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Pain after anterior cervical fusion
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Pain after anterior cervical fusion

Anyone out there have an anterior cervical fusion?. I had c4-7 fused w/plating and bone grafting. I am 6 weeks post op and still experiencing bilateral arm pain and throbbing and some shoulder and neck pain. My stamina seems to be gone and I am frustrated, any advice, Scheduled to return to work in 1 week.
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178107_tn?1315951230
I had the same surgery last Nov C5-C7 and I have the same kind of pain.  I still take Demeral and Robaxin every for hours.  The pain has not improved at all.  My doctor has done every test that could be thought of and says everything is normal.  I still have not been able to return to work.

If you are just six weeks post-op, you could still improve.  It takes a long time for nerves to heal.  I would ask your doctor about giving you a few more weeks off work and just give yourself a little more time to heal.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have had C5-C7 three weeks ago & the pain & numbness has not gone. Every movement is torture but I am hoping in time I will be back to normal. I would hate to think I have gone through surgery to no avail
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Avatar_f_tn
I just had cervical neck surgery on C5-C6. I was in an Spinemark Advent Disk Study.  I have had pain for over six years, after many years of chiropractic, cold laser, acupunture and physical therapy and no pain relief I was forced into surgery due to no neck or body exercise, including swimming could control the pain(I didn't try meds, only cold and heat therapy).  I have no prior health problems, nor do I smoke or drink or do ddrugs!  I had my surgery on August 1st, 2008 after I could no longer drive my car, hold a job, clean the house, and my neck and hands neck and arms began to swell with constant pain.  The study would determine if you would get the fusion or the disk.  The doctor who came highly recommended did the surgery and the day after surgery I was discharged to home care with hydrocotidone.  On Sunday, two days after the surgery, I broke out in a extremely bubbly huge blistering rash on both legs from the surgical adhesive patches that were put on my skin, not only did I feel in pain but was trying every remedy I could think of to aleivate the pain from the rash and the surgery.  By Tuesday, the meds were not working, I could not get out of bed, or eat.  At that time muscle relaxers were given and they only lasted two days.  The following week I ended up in the ER on the recommendation of Spinmark and my doctors office as they informed me that there was NOTHING that anyone could do for me to help with the pain.  In the last and current week several attempts were made to get help to prevent me from going into the hospital.  The doctor's Physician assistant agreed to see me finally after the ER visit and demanded that pain is subjective and being it was only two weeks from surgery I was complaining too much but they would admit me into the hospital at my cost for pain control. (Remember, this is a study which Advent wants my record information but they don't want to pay for the results.)  What forces me to continue to stay in a program that wants my medical data but only wants to pay for the surgery and then if you have a problem wants you to go elsewhere to get follow up treatments which you pay for.  Does this constitute a true study?  The doctor is still out of town, I will probably go again to the ER for more pain management and find another doctor for follow up.  I won't go back to the Advent Study as they have totally dropped the ball.  They can't do a true study without followup visits so why do I have to pay for these visits when they won't see me when I have a problem and only want to see me after the fact that a problem exists.  I have never tolerated any pain meds and have know this since 1998 after a foot surgery which took six doctors to get the foot back to normal and pain free. The doctor's staff was extremely unresponsive to my health care needs and as of today I don't know what or who will continue to monitor my health care needs as nothing at the Texas Back Institue in Plano, TX has shown me any true standard of care.  When I went to the Institute for my first visit and complained of neck and shoulder pain, they did a MRI on my lumbar region and I had to redo an MRI on my neck and arms the neck day due to their stupidity.  No one will admit who was responsible for that mistake.  Not too mention when they took me to my bed after surgery, a big black bug jumped out of the bed, no one helped with the nurse call button so I was trying to call the nurse with the button that gives you pain medication.  This whole situation has been a medical nightmare.  I like you, 15 days later and no relief from the pain.  I only did the surgery because everyone told me that I could not get disability and now I wonder will I ever even be able to do average day to day chores again?????   How will I live???  I want to get better so I can work again, but I feel the medical field is like all other business and the quality of our lives falls into our own hands.  I will loose my cobra insurance at the end of this year and the doctors won't put me on disability and I can get a job if I can't drive, can't move, or turn my head and my arms, and neck hurt 500%+ more than before.  At least then, I could sleep at night and did not cry because of the pain.  I can only use my tens machine, heating pad, ice packs and back vibrator and vibrating chair so long to help the pain.  I tried walking but lost my footing, so I am using the exercise bike and doing yoga, chanting, eating lite, taking miralax, but nothing will control the pain so I can recover.  My advice to everyone on this site, DO NOT GET SUCKED INTO A STUDY AS THERE IWILL ONLY BE FOLLOWUP AT YOUR EXPENSE.  IF THE DOCTOR WHO DID THE STUDY IS NOT AVAILABLE NO ONE WILL COME TO YOUR RESCUE AND HOW CAN THIS BE A TRUE STUDY OR IS IT ONLY THAT THEY WANT YOU TO TRY THE SURGERY HOPING YOU HAVE PROBLEMS SO THAT THEIR DISK LOOKS LIKE THE BEST WAY TO GO????????
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi sorry to add to the negative feedback but had same op 2 years ago and it didnt work for me. Still get bilateral arm pain and upper back and neck pain. It simply did not work. Had metal plate and coral cage inserted. I just have to live with the pain and take meds, mostly morphine or oxycontin and and live according to the pain. I hope yours goes but dont despair if it doesn't there are a lot of us out there  for whom it didnt work and we soldier on. best wishes for us all to be pain free one day!
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778104_tn?1235931141
I  had a fusion on c-5 on July 15 2009. My leg pain is gone Amen. But my arms and shoulders and neck is still the same. The doc says to give my nerves time to heal so i am patiently waiting. I go back to see him on the 14nth of Sept. and I hope I can give him better news. I hope you all also get better. I am so glad my leg pain has gone I couldn't raise my legs up to step up or I could hardly raise myself up off a chair. I was crawling out of my tub . Thank God that is gone i just hope my arm pains go away soon. Oh i wanted to ask you all. This might be very wierd but I have a twin sister and she happens to be so addicted to prescription pills hers. They gave me the pain morphine to press in the hospital and I should of felt it because I don't take pain meds unless I have too. Well I didn't. Also they gave me vicodins to take when I went home. Why don't I feel them like I should? I mean I have to take two somas at night so I can relax and go to sleep. Is it because we're twins and she is so full of these pills that it doesn't phase my body at all. Please help.
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655875_tn?1295698707
I had my C5-C6 Fused last March and I still have severe chronic pain.  
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Avatar_f_tn
I am in the same position as many of you. I began having symptoms of excruciating, throbbing pain in my arms 1 yr. ago. I never felt any type of uncomfortable sensation or pain in my neck prior to surgery. Nerve compression was diagnosed as the cause. After trying every alternative I could find without any success, I finally had fusion of C5 and C6 in October 2009.  I will be soon be 6 mos. post-op and my arm pain is worse than it was prior to surgery. I have experienced absolutely NO relief from any kind of treatment or medication (I have tried many of the alternative treatments you have mentioned). Even the most potent narcotic analgesics won't touch it. About 70% of post-surgical patients I have surveyed report continuation of arm pain post-surgery with little or no relief whatsoever. There is a small percentage who come out of anesthesia and the pain is completely gone. Doctors know the stats, but they purposely do not tell you pre-op. If they did, significantly fewer individuals would have the surgery. People I have spoken to have given estimates of 3, 5, and 10 yrs. post-surgical for some arm pain relief. I can barely use my arms and have lost strength in them. I cannot take care of myself, work, or drive. I am 29 and scared about my uncertain future.
IMPORTANT WARNING ABOUT ONE DRUG THAT A DOCTOR MAY TRY TO PRESCRIBE THAT YOU SHOULD NOT RISK TAKING: "FENTANYL". IT IS A POTENT PAIN RELIEVERS USED FOR POST-SURGICAL PAIN, PAIN RELATED TO LATE STAGE CANCERS, ETC.
My best friend died 2 mos. before my surgery from taking fentanyl prescribed by his doctor (the lowest starting dose in fact).100s of people nationwide have died within the last 2 years because 1000s of defective patches were released from one particular pharmaceutical company over the last 2 yrs. and have now been recalled. Fentanyl can be very toxic, even in small doses. There is no way to accurately monitor fentanyl levels in the bloodstream or know how the drug is being metabolized by each individual person who takes it. Due to the number of deaths it has caused, recalls have been done, and many physicians are advocating to have the drug permanently recalled and taken off the market. Many wrongful death legal suits have been won to date. DON'T RISK IT!
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Avatar_f_tn
When you are 6 mos. or more post-op, you can fill out a request at your surgeon's office to give permission to have your MRI films, records, etc. released to the The Rothman Institute in Philadelphia, PA.

2 of the top spine surgeons in the world are there. I am going to have them look at my films and file to really critique the situation. One saved my grandfather from total paralysis after a logging accident in 1995. He said it was the most difficult neck surgery he had ever performed up to that time).

There names are Dr. Alexander Vacarro (my grandfather's hero) and
Dr. Todd Albert (more info. at link below):
http://www.rothmaninstitute.com/index.cfm

Contact info at link below:
http://www.rothmaninstitute.com/index.cfm/nodeID/75db3527-305a-4bab-bb4f-cb2dca2eb0a5/fuseaction/content.page

-Tell receptionist you are interested in a post-op 2nd opinion

These 2 Drs. may be able to help some of us. It's worth a try!
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1316252_tn?1274087269
i had a neck fusion on 4 discs. it has been 3 months and i still experience quite a bit of pain. my surgeon told me it takes a month just to heal 1 cm of your nerve. the thing is you never know if there is long term damage from the nerves being pinched down in the first place. i have been out of work for 8 months now and looks like they will be doing another fusion on my lower lumbar. so now im starting the process all over again. im so frustrated. my dr. decided to take me off of one of my medications without talking with me first and making a plan. it has been 6 days and i can do nothing. he has literally sentenced me to my bed. i can only sit and lay down. when i do dishes clean dinner anything i get uncontrollable pain. i can not keep it under control and i have done every exercise and home remedy i can think of. one thing i would recommend though is a TINS unit. the electricity travels faster to the brain than the pain does and tricks the brain to cover the pain. it is just a bandaid but you can do it for 20 minutes about every hour. if you do it for too long and too high you can make your muscles sore. that has been the only thing really to give some relief. sometimes it does not work when its too much pain.

being in the system with all kinds of drs. i have learned i am just a number and a paycheck. i will be looking for a new surgeon next week since this is the 5th time my surgeon has caused me unecessary pain. it is hard enough to deal with not being able to work, being stuck in bed, financial hardships, long term narcotics that cause depression, etc, etc. nobody should be caused unecessary pain. it is crucial that your dr being willing to listen to your symptoms and is good to keep a journal. if he/she will not and think they know better they are no good for you. even if they are the best surgeon in your area. i have been told i will be in pain for the rest of my life. Well....I know my God. he is bigger than my troubles. and some things that we and drs cant control He is just the perfect physician. I pray for all of you because I truly know what you are going through. If you ever wanna talk just for support. (its hard for others who have not been through this to understand or get it) email me anytime. ***@****. God bless and good luck!
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Avatar_f_tn
I had a triple cervical fusion in Sept 09 and I am still in constant pain. To make matters worse, a few weeks after my surgery, my right arm started throbbing all the time. Now 8months after the surgery I feel worse. Not only does my right shoulder hurt, its hard to wear a bra and sleep. I am a right side sleeper and haven't had a good nights sleep since I got hurt.I constantly wake up in pain if I happen to roll over.  My injury actually happened in May of 09 but the original Dr. just said I had whiplash. I finally went to another Dr, and he found the problem was that I had pushed everything in my neck down and it was closing the spinal canal. The Dr. fused C4-6. My bicep constantly cramps and my thumb,pointer and middle finger are always going numb. When I put the slightest pressure on my bicep it feels like my fingers are going to blow right off my hand.Had the nerve test done and all that Dr. said was I was still having a lot of spasms in my neck muscles.  A lot of times even my head goes numb. Now 8months later my Dr. is telling me it is just going to take time. I have had numerous test to check everything and he tells me the test show all is normal. Even had the myleogram  and that was painful. I am at my wits end. Being a female I can not even shave under that arm and the stuff that I tried burned the crap out of me. I wish sometimes now I would have never had the surgery. I was told it was going to make everything better but to me it has made my whole life worse. The good Dr. is now treating me for depression and well as fibromayalga and the meds they gave me done nothing. I am at my wits end. I go back on the second to see if the Dr. is going to release me or what. I have applied for SSD as I have been told I will never be able to do the work anymore.  I hope no one else goes through this like I have been. I can do nothing I used to do and it makes you feel a lot like just a shell of your former shelf. Just don't know what else to do. I can not even hardly pick up my grandchild and that really hurts, can't ride on a motorcycle anymore, mow grass can barely even pick up a gallon of milk. PT released me because they say the therapy wasn't doing any good. Feel like I am out of options.
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Avatar_f_tn
I had surgery 2 weeks ago, i am having sever pains down both of my arms which i did not have before i go to my 2 week followup on Friday when i called the nurse she said well, thats not normal which freaked me out.... im not sure what to do but i cant even type anymore sorry
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Avatar_f_tn
Melissa,
I just had ACDF at 2 levels in January and hd additional pain that I didn't have before the surgery. Prior to the surgery my pain was all on the left side but after the surgery, I had pain tingling and numbness in the right side. I was very concerned but after talking with the nurse, reading stuff in the forum and talking to friends who had the surgery, my concerns were alleviated. It takes much longer than I anticipated to heal from this surgery. The nurse said that the inflammation at the surgical area can cause the kind of pain we are experiencing. I also tried to get off the pain meds after a week and. Half. That was a big mistake and caused me more pain because I was not allowing the area to heal. Read more and talk to your doctor.
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Avatar_f_tn
I am sorry to say but I had the same surgery in Aug 2007 and still have severe neck and shoulder pain. I had to retire at 55 from a great job I loved. I have tried everything to help but nothing has. I have not given up. My next try will be Yoga. Keep looking for help now, don't think it will just go away.
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Avatar_m_tn
had a fracture in my neck in three  places had a fusion x 2 10 years ago.
i have never experienced such pain in my life. I wanted to die, doctor says i probably been on med's to long and they are not doing any good. So have to be weaned off them and then start all over. i am now taking 16mg of  hydromorphone every 3 hours and till having a lot of pain  . i have a pain pump with dialude pumping into me 24 hours a day..still lots of pain but it takes time for the nerves and muscles to heal. I remember the doctor telling me before surgery that this was not going to be any fun.He sure was right.This is a nightmare. Good luck to all of you it is horrible a nightmare and most of all there is nothing we can do but live with it. God help us all.
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Avatar_m_tn
I had an ACDF c4-c6 in Sept 10. I am still in pain too. I have a lot of neck pain and spasms. My muscles all knot up especially on the right side. I am not on any pain meds. They only work for a few hours at the most and they are addictive. I have Skelaxin to use as a muscle relaxant. It works okay not as good as flexeril but I have epilepsy and certain meds lower my seizure threshold (seizures blew out 2 disks and I have a partial rotator cuff tear to boot). If I take the Skelaxin too often or too long I have heart palpitations and it makes me depressed too. I just use it when I've reached the boiling point of "I just can't take it any longer or I'll go nuts". I still even use my Miami J collar for neck support. I sleep in a collar usually either soft or the MJ depending and I take 3 arthritis pain tylenol. It says to take only 2 but to work for me I have to use 3. I only take it at night. Tylenol can blow your liver. I put it on my collar when I am doing laundry or bending over...any activity or position that I jut my chin out really aggravates it. Driving is really hard on me. My entire life has been altered. I am no longer able to do much of what I used to or it's at a limited capacity and much slower pace. I have recently started walking again...2 miles almost everyday. It seemed to work before but now I don't seem to be getting as much relief and I've been doing it for close to a month. I was fairly physically active before my injury. I'm at my wits end. I'm trying stretching exercises...anything that I can do myself. I have not gone to physical therapy although I've read up on some of the exercises you can do and I do them. They just don't release the muscle knots and my neck burns in the center. I'm 43. I have a 7 year old daughter. It's almost wrecked my marriage because it's hard for others to relate if they've never experienced it. I'm disabled so I do have the freedom to rest when I need to and I take periodic breaks to just rest my neck during the day. I don't know how much longer I can manage at the pace I push myself. It's been the most life altering event I've ever experienced. My husband thinks I'm crazy and that other people do not have the same complications. He tries to understand and helps out a great deal but it puts extra strain on him as well. Personally I think the bulges sat against my spinal column too long and caused possible permanent damage to my cord. My hernitations were directly to the back of my neck and did not affect my arms or legs very much and I endured the pain for a long time..until it got to the point where I was experiencing electrical like sensations in my neck and my feet felt weird. The neurosurgeon said I was lucky I wasn't paralyzed by what he saw when got in there. My mom had a brain tumor (lymphoma) when everything happened and my neck got bad so I tried to hold off until she could get healed up. (She's a walking miracle!). I have a bioabsorbable plate. I don't know if it's still there or not. I do have periodic times when it's hard to swallow, when everything knots up and swells. I feel utterly alone but I try to be content with what I am able to do and find some joy in the simple things in life and I won't give up the search for relief.
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Avatar_f_tn
the reason the pain meds are not making you feel different is when we have real pain it goes straight to it. if you are not getting the pain relief you need to be comfortable you should inform your doctors office. you will never be pain free no matter what so as long as its tolerable feel lucky. im positive this has nothing to do with your sisters addiction. hope this helps and hope you have a good recovery...
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