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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board


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[QUOTE=Hurdy]Hi X-man, I had ACDF C4-5 and 5-6 with double Titanium Cages put in as well on 4/5/04. I am very happy for you that you are feeling better and able to manage without pain medication. I just wish that i could say the same for myself. I was wondering how old was your injury before you had surgery? Also, when you woke up in recovery, were you "healed" like so many others say they were who had the same surgery?
Hurdy[/QUOTE]

Hi Hurdy,

I can’t trace my problem specifically, but I believe it was probably a hockey-related injury that might have occurred up to 20+ years ago (I’m 47 now). I would have infrequent flare-ups 2-3 times/yr. where I’d have severe pain from L. shoulder blade up neck and around shoulder. But visits to chiro and icing helped it go away in a week or so. About 2 yrs ago after a strenuous remodeling project, I started having more pain and it extended down my L. arm. Chiro didn’t help this time. With age, I believe my body wasn’t resilient enough to “heal itself” and swelling would not decrease enough to eliminate pain. An MRI showed the disk problem and surgery was advised. My neurosurgeon confirmed this, but he advocated PT as a more conservative approach at first along with a brief steroid regimen. That really didn’t help, but I wanted to avoid surgery if possible, so I just lived with the pain. About last Christmas it got worse and I also started having numbness/tingling in arm down to my hand. It also felt like I had a tourniquet or something wrapped around my armpit area and I felt like my whole arm was “under pressure.” So I finally gave in and had the surgery on 4/6.

I too was told I’d be “pain free” after surgery but I can’t say that was the case. I had quite a bit of pain laterally across my upper shoulder blades immediately post-op, which they said may have been due to positioning on the operating table. I used ice on that area (and I still will occasionally use an ice pack on my neck/upper back to help the aches). I expected the incision site would have some pain, but that actually pretty much went away in a week or so (still a little lump there and hurts if you press on it, but otherwise fine). I still have occasional sharper pains around my spinal column at base of neck, which I assume is where they did the procedure and it’s just healing up. I’d say the numbness is 90% gone. I still have some shoulder pain and a little arm pain down to my elbow, but it’s definitely much much better. FYI, my wife is an RN/circulating nurse in the local hospital’s operating room and she’s been asking the ortho surgeons and others about recovery from this. She was told that you should expect it to take one month for every millimeter of spinal cord area to fully recover (and therefore for pain to subside) after being damaged in this way. Also, my NS said that the numbness might take up to 6 months to completely subside, so patience is the key.

I’m sorry you’re still feeling pretty crummy. Sounds like you had more extensive work done and have some other complications with bone density to deal with. Also, my neuro apparently is one of the few around using this Rabea implant system for this type of surgery. It is a small plastic polymer device which is placed between the vertebrae, packed with donor bone and then a cage is fitted around it. It has “teeth” which bite into the upper/lower vertebrae and the area is abraded a bit to stimulate blood flow and eventually the area fuses naturally. It’s not an artificial disk. But it doesn’t require screws or plates and his experience is that it’s extremely stable post-op. He’s used it in over 200 procedures and claims it has a great track record with less post-op pain than other methods. So far I’m a believer. I did not need a collar, but did use one briefly as a precaution.

I wish you well in your recovery. By all means bug your doctor for some answers. They’re supposed to be working for YOU! I know how easy it is to get “down” when you have to sit around hurting. We didn’t go through all of this to still have pain, and that’s got to be frustrating for you. But I’m betting that patience and time will lead you to a good outcome. Keep the faith!!





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