over it. Has anyone else had these symptoms? I go back to the Neurosurgeon on Monday, and hopefully he will have some answers. Has anyone else experienced this same problem. I'm about to stop wearing it for 4 hours a day, but I don't want to inhibit my healing. Any advice, comments or personal experience would be appreciated.

I have been in 12 Car Accidents, fell down a flight of stairs and had to put off the surgery for 8 years due to having 2 children. Also, DX with Fibromyalagia, Epstein Barr Virus, Disc Degenerative Disease. My main complaint was back pain until I went to the NS and he said that my C5/C6 was bulging into my spinal cord and esophagus. The 1st week after the surgery was great except for the swelling in my throat.

Thank you in advance for any advice,


  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You'll find a lot of information here with great articles and videos and the members of the forum are caring, knowledgeable and supportive.

    After my ACDF, I also had a brace and a bone growth stimulator. I asked for one and my surgeon said he considers them a bit like voodoo as there's no documentation out there that shows they really work, but he figured why not, it won't hurt so I had one also. I only had to wear mine for 30 minutes.

    Do you move around with this stimulator? If you're in one position for four hours with it, that might be the problem. Or it could just be normal post-surgical pain, so I'm glad you're seeing your surgeon on Monday.

    I had pain in the back of my neck and strong spasms after my ACDF also and think that's common, but if your meds aren't helping, it sounds like maybe you need something stronger until they subside. Talk to your surgeon about that on Monday.

    Also, are you sleeping flat? If so, you might want to try either a wedge pillow or a recliner for a while to elevate your head while you sleep. It might or might not help, but worth a try.

    I'm not sure about this, but you might try one day this weekend without the stimulator and see if you feel better. That way you can definitively tell the surgeon Monday whether it helped or not.

    Take care and please keep us posted.
  • Greetings Caroline,

    Welcome to Spine Health!!! You are very, very early in your recovery at this stage. Many of us that were fused at this level have had similar symptoms in our recoveries, so some of this may be spasms and the like as your body and upper spine are adjusting to a rather invasive surgery!

    I was given the same stimulator as you, but at my 4 month mark! What I noticed different for me, and as such might help you? I found that initially I was sitting funny when I wore my stimulator. I think that might have been due to the wide spread of the device over the back of my neck; made me sit posture wise different. I got a lot of stiffness and pain at the base of my neck, and then too, headaches! It is funny because the device really doesn't weigh much, but it did change my posture - which I think translated to my issues as stated above.

    That given, it could be you are getting a bad mix of new in the recovery symptoms with some "mechanically" induced symptoms from different body dynamics from wearing the stimulator. Try skipping a day and see if there is a bit of improvement. I hope you are feeling better. Again, welcome to Spine Heath! You will find there is a wealth of information on here, and GREAT support types who have "been there, done that, and can support that" with you! Take care. :-)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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  • I'm sorry you've been in so many accidents. Good to hear your arms are feeling better after surgery. I haven't had surgery but wish you and pray your recovery will get better. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • It is so nice to know that I am not the only one on this earth with this problem. I have decided that I am not going to wear the stimulator today after waking up at 4 am in so much pain, I wanted to cry. I have been suffering from neck and back pain for many years, but it was nothing compared to this morning. When I go see the NS on Mon, I am going to discuss the stimulator. I have nothing but high praise for my surgeon however this is one detail he left out. I wasn't aware or educated on this device beforehand. I just received a phone call on Monday saying that it was ordered for me, and that the company would be delivering it.
    Thanks again for the kind words and support.
  • Caroline,

    Most likely your surgeon won't know the ins and outs of it - mine didn't. I also posed a question to the Ortho site concerning those of us with bone spurs - if it would make them grow more? Never got an answer from them, but DID from my x-rays 4 months later! They are a quarter larger in my C2/3 and C7/T1!

    Like you, I was called by my NS's office and 2 hours lady a very nice lady from Ortho was at my house. She was pretty straight up that *some* patients had complained of headaches and such. She followed that up with "no known" study was done to confirm it was the cause or not. In their studies too, *all* those studied had 1 level, and no other spine/bone issues in addition to that level! Well, many of us have multiple levels with those buggers (spurs), so not sure.

    Pain...something I thought I would mention to you. Have you tried sleeping in a recliner? When I had my C5/6 done, I couldn't sleep horizontal for like 5 weeks, my C6/7 was funny in that my bed was very comfortable, even with the hard collar! lol!! Just a thought for ya - maybe try sleeping propped up, in a recliner etc., might help. Take care, and please keep us posted!! :-)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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  • Hi Caroline,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Like you my surgeon ordered the stimulator for me and was delivered to my house by the representative, the week following surgery. I was told it can cause a increase in pain as well as a headache. I was told basically they work of a magnetic field and so there is a little bit of movement in your neck when wearing it. I did the same as you wearing it over my brace. Now the difference in me and you is I had my bone on the surgery I used that on. What was the synthetic material they used, BMP? If it was BMP how was it placed, anterior or posterior? If it was BMP it can and does cause swelling, which usually comes on days after surgery. So it maybe the combination of them that is causing the additional pain. Good luck at your surgeon tomorrow and will be curious as to what he has to say. Keep us posted and once again welcome to spine-health.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I guess I got lucky.

    After my neck surgery I wore the BGS (hung around my neck) for 4 hours a day for 6 months and had no side effects. I currently have a lumbar one (which are small leads applied to my low back) that I have to wear 24/7 and again have had no side effects.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I had an acdf c4-5, c5-c6 on Sept. 07,2010. I week after coming home I was given the BGS. Everything was going well until this past week. I begin to have horrible headaches, extremely sound sensitive and irritable. At first, I thought it was sinuses or something but now I am beginning to question the effects of electromagnetic energy. Sure, nothing's been documented,even the overall effectiveness of the device. The neurosurgeon seems to think it works great. It's hard to believe that this kind of energy doesn't have the potential for some kind effect. They are even experimenting with MRI's for treating depression. I have been faithfully using this device, only missed one day of treatment early on. I'm going to leave it off tomorrow, maybe even day after that, and see if anything subsides. I have epilepsy and have a sensitive CNS already so maybe it can vary from one individual to another. I wear it 2hrs 2x/day. I might call and find out about splitting up the time or decreasing time or intensity anything that will bring relief. I also want to ask questions about any other complaints of side effects. My ears are about to ring off. Anyone else experiencing any of this?
  • Well I have been useing one for 6 months one half hour a day and no side affects on me in fact im going for a ct scan to check progress im not healing on bottom level of fusion will know soon if it works.If not then th DR. said that another surgery will have to be done so we will find out soon good luck to you
  • Hi Caroline,
    When I have put my post on this forum with the same pain effects and questions about the bone growth stimulator, I saw your post.
    My pain started after one hour started the stimulator. When do your pain started?
    Why do you have to use it?

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