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Posterior Cervical Fusion Recovery - How are people doing?

jben55jjben55 Posts: 35
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:57 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
How is everyone doing from their Posterior Cervical Fusion?

I had mine in April this year (C6-C7), it seemed things were going relatively well. I had the hard collar removed after 6 weeks and began PT at Week 8. I progressed so well and fast that within Week 10 I started light jogging, swimming and some light strength training. Totally pain free during this time. Things continued to progress and by August - four months out I was starting to do functional training with weights in the gym. All well until one day in mid-August, neck pain came back with a vengeance. I inflamed the surgery site and have been having continuous pain in the neck and upper back since then. Went back to see my NS and the fusion looks great and he ruled its soft-tissue.

Well those soft-tissue issues have been a challenge to say the least. I've developed some nasty trigger points and guarding around the surgery site, likely from over exertion but also postural which I am addressing. I am now actively swimming, doing yoga, eliptical and trying to strenghen my rhomboids and delts. Also seeing a massage therapist/chiropractor to break up the scar tissue and restore joint mobilization. He is making progress on the scar tisse but the pain hasn't diminished. I am interested to see if anyone experiencing or have experience same 6 months out from this type procedure. Since I got to the level of pain-free, I remain confident I will get there again but man is this is a grind. Your comments are very welcome.


  • Unfortunately for me I never reached pain free. I will tell you I was doing better at the two year mark, but blew another level pretty sever, so who knows when I really did it and maybe that why was the pain continued. But I also have had multiple posterior entries so pain free is not something they really think I will ever achieve at this point and time.

    Now that you have been there and as long as they ruled out nothing happened to another level, I think you can get there, just will take longer. Sounds like the pain you have was brought on by the increased levels of activity? Which more than likely would be expected, and one of those hurdles you have to jump. Swimming is great exercise and will help with the neck issues. Sounds like your working to strengthen other muscles to do more work to compensate for you neck which is a great idea. Hopefully this is just a minor set back?
  • Did yoga tonight, greatly reduced my pain. So yes has to be just a setback. Between swimming, yoga and massage I will get there.
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  • I had mine done in 98 when i was 18 from wrestling accident which resulted in titanium plate on each side one with 3 screws and one with 2 and a bone graft from my hip. I did not do any pt after and was laid up for about 4 mo. Over the years I have Been virtually pain free, I snowboard, lift, box. I'm not heavyset. I should say I did. I am an architect so I have a sitting job by nature. Over the years I have felt a place in my thoracic that I just couldn't stretch. I had it stretched for me once and it felt divine. Every couple of years I get dropped from a nerve pain that shoots through me like white lightning. But in the past I've just laid there and it passes after a few hours or at the end of the day. It's happened maybe 3 times over the past 14 yrs. And aside from that I've been pain free. But that spot I couldn't stretch was always kind of there and I never really addressed it. I got dropped again from that nerve pain maybe 8 mo ago now and I tried to muscle through it which was a huge mistake. My back has been spawning ever since. When I turn my head so my ear touches my shoulder it's like a rubberband is pulling my back together and under my scapula is connected. I have seen everyone but the neurosurgeon about it, which is next, I have had MRI of the thoracic and cervical which don't show much but a bulging disc at t9t10 and an osteophyte at c7. My fusion I think was c345 or c567 I can't remember. I think the tightness and that stretch that I was describing is from scar tissue binding up the tendons and such in the area. I think that distinction is causing the muscle to spasm and the disc to bulge but honestly it's all speculation. I've been through the forums and Antibes guess is a's good a's mine. I should have done pt this whole time and addressed that tightness a's well a's try to manage scar tissue. Also I probably should have taken it easier but I dont think that's my problem since it was fine. Sitting makes it real bad. I have been in bed for about a mo waning for it to heal and it doesn't. I try to rub out the area and tendons but the spasm comes back. I've had injections and I even try to do the whole trigger point thing. But to no avail. The bugger is persistent. This has been my experience with this surgery thus far. I hope this helps someone or even better me.
  • in 2009-10 prior to me experiencing the severe neuropathy bi-laterally in left arm/hand and now progressing in right arm/hand had told me surgery should only be done on the C-6/7 severe DDD with multiple spurs present when having neuro-symptoms.

    In 2010 the critical assessment was then having neuro-symptoms of wrist/drop and more weakness in left arm hand numbness was to explain to challenge of C-Spine last 2 levels and precarious issues of T-Spine also affected in doing C-6/7 and forcing a stability successful fusion issue in doing T-1/2, and the draw-back of bridging those two distinctly different but adjacent areas of the spine.

    He was honest what he and other highly experienced surgeons in C-Spine and T-Spine surgeries were still having and it not so much being the lack of skill and technology improving, but the nature of the spinal anatomy and the hardware bridging changing intrinsic factors in the spine, they were continuing to have to accept. Some candidates with complex additional issues, such as myself, could not take on the additional complexity of this surgery.

    I have researched peer-review medical journals and cases dealing with cervico-thoracic challenges and as recent as 2008 into 2010 confirming what my OS told me. I continue to monitor OS and NS assoc. journals and reports,not much has changed. And they continue to report challenges and sharing such vs. successful post-surgery resolution without complications.

    It has influenced me in making my final decision with regard to having a much needed resolution to severe DDD C-6/7,T-1/2 levels and getting two additional assessments from an OS and NS out-of-state; their lack of addressing any post-surgery prognosis, and lack of time for consultation and ?'s beyond saying what their surgical fix would be.

    Living with no surgery has it's complications of pain, dysfunction, disability, I can testify to that.

    Just thought I would offer what I have learned from my surgeons assessments with that critical area of C-Spine and T-Spine.

    I must say...
    I truly wonder with all I have learned and experienced in the 40+ years of active and aggressive DDD in my spine (since my early 20's) and all I can read and research along the way with medicals publications, surgical reports and cases and reading what is being published in books and peer-reviewed and shared at conferences - - the spine and interventional surgeries continue to be quite a challenge and it is less so for the surgeon in my opinion, than the patient who lives in the compromised body of that altered spine !

    My heart-thoughts and kuddo's go out to you who have had the surgery with a good surgeon and seeing it was the best option and I continue to hope for you as you share about your recoveries that the deficits you are experiencing do not worsen and can stabilize.


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