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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

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1 year post op 2 level C4-6 ACDF w/bone and plate.
- 12/04 surgery -> 03/05 full recovery and completely pain free
- 03/05 - 8/05 months of pain free, normal function - no meds at all
- 09/05-12/05 3.5 months pain and problems

I just had a Selective Nerve Root block on 10/31/05, it worked for a couple weeks after, then progressively the pain started coming back. I did PT (not any real help from it), and just did my second SNRB on 12/20. After a couple days I felt good, and am off the Neurontin and only occasional vicadin. Doc says if this doesn't last then he will do another acdf at C6-7. I am physically running down and not sure what else to try. I can only have one more injection in in this 12 month period.

My symptoms are the radicular pain down the right into my hand, shoulder, shoulder blade and some chest. These were all gone after my first surgery but have come back. I have nerve root compression , ridging on the endplate.

Doc says will take out original plate, the original 2 levels are fused now. Then go in anterior again and do the next single level and put in a smaller plate.

1) anyone out there had this at these levels? C4-6 then later C6-7?
2) did it go easily?
3) how was recovery?
4) any after affects or long term pain/problems?
5) did it work its way on to the next level?
6) any advice?

thanks if you answer.
Hello az:
I found this site about 1 year ago and have been lurking, and maybe it's time to share some of my experience.

I had problems similar to yours, but in the other order. I had ACDF surgery about 2 years ago in Feb 04 for problems at C5-C6-C7. I had suffered neck and shoulder pain since 1995, and by Dec of 03 it became severe enough that it was finally diagnosed. Incredible pain in the months just prior to surgery, and immediate relief from the pain related to the pinched nerves (both spinal cord and nerve branches at the 3 levels) when I woke up in the recovery room. A lot of post-op pain and discomfort for the 1st week, then steady improvement for 7 or 8 weeks until I was almost pain free. The surgeon showed me on the MRI where the disc at C4-C5 was also beginning to deteriorate and cautioned me to take it easy and try to go long, but indicated there was a risk of needing more surgery within 8 to 10 years due to increased stress on the remaining discs.

Despite taking it easy, 11 months later I was back in surgery for ACDF at C4-C5. The original plate (3 level) was removed, and a smaller plate (2 level) was installed at the new levels. Again, the nerve pain improved, but it took 4 or 5 weeks this time. I'm 9 months post-op now from the 2nd ACDF, and I have enough residual pain to warrant seeing a pain management Dr each month, and taking pain medication every day.

From what I've read, the more levels and the more surgeries you have, the greater the chance of experiencing chronic pain. With 4 levels fuzed, I have noticeable loss of range of motion, and I have great concern that I will experience even more problems down the road due to the domino effect of increased strain on the remaining discs.

The 2nd surgery was a little worse, recovery wise, than the 1st, but certainly less pain than pre-op, and if I had it to do over again I would still do it. I had signficant loss of function due to nerve damage and muscle atrophy, and I'm a whole lot better off than had I not had the surgery. While I did not achieve a pain free result, (yet?) I'm still very grateful for the improvements, and hopefully for eliminating or reducing the rate of disc & spine degeneration.

I wouldn't pretend to offer advice since each case is unique, but I've found that it helps me to know what other people with similar problems have experienced. In my case the surgeries worked miracles - I had all but lost the use of my left arm & shoulder - and I just wish there was a better way to tell what all of this will lead to over the next 20 years.

Best of luck -

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