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Posterior Cervical Fusion Recovery

police340ppolice340 Posts: 21
edited 07/08/2012 - 7:44 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I am 17 months post-op posterior cervical fusion, C4-5-6 and about a year and a help before that anterior fusion at c4-5 or 5-6, i can't remember! I have very limited neck extension and somewhat limed lateral movement. It almost seems like I have no neck muscles anymore as I tire very easily when I am moving head. I mainly sit at desk right now and can get that way through the day but once i start moving, I tire. I used to teach and I think if i were still teaching i would not be able to continue.

It gets to the pint that it gets painful and the only remedy is to lie down. Yesterday my wife and I spent the afternoon walking at a festival and i was in extreme pain. When I got home I layer down for a while.

I would think after 17 months, my neck muscles would have gotten stronger. I almost feel as if they are not connected. At middle of collar bone at back of neck, I feel like a mass of muscles that should be going somewhere! I have gone to PT, do modified pushups to help build my muscles. The middle of spine at back of neck feels like if someone hit me there it would do some damage, as i feel it going right up to my brain and sort of jolting like. I never noticed this feeling pre surgery.

Are these feelings normal? What can I do about the pain when I can't lie down as I want to be able to enjoy doing outside things without running into pain and I can't always lie down.



  • Anyone monitoring these boards? Just looking for answers. Tks.
  • First let me say welcome Bill. Have a look around and you will find other dealing with the same issues, including myself. Have you tried or are you taking anything for it, such as a muscle relaxer? When is the last time you have had any images of your neck. Has this been this way sense the surgery or was there a time it get better post surgery then got worse? Does Ice or heat help? What about some trigger point injections or massage therapy? Have your doctors given you any suggestions as to what might be going on? If you have not talked to your doctors about this, I urge you to do so. Sometimes even a ESI post surgery can help with some of the residual pain, provided nothing is going on.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. look forward to hearing more from you.
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  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,111
    I also had the posterior cervical surgery and what you describe is a day in my life. I was told by Neuro that the muscles in my neck have died and nothing will bring them back, I take medications daily to reduce the pain and make it able for me to work a desk job. When I am having a bad flare up the only thing that helps is laying down and heat. Have you tired the Therm-care heat wraps? I find that if my neck is beginning to bother me while at work I can get some relief using them and am able to work a full 8 hr day. Also does you chair at your desk have a head rest? This also helps as I am supporting my neck. At times my head feels so heavy and it just needs to be supported. Do you take meds to help with the pain?
  • I had an ACDF 2/3/4 in September 2010 and Posterior Cervical Fusion 5/6/7 plus plating to facet joints in December 2011. Despite extensive physio and massage my neck muscles are still very sore particularly when I raise or lower my head. When the pain gets really bad I wear a Sports collar for 10-15 minutes which helps greatly. The muscles in your neck do not die off so whoever told you that is lying. My Spinal Surgeon is recognised as being one of the best in UK and Worldwide and he told me that continual exercise should eventually bring my neck back to almost normal. I also had a PLIF + rebuild done in December 2008 and the scar tissue around that area of L4/5 and S1 is causing me a lot of knee and leg pain. However I am due to see my Surgeon tomorrow 27/7/12 and will let you all know what he says. Good luck from the UK.
  • Saw my Surgeon on 27/7/12 and have to get another Lumbar Caudal Epidural Injection to see if it helps knee and left leg pain. Had an injection on 15/5/12 but it only took away pain for six weeks! Surgeon has said that if this does not work he will have to look into perhaps that trouble is coming from Sacroiliac Joint. Keep exercising neck muscles but it is a slow and painful problem. I fortunately have plenty willpower and keep pushing with the exercises as I want to get well sooner rather than later!! Amitryptline tablets help to relax muscles during sleep. Hope this has been of some help to you.
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  • LSLSLLSLS Posts: 10
    edited 08/09/2012 - 5:19 AM
    I have had a C1 C2 PCDF. I also get very tired and have neck spasms after walking around a lot. I usually sit in a recliner with some heat on my neck and sometimes a soft cervical collar to take the strain off. When I know I am going to be gone/up for a while, I place a Therma-care heat pad on the back of my neck. This helps to keep it relaxed at least (especially in the winter). When you are out for the day, maybe take a break and sit in the car and use the head rest for a few minutes (and a soft collar) just to let the spasm loosen. Laying down just doesn't work for me. Sleeping in bed is almost a thing of the past. I bought a really nice soft and expensive ;( , recliner that fits me very well. It has been a God send. I have also found that the collars that travelers buy for plane travel are very supportive and comfortable. They are stiffer and don't let your head fall into a bad position when napping or sleeping at night.

    Keep up with the PT neck strengthening exercises, they will eventually help at times when you need to relieve spasms.

    Good Luck!

    C1 - C2 PCDF 2003
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,111
    I have been told that the muscles and tissue in my neck have died by my neuro, I was told too much trauma and damage. I have a 2 inch hole in the area where the tissue and muscle should be. So call it a difference in beliefs by 2 different Drs. I believe that there also is another member on this site that has been told the same thing. Be careful calling another persons Dr a liar
  • Susan, I am sorry if I upset you but here in UK I have one of the top Spinal Surgeons in the world! What happened to the tissue and muscle seems a mystery to me. What trauma and damage did you have? I have had 3 Cervical Spine Operations in 12 months and was told if I exercised correctly muscle power would return. My last 2 ops were in December 2011. I am not yet back to normal but well on the way. Again my sincere apologies if my accusations were taken in the wrong context.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,111
    Muscle and tissue require blood supply to remain healthy. Without it , it dies. Can muscle regenerate yes it can but unfortunately in my case it will not. I along with you have had my share of cervical surgeries, I am at 5 for now looking at another when i feel physically and mentally prepared for it.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,111
    edited 08/13/2012 - 10:44 PM
    WTH my post just posted before I was done!. Wonderboy thanks for the apology I along with you have great respect for my surgeon and I will defend him till the end.lol. Although we are all spineys we have to remember that everyones issues are different as for my trauma too long of a story to go into , lets just say a bad surgeon and leave it at that.
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