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Post cervical surgery difficulty swallowing
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Post cervical surgery difficulty swallowing

Hello , I am 52 yrs. old , And have always been in good physical shape . But after a neck injury in 2008 I required c - surgery with fusion and titanium parts at c3-4 & 4-5 . In and out in 1 day with no neck brace required by neuro-sergeon. for over 2 weeks I was back in and out of emergency with chest pains from throat to middle chest that were so severe I thought I was having a heart attack . after several tests Dr's were baffled . finally subsided enough to tolerate but still today suffer from chest pain and fatigue. But I have learned to cope with the pain . But my main concern is that I still have much difficulty swallowing , and always feel like there is something caught in my throat which gags me . And hardly ever able to sleep as I wake up swinging and kicking out feeling like someone is choking me in my sleep . As you can imagine this has caused probloms with sleeping next to my wife of 35 years as she has been bruised and battered from my physical reactions in my sleep . Now for her safety for the past4 years I have slept on the sofa/recliner where I sleep setting up when sleep is possible . I have had barium swallow test done where they say intrusion is minimel . but I have seen the CD's and can clearly see where food and liquids actually ripple over the screw heads  when I swallow. Neouro surgeon keeps saying give it time it will get better . well is 5 yrs. not enough time to heal ? I guess what I am asking and hoping for someone that can give me some sound advise as to what I can do to get gone this feeling of a bottle cap behind my Adams apple while someone has there thumb pressing on my Adams apple when I swallow .  This has been 5 years of pure torture . I wish I can undo this entire surgery and take it all out of there . Believe me I am no stranger to pain after years of breaking and training horses and working my entire life in the construction fields . Many broken bones , Stitches , and Casts . But this has By far the worst thing I have ever had to deal with especially when I can honestly say I would  rather deal with the pain and numbness I had before the surgery , Atleast I could still sleep with my beautiful wife . And sleep for more than 2 hrs at a time .
I surely hope no one else has or is going through this but if you have or know someone who has , Please let me know how to end it . Or let me know of a surgeon that is not afraid to un-do anothers work ..  Thanks for listening ..Ken
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620923_tn?1405964489

  Hi and welcome to the Spinal Cord C/D forum.

May I ask, did they check u for obstructed sleep apnea? I would check that as u wake kicking and sounds like gagging for breath.....

Also I would look at acid reflux as another means to the issue with the lump in ur throat sensation as u do not always have heart burn with Silent Reflux.

The only other possibility that I a non medical professional can offer is to rule out Ehlers-danlos Syndrome as it can make u more likely to reject foreign matter, and u have screws and a plate in u that may be causing ur body distress....not sure, but worth checking into,

Good Luck.

BTW- there is a way to have a sleep study done in ur own home, google NovaSom and ask ur PCP about testing u,
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Hi selmaS , thanks for your response , I actually responded once but I must have lost it somehow . New at this . I have not been tested for sleep apnea , As I am sure my sleep loss is due to the fact I cant find a comfortable spot to position my head and neck so as not to choke myself in my sleep . Its tough enough while I am awake . I actually have to stretch my neck straight out in front of me to swallow  without gagging . My cardiologist actually has me taking anti acids and reducing my acidity intake in my diet . for my chest pains . they have subsided to the point that it is tolerable . I am mainly concerned with my throat issues. I just want it all out of there . I just cant seem to find a surgeon that is willing to touch anothers work . I certainly don't want to go back to the same one that done the original surgery . I cant imagine spending the rest of my life like this . Thanks again Ken ..




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620923_tn?1405964489

  That is good to know u r being treated for reflux.....in addition to the diet modification....u need to modify ur lifestyle as well.

  This means reduce stress, do not eat 3 to 4 hrs b4 laying down, exercising, and elevating the head of ur bed....there are more tips in the health pages in the GERD forum - http://www.medhelp.org/forums/show/333?camp=msc
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I had a spinal fusion 10 years ago and I have the same problem with swallowing. However, mine is sparatic. Yours seems more intense than mine. For me, it does not happen all the time, just occasionally. I can feel it when my throat is going to do it. It tenses up and feels as you described. I cannot swallow, it hurts badly like I am being choked, or feels like there is an obstruction. I can even choke on water and it hurts terribly, all the way down. when I try to swallow. I spoke with my doctor and was told that when they did the surgery, they placed a tube down my throat and that the tube in our throats do not always go back to their previous position. The only relief I get is to stop right when I feel my throat tensing up and try to relax my neck muscles. This takes some time, but it does usually help me, then the pain goes away and I can swallow again.

I sympathize with you and I hope this helps you.
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Thank you selmaS , I will certainly apply these tips you have laid out here . It is good to find people that care enough to take the time to help and advise others . It does help just to know they are there . Thanks again Ken ..
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Hello Neckacher , And thank you for response , I am sorry that you to suffer from this whole throat thing . You are right , there are times when it is more intense than others. And I do get the tightening of throat muscles when it is at its worst . Very frustrating and sometimes even scary . And I to can usually calm down and relax throat muscles enough to find relief . I was also told that all the tubes sent down our throats can cause the chest pains , I just didn't expect it to last this long , 5 years . I hate to sound whiney as I know there so many with injuries and impairments far worse than mine . But this just seems like a form of slow torture . But thank you again for sharing your experience , I just think there should be more warning from surgeons as to what to expect long term after this type of surgery , Instead of waiting for us to come back post surgery with all these probloms only to hear Oh that's normal , Give it time , it will get better . If I had known I certainly would have thought twice about it . Take care ...
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reading about your struggle almost made me cry. I had a similar problem swallowing for about a month, and it was pure hell. I can't even imagine 5 yrs.  I also deal with waking up flailing; I have severe asthma and wake up suffocating on a regular basis.  It's gotten quite a bit better recently, but my cervical stenosis and scoliosis coupled with degenerative arthritis is insane.  I'm only 31 and I've been considering the surgery as I can't use my hands for more than 5 seconds at a time.  I will seriously re-think this option.
I would suggest talking to someone who practices medical law, not so you can sue, but so you can see if there is recourse.  Also, advocates can be useful.  I'm not sure what it's like where you live, but I've learned all sorts of tricks to get prioritized when Dr.s act like I'm some hypochondriac.  But that's within Canada's free health care system, not sure what you're contending with.  Also, seek out others in your area who had the same surgery, even if they don't have the same complications, who had severe side effects of a worsening condition. Ask them what they did, which Dr helped them, etc. Good luck, and thanx for reminding me it can always get worse, maybe I can live with things the way they are.
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Hello puddle84 , Thank you for your concern and compassion, I have actually spoke with many other people that have had the same surgeries as myself 3 of which are my brother cousins , And only one declared having some temporary difficulty in swallowing for a month or so . I would not want to sway your decision in wether to have the surgery or not . I do know many that have had a successful out come . I just want to advise you and Others out there faceing the same complications and options to really do your research and Ask lots of questions with your neouro surgeon as to what to expect and then try to speek to some of his patients that have had the same surgery . I think Because of my young age and busy lifestyle I was to anxious to get myself repaired and back out there in the working world . But I did ask a lot of questions and was told by surgeon that he was gonna make me good as new , Not to worry . As you said , I have no interest in tryin to sue anyone , I would just like to find someone to take all this stuff out of my throat So as I can continue my "Singing career " (joke) . Just would like to feel normal again and get on with my life and enjoy our new grandson . I will say that you are still a youngster and if possible I would try lots of stretching "yoga' and Physical therapy . Exaust every avenue you can physically to find relief for as long as you can bare it before opting for any surgery . I wish you luck and happy healing , And remember , The most successful healer out there is Friends, Family , and positive attitude .. Take Care .. Ken ..
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