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c6-c7 anterior cervical fusion
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c6-c7 anterior cervical fusion

I am a 39 year old male, 170 pounds, who works at a computer.  I have experience pain since last december in my left arm, shoulder, and neck.  Back in April, 2000 I experienced numbness and tinkling in my left arm.  I lost strength also.   My doctor sent my to PT, and I got better.  Most of my strenght returned, but not like before.  This condition has continued to nag me, and I decided to go back to the doctor who recommended I have a MRI.  I did.  The results showed a herniated disk at C6-C7.  I he referred me to a neurosurgeon.  The neurosurgeon after introductions said that I needed to have surgery, and that my condition would not improve only become worse. He said that I had spinal compression that would begin to affect other areas.  I was shocked, but I went ahead and scheduled the procedure for early December.  But I have reservations due to the fact that I do not hurt as much as before.  I am afraid that the surgery will open up complications that will be worse than my present condition.   Should I wait, and have surgery when this is unbearable or should I get this corrected now early on in the game?  I only have about 10 days before going to the hospital.  
Would more PT be effective, and as long as I'm not suffering much do I really need to go under the knife?  My doctor said see me now or see me later.  

Bruce
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Dear Bruce:

Sorry to hear about your problem.  It is difficult to tell you what to do over the internet.  If I were you, I would get a second opinion.  Surgery is the last option because often it has little effect and depending on the etiology of your problem, it actually not do much.  What does your PT say?  What is the neurosurgeon's reputation?  If your second opinion suggests surgery, then that might be an option, but only if all else has failed.

Sincerely,

CCF Neuro MD
54 Comments
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Hi Bruce,

I'm a 37 yr old electrical engineer who spends a lot of time at a computer also. I also have a herniated disk at C6-7. I'm not sure what caused the initial damage but lifting a heavy marble coffee table by myself sent me over the top. I was in major pain with serious cramping back in Jan-Feb of this year. My right tricep and was very weak and sensations in my thumb,index & middle finger were pretty dull and weak. I went to three neurosurgeons. The first wanted to do a fusion but the other two said to wait and let the rupture heal and that I would get better. Well, I did get better. Most of my strength is back although the sensations in the tip of my index finger vary. I never did any PT. Although I'm not supposed do any strenuous lifting, I still do occasionally and pay the price by having aches and pains in my arm and neck. I don't know if you ever get full strength back. I guess it depends on the extent of damage done to the nerves while they were compressed. I did take a good month or two worth of hard core anti-inflammatories to help the compression settle down. Will I have problems later in life? Probably, but I'll wait.

Bottom line: I think going under the knife is a last resort.

Good luck!

Peter
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Bruce,
I totally agree, surgery is a last resort. Healing takes time and it sounds as if it's already happening. Remember, surgeons do surgery, so thats what they think about. Plumber's think about pipes, so...take the time to make a get and make a qualified decision. As a chiropractor I think about spines. Allow yours to heal, then seek a qualified chiro to help you find out why you have this problem. Sitting at computers is becoming a very real problem for many of the new patients I see. Make sure your desk and monitor is setup correctlly for the long work periods involved to reduce the strain put upon your neck. This will reduce the incidence of spinal stress leading to deterioration of both the vetebre as well as the discs between them. Good Luck!
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Another vote for avoiding surgery here.  I'm a very active 48 year old firefighter.  3 years ago had an acute disc episode at c-5,6 with a triceps strength loss of 50%  Two neurosurgeons and a neuroligist nearly insisted on surgery.  My pcp urged me to give it a month or so of p.t. and sure enough within 3 months I was back to 100%  This lasted until last year when a headplant skiing in a whiteout caused me to dislocate c-6 with some fracturing of the process's.  This time everyone agreed that surgery was necessary and I had an acdf of c-5,6,7 atalntis locking plate and screws with a corprectomy removal of the vetbraral body of c-6 with my own illiac crest used for the graft.  With my neurosurgeons approval I was conservativly skiing again at 6 weeks, rockclimbing at 8 (following only) and back to work at 9 weeks.  It was no fun but if something bad happens to you in the future and surgery is warrented, it's certainly not the end of the world.
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Thanks for the comments.  I am still debating surgery as an option.  I only have two days left to cancel the procedure.  
The surgeon says that he can fix most of my problems related to the neck and arm pain.  But, I am not convinced.  I am concerned with the side effects of the surgery being worse that the condition.  I am going to call the doctor to tommorrow and ask for a second opinion.  

Bruce
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Bruce,

Good luck and give us an update on what you decided, what the other doctor said if you get a second opinion. If you do go through with the surgery, let us know how it went.

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This is for JIM

I just got back from skiing. I'm always concerned about getting too agressive and having an accident like you did and reinjuring my neck.

Before your reinjury, what kind of PT did you have? I never had PT. 10 months after my episode I still get numbness in my index finger. I wonder if PT can help me at this point?

Secondly, your surgery sounded horrible. How long has it been since your surgery and how do you feel now?

Peter
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Peter:

Thanks for responding.  I am glad you asked Jim that question?  One of main concerns is that I am a very active person.  I love to hike, play tennis, and to snow ski.  I would rather have a little pain than to end these activities.  It is late in the day, and I know that I have this condition because I feel it.  I have visited with two folks who had the surgery, and have never regretted it.  They said they felt like new people when they woke up.  I'm trying to be positive about this.  

Bruce
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Thanks for this thread.  It's very timely for me as well.  I've had tingling and numbness in both hands and my right arm and shoulder for the past 6-9 months.  Neurologist said I have mild/moderate carpal tunnel syndrome in both arms, and right ulner nerve problems.  Also had torn rotator cuff in right shoulder three years ago, but that's apparently healed. Ortho. surgeon sent me for cerv. MRI.  

A cervical MRI done two weeks ago revealed a moderate to large HNP toward the right at C4-5 with cord compression, moderate to large HNP at C5-6 with cord compression and moderate to severe left foraminal stenosis at C5-6.  In two weeks I got three separate opinions from neurosurgeons.  All say it won't get better and chiropractic or PT wouldn't really help much...could actually cause more damage.  

They recommend surgery of an ACD C 4-5 and C5-6 and arthrodesis with aliograft and instrumentation.  My family doctor agrees, as does the ortho. surgeon.  I'm scheduled to have it done Dec. 13th.  I'm a 45 y.o. male, fairly active.  Wonder if I'm making the right choice.  Surgeons said "see me now or later" as well.   Email me at ***@**** if you have any suggestions.  Good luck to you, too!
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Thanks Joe for the comments.  I now decided to go ahead with the procedure on the 5th.  I spoke with the surgical nurse today with questions related to the post operative recovery.  I have been told that the neck collar is a requirment 24-7 for the first two weeks. And after that I will need to wear it while driving or riding in a car.  I have spoken to other folks who have had to wear the collar nonstop up to 10 weeks.  I am beginning to think any doctors have different views.  What has your doctor said?  I greatest fear is that things after surgery may be more instense that expected.  My experience with doctors is that they give information on a "need to know basis".  

Bruce
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We can all give advice related to our individual situations meaning that one persons situation might not apply to anothers even though they seem similar. For example Joe said that he had a moderate to severe case where as mine as shown below is not as severe.

(The C6-7 level reveals broad minimal, posterior disk margin bulge. Additionally.. there appear to be extruded disk fragments in the right neural foramen, largely filling the neural foramen.)

It's your job to get several opinions if possible and use forums ,like this one, solely as avenues for information. The bottom line is that each case is unique and you have to make your own informed choice.

Peter

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Bruce and Joe:

I'd really like to hear how your operations went. I'll be looking for your posts! Good Luck!!!
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Sorry it has taken me so long to respond, been away from this site awhile.  The p.t. I did was mainly gentle stretching and some strange hand pedaling device that I never did understand.  The back doc. that I saw told me if he had to pick between p.t. and time he would say that time was the more important element.  I was also continuing with a moderate upper body work out and aerobics from various sources.  Was never really awhile from my outdoor recreation activities during the entire episode, and that is the real therapy!  Good luck to all,  Jim
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I now see there were a couple more questions directed at me.  I'm 11 months post op and feel great, climbed or windsurfed everyday I didn't work this summer, and I didn't work much!  I feel the plate in my throat at times and get an occasional twinge in my neck but have never had true pain since a few weeks after the surgery.  I have taken 25 foot leader falls climbing, and bailed from big air windsurfing with no apparant ill effects. I progressed slowly but steadily back from being pretty conservative to letting it go with the lack of pain being my guide.  A couple neurosurgeons concurred with my plan, but I don't think there thinking is the norm for the profession.  If it hurts dont do it, but if it doesn't, live your life.   Jim
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Jim:

Thanks for the info.  I am excited to hear that you are living life to the fullest.  I am planning a trip to Hawaii in the fall, and I plan to learn to surf, if able.  And I want to be able.  It sounds like you have not experienced very many limitations.  

My procedure is next Tuesday.  I keep everyone informed.

Bruce
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Jim:

Thanks for the info.  I am excited to hear that you are living life to the fullest.  I am planning a trip to Hawaii in the fall, and I plan to learn to surf, if able.  And I want to be able.  It sounds like you have not experienced very many limitations.  

My procedure is next Tuesday.  I keep everyone informed.

Bruce
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Jim:

Thanks for the info.  I am excited to hear that you are living life to the fullest.  I am planning a trip to Hawaii in the fall, and I plan to learn to surf, if able.  And I want to be able.  It sounds like you have not experienced very many limitations.  

My procedure is next Tuesday.  I keep everyone informed.

Bruce
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Surgery is the last option.
I just went through the series of 3 epidural steriod injections
in my neck.  I have had relief.  I have also been living with this problem for almost 5 years.  I am back in Physical Therapy and getting stronger by the day!  I know in the beginning, the shock and pain are so intense we would do anything to get well again.  Go to many doctors, asks lot's of questions, research, research and ask and research somemore.  Surgery is irreversable, and can leave you in worse condtion.  This is our brain stem that sits in this c5,6,&7 areas!

Good LUCK!  There is a lot of healing out there, it takes a lot of patience and endurance!

Margie....still not under the knife!
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Surgery is the last option.
I just went through the series of 3 epidural steriod injections
in my neck.  I have had relief.  I have also been living with this problem for almost 5 years.  I am back in Physical Therapy and getting stronger by the day!  I know in the beginning, the shock and pain are so intense we would do anything to get well again.  Go to many doctors, asks lot's of questions, research, research and ask and research somemore.  Surgery is irreversable, and can leave you in worse condtion.  This is our brain stem that sits in this c5,6,&7 areas!

Good LUCK!  There is a lot of healing out there, it takes a lot of patience and endurance!

Margie....still not under the knife!
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Bruce,

My situation is extremely similar to yours.  Two years ago a neurosurgeon told me I needed an ACDF and I was shocked because I simply wasn't in THAT MUCH pain.  It has been annoying and my right hand is a little scrawny, but I haven't regretted a day that I've spent staying away from the knife.  

The way my GP puts it, you have to be in enough pain that you're willing to take the chance that the surgery might leave you in just as much or more pain.

I'd say your neuro is much too eager to cut and all your misgivings are warranted.  You don't want to jump into it and then find that THESE are the good old days that you wish you had back.

Good luck.  

Stephen
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I am scheduled for surgery tommorrow.  Wish me luck.  I have read all of naysayers opinions.  I know that surgery is the last resort.  I have spoken with many who say that they should have had surgery years ago.  I am positive that I will get a good result.  Will keep you posted.  

Bruce
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I am scheduled for surgery tommorrow.  Wish me luck.  I have read all of naysayers opinions.  I know that surgery is the last resort.  I have spoken with many who say that they should have had surgery years ago.  I am positive that I will get a good result.  Will keep you posted.  

Bruce
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I had a C5/6, C6/7 ACDF in August...right arm pain was unbearable, couldn't sit, walk, sleep or get into "any" comfortable position. Finally after 20 plus years of neck pain, etc..I found a NS that would do the surgery.
I had the ACDF with own hip bone used for fusion. I'm back in the gym 3-4 days a week. My hands still clamp up on me and I get some pain in my fingers once in a while but overal I'm much better, at least for now. I'm also in PT which helps.
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Sorry I've been away from the board for awhile.  Had my preop. testing Thurs/Fri and scheduled to have the operation this Wednesday, Dec. 8th.  I can't say I'm in constant pain.  Just periodic numbness, tingling, and hotspots in should and arms, primarily right.  As all three of my neurosurgeon consultations noted, the possibility of further injury to the nerve root is the main concern.  I'm not prepared to live the rest of my life worrying about a slip on the ice or someone rearending me while sitting at a stop sign and becoming a paraplegic, as that's how the doctor's put it to me, including my family doctor.

According to the neurosurgeon, I'll be in the hospital overnight and then need to wear the collar for about two weeks...no driving.  Then ok to go back to work and begin a PT program.  At this point, I just want to get it over with!

Bruce, I hope your surgery went well on the 5th.
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Hello,

Tommorrow will be one week since the surgery.  The procedure went very smoothly.  I experienced pain in the recovery room, and received pain killer once in my room.  I arrived in the room about 5:30 PM and left the Hospital around 10 AM the next day.  My arm and shoulder pain are gone, but I am still dealing with post operative conditions such as stiff neck, and incision pain.  But now I am only taking motrin for the pain.  Last night I slept the whole night from 10 PM to 7 AM.  Which did wonders.  
The drugs from the surgery have taken a while to work out of my system.  I plan to take it easy for the rest of the week.  Things are looking better.  

Bruce
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Hello,

Tommorrow will be one week since the surgery.  The procedure went very smoothly.  I experienced pain in the recovery room, and received pain killer once in my room.  I arrived in the room about 5:30 PM and left the Hospital around 10 AM the next day.  My arm and shoulder pain are gone, but I am still dealing with post operative conditions such as stiff neck, and incision pain.  But now I am only taking motrin for the pain.  Last night I slept the whole night from 10 PM to 7 AM.  Which did wonders.  
The drugs from the surgery have taken a while to work out of my system.  I plan to take it easy for the rest of the week.  Things are looking better.  

Bruce
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Glad to hear your doing well.  Your surgery sounds like a mirror image of mine, from the soft collar period to the length of stay in hospital.  I'm sure you'll heal quickly.  Best wishes Jim
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Thanks for all who have made comments.  I'm sitting at the computer with my neck collar on.  I am feeling much better.  My neck is still sore, and my voice becomes weak when talking to much.  My scar is really beautiful, but I don't notice it to much beacause my shirt hides it.  It will make a great consveration item at parties.  I am still have a bit of swelling around the incision, and it is a little red.  But all in all it has healed up very well for six days.  

My physical abilities seem to be coming back very quickly.  But, I am concerned about the time it takes the bones to fuse together again.  If any one has comments--let me know.  

Bruce
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Thanks for all who have made comments.  I'm sitting at the computer with my neck collar on.  I am feeling much better.  My neck is still sore, and my voice becomes weak when talking to much.  My scar is really beautiful, but I don't notice it to much beacause my shirt hides it.  It will make a great consveration item at parties.  I am still have a bit of swelling around the incision, and it is a little red.  But all in all it has healed up very well for six days.  

My physical abilities seem to be coming back very quickly.  But, I am concerned about the time it takes the bones to fuse together again.  If any one has comments--let me know.  

Bruce
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Thanks for all who have made comments.  I'm sitting at the computer with my neck collar on.  I am feeling much better.  My neck is still sore, and my voice becomes weak when talking to much.  My scar is really beautiful, but I don't notice it to much beacause my shirt hides it.  It will make a great consveration item at parties.  I am still have a bit of swelling around the incision, and it is a little red.  But all in all it has healed up very well for six days.  

My physical abilities seem to be coming back very quickly.  But, I am concerned about the time it takes the bones to fuse together again.  If any one has comments--let me know.  

Bruce
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Hey there Bruce,
I'm glad that your surgery went well. Still sounds to scary for me. Where did they make the incision? Did they go through the front? Good lucck and keep us posted.

Peter
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It has been a week now.  I am still having some pain and discomfortment.  I am mainly concerned about the fusion process.  How long does it take?  What if I sneeze?  Could that
hurt the process?   My doctor has told me only to wear the collar for about two weeks--this does not seem correct according to my internet research.   I do not want to do anything that would prevent a proper fusion.  I have read stories about folks who never achieved a good bone fusion.  I don't want to one of those folks.    If anyone has an answer please respond.

Bruce
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This all sounds so similar.  I slipped almost 2 years ago and caugth myself by my elbows.  The muscles of my right shoulder girdle and neck went into sustained spasm and pretty much stayed that way.  I have seen chiropractors, GP's, PT's, pain specialists, and physical medicine MD.  I have had it!  I am a 34 year old mother of 2, thin, and was once very physically active.  I am a nurse in a dialysis clinic, work full time, and attend college full time to further my degree.  This accident has really put a dent in my plans.  The first MRI was basically negative but the second MRI showed moderate disc buldges @ C3-4, C5-6, and C6-7.  It also indicated a significant annular tear at C6-7 with disc material in places it should not be.  I am very discouraged and do not want to even discuss surgery.  I have had very negative experiences with epidural steroid injections and until last month agreed to try with a different anesthesiologist and had a positive results.  Things just do not last long because I refuse to stop.  I was placed on antidepressants this year because I just felt like this was taking over every thing.  This really stinks.  I was reading remarks placed at this site and was wondering if anyone has had the same type of treatment attempts or modalities.  (Such as postural rehab with protronics, alpha stim, etc.)
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Well, I had the surgery on C4-5 and C5-6 five days ago...Wed the 8th and am recuperating without significant pain.  The operation lasted nearly six hours, from start to regaining consciousness.  Very stiff neck and pain from neck scar, swallowing problems and hard to talk for the first day or two.  Discharged from hospital next day, wearing soft collar for 2-3 weeks.  Worst part for me was having the anesthesia get out of my system.  Took perkiset (sp?) for pain and valium for muscle spasms for first day or two, but now just taking advil and valium as needed.  Also, very difficulty getting into a comfortable sleeping position.  Haven't had a full night sleep yet.  But getting there.  Some dizziness and overall weakness yet.  The numbness and tingling in arms and right shoulder are remarkably diminished, but still some numbness in right shoulder which was my primary concern.  I see the surgeon for followup on Thurs the 21st.  Hope I'll be cleared to drive at that time.  Expect to return to work Jan 2nd.

Glad to hear the success of the others who have gone through this.  Glad I did it, considering I only found out of the problem five weeks ago!  I lived with the numbness and tingling for nearly a year.  Good luck to all considering the operation!
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To Joe:

Glad to hear that you are recovering nicely.  It has been two
weeks now for me.  I am still wear my soft collar most of the
time.  I have not driven a car yet, but I think today may be the
day.  I am getting stronger everyday.  My neck still is a little
stiff, and my incisision is almost completely healed.  I can tell
that the sutures have not completely disvolved yet under the skin.  My scar is looking better.  I met a lady who had this
surgery, and you could not see her scar.  It had faded into her
neckline.  I am returning to the doctor on January 16th for a x-ray and follow up for the bone fusion.  Overall my back feels much better.

Bruce
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Great news for you Bruce!  Glad it's working out.  By the way, I meant to say my operation was on the 13th of Dec., not the 8th!  

My fusion seems to be ok, just a little stiffness but I seem to be getting a good range of motion.  I feel prettty strong, and it's only a week after the surgery!  I'm not on any pain killers...only advil as necessary and valium for periodic muscle spasms.  The incision is more prominent than I thought it would be...about 1.5 - 2 inches in the crease of the neck on the left toward the front.  I'm hoping I'll be able to begin driving this week but will find out tomorrow when I visit the surgeon.  Another week or two with the soft collar and that should be it.  My fingers are crossed.  I'm not sure when they'll scheudle me to see if the fusion took place as it was suppose to.

Oh, one slight problem....I did slip going down steps five days after the surgery and landed on my bottom. (Yeah, I know, dumb me....thinking I was back to normal!)  Other that a bruise on my arm and a sore left leg, I don't feel any negative results from the bump.  I now appreciate the warning of going slow and not moving around too much the first few weeks!

Good Luck!
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Hi Joe and Bruce:

I also had anterior cervical disc fusion on C5-6 and C6-7 done on December 6th.
I was told by my neurosurgeon to wear the hard collar for one month and it may be as much as three months depending on my followup visit January 4th.   My bone strength fell into the "B" category.   As far as driving I was told no driving for one to three months also.  I cannot lift over five pounds and cannot push, pull or use my arms to lift my self up.  My stomach and leg muscles will be awesome after this is all over.  The worst part for me has been having to rely on my husband and children to take care of the house, cooking and grocery shopping especially over the holidays.

I was told to walk every day for exercise but be careful because you can dislodge the plate and grafts.  I have sneezed and every time I do I can hear a      ing sound.  Makes me wonder.

I have some occasional pain in my left arm and numbness in my index finger which has concerned me but have been told some pain and numbness is normal for awhile.

I was scared to       before surgery as I am in the medical field myself and know the risks.  Also I was told I cannot return to work until March.  My neurosurgeon did not really tell me how limited I would be in my activity before the surgery.  It is driving me crazy.

I would be very interested to hear how you all are doing and how much of your activity has been limited by your doctor.

Happy New Year.
Kathleen
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Kathleen:

Glad to her your comments.  My doctor said to wear the soft collar for two weeks 24-7.   I have done that and more.  I had my
surgery on December 5, and want a good bone fusion.  I only had one level worked on, C-6,7, and have good bone strength.  I go back on January 18 for a follow up.  I am hoping that the Dr. will do an x-ray on my neck so that I can have some input on what in going on inside there.  

I am still having tightness in my left arm and some tingling.  I still am having headaches on my left side.  I am planning to return to work on January 2, 2001.   I have not gotten out very much since the surgery.  I get this tightness in my neck around the incision, and figure that I have quite a bit to go before that I am healed completely.  I have not been able to walk much due to the inclement weather that we have been having.  Ice.  I can tell that I am having some strength come back in my upper back now.  I can roll over in the bed much easier now.  At first I was afraid to move once I had gotten into the bed.  Who knows-- my bones have have done nothing since the surgery.  I am hoping to find out soon.  I was a very active person before this, and I am looking forward to returning to some on those activities.  I must be better by the spring for I have a big yard to take care of.  

Thanks again for writing.  Our group needs to keep each other informed on the events occuring related to the surgery.  

See ya later.  

Bruce
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Hi Bruce, et al.

Are you guys talking about a microsurgery procedure?  I have been referred to a neurosurgeon that was involved in the pioneering of an outpatient surgical treatment for these pesky herniated cervical discs, and was wondering if any of you have had experience with this. I am supposed to have a cervical myelogram to pinpoint exactly where the problem lies (pretty certain that C6 is the culprit).  From what I've read, the myelogram procedure is more involved than what the surgery will be!  Any comments on either?
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To Pam R:

The surgery that I had could be classified microsurgery, but the incision is about an inch and one-half long in the front of the neck just above the collar bone.  I had a problem between c-6. c-7.  It has been about 4 weeks since the procedure, and I am beginning to return to normal.  I go for a follow up at six weeks.  I will let everyone know how the fusion is going.

Bruce
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I had my surgery Dec.5th,2000.
Iwas diagnosed with Brown Seguard Syndrome, no idea what that meant, only that I needed to get out of pain. My c-5 blew out and my symptoms were numbness from my rt. armpit down to the bottom of my rt. foot. The numbness involved my whole rt. side. stomach,breast even only my rt. butt cheek was numb.
This was really freaky for me.
Then I was losing strength in my left hand. Iwas dragging my rt. foot. I looked like I had a stroke.
I am an active 44 year old woman, who is a work aloholic, so the idea of surgery,at a very busy time of the year (I am a restaurant manager) was shocking and scary.
Still, walking like I was and being in intense pain was not how I wanted to live my life.
I am still in my hard collar and see my Doc. for post-op MRI and consult for my future.,Jan.9th.
I returned to work Dec. 26th, light duty, 40 hours for me.
I know it was probably too soon, but I work for a mom and pop corp., that I, think want to weed me out, because I no longer have the desire to put my health last.
Oh well, there are better days a coming.
Any comments?
To those who are in pain but dragging their feet because of fear
Be brave and find a good Neuro Guy who listens, you won't be sorry.
Kathy T.
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Hi Gang:  Time for an update...it's been about three weeks since surgery.  Returned to work Jan 3rd after having the C4-5 and 5-6 microsurgery/fusion done on Dec. 13th.  Wearing the soft collar most of the time, except when just sitting.  Will have to wear it about another two weeks or so.  Have been driving after first week of operaton and able to get around pretty good.  Still have some numbness in shoulder and arm, but not as bad as before.  Continue to have muscle spasms in shoulder area and neck where incision is remains tight and sometimes hard to swallow.  Have only taken pain pills a couple of times when the neck really bothers me.  Hope the fusion is going ok,but it sure feels strange.  Will see Neurosurgeon in about two months, when he'll take an x-ray and see what going on.  Hope all goes well for those who had the operation.  For those considering, weigh all aspects and make sure you get several opinions.  I really can't say I've been relieved of all the symptoms, but they do not seem to be as bad as before the surgery.  Some of the pains in the neck/shoulder area are new, and I'm hoping are just from the fusion process that will go away with time.  

Joe
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Joe:

I have noticed that many of my symptoms are beginning to go away. I had my surgery on December 5, 2000.  I seem to be getting much better every day.  The scar is quite beautiful, but it is also looking much better.  Taking it easy is the best answer for a great recovery.  

Thanks for the update.  

Bruce
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hi, I came across this site tonight, while doing some search on cervical fusion myself. I won't go into all the details, but I had my cervical area fused  a week ago (on the 8th) this was my 3rd back fusion in less than 3 years. So, I'm familar with the process and the time frame of recovery depending on the area (cervical, lumbar, etc), anyway, I'd read everything, had my doctor tell me this would be a breeze compare to my others, the works, but I ended up 4 days in the hospital (I had a 2 level fusion C-4-5-6-7), am still in a great deal of burning pain (shoulders, upperback, arms) and the big problem is my throat. I could not swollow for 3 days after surgery, and then started with injectable steriods every 3 hours for 24 hours. I could then start swallowing some,and was able to go home, but just eating a banana in small bites is horrible.I'm living off scrambled eggs, ice cream, banana's. I still can barely swollow my pain pills, and throw half back up (they stay caught in my throat),,and sipping a drink is still a painful chore. I spoke with my doctor's office today, (been 8 days since surgery) and they say this is not abnormal, and will see how I'm progresing when I see them this week (4 days)..nothing I read on the net will elaborate about the throat problems just that swallowing may be difficuilt from days to a couple of weeks. Amd I haven't come across any comments from anyone experiencing this paticular problem Anyone have this also?????
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TYPKitty:

My throat also gave me grief for the first two weeks.  It was
swollen, and I experienced difficulty eating and talking.  I expected it after talking to a surgical nurse, and my case didn't seem as bad as I expected it to be.  My throat got much better after the second week.  

My doctor warned me to view the results of this surgery one day at a time.  He said that I should look at how I feel three months after the procedure as compared with before surgery.  The recovery time will present its own problems that will be overcome with time.  I have days that slip me back a notch, but overall I see a progression of healing that will soon return me back to my original health.  It is just going to take a while--maybe up to 3 to 6 months.  

Don't give up.  Look for the little improvements.  One day at a time.  

Bruce
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Thank you Bruce, that made me feel better. I actually ate a piece of white bread w/butter this morning,and only gagged a few times! With my lumbar fusions, I was given material to inform me of what to expect the whole way thru, it just seems w/the cervical fusion everyone acted as if I'd be good as new in 2 weeks, and I still hurt all over, besides the throat problem. Your note helped. Thank you...and best wishes with your recovery!
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Bruce,
Hope your doing well. I just found this site and read about your "story" which is much like mine. 4 1/2 years ago I was in an auto accident. Although the insurance company doctors claimed nothing was wrong, 18 months later I finally found a neurosurgeon who found cervical instability at c6-7. After the agony I had been through and much thought, I proceeded with the fusion taking a bone graft from my hip.  Now, 3 years later, I remain in constant pain. I "finally" have an appointment with another neurosurgeon tomarrow. Hopefully he will be able to figure out what to do with my constant headaches, tingling and numbness in my hands with a heavy dead feeling, and constant pain and severe stiffness in my neck, shoulders, and down my spine. I cant work, sleep, sit, stand,....without pain and frankly, I am miserable. Hope all goes much better for you. Oh, I wore my neck brace 2 years and now about 1/2 to 1/3 of the time per doctors orders. After surgery I wore a philadelphia collar for 4 months. I read a medical research journal that said a full fusion does not occur for at least 6 months.
Take care....
Simmi
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TYPKitty:

And the rest of the Cervical C4/5, C5/6 survivors. I had my surgery on Nov 9, 2000. (11 weeks) I just went back to work today.  I am still not talking without squeaking and I am having a difficult time not choking when I swallow. Very scary. I also suffered some damage to Carotid artery. My right eye is half open and the pupil stays very small, almost Pinpoint.   Also, ever since I came home from the hospital my sinuses have been stuffed up Soooo bad??!!  Anyone else have any of the above?
Now for the good news. The right arm pain and numbness has subsided. Only occasional spasms and neck jolts.
Mine started with a snowmobile accident 4 years ago. I broke my sacrum, pelvis, 2 ribs and my thumb. Lucky to be living today!! I also had a lumbar laminectomy last year at this time.  I hope to be an overhauled person now.  
Take care everyone and the best to all of you !!! Keep me posted.
Rebecca
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Rebecca, I'm so sorry to read your story, and the problems that have occured resulting from your cervical surgery. My surgery was 2 weeks ago today, my throat is getting better, but food still chokes me up. I had my doc appt. the other day, and he said the collar would stay on another month or two, and then will be able to go with soft collar and start physical therapy. He said everyone's surgery's are different, and with mine, It will not be a fast recovery. ? I have no idea why. Although, I will say the pain is improving every day now, but I can't sit up or do much for very long. And the worst part is the sleeping. Only catch a couple of hours at a time, the collar is hell, and the neck feels broken. He said if they was no improvment with my throat in 4 weeks, he would have to send me to a specialist. That anything over 6 weeks requires looking into. As for the voice, it is still deeper than normal. Again, he said he gives those problems 6 weeks recovery, otherwise testing will be done. I wish you the best, please keep us informed. As for the fusion, I learned w/my previous lumbar fusions, that will take 12 to 18 months to basically take, until then, be very gentle with the neck and it's movements.
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So glad to hear that a lot of you have been able to go on with life.  Wish I could say the same?  Since 1994 I have had five cervical fusions.  I am bone from C-2 to C-7 with the disc at C-7 to C-8 ruptured and causing extreme pain.  I have my good days once in a while.  Unable to work and even really do a lot of normal light stuff around the house.  I tried all of the normal things before going under the knife.  So please do avoid it if you can.  My problems go to just bad neck karma nothing was left after the years of hard work.  Being only 115 lbs. I still did all the things the big boys did if they lifted the end of a 300lbs beam I carried the other.  So everyone just remind yourself if it hurts don't do it pain is there for a reason.  Mostly to stop you from doing the same stupid thing again!  LOL
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Anyone out there know how long cervical fusions
take to heal?? I wrote a message a week ago
to Bruce in reply to his question about how
long a brace is required post surgery. Last
week I had another doctors appointment because
I continue to suffer with the same symptoms
I had before surgery, but becomming worse
over time. Found out that my fusion never
healed, it's been 4 1/2 years since my accident
and 3 years since my fusion. Apparently the
hardware called "Songer Cables" placed in my
neck "slipped" and caused the fusion to not work.
The new surgeons say the only way to fix the
problem is to have it fused again. Anyone out
there have advice? Another surgery is the last
thing I want to go through again! Cant find any
info on the "Songer Cables" techinique.....
Simmi
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I don't know exactly how it should take to heal.  I am going to have a xray taken in about a month from now.  The xray should reveal if any healing of fusion has taken place.  A good friend of mine, who is a surg tech, said that within three months I should have some bone replacement at the fusion, but not complete healing.  She has said that it should take between 4 to 12 months to heal properly.  

But, I really don't know.  It is driving me nuts.  It has been about 6 weeks since surgery, and I feel good.  I have reocurring tinkling in my left arm which scares me.  My doctor has said that many activities are off limits until the healing process is complete.  This is driving nuts also.  I want to get well so that I can return to normal activities.  My worst fear is that I will have to have a revision of the surgery.  My doctor said that he implanted the bone graft into my back very well.  He had a little attitude about whether I could sneeze it out.  But, being cocky in this situation is fine.  

I will let you know.  

Bruce
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Glad to hear so many success stories. Have several friends that fall into success catorgies also. I also need surgery dont know how many sections yet? Very, very scared See N.S. friday pray for me.
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Hi everyone its good to hear of others in the same boat as myself. I am waiting to speak with the Neurosurgeon on March 6th about a possible operation to my cervical spine. I must say I am very nervous after reading the correspondense on these pages. My problem has and is my neck, left arm and between my shoulder blades. I am not able to do any manual jobs or even my desk job at work. I am at my wits end and am looking for support, the pain is really getting me down. I tried all the medication, NSAID and physio plus osteopathy and nothing seems to work. The surgeon has said that an operation is a possibility but I'm frightened I have to admit. What if it makes things worse, this is my problem, if you can help me and have some words to encourage, please email me at ***@****. Thanks
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This whole thing scares me to death.  I have been to 4 different neuro surgeons since I first injured my neck 24 years ago in an auto accident.  Each time it is after I have done something to reinjure it again.  All have told me the same thing Surgery. After about 6 months my pain goes away and my neck returns to a mild ache and numbness of my left arm and hand.  I now find that my quality of life is such (headaches, numbness, complete weakness of my arm) that I may just give up and have the surgery.  My fear is that I will return to that terrible pain that happens right after you injure another vertibra.  I have over the past few years herinated C-4, C-5, and C-6.  My last x-ray was done 3 years ago when I had had a pain from my neck to my head for 5 months that would not go away.  The x-ray showed a lot of damage and narrowing of my spinal canal.  The report said I needed further studies. I just can't imagine going through the whole procedure. I guess I need courage, because right now I am having a hard time just making an appointment to be re evaluated.
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Things are good today.
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