I'm 43 years old, I had a double fusion on my lower back. After the surgery I had pain down both of my arms, feels like a bad sunburn, and shooting pain in my arms. I thought it had to do with my surgery but after the 6 weeks postop appointment my doctor informed me the pain I'm feeling would come from my neck and that during surgery something could have happened. I had an MRI done and it shows that I have a bulging disk now in my neck.
I haven't had pain in my arms or neck in the past, it had to have been from the surgery.
My question: Is this unusual or does it happen during these types of surgeries? I've looked on the internet but have not found anything.
In my "unprofessional" opinion, I would say that depending on the closeness of the discs that were fused and the now bulging disc, there could be an association with the fusion. Anytime a disc is fused, you lose 13% of the original movement in your back. This loss of motion adds pressure and stress to the discs around it. I had a disc fusion 2 years ago and the disc above my fusion is now bulging. I went in knowing this was a possibility, but did not think it would happen so quickly.
Now, if the fused discs are not in proximity to the bulging disc, I don't think it would be a "normal" association with the fused and bulging discs. My concern would then be if something happened during surgery that caused it, although they should not have been doing anything with your neck if it was your lower back that they operated on. Is it possible that you have degenerative disc disease or something else that is affecting all your discs? I wish you the best in your recovery and new obstacles!
This is somewhat difficult to address. The premise is that you sustained an injury to your neck during your lumbar fusion surgery. Symptoms of neck pain and cervical radiculopathy did not begin until after your lumbar fusion, The MRI of the cervical spine does indicate a "bulging disc", but further information regarding any other degenerative changes in your cervical spine would be needed to determine if there are other factors causing the neck/arm symptoms.
It would be very unusual for you to sustain a disc injury in your neck during the lumbar surgery unless you were roughly handled and your neck was manipulated in an adverse manner. Any legal issues would be dependent on proof that a neck injury occurred.
(Another thing to consider: did your consent form contain a clause regarding liability and require you to participate in binding arbitration? This has become a standard on most consent forms)
The higher probability is that you have degenerative disc disease in your cervical spine, especially if DDD was a primary cause for you to require lumbar fusion.
Bulging discs are not unusual in anyone with DDD and often are not symptomatic for some time after they occur. If you have the full MRI report, post the clinical findings and we can review it for further details.
How successful was your lumbar fusion? Did it relieve your preop symptoms? Cervical spine surgery may not be needed and treatment for your neck would depend on how extensive the degenerative changes are and the severity of your symptoms.
Post with an update and we will try and assist you further.
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