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Headaches after cervical fusion
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Headaches after cervical fusion

My husband had C6-C7 cerivcal fusion last summer (June 2006) and since about January of this year, has been suffering from sever headaches, recently becoming worse and olmost debilitating.  Our family doc originally put him on Relpax for migraines which seemed to work for a short time, then changed him to Topamax, from which he has not seen any relief.  His CAT scan came back fine and I asked if he could be tested for allergies to make sure that may not be the cause.  His headaches are usually at the lower back of his neck, near the neck or sometimes even at the top of his head.  The only way he gets any relief is when he lies flat on the floor.  We have 3 very active boys and he feels like he is missing out because of these terrible headaches.  Our Dr. thinks it is from the surgery.  He is going to start PT for cranial sacral manipulation.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this or know if anyone else has experienced this after their surgery.  WE NEED HELP!  Thanks!
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
It sounds like the headaches are pretty bad. Headaches are tricky and can be related to neck problems, but often not. Only one thing really sticks out from the story which is that the headache gets better when he lies flat on the floor. This suggests some mechanical component which might have a surgical cause. Has he had dynamic X-rays of his neck to see if there is anything moving? Other than that, it is hard to really know what is going on based on what you've written. I would recommend following up with a spine specialist.
7 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
yes i have had reconstructive surgery on 2/26/06 landed up with lumps in the incision area and no one considered this a problem.  I then started to encounter headaches mild at first and then got very bad....was told I have cervical spinal fluid leakage....It took almost 6 weeks before an aprroval was made and I found out there was a 4 x 1 x 2 in pocket filled with fluid causing these headaches....Medicine was given but they got severly worse...I landed back in the hospital and had emergency surgery in July of this year.........THE HEADACHES are no BETTER and still very severe... Had another MRI of the head to make sure nothing else is going on...OK there ..... MRI of the cervical again shows only .1 drainage in the last 3 weeks.....It is now over 10 weeks with these severe headaches and I cannot function, I cant think and I cant live like this anymore.....I have seen a pain specialist, a neurologist, my primary and then again my surgeon who suggest back in the hospital with a lumbar drain to help along the procedure.  I NEED RELIEF PLEASE
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Avatar_n_tn
I had a cervical fusion in 2004 C5&6 but now my C4&5 & C6&7 are bulging and herniated.  My low back has a bulging disk, a herniated disk, and a tear in the sac of the spinal column.  I have shots in the neck and low back about twice a year, sometimes it helps, most of the time I am still in severe pain.  My doctor doesn't prescribe pain medication over a long term.  He pretty much hung me out to dry.  Trying to function w/o pain medication is like trying to put my elbow in my ear but he won't budge.  I don't want to lose my job because I can't get out of bed in the mornings.  What can I do?
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Avatar_n_tn
I had lower back fushion (L4-L5-L6 and others I can not remember) in 2003 and ever sence, my health has been going down hill and I can not walk with out falling and my legs go numb, sharp pains, tingling thats just in my legs. In my back I get bad musule spasms, migraines, sharp pains shooting up my spine & down my legs. The doctors that have seen me tell me they can not find anything. I have been to many different doctors and I still can not find a good doctor to help me with my pain. I have been put into a wheelchair and bed bound because I fall all the time and I still can't get any help. What can I do to get so help and ease some of the pain?
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Avatar_n_tn
I was sorry to hear about all your pain and suffering, since your spinal fusion.  In your post, you mentioned seeing several doctors for an answer to your problems.  I'm assuming that one of the physicians was the one who did your fusion.  I would think he would be the one to figure this out the best, since he did  the fusion. I too suffer from migraines, however they are not related to my spinal fusion (C4 through S1).  I have had the headaches since my teenage years, after a bad fall on a trampoline, at age 13.  The migraines began at age 18.  Thankfully, my neurosurgeon is always ready to help in some way, if a problem arises. Hopefully yours is the same. Has anyone ever mentioned epidural blocks for the pain?  I don't know if that is a possiblility in your particular case or not, but it might be worth mentioning.  Good luck and keep us posted on how you are doing.
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Avatar_n_tn
I had a C3/C4 fusion done in 2004 due to what was first considered to be occipital neuralgia.  It was quickly changed to cervicogenic headaches.  Once the fusion was done the headaches were gone.  Then I had the C5/C6 fused in 2006.  Every now and then I will get a twinge like an occipital headache wants to start.  But the pain is nowhere near what it used to be.  And the pain was ALWAYS in the back of my head, at the base of my skull going up in rams horn pattern over my ears.  It was debilitating.  So, yes, I also think a spine specialist would be in order.  In particular a spinal pain management doctor who specializes in cervicogenic headaches.  I found my own PM through a spine group where I live.  And the injections he did were extremely helpful until I finally had to have a fusion.  Meds just would not touch the pain.  I wish your husband well with this...it is awfully hard to contend with.  
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