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my surgeon is ignoring my Continued pain after ACDF

I had ACDF on 5/20/13 and 2 discs were removed (C3-4 & 5-6). I had a horrifying 2 weeks after the surgery with pain, that my meds (morphine & oxy) did not help. Well, 4 months later I am still having neck pain. Actually, worse than before my surgery. I had to beg for physical therapy. It isn't helping. My surgeon is blowing off my concerns on my continued pain. I have yet to get a full nights sleep since the surgery because the pain wakes me up. I do not want to mask the pain, I want to end it. So, continuing to take my oxy will take care of the pain, but I cannot drive or work if I am on it (I'm a cop) and my surgeon insists I return to work because he thinks I am healed. Any suggestions on what I could ask for (possibly some testing) from my surgeon. Or should I give up on him and start over with a new spine doctor?


  • I have no experience with neck issues, all my problems are lumbar. However, I do know what its like to feel ignored by my surgeon. My main issue is with his nurse. I have been having excruciating pain in my upper and lower back, as well as my upper left leg. I have called her a hundred times in the last month. Finally I just went to the ER, they didn't do anything for my back. They just gave a script and told me I had a flare up of back pain. I was told to follow up with the surgeon. So I called the nurse to see if I get an appointment to follow up. She never called me back. Finally two weeks later after leaving a fairly nasty couple of voicemails, she calls me back. I explained to her my situation in the ER and my pain issues. Needless to say I am having a MRI tomorrow. I totally get what its like to get the run around. If they keep doing that its never a bad thing to get a second opinion.
    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
  • It is my opinion for you to see another surgeon.. What does you regular GP say? Did you use Otho or neuro surgeon? I myself had PCDF and the pain I felt for the first month was undescribable. And I believe I was under medicated. I was only on 5 mg of oxy-moyprphine, some muscle relaxer that was like triads dine 2mg and 25 mg of nycynta - I was still at a 10 and suffered like that for first month. I also have been in a hard collar and now weaning off -still on 2 10/325 norco and 10 mg of flerxeril. So right now I think I'm doing okay then I will have 4 to 6 weeks of therapy. So about 7 years my daughter who was 30 them had 2 cerivcal removed and they used 2 cadarvor bones and here was ACDF and she did fine and she had 2 young children. -something must be wrong and you need to go a step further and see what someone else says. Good luck and I hope you can be pain free soon.
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  • RennersChickRRennersChick Posts: 227
    edited 09/19/2013 - 3:49 PM
    I agree with them, you should definitely get another opinion. Get 2 or 3. Whatever it takes for someone to get you to where you need. Don't let one doctor keep you in pain and miserable. You keep your head up and find someone who will listen and help. I'm sorry to hear about your pain and I hope you find some relief soon!
    36 yr old with one degenerative disc (L5-S1)
    3 rounds of Epidurals in 2013
    6 PT visits in 2013
    Microdiscectomy L5 S1 on 9/5/2013.
    Re-herniated in January 2014.
    Epidural on 3/3/14.
    A/PLIF (L5-S1) 6/3/14
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,419
    that many surgeons, once the surgery is complete and 6 weeks go by do not get themselves involved with the patient that much. Most of the time, they will recommend seeing a Pain Management or Spinal Specialist.

    The Pain management doctor does not preform any surgery but can administer many conservative treatments. The most common would be steroid injections. They can also prescribe medications based on what they evaluate for the patient.

    The Spinal specialist can do more thorough examinations of your spine. Based on their clinical examinations can recommend additional diagnostic tests, prescribe medications and perform some level of surgeries when required.

    So to me, I think the first step would be to contact your surgeon. Basically come right out ans ask them if they dont want to continue to see you, would they recommend a specialist who can take over your case.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • After my ACDF I had some improvement in pain levels but then it leveled out.still 2 1/2 years later and chronic pain even with meds. Surgeon sent me to PM specialist first and I asked about more tests. I found out I could have this nerve conduction test which told me that I had permanent nerve damage at the root of C7 explaining the burning and numbing pain inky arm and shoulder.
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  • I had an ACDF and had excruciating pain with loss of function including ability to move in any way for 2 day. Slowly some function only came back and pain became worse. My doctor was indifferent throughout. It was horrible, I felt like I wasn't cared for or believed but I knew what I felt. My best experience was not from the recommended pain doc from the surgeon. I did not go back to either his pain doc or him. What I did do is have another mri, became more aware of my condition, that wasn't explained fully, and got myself a good rehabilitation doctor who did many tests, and helped diagnose and made recommendations. You need someone/ a professional who will help, however, with that said you are less than a year out of surgery and it does take at least a full year before you will know if it is something that will be lasting or not. I wish you nothing but best wishes and luck to find someone who becomes your advocate.
  • I am surprised your surgeon did not send you to a "physiatrist" Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation doctor. I know another post mentioned this and I absolutely agree. You are only 4 months out from your surgery..... and regardless of what surgeons say, the recovery is long. At this point after my surgery (ACDF C4-5) I had returned to work as a restaurant manager (physical job- on my feet for about 8 of my 10-11 hr shifts) and was in A LOT of pain. I COULD take pain meds at work and did, however, they weren't helping the pain and gave me nausea. I can take pain meds but not if I am focusing on things and running around.

    Please find a Physiatrist that is disconnected from the surgeons office and see what he/she can do to help.

    I still have neck pain after over 2 years. Imaging shows my fusion was perfect, but also shows issues the next level down, and I don't plan on having another ACDF any time soon... I am 26!

    Good luck to you, I am sorry you are in so much pain and the surgeon is ignoring you. Same thing happened to my mother. She had a 3 level anterior lumbar fusion. She saw my Physiatrist and is now getting a second opinion after PT, injections and other meds didn't help. Her pain is different than it was before, but still unbearable. I hope the new surgeon can figure out why and do something about it. She is only 51.

    Spine problems are no fun :(

    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
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