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Is my Doc too casual or am I too antsy?

edited 06/11/2012 - 7:50 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi all,
I had a ACDF C4-C6 6 weeks ago with a plate and 6 screws. I am a 31/F, have DDD, RA, and ulcerative colitis. I'd spent from May of 2010 until December 2010 with daily disabling headaches, little hand function (Couldn't button my 14 month old daughters shirt buttons), was diagnosed with Raynauds, feet turning blue daily, lack of muscle control in my arms, and my lungs collapsed twice. Not been the hottest year. Id had one herniated disc in December of 2008 and it healed itself so when I went back to my spinal doc in Dec of 2010 as a last resort and he showed me my MRI and pushed for surgery bc of cervical myleopathy, I was ecstatic to hear what I thought was a solution.

So, the day after the surgery, I felt amazing! No symptoms, was great. Stopped taking all meds (5/500 percocets 4xday and 350 somas 3x day) 2 weeks post surgery. All was bliss, until last week. Headaches returned, horrible spasms in my back, back on Soma's, which dont alleviate the pain, just make it tolerable and make me crazy tired.

I saw my surgeon yesterday for my 6 week post-op and all looks great he says. Gave me Rx for Soma's for another 2 months but seemed baffled that my symptoms were returning. Id tried acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathic, and nothing makes the headaches go away.

Should I look into nerve blocks or injections, or does anyone have any suggestions?
Thanks for reading.



  • Greeting Sarah, and Welcome to Spine Health!! Sorry to hear you're hurting, but you need to remind yourself that *any* spine surgery is major surgery! You had a multi level fusion, and that is a lot for your body to adjust to. Your other levels in your spine are forever changed in how they react due to the fixation of an area of it.

    As to symptoms coming back and such. You're only 6 weeks out, and as such (and many surgeons don't warn us of this), as your body adjusts, spasms will be realized, and too depending on how your nerves were trapped, some of the symptoms *could* be their healing in progress! Nerves heal at a rate of 1mm a day, and depending what was going on, it could be a year or more to recover.

    I'm sure you've had a leg or foot fall asleep after sitting on it to long? What happens as it 'wakes' up? Pain!! And that was just a sleepy foot! Give your body more time to heal, but if you find yourself getting very concerned, give your surgeon a call. They are the experts, paid the big bucks, an we are the customer! I hope you feel better soon.

    Again, Welcome aboard!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thanks Brenda. I think I was just not mentally prepared for the extensive recovery. I thought in 4-6 weeks I would be good as new. Its so frustrating to watch my business fall apart and have no control over it. I had a good day yesterday and this morning was good and now my head feels like my eyes will explode out of my head. I guess thats just normal for some. At my 6 week post-op, the doc told my husband that I could do whatever I wanted, was off restrictions and good to go. So, he doesnt really understand why I am still asking him for help with things because my doctor says Im fine. ugg.
    Thanks again!
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  • Sarah,

    My surgeon is similar in that after the 6 week mark, he too says "let your body tell you what you can and can't do." He did add that impact sports should be avoided for up to a year to allow for a full solid fusion. Most are fused fully by then, some aren't as we all heal differently.

    Spasms can be the worst on recovery, as sometimes they are a surprise. Other ones you can plan on getting after a while based on your activities, and adjust as necessary. As for shots, that's one I'd run by the doctor. Sometimes they do give shots to calm things down. Hopefully your good days will become more numerous. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Did your Dr. say it would be good to start Physiotherapy if you can do anything? I know once you start using muscles that you may need to see your pain Management Dr. to see if he can help you. I know surgery is a long recovery but hope you find some relief soon. Praying you recover completely. 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
  • Hi again Brenda and hi Charry,
    I didn't have a pain management doc, surgeon said I didn't need it. The surgeon will call me in pain meds and muscle relaxers if I need them (UM YEAH) and Ive been on either prednisone or the Medrol dose pak nonstop since the surgery (dec 28). I called about injections last week and he said to just take another week of meds and another dose pak and give it another week. PT he says he doesn't suggest, but at the 3 month mark he wants me to start Pilates.

    The pain is making me insane and exhausted and the spasms have now traveled to my arms and legs from my back. I went to my psychiatrist (I see for ADHD) today to see if maybe it was just me or a mental thing. He was mortified that Im not seeing a pain management and said Im not crazy, just that chronic pain will do that to a person. He gave me 2 referrals. One for pain management and another for an Osteopath. They cant get me in until the end of the month. I don't really know what to do anymore, I am just so tired of pain and not being a whole person.

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  • I hope you took him up on the offer for pain meds and hope that will help you until you see the PM Dr. and it's great you're seeing an Osteopath as he'll show you exercises you can do just like what physiotherapy would do. Still do take it easy though he says you're free to do anything, like no reaching above your head and straining yourself. Does your RA Dr. know you're taking all these steroids also I would run this past him and if the Soma doesn't help maybe he can give you another muscle relaxant.

    I have cervical issues but never had surgery yet but can't imagine the pain you're having. Keep coming for daily support and vent away and do some deep breathing exercises to get oxygen to your limbs and to calm yourself it was a big surgery you had and know it takes a long time to recover. 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
  • Sarah,

    Glad to see you received some referrals. It bums that they are at the end of the month. One thing you might do when you talk with the office staff to get an appointment is to add you to a short call list if someone cancels. Sometimes that works, other times it doesn't, but it's a thought.

    I think I would run Pilates by your surgeon before you do that. If I remember right, it can put a lot of strain depending what exercises you do. I know I would run it by mine, as PT's are not doctors and have had occasions where the patient got hurt. Just a thought.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • It is her surgeon who wants her to start Pilates, or that's the way I read it. He doesn't suggest PT, but wants her to start pilates at the 3 month mark.. and no pain meds.

    I have never had spine surgery, but I have had bone surgery and PT, and it was very painful. I don't think I was finished with pain medication when I started PT but was when I finished.

    I suppose I can't say then, seeing as I have not had spine surgery, but it seems cruel to me to allow a patient to suffer with that type of pain. People who are going to have surgery really need to be aware of their pain needs being met *after* surgery, but then how do they know to ask if they have never been through it before. I'm so sorry you are in this pain. Is there any way that your PCP could possibly help cover your pain needs until your appt comes up at the end of the month?
  • Hi all,
    Yes it is the surgeon who suggests pilates. He actually used the term "gentle pilates". I did take him up on the pain meds offer, they just only fill a week at a time, and I'm out because that was over a week ago. I did call this morning for my records to give to the pain management office that needs them before they will schedule an appointment. I left the nurse a voicemail requesting refills and letting her know Im not happy and my psychiatrist referred me out to the Osteopath and Pain Mgmnt. Im going to get my records as soon as I can get my joints to chill out long enough this morning to drive.
    If I cant get into pain management quickly or the surgeons office wont refill today, I will definately call my PCP for meds to bridge the gap, shes pretty good about that.
    Oh, so last night I started feeling like my back was on fire, burning like crazy...anyone know what that is about?
  • You might be right - I re-read the post, but still not sure to be fair. Either way, unless there are 'gentle' Pilates, I'd be leery if it was prescribed for me. I've had 5 surgeries so far, 2 for the spine, with 2 big ones to come, so maybe I am a bit protective. :)

    I agree with you about pain management however. My NS adjusted 'as needed' with me, and took care of me pretty well. My GP is my PM if you will. If she is healed enough, then I'd say go for it. Comfort promotes healing in my book.

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