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Alternative pain treatments and lifestyle changes after anterior cervical fusion
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by Susan Logue, Sep 23, 1999
I'm 40 years old and had anterior cervical fusion surgery 2 1/2 years ago. I had ruptured disk C4-5. I was told at the time that the disks above and below the fusion were not in good shape and to be careful. I don't work, I do light strength training 2 days a week and cardio recumbant bike 5 days a week. I continue to suffer debilitating muscle spasms in the neck, trapezius, and mid-back. Is it safe or beneficial to be treated by a chiropractor for the pain? I've also been diagnosed as having myofacial pain and fibromyalgia. I went through all of the trigger point injections and physical therapy a year before I was finally diagnosed with a ruptured disk and subsequently had the surgery. Those treatments helped for a short time but I still had nerve impingement from the disk. Now that the disk is fixed, should I go back for the myofacial treatments again, or should I stick with chiropractic and see if I get any relief. I get very nervous hearing my neck cracking.
Thank you.
Answer:
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by CCF Neuro[P] MD, RPS, Sep 23, 1999
Dear Susan:

I have had osteopathic spinal manipulation training, and I believe that after disc herniation you should not have high velocity neck manipulation.  I would not have the chiropractor crack your neck with high velocity treatments.  Actually, I have seen several patients who ruptured their cervical discs after treatment.  I feel that after surgery, PT and vigorous rehab combined with lifestyle changes and compulsive proper positioning of sitting etc. are the best methods to recover from surgery.  The recumb bike is fine.  Try and stay away from heavy weight training and mud wrestling (only kidding).  Part of the pain tolerance is a mind exercise and since your in constant pain, you will need to develop this aspect of rehab.  Talk to your neurologist about rehab and especially the rehab team.

Sincerely,

CCF Neuro MD
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Member Comments (40)
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by Jo-ANN, Sep 23, 1999
NO, please don't do any chiropratic manipulation!  I also
had anterior cervical disk C5-6, and have more herniations and
spurring on 4-5, 6-7, 7-8-some impinging on spinal cord.
when they say be careful, be careful.  My Dr says no driving
in winter in particular and walking dangerous too. I walk in the
park, but eventually legs will be affected.  Please be careful
and don't trust any chiropractors..one wanted to put me on table
and drop my head and hit my neck with a hammer.  I ran out of there!
not kidding
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by Susan Logue, Sep 24, 1999
Thank you Dr. CCF and Jo-ann for your replies. I have gone to two treatments and have been seriously concerned by the way I've felt afterward. I don't plan on going back after hearing from you. Thank You!
Susan
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by CCF Neuro[P] MD, RPS, Sep 24, 1999
You are welcome.

CCF Neuro MD
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by Sandi on Oct. 20,1999, Oct 20, 1999
Can I please have the pros and cons of anterior cervical fusion.  Can I also have information from other patients who  
have had this surgery. Thank You.
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by Susan Logue, Oct 21, 1999
Sandi, I can't really tell you pros and cons for your situation but I can tell you mine. Before the surgery, I had terrible arm and shoulder involvement besides the upper back and neck spasms. After the surgery the arm and shoulder stuff was gone, the only thing is, I also had carpal tunnel release during the same surgery. I don't know which one really helped my arm, but I still have deep painful muscle spasms in the same places as I had before the surgery. What I've learned is, you don't have surgery to relieve pain because it usually won't. My doc even told me that before the surgery. If I could go back and do it again, I'd just have had the carpal tunnel release and left my disc in my neck. He took out the disc, replaced it with a donor bone, and held it there with a plate and four screws. The discs above and below the fusion were bad and have much more stress now. As far as the surgery itself, it was pure hell and it took over a year to even recover what I can do now, which aint much. I'd hang on to all the body parts you were born with for as long as you can. Good Luck and God bless. Susan
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by CCF Neuro[P] MD, RPS, Oct 23, 1999
thanks for your comments.

CCF Neuro MD
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by Elaine, Oct 31, 1999
I am scheduled for surgery on Nov. 4 for severe cervical stenosis.  My spinal column at C-4,5 & 6 is almost completely squeezed shut.  I had pain down my left arm in July before the MRI showed the compression but since then I have no pain or problems Now I wondered why I needed the surgery until I saw the MRI myself. I accept that I need surgery but I'm concerned about the recovery and after effects. I will have a bone graft from my hip and I'm told the pain will be more in my hip, with a 12 week recovery.  Any comments will be appreciated.
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by Annette, Nov 01, 1999
Good luck Elaine. I had a fusion at C4-5 and 5-6 on Oct. 1st. CAT scan showed more problems than a previous MRI. My pain began oveer 10 years ago with a worsening the past 2. I had been to several chiropractors, massage therapy, neurologist, orthopedic surgeon, pain clinic for epidurals, many drugs, and finally a neuro who ordered the CAT scan (after I had been told the MRI was more accurate). The disks I had removed were calcified. My neuro only uses donor bone. He feels there is not enough proof that your own bone has a better success rate. Not enough to warrant putting the patient through basically 2 surgerys. I have talked to many patients with similar surgery and all agreed that the hip pain from bone removal is by far more painful than the neck surgery. I also had posterior spurring on these two disks and the one above and below. After nerve and muscle testing, it was determined that although 4 looked bad, my symptoms were stemming from the two worse ones. I have a real fear that I will be repeating this process in the coming years, on the other two areas. My pain on the right side on my head, neck, and shoulder, which was my major complaint, is gone. Thank the Lord. However, by some twist of fate, I am experiencing similar pain on my left side (head behind the ear, neck and shoulder). I go back to the Dr. on the 15th to have an  x-ray and see how I am healing. I hope everything goes well with your surgery. So far, I feel I made the right decision but only time will tell.