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13 weeks Post Op 3 Level ACDF

rams83cjrrams83cj Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:50 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hello gang. I will be officially at the 13 week mark on Monday the 14th.

I wish I could say things are awesome, but they are not.

I had an x-ray and all the hardware is in place. That's good.

Yesterday I had to have a closed MRI done on my Thoracic spine. (I never, every want to do a closed MRI again!!)

Let me bring you up to speed. I had ACDF on 3 levels- c5c6, c6c7, c7t1- fused with cadaver bone on 11/15/10. Prior to surgery I had pain and stiffness in my neck with numbness and tingling down my left arm and the week prior to surgery left handed weakness. I also had headaches every day- for 6 months+.

I was hurt back in April 2010 (job injury). I was hit in the head on the upper left side with a steel plate(hard)and it jerked my head and neck to the right. I went through 6 months of Therapy, Massage, Chiro adjustments, Cervical Traction, and a series of 3 Epidural Steroid Injection shots. Which provided minimal relief for a very short time.

Post surgery I have no headaches. I woke up in recovery with weakness on the Right Side. I couldn't use my Right hand. It scared me. I had to squeeze a sponge piece to strengthen my hand for about 2 weeks. It is back to 100% now (at least I think it is- and doc said strength was good).

I also woke up with numbness on my left side. It goes from below my left breast, left side of back, left side of trunk/stomache, left side of perineum, all the way down the leg to the tips of my toes. My left side and my left foot feel COLD all the time. I get shooting pains in the left side. Sometimes burning sensations, too. During the day it is painful to walk at times. And I know walking is the best thing for the recovery process. So it ticks me off that it is painful.

I have been to see the surgeon a few times since surgery. His answer is that "I moved alot of stuff around in there and it will take time to calm down." I take it as...Cervical problems are taken care of. Surgery was a success. He is done.

I talked to my work comp doctor and expressed my concerns at my appt. I was at 10.5 weeks post op with no change in my left sided numbness. He ordered a EMG/Nerve Conduction study to my LLE. The Dr. who performed the EMG gave me a script to get an MRI of the Thoracic spine. He hypothesized that I may have had my back injured during the operation. While unconscious they had to transfer me from the bed to the OR table and back again post-op. SERIOUSLY??? They could have injured my Thoracic spine??

He also explained the whole spinal column thing, cervical spine and the nerve functions, thoracic and lumbar, etc.

He said that Cervical nerve issues would not cause the numbness I have right now. I could have had a nerve completely severed (during surgery)and it would affect my arms, not below that.

I had the closed MRI done yesterday and I have the images on a CD. I can see them, but have no clue what I am looking at. They were focusing on T7 and below.

I had no back pain prior to surgery. I had no back issues that I made complaint of. I just don't understand what could have caused the left-sided numbness. First I thought it was from the Cervical operation. But once the EMG doc told me it was probably Thoracic related, it totally threw me. I am totally confused now!!!

Could the initial injury have caused back injury as well? The surgeon decompressed the Cervical spine and then the Thoracic spine said....HELLO..there is problem here, too!!??!!

I just don't know. Any other spineys have these problems?

Please reply. Thanks!!



  • I haven't had cervical surgery, so my experiences are rather different to yours, but some of your story does feel familiar to me.

    I have something going on in my neck, but do not have the results of an MRI scan taken in October yet!! I am in the UK where it is very common to have to wait!! I have an appointment on 15th March, but hope that the fact that they have not brought my appointment forward from that date is a good sign that things are not too bad.

    I have pain in my neck, shoulders, arms and hands with tingling in my fingers on both hands and quite frequent numbness and pins and needles in the little and next finger of my left hand. I also get lots of twitching and jerking in both hands and cramping of my left hand. I also get regular headaches, often waking with them and also have pain in my ears sometimes during a headache.

    I am also experiencing the tingles, twitches and cramping in my toes, feet and legs below my knees in both feet. I get extreme pain and burning in the 2nd and 3rd toes on my right foot and it is starting in my left foot as well now.

    I have just had an MRI of my lumbar spine ordered. An x-ray done a few weeks ago showed my hardware to be in place and fusion had started to take place from my PLIF last March.

    I do have 3 herniated discs in my thoracic spine, one mildly pressing the cord. From what you say, I now wonder if that could be causing my problems, although I don't think that would cause my neck problems. My GP thought that the symptoms in my legs and feet could be caused by my neck if there is pressure on my cord. A different doctor thought it could be from my thoracic problems and my physio thinks it could be adjacent disc disease from my lumbar fusion. So you see, even the experts are not sure!!!

    I don't think some surgeons like it when we are not totally better after their surgery, and think there must be some other problem. I do hope that they can find out what is causing your problems and then fix them without too much difficulty.

    Sorry I haven't helped much, but just know that you are not alone in feeling that other levels of your spine are screaming at you. :-)

    I would say that 13 weeks is still quite early in your recovery and there is still time for things to improve. Let's hope they will.

  • So sorry for the pain and reason for the initial surgery. Hopefully you will get some answers from the new MRI. I would hope that transferring you from OR table to bed did not cause the issues. Maybe they were caused from initial injury but the cervical issues were more severe and covered up the others and the movement during surgery added to the stress of the other levels. Hope you have less pain each day.
    Good luck and keep us posted.
    *******************************************************12/9/2010 ACDF C5-6 C6-7 with plate, screws,
    BMP & bone fragment filled cages
    2/14/2011 trying to go back to work as a teacher
    2/17/2011 starting PT
    wearing bone stimulator 4 hours a day
    DDD, arthritis, herniated disks, pinched nerves
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  • Hi, my story is somewhat similar. I got hurt at work in Mar 2010....clocked in the head thanks to a structural concrete and steel I-Beam I walked into at a fast clip.... in the darkness of a very old and somewhat famous Los Angeles hotel basement our company was filming in.

    That popped two discs out into my spinal cord, numbness, tingling, buzzing weakness in my hands etc

    I had no therapy at all as my surgeon said it would harm me more than anything else. My surgery was in November...2 level at C4/5 and C5/6. I have a plate in front, nothing in the back. I just had my 2nd CT Scan done and it turns out I am not fusing at the lower level as much as he would like to see. So I am facing repeat surgery X( .......and he said were he to have done it differently he would have put instrumentation in the back of my neck...so if I go again I get that. X( X(

    Anyway, about you.......sorry to hear that. Yes they can booger you up by moving you around .......but anything is possible and I am not qualified to say.

    However, ask your doctor about Double Crush Syndrome and whether it could apply to you. I used to have it all the time as a teenager.....tore me up I tell ya to the point I had to explore both.....er....anyway, I am talking about a different deal. :D

    Googling double crush will bring up a lot about carpal tunnel. My surgeon explained it differently me...... that an injury of some kind to the spinal cord can aggravate or bring to light another injury to the spinal cord above or below it.

    I had a situation where the injury to my neck brought back a lot of nerve issues in my feet, that had been doing a lot better after my lower back fusion in 2007. I was managing them with the Neurontin, but after neck surgery they flared up with a vengeance.

    Also ....ask about whether it's possible the nerves are "waking up" now that he has released pressure on them.

    I think you are 100% right being cautious and wanting answers, there might be a positive rather than a negative side to it though....... so hopefully that is how it turns out. Still, like you, I would be concerned. You are doing the right thing going to see your other doctor about it.

    Best of luck.

  • For the replys.

    I have the Cervical X-ray and the MRI CD.

    I picked up the X-ray report and MRI report earlier today. My doctor's office isn't the best at getting my reports and getting them into my medical chart ASAP. I ALWAYS pick up a report I can as well as have films or CD's from procedures.

    I try to stay on top of things as much as possible. Because I want answers.

    There is mention of disc protrusion and bulges in the report at different Thoracic levels. Protrusion at T2-T3 and disc bulge at T11-T12.

    I had an injury to T5 from a car accident- coming up on 16 years ago this coming June. It was claimed by someone else that my problems were not from my work place accident on April 2010. They claimed it was from the MVA back in 1995 to T5. My MRI confirmed that "No significant focal disc protrusion, extrusion or compressive disc bulge is seen at T4-T5 or T5-T6 or T6-T7."

    It confirmed what I knew. That wasn't where the problem came from. It came from a wonderful whack in the head from a steel plate. Yay me!! Not!!

    Well...I see the doc with MRI CD, X-rays and the reports in hand next Thursday.

    Thanks for the wishes of good luck with my pursuit of what's wrong with me.
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