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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index

Re: Healing, but...
May 20, 2005
I will share with you my experience since 1988/89 when I took out the disk at C6/7. I have Psoriatic Spondylitis and at the time I was quite stiff. A very minor fender bender caused much injury to C6/7 and C5/6. They briefly tried conservative measures but C/6/7 was hopless and it was fused with donor bone in early 89. My right arm seemed to have serious nerve damage. Ultimately when the fusion was done the NS found an osteophyte that had pithed the ulnar nerve in the cervical vent. He cut it out and it helped a lot.

Conservative methods continued on C5/6 for a year but the stresses on it from the added rigidity of the fusion below eventually led to a pain clinic. Nerve damage below the healing Ulnar injury was still causing problems. About a year after the first surgery the disk at C5/6 gave out. Unknowingly it was pressing on my spinal cord causing my bowels to let go at the most humiliating times. It attributed it to disease not nerve issues. Almost as an after thought the Neurologist I was seeing about the C5/6 issue asked me if I had and problems with my bowels. I told him what was happening and he sent up the emergency rocket. Two days later they were doing an ACDF with hip bone and plate. All during this time I was walking a number of miles per day to ward off the issues related to the spondylitis. I found it good physically and mentally.

Things went well, some pain, discomfort, stiffness etc. I attributed them to the arthritis. Both primary nerves in my right arm were surgically "released." A few months later the Ulnar was "Transposed." That ended the nerve problems. I race walked, did Ultra's, hiked, scuba dived and worked out five days a week. I could get a load of endorphins at the gym that would last all day. I only took pain pills now and then. Then I started needing trigger point injections. More, and more, and more. Finally my doc decided something was wrong and ordered xrays. The fusion at C6/7 was broken and the spine above the break was swinging back and forth getting into the nerves etc. Evaluations by NS and others determined that the only recourse was pain management. The pain doc is great and over the last two years he's managed to get the pain to a liveable state. I still walk, play racquetteball, work out, hike etc. It's just that I often have to cut the pain with percocette or morphine. I need morphine to sleep and muscle relaxers.

Recently the pain doc sent me to a PT who specializes in pain. The order was for the PT to teach me exercises that would facilitate long term self management. The PT was impressive. He really taught me a lot and I can now do certain stretches and other things that will eliminate certain pain as long as I continue the technique. Subsequently it was determined I had Difuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH) working over the PS. Things are slowly going down hill. My chest will barely expand and I have to do most of my breathing abdominally. I still walk hike etc but scuba in any sort of restrictive outerwear is pretty much out. Since I have little upper body flexibility racquette ball is primarily arms and shoulders. Pretty hard for back wall shots.

I didn't mean to go on and on but you asked for experience - here is 17 years of it. The bottom line is don't give up. Learn to manage your pain. I have learned that preventing the pain is much easier than trying to get rid of it. Most important - just keep plugging along.


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