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Chronic neck pain after 2nd surgery

My first neck surgery to fuse 4 discs was in 2009 (anterior). I was back to work in 4 weeks & healed fairly quickly. One of the discs did not fuse so the surgeon made the brilliant decision to go thru the back of the neck & refuse it (posterior)... that was 18 months ago. The wound would not heal, it had to be bandaged up daily. When it wasn't bandaged up, it oozed & leaked profusely. I had to go back in 2 weeks after this surgery, open it up...clean it out & have a tube inserted to draw out the fluid...it was awful!! Then...after all this, I had to have plastic surgery to attempt to minimize the scar...with not much success. Well...I am in more pain now then I was before surgery. I take Percocet & nuerontin daily & it's not helping the pain. I am so frustrated I don't know where to turn. The surgeon said "I stand behind my work & there's nothing more I can do for you". Then he handed me the business card for a pain specialist. I've been seeing this doctor monthly to try to manage the pain. It's not working! If anyone can give me some advise, I would be very grateful. Can't live like this!


  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,111
    edited 03/09/2013 - 11:54 PM
    I also am a posterior cervical patient. Long recovery for that procedure. The pain management Dr sounds like the next step. Your pain is not being controlled and with the help of a pain specialist that can be done. Are you on any type of muscle relaxer? I know for me if I dont have that medication my neck pain is triple.
  • I have taken muscle relaxers at night and they have helped some (flexerol)sp. I can't take them during the day because they make me so dang tired. Is there one that is just as effective without the drowsiness? I've been seeing this pain specialist for over a year and he has tried many different meds. Increasing the dosage on the nuerontin and we have decreased the dosage on ther percocet (my choice). My goal is to get off these drugs all together and that's going to be very hard. I have been on percocet for over 4 years. The PS did say that he thinks I would benefit from injections. I don't have any hopes of those working. I've tried them in the past and they do absolutely nothing. I just don't want to go thru that pain knowing its for absolutely nothing. My insurance does not cover massage therapy or I would be doing that weekly! It also does not cover acupunture or I would have tried that as well. There has to be an alternative. How do I alleviate this pain AND get off the drugs? I am in pain from the moment I wake up until the time I lay down. It is consuming my life and keeps from enjoying things I used to do. If I sound frustrated, it's because I AM!
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  • KC ThatsmeKKC Thatsme Posts: 42
    edited 03/11/2013 - 3:13 AM
    Thanks Susan! How long has it been since your surgery?
  • I'm sorry to hear about the problems. I have a couple of thoughts: Perhaps you're body is not responding to percocet any more having taking it so long - tolerance problems. Another medication might help more. My other thought is that you really need t take this one step at a time. It's impossible to "get rid of the pain" and "get off the pain medication" at the same time. Titrating down is a possibility, to see if the pain increases as you lower the pain meds. But if I were in your position I'd have a heart to heart with your PM doc and tell him about the severe pain, how the percs are no longer working and see what he suggested.

    I had surgery in December and as you can imagine, there came a point during healing that I hurt so bad I could barely stand it. My doc really, really wanted me to try oxycontin (I was terribly against it), but he said with the pain it was really the best decision. So I did. Unfortunately, I had a horrible reaction to it (mentally, I became suicidal) and my hubby flushed them down the toilet. I had been on Norco 10/325 for since my 2008 surgery, so we went back to that, But when I started going over my dose (without my realizing it), he gave me a call and changed me over to a stronger med, Percocets. They did ok, but today at my 3-month post-op appt. we went back to the Norco as I prefer it to the percs. So maybe just a change in med at this time is what you need and as you continue to heal, titrate down to try and get off the pain meds and onto just ibuprofen/Aleve.

    Patience is key with spine problems and some of us will never be pain-free. I was told today that after three surgeries (one cervical, two lumbar - one just this last Dec) that I'll never be pain-free and will need meds the rest of my life. But he also suggested to throw in an ibuprofen every now and then to see if that will take care of the pain as much or better than the pain pill. My doc hopes that I can get to a steady 2-3 on the pain scale without the flare-ups to 6. However, since I'm about to go through physical therapy, he also said it'll get worse before it gets better. Speaking of which, have you tried PT?

    As for the muscle relaxants, I took flexiril for a long time and the drowsiness went away and I was able to take them during the day eventually. I'm now on diazapam (valium) and it works well for me (bonus: helps with my anxiety attacks too!).

    I hope you start to feel better and I wish I could've helped you more.
    Take care and please keep us posted.
  • I did try the PT and it was a temporary fix (VERY expensive) and the pain came back just as before. I am down to only taking 2 percs a day (break them in half) along with about 8 nuerontin and also take 4-5 ibuprofen 2 tpo 3 times a day. I really appreciate the feedback and have an appointment next week with the original neurologist that I saw prior to both of my surgeries. I plan on giving him full disclosure to everything I've been thru in hopes that he can find me an answer. Unless you suffer with chronic pain 24/7 you just don't understand what we go thru. I know my friends and family probably are at the point where they just don't want to hear about it. It's nice to be able to vent a little and get other perspectives on this site. Thanks again and I will talk to him about changing up my meds (hope that relieves some of it).

    Thanks again Cathie!
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  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,111
    edited 03/19/2013 - 11:47 PM
    It has been around 3 years. I take tinzidine 3x a day and without it I am miserable. I also take the neurotin 4x a day and am currently on loratab 3x a day. The posterior surgery is a rough one to recover from but I can tell you this. I have had so many injections that I swore I would never get another one because they never worked. My previous PM doc talked me into a nerve block and explained now that surgery was over and the defects fixed that I had to at least try. It was the only injection that had ever worked for me. My pain now is from a spine infection in the lower spine, the reason for all the pain meds now
  • Thanks Susan! I did find out something new...I was diagnosed with Ulnar Nueropathy and this may be the cause of the pain in the shoulder blade. I know that the Neuropathy sends the pain down my arm into the hand, but need to find out how severe it is. I was told I need surgery to repair it. I'm not sure I want to go thru this again, but know that I can not live with this pain. I work at a computer all day and its the WORST thing you can do if you have nerve damage. I am making an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon (not the one that did surgery on my neck....no desire to return to him!!) and will see what he suggests.
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