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7 months post-posterior cervical revision

AvaWellesAAvaWelles Posts: 31
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:55 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am a new member and am wondering if anyone has any feedback. I had an ACDF three years ago (C5, 6, 7) and 10 months ago they found that it had not fused. 7 months ago I had a posterior revision fusion (C4, 5, 6, 7) and was in the hospital for about a week.

My neck muscles are in a constant spasm. They spasm so much, that my neck swells and I often end up with a terrible headache. I was rehospitalized a few months ago for three days when my neck had swelled very badly. They thought it was a result of severe spasms, but other than that had no magical remedy for it.

I have done physical therapy, accupuncture, TENS unit, ice, heat, and even meditation. I am not taking pain medication any longer because it does nothing to help me, but I do take a very low dose muscle relaxant as needed. Not even sure if this is doing anything.

They have been doing bloodwork and my liver levels and sedimentation levels are very high, so they think this is a sign of inflammation and who knows what else.

Has anyone else had such a nightmarish experience?? I feel like I will never get better and I have lost faith in the doctors and medical profession in general. I was optimistic with the first surgery, but this time around I have lost all hope and the pain has just completely broken me down. I spend a lot of time crying.

Any help or similar stories would be appreciated.



  • I know your pain I also have horrible headaches and spasms after my acdf at c5-6. I am seeing an osteopath for it on Monday. I wish I would've just dealt with the burning pain instead of these headaches. I hate this surgery so much. I think I feel at times worse than before the surgery. I didn't think this was possible. I am sorry you are going through this and hope you get some relief. I cry everyday too, before surgery and after surgery. My boyfriend walked out right after surgery so it made it worse for me and caused more stress and pain for me. Let's hope for relief. I am only in my 30's and wish sometimes to be better off dead.
  • HI Ava,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find a few of us in the same situation as yourself. I kind of had the same experience in that my original surgery failed and underwent revision surgery, which lead to another surgery and another till finally the 6th one I had. The last one was a 360 but had two other entries posterior. I can say the hardest part of dealing with the posterior incision is the muscle spasms.

    I can tell you to keep the pain somewhat were I can be up, it is a combination approach. No one thing will take care of it by itself. For example, I use a combination of medications, the most important being a very strong muscle relaxer. In combination with that I get trigger points, massage therapy, physical therapy and use a ten's unit on and off all day long. So if your having really bad muscle spasms, from my stand point a good muscle relaxer is imperative. Because I have constant muscle spasms, I don't wait for the spasms to get out of control, I take the muscle relaxer everyday at a certain time to stay ahead of the hard spasms. Otherwise the medication is trying to play catch up. I see you say you take a muscle relaxant as needed, if your spasming that bad that should be all the time.

    Whom is monitoring your blood work? You might need to seek out a specialist to find out why you have high liver levels? Inflammation should show up in the CRP levels. If they think it is inflammation have they tried a anti-inflammatory such as mobic or one of the many that are out there.

    Also when you did surgery by chance did you use BMP? BMP is known to cause the neck to swell severely. Have you fused yet from the new surgery? The other option is that you could have a hardware issue, which I had on one occasion from the posterior rods. Once fused you don't need the hardware any longer and they can remove.

    I will also say it took me awhile to be sold on the muscle relaxers as I didn't feel they were helping, till we found the right one for me. I also lost the posterior muscle in those surgeries, so it muscle spasms will be with me for the rest of my life, along with nerve damage. I am not sure I have answered your question, but that is how I deal with the spasms.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. If there is anything I can do don't hesitate to pm me. Take care and keep us posted.
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  • Thanks for the response. I have a pain management doctor monitoring my bloodwork. He said if my liver levels continue to escalate he will refer me to an internist to figure out what is going on. Initially we thought they were high because of taking anti-inflammatories, but I have stopped all of those, so don't know why my levels continue to go up. Meanwhile, I am prohibitted from using anti-inflammatories at all until we get to the bottom of this.

    I am not sure what a BMP is. And as far as the muscle relaxants, when I take them on a regular basis my mind feels numb and not as quick and my profession depends completely on my mind, so I feel this is just a slippery slope to never going back to work again. Additionally, some of the muscle relaxants I have tried have a side effect of increasing sadness and depression which I already have a full plate of in dealing with this injury.

    My latest x-rays show the hardware is fine, but I have not fused all the way yet. Also, after the first surgery, the xrays showed that I had fused all the way and then later the fusion just broke through and that is why I had to have another surgery, so I don't think my surgeon will ever take the hardware out.

    Thanks again for the response and it definitely helps to know that others are dealing with the same thing. After your revision (I am assuming it was posterior) how long did it take before you felt better? Today is the 7 month mark for me and I still feel horrible. Granted, not the horrific pain I had post-op, and I don't have to wear a brace anymore, but I thought I would be much better by now and that the headaches and spasms would be less frequent and last for shorter periods.

    Take care,
  • Thanks for your reply. I am also only in my thirties. I often wish I was dead during the bleakest times. My injury is the result of a reckless driver and so I sometimes find myself saying to my family that I wish I had died in the wreck. When I had my first surgery, I had times of sadness and hopelessness, but overall I was much more positive because I really thought it would work if I put in all the effort to heal and muscle through physical therapy and resuming my normal life. But now, I feel like I had hardly healed from my first surgery before having to go through it again - and worse because it was through the back of my neck this time. I am having a hard time feeling positive at all anymore.

    Hang in there. I am sorry about your boyfriend walking out and I hope you have a support system of family and friends to help you through this. I am trying not to completely devalue the people around me who want to help me. I just get so miserable with the pain that I don't want to see anyone at all and this just makes me more depressed.

    I hope for relief for both of us!

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