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Neck and Shoulder pain after C5-6 fusion.
A little over a year ago, I had C5-6 fused. With a plate and screws inserted. Since then I am having trouble with pain in the neck and shoulder area just below the fusion area. I wake in the morning with a headache then turns to pain in lower neck and shoulders.
I have talked to the neurosurgeon who did the surgery and he shrugged his shoulders and said I have no idea and sent me back to my neurologist. He gave me a series of injections in both shoulders and the pain stopped for a couple days but then came right back. Then we tried message therapy, it helps but only for a short period. And I have tried changing my pillows on my bed and sleeping in different positions and nothing seems to help for long term.
What can I do?
Thanks
Maureen
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My comments are in response to Maureen's neck and Shoulder pain after C5-6 fusion.  I had a neck disectomy perform 8 months ago on C4-5, C5-6.  I also had the plate and screws inserted.  Like you, I experienced headaches, neck and shoulder pains.  Fortunately, through trial and error, I found out that my sleeping position had a lot to do with my pain.  Maureen, you mentioned changing your pillows, which I did also.  However, it depends a lot on the type of pillow you are using.  Try purchasing a Memory Foam Cool Contour Pillow (currently, on sale at Target) ... not only will you sleep much better but you will awake feeling less pain.  Also, determine which side (left or right) is your best sleeping side.  For me, it's my surgery side, which is my right side and/or flat on my back.  Hope this helps ...

God Bless,
Mae
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I also have neck and upper back pain after C5-6 fusion.  An Oropod did my surgery.  I eventually went to a Neuro in Rapid City, SD but it appears that there is not a problem.  I have had another MRI. No problem.  My new Neuro is doing an Intrathecal CT on Jan 3, 2007.  My guess is that he will not see anything.  The pain that I feel, generally a "burning" sensation in between my shoulder blades, along with headaches, upper neck pain, and nitetime pain in both the left and right neck is becoming debilitating.  I have not worked since August of 2006 and am starting to get desperate.  Along with this I just started (two weeks ago) right Iliac Crest pain.  Not sure what to do about that.  I did use my own bone for this surgery. The hip pain is just another in the whole thing. Why has it started after about 4 months?  I am a smoker but am on Wellbutrin to quit ad my Neuro says this may help. Any help would be appreciated.
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I also had the same surgery due to a blown disc in C5,6 and arthritis in c7... I had the fusion with donor bone, this was in Feb 2006. I was out for 8 weeks and felt pretty good. I was in the hospital only over night! I was amazed at how fast I felt better. It is now July 2007 and I am in so much pain and so many headaches that I want to scream! I have been seeing a Chiropractor and that helps some, but relief only lasts for a few hours. I just had another MRI done today and hope to see something so that I can get it fixed. I have good pillows and do stretching stuff, but no relief. I hope that I can find some help, I am getting so depressed from the pain. I also have numbness in my arms at night now also. Let me know if you all get some answers.
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Hi All,

I am 44 yr old female.  I just got home from DR with results of MRI... I too have probs at C5-C6.  Dr now tells me there is a surgery to fix my prob but he recommends that I just stay on pain meds and muscle relaxers so as to avoid scar tissue later on from surgery.

I was wondering if you all have great relief from surgery and if you had to do it again would you?  Reason for question is, if I can quit taking pain meds of course I would like to do so...But life is not so bad on pain meds...I still work and life if going good so far.

Thanks
G Wilson (Greeter from New Orleans)
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I would like to say, Greeter, if you can live without the surgery, do it.  I also had this same operation as the rest of you--donor bone (C5-C6), osteoarthritis in the rest of the cervical spine.  I don't understand how this is happening.  I have always exercised and follow a balanced diet.  My Neurologist seemed offended and kept repeating that the surgery was a sucess.  I agree the surgery was a sucess, I have no pain in the front of my neck and have good mobility.  Before surgery, I was myleopathic and was losing bladder and bowel control.  They are back to normal.  What isn't normal is the pain I am in.  I also get the burning pain down my spinal column and into my shoulders.  Sometimes it radiates down my back.  My Physical Therapist got to the point that he wouldn't see me anymore because the exercises were causing me too much pain.  The memory foam pillow worked for about six months to reduce the pain at night.  I am seeing symptoms of compression on the left side of my body as well as the right.  According to my neurosurgeon, only the right side was compressed.  It would seem with so many of us out here asking these questions, there would be an answer somewhere.
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I was experiencing excruciating and debilitating headaches associated with severe neck pain.  For over five years I was required by my many many doctors to endure many many medical procedures and tons of different medications, to which was not only a waste of time but put me into so much debt with co-pays.  I had my fusion (C4-C6) with a plate and six screws done in March 2007 and was so impressed that I was feeling so much better for about two months after my surgery.  No more headaches!!!!  I was so happy.  Then about eight weeks after my surgery I began my physical therapy – twice a week for six weeks at $50 a pop.  I felt horrible, so I stopped, I felt horrible.  I bought a new mattress and several new pillows, I felt horrible every single morning.  I tried physical therapy again, I felt horrible.  I have resorted to using pain pills three or four times a day and now after reading this page I have lost all hope.  I do plan on printing this all out and taking it to my PCP in hopes I guess that she will continue to prescribe the pain pills I take.  I would like to know though if there was anything (any one thing) that brought some type of relief to the horrible pain in your back and neck.fg
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i also had surgery at c5 an c6 i hurt my neck at work was in therpy for 5 months an got surgery at c5 an c6 with a plate an suffer from headachs an lower neck pain an shounder pain  on the right side headachs last 3 days an neck pain that goses into my right shouder  the dr sent me back to therpy witch makes it worse.he looks at me like im makin this up he said i shoundnt have any pain its been 3 months senice surgery he said its not his job to get rid of my headachs i just looked at him he thinks i just dont want to go back to work but i live with this pain everyday somedays its pretty good but otheres i cant even do anything am i the only one with this kind of pain i feel like im the only one out there
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I want to say how relieved I was when I read your comments.  I'm not alone.  I had a cervical neck fusion, C5-6, with plate and screws December 2005.  After the surgery I had pain and the pain gets worse and worse.  It took me years to get the courage to have the surgery and now doctors tell me there is nothing they can do and refer me to doctors in larger cities.  I have to admit I'm scared to think what can or cannot be done for me.  I take oxycodone twice a day, it helps me to tolerate the pain or I would be crying most of the day and be unable to sleep.  Physical theraphy does make it worse, for me, before and after the surgery.  I feel the memory foam pillow, from Target, is a must.  I've used one even before the surgery for relief and have been thru three of them to date.  I'm open to any suggestions out there.
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My husband had a C5-6 fusion in February of '06 and for the first 6 months post-op, he had major headaches, which his surgeon said would go away after the 6 month period.  They did disappear but for a short time.  He now suffers from neck pain, shoulder pain, pain and numbness on the front of his bicep and then numbness in his hand including all fingers but the "pinky".  We have since revisited the Neurosurgeon only to find that the disc in the C6-7 level is now bulging and pressing on a nerve.  He claims that this is COMMON as this level now takes the brunt of the work for the other level that was previously fused.  He has scheduled my husband for (marcaine) local injections near the C7 to diagnose if this is actually where the pain is originating.  15 minutes after the injection, his pain level has improved atleast 50%.  He is now looking at having the C6-7 level fused as well.  I am amazed at how many people have had this surgery done, and then returned to their surgeons with great pain and have not been told how COMMON the breakdown of the C6-7 level becomes after a C5-6 fusion.  I hope this points someone in the right direction as after watching my husband go through his ordeal, heating pads, pain meds, ibuprofen, losing many hours of work etc. is exhausting for both of us.........hopefully we are headed in the right direction.  Prayers for you all.
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i had a neck fusion in 2003 fron a car accident i was good up untill 2 mouths ago,now i get lighting voults in my neck when i lift somthing,i also get headachs,both my arms fall asleep,i have sharp pains in my neck iam a mess and scared!!!!!!!!
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I had a c5-6 fusion with plates/screws/donor bone in June 2008 - following a fall in Jan 2007.  I too put it off as long as I could and was initially thrilled postop.- no pain, no headaches, still had the arm and hand numbness but was finally able to sleep at nite which makes almost anything more tolerable.  
That lasted for 3 mos. When I began the rehab with weights, I returned to all the symptoms I had before surgery and am now scheduled for a neurologist consult.  I guess I too am amazed at how many of us there seem to be - don't remember my surgeon giving me a # on how many fusions seem to fail but it appears to be many.
Has anyone had additional fusions to try to fix this problem (ie if the discs above and below the fusion are too stressed and causing this pain)?
Good luck and prayers to all,
K
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I can relate to everyone here.  I have had C6, and C5 fused, then C5 and C4 fused later on.  I have screws and plates, and I wake up every day in agony with a headache and blurry eyes.  Something is very wrong and I can not get my physicians to listen to me.  The leg sysptome should be clue enough that it is pressing on my spine, but all they want to do is argue with me.  I have had similar shots(as the ones mentioned)  in the shoulder, and it only brings a couple days of relief and the pain is actually worse than before.  Now they want to do the same to my neck and I am getting livid with anger at these people.  Why can't they just prescribe the appropriate amount of muscle relaxers?  That is my big beef with the whole thing.  I disobeyed my doctor and used the PDR to prescribe it properly and lo and behold, it worked.  Tommorow I plan to put it to her this way, either follow the portion of the PDR I am going to print out or refer me to someone else.  Am I doing the right thing?  Doctors generally do not like it when I get "smart" with them, should I play my hand?  Any advice is welcome!
Kate in Oregon
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Hi Kate I just typed up my experience and tips since my 5/6 fusion and the misery I felt.To keep it short incase that comment should appear?? dont see ityet!! My gp put me on zoloft for headaches. Had a pain clinic doc tell me burning and sore running down my arm caused by the nerves at c5/6 were blocked and causing the neck shoulder pain have had a epidural steriod injection big improvement,another this Friday 5th and I hear it will make a much bigger difference. I take neurontin 900mg three times a day muscle relaxants and pain meds but im way way better since the diagnoses and first shot. I use a water pillow love it!! Dont give up! I also stopped the phys ther it was aweful.Will tell you how the second shot goes on Friday.They take you to day theatre for it and can sedate mildy.I also tried my chirop and massage no luck. Martina Oregon      
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Hi there :)

  I am new to this forum and have been reading all of your posts. I am living with Cervical Dystonia which caused disc disease ( degeneration) in my 3/4 5/6. I had surgery 2 weeks ago today, he fused the 3/4 with a donor's graph and replaced the 5/6 with plastic.I also have a metal plate and screws in my neck to help stabilize my spine. I've lived with severe chronic pain for many years but still worked a great deal up until this point. My neurologist has treated me with Botox A for many years to help pain, headaches,tremors and spasms that I dealt with on top of the disc pain....had bone spurs and arthitis on both. Sadly I had no alternative but to go through this process and the spurs were pressing against my spinal cord and the pain was more and more severe.

Since surgery I've found a great sense of relief on the left side and hoping it continues as I recover. Yes I am experiencing headaches as well but it is difficult for me to know whether it is surgery related or from Dystonia.

I find using a good pillow helps as I am not experiencing the shoulder and back pain like others.....I tried stretching the other day but felt I am not ready to start yet :) to early.

I hope that all of you find some relief in one form or the other....living with pain is debilitating and not many people understand unless they are dealing with the same thing.

Take care and try to keep smiling and laughing- it helps :) Have a good day, bye for now.
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I am so glad I found this forum,sounds like alot of people are experiencing the same thing.(Maybe I'm not going crazy!)I had c4,c5 discetomy,fusion and fixation on Jan.19th.I had numbness in my left leg and was quickly loosing control with left arm.The surgery went well,better than expected!Incision healed well,and really no throat swelling ,but I am still having alot of pain in shoulders and back of neck.Sometimes worse than before surgery.

I am still using pain meds ,but don't like them.I really need to get back to work .Am I being impatient ?Is the 6-8 window the time that you guys notice a difference?Any advice would be appreciated .
Deanne from Ohio
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I was in a car accident last May. Have 2 Bulging discs in neck. I have severe pain in me neck and back and shoulder. I had a nerve block done on Wednesday, dont feel to bad. Drs saying its not herniated and not pinching any nerves nothing they can do. Doed that mean I have to wait for them to herniate before anything can be done. Nerve block will only last a couple of weeks. On muscle relaxers and migraine meds. never had this problem before dont know what to do.Is there surgery for Bulging discs?  Any information would be appreciated Kathy Pa
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I had a C5/6 discectomy and fusion with cadaver graft, plate and screws on 2/18/2009. Had no radiating pain until six weeks after when my husband stopped short in the car and my head snapped forward. I also have a large ruptures at C7/T1 and C3/4 which don't hurt currently. My surgeon said that neuropathy often happens after as the nerve roots get damaged from the pressure from the ruptures. Fortunately, mine is managable and gets better if i watch my sleep position. I'm looking at some really bad fusions in the future if the other ruptures act up. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the relief I got. I hope everyone else gets relief.
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Hi everyone,
I had a discetomy and fusion of the c5/c6 in febuary of this year. I to am in terrible pain and feel worse now after surgery than before it. I take strong pain medicine every day, I suffer from servere head aches which leaves me bed bound for days. I have lower back pain and still have severe pain in the right shoulder and arm. The only thing the surgery did do was stop the pins and needles sensation I had in the right arm to which I have developed now in the left arm. I have started physio and hydrotherapy which I find very painfully and cant complete a whole sessions as I end up in tears. My doctors can not explain what is going on. I have had numerous mri and xrays to which the doctors all say look normal. So what is going on I have no idea!!!!! I wish there was a solution to all these problems if anyone has and answers I would really apreciate them. Good luck to all hope everyone gets the answers they are looking for
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my dad had this done a year ago the pain is so bad he is lucky to get out of bed. the pain meds help but only a little. its so frusterating. im so annoyed so many people are suffering i really really wish someone had some answers. the doctors all have no answers and just say im not sure try this try that. its ******** the heating pads and stuff only help for awhile no long term relief.dad and i used to go snow mobiling and ride the rocket bike we sold everything. he wont be able to use them. we would have never done the surgery had we known. a word to anyone looking into this surgery stay away, my dad would have ended up loosing the use of his arms and legs and they also told us he would never breath on his own again. well quality over quantity because this is no way to live.
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934898 tn?1244736285
Hi I'm a 44 Male.
So after reading this forum makes me feel good to know that theres others like myself with the same issues I have. I had the c5c6 fushion work done in Jan of 09 stayed in the hospital for 3 days the surgery didnt go as smooth as they wanted you see when he went to remove the bone from my neck there was a bubble and in it burst and fluid my spine leaked and the surgery ended up to be like 4 hours instead of a 45 minute thing like they said. I stayed in the hospital for 3 days.
When I wake up in the morning from my neck to my shoulders feels like its very stiff then from my shoulders down to my middle of the back feels like its on fire then from there the lower part of my back right in the belt line area I can feel my disk move they tell me that I do have  bulding disk in the L3 L4 area And then when Im sitting on the toilet my right leg goes numb when Im walking my left foot feels like there someone grabbing it just has that pull on it and my right legs feels like its gonna give out on me.

So like theres many things going on with me including the fears I never had before and also my eating habits changed Im weigh more then I did  and there other things going on as well maybe talk about them later on

So in the mean time back on the farm I driving my poor wife crazy with this garbage any suggestion for that I dont want her to suffer either with the stress level any help would be great thanks..
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