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Hi!

Long time lurker - first time poster. Wish I had a better prognosis ... But, never the less, here I am.

...I am 30 yrs old and had an ACDF C5/6 on Feb. 27...

I will start from the begining...

3 1/2 - 4 years ago I went to the ER with chest pains...After a complete work up it was decided that I had not had a heart attack...but was probably pretty close (relatively speaking if I did not do something about it)

...I was 50 lbs overweight had high cholesterol and high blood pressure...for the past couple of years I have managed to lose 40lbs get my cholesterol and blood pressure under control with no medications...but the chest pain still lingered...

In june of 2005 my wife gave birth to our son...After carting him around...painting a nursery...and doing all the manual labor (which I'm not used to being a computer geek for a living), I started having a lot of neck and chest pain. After freaking out over the next few months...and many trips to the ER, I found out that I had a herniated disc that absolutly HAD to be operated on or I would lose all function in my left arm...Prior to the surgery I had intense chest pain and a lot of numbness in my left arm and face... I also had the classic symptoms of thumb and index finger numbness. It was also confirmed on an EMG that I had C6 nerve damage.

February 27th comes along and I have the surgery...The Neurosurgeon tells me everything went well...nerves have been totally decompressed...I leave the hospital the next with a lot of throat pain a lot of meds...The first week or so I have no chest or arm pain..the incision sight is very sore and so is my throat...over the next few days the throat pain subsides but I develop some "soreness" in my neck..and I start to notice my right eye is drooping a lot and the pupil is not the same size as the left one...that along with a rapid heartbeat sends me to the ER...After a few days in the hospital its determined the rapid heartbeat is due to dehdration and the droopy eye/small pupil is Horner's Syndrome.

I go home being told to drink plenty of water and that the Horner's should fix itself...Gradually my pain worsens...I start having chest pain, neck pain, arm pain & numbness...so basically I am back where I started...I call the neurosugeon on call and tell her about my pain...she says "go to the local ER and get X-Rays" So I do...Everything looks great...I'm told to take percocet and the muscle relaxer skelaxin (which I have been taking since after the surgery)...Pain is still getting worse and on top of it all I've developed a sinus infection...Taking antibiotics for this..

Which brings me to yesterday...After emailing back and forth with the nurse at the hospital where I had my surgery, I decided I can't take the pain anymore and have my wife drive me to that hospital...at that point I am still wearing my Phila******a collar which I have been wearing the entire time religiously... When I was originally fitted for it, I was given a large as it was thought the medium was too small. After surgery, the surgeon gave me the medium saying the large was too big.

Once I get there, I get an X-Ray and I'm told that the bones are starting to fuse and to remove the collar...I was told that I can take 600mg of Motrin 3 - 4 times a day for pain along with my Skelaxin...this makes me a little nervous as I've ready many things saying that taking Nsaids could cause the bones not to fuse...I did take it once today and found it gave me little to no refief...I will probably not take this again...

If someone can give me any advice as to what to do I'd really appreciate it...I have an MRI tomorrow to check for bone spurs...I have not started physical therapy / rehab yet...Any advice or stories would be great to hear!

Is all of this simply the "way things should be"? Perhaps muscle spasms? Something to do with the collar?

And I passed a stress test in January with flying colors apparently - my blood pressure at rest is typically 115/75 and pulse is ~70. I'm 5'7 and 180 (still a little more weight loss to go but I've made a lot of progress from my original 230!)
Hi Ouch,

I did the heat/cold early after surgery too. I dont remember how much it helped to be honest, but I know it made me feel better to be doing something! Now I find that heat helps more than anything, hot showers heating pad, ect.

My surgeon said with the extent of my neurological impairment before surgery it was likely that I would have some permanent nerve damage. He also said this type of surgery did not guarantee that the pain would go away.
He did say that 95% of the relief/recovery from symptoms would happen immediately after surgery, with the other 5% coming over time. In my case I found that to be true. I've read/heard of others that started out with the same pain and symptoms only to have them fade away in time. Hopefully that will include you!

I did have a couple questions though, just curious (nosy).

Did they find a connection between the neck problem and the chest pain?
Or the facial numbness?

Did they put a plate in?

How did your MRI look?

You're still early in the recovery process. Just take things slow and dont overdo it. This procedure has a high sucess rate.

You might ask your Dr if you could take a different pain med like vicodin or something. It sucks to be in pain all the time.

Hey best of luck to you, keep postig, and take it slow......Mike
[QUOTE=mb100]Hi Ouch,

I did the heat/cold early after surgery too. I dont remember how much it helped to be honest, but I know it made me feel better to be doing something! Now I find that heat helps more than anything, hot showers heating pad, ect.

My surgeon said with the extent of my neurological impairment before surgery it was likely that I would have some permanent nerve damage. He also said this type of surgery did not guarantee that the pain would go away.
He did say that 95% of the relief/recovery from symptoms would happen immediately after surgery, with the other 5% coming over time. In my case I found that to be true. I've read/heard of others that started out with the same pain and symptoms only to have them fade away in time. Hopefully that will include you!

I did have a couple questions though, just curious (nosy).

Did they find a connection between the neck problem and the chest pain?
Or the facial numbness?

Did they put a plate in?

How did your MRI look?

You're still early in the recovery process. Just take things slow and dont overdo it. This procedure has a high sucess rate.

You might ask your Dr if you could take a different pain med like vicodin or something. It sucks to be in pain all the time.

Hey best of luck to you, keep postig, and take it slow......Mike[/QUOTE]

Thanks for the words!

In regards to your questions :

1 - They felt it was "likely" that there was a connection due to the lack of other areas confirming issues (such as extensive heart workups etc)

2 - I have a titanium plate with 4 screws

3 - Just got back from the MRI - we'll see what the doc says when he has an opportunity to look it over (hopefully soon)
Hey ouch,

Did he give you pain meds? No point in suffering....

You might want to get a copy of your MRI report too. I've got all of my films and reports to go with them. They'll come in handy if you ever need to go to a different Dr. My Dr. threw out my original films after surgery. I was not happy, I bought a second set from the place that did the MRI. From that time to now, I made sure none of them got lost. I had a CT scan that I got a copy of on disc, Shows you the fusion like nothing else will. Interesting stuff.

The chest pain was a new one on me. But not a surprise by any stretch, I've heard of, and had, a slew of symptoms.

Anyway, take it easy and I hope you feel better.

Mike
[QUOTE=mb100]Hey ouch,

Did he give you pain meds? No point in suffering....

You might want to get a copy of your MRI report too. I've got all of my films and reports to go with them. They'll come in handy if you ever need to go to a different Dr. My Dr. threw out my original films after surgery. I was not happy, I bought a second set from the place that did the MRI. From that time to now, I made sure none of them got lost. I had a CT scan that I got a copy of on disc, Shows you the fusion like nothing else will. Interesting stuff.

The chest pain was a new one on me. But not a surprise by any stretch, I've heard of, and had, a slew of symptoms.

Anyway, take it easy and I hope you feel better.

Mike[/QUOTE]

Yea - I have a mix of different mediciines...

Skelaxin, Percoet... None of those seem to do much.

I did try a Valium 5mg a few hours ago and that helped prior to the MRI.

I'm sure laying on that hard thing for an hour straight put me back in pain again, but I *DID* have two nice hours of relief. Took it down from an 8 to a 2 on the pain level.

Perhaps there is something to be said there...
I forgot to put in my previous post, that I had all the chest pain, shoulder pain, arm pain and numbness, and finger tingling on my left side [B]prior[/B] to my surgery. I went for a number of years thinking it was heart problem. I was taken to emergency room by ambulance.

It took about five years before the first MRI revealed what was wrong. Then another 13 years before they would do surgery on me.

I never had the chest pain [B]after[/B] surgery, so I left it out of my post.

One thing you should be aware of is that it takes some time for the nerves to settle down after surgery (they were in there messing around), plus they were pinched for a while too! They will settle down, then you have to see if they will recover totally...I still have a little residual nerve damage (20 months later). My index finger tingles a little when I move into certain positions.

I remember one month out, still being pretty weak and sore...It takes a while for this process. Hang in there.
[QUOTE=dennisgb]I forgot to put in my previous post, that I had all the chest pain, shoulder pain, arm pain and numbness, and finger tingling on my left side [B]prior[/B] to my surgery. I went for a number of years thinking it was heart problem. I was taken to emergency room by ambulance.

It took about five years before the first MRI revealed what was wrong. Then another 13 years before they would do surgery on me.

I never had the chest pain [B]after[/B] surgery, so I left it out of my post.

One thing you should be aware of is that it takes some time for the nerves to settle down after surgery (they were in there messing around), plus they were pinched for a while too! They will settle down, then you have to see if they will recover totally...I still have a little residual nerve damage (20 months later). My index finger tingles a little when I move into certain positions.

I remember one month out, still being pretty weak and sore...It takes a while for this process. Hang in there.[/QUOTE]

Cool!

Thanks....

This was the EXACT type of outcome I was hoping someone else had!
hey, I know I'm jumping in rather late, but still wanted to comment. acdfouch - i have had occasional problems with chest pain, too. i was very freaked out the first time or two it happened, but suspected pretty quickly that it was neck-related. i have had some slight facial numbness at times, too.

i tend to get these particular symptoms when i've been (oops) typing for too long. luckily, in my case, simple rest usually alleviates the problem.

after i'd had the chest pain thing a few times, i started looking around and found this little animation that illustrated the radiculopathy symptoms associated with each cervical level. the C5/6/7 areas shown were right on target for me.

[url]http://www.laserspineinstitute.com/Laser_Spine_Cervical_Radiculopathy.aspx[/url]

i think you were the first i saw to mention chest pain and facial numbness, so i was glad to see your post.

i was really surprised, however, to see you mention taking motrin after surgery? although i know there is still some controversy, i believe it's generally thought that nsaids (and possibly the newer cox-2 inhibitors) delay bone healing, and that they're specifically contraindicated in fusion cases. everyone (i.e., assorted docs & surgeons) told me i'd have to avoid them for three months after surgery.

anyone else on this?

i'm about a week away from my surgery date and it's been very interesting reading all the post-surgical comments from both those who, like you, are right out of surgery and those who are the longer-term "veterans". having some idea of what to expect has brought me much more comfort and confidence.

unlike some others here, my ortho doc had been suggesting surgery for a couple of years, but i pretty much shut him down every time he brought it up. i had met with one surgeon about three years ago, before i started seeing the ortho, who said, literally, "yeah, i can operate on you. with your mri, your insurance will cover it with no problem. will it help? maybe yes, maybe no. you'll just have to wait until after surgery to see."

i didn't leave there with much confidence in my surgical options.

in december of last year, things took a turn for the worse and my doc pretty much said, "look, you've reached the point where you have no choice". without all the information and advice i've had access to online, i'd have certainly gone in kicking and screaming all the way.

my current surgeon told me almost word for word what mb100 heard:

"My surgeon said with the extent of my neurological impairment before surgery it was likely that I would have some permanent nerve damage. He also said this type of surgery did not guarantee that the pain would go away.
He did say that 95% of the relief/recovery from symptoms would happen immediately after surgery, with the other 5% coming over time."

that was certainly better than "we'll see".

look forward to hearing more about your recovery experience and progress, and willl certainly be hoping for the best of outcomes for you.

as always, thanks to everyone for your posts here.
[QUOTE=ember919]hey, I know I'm jumping in rather late, but still wanted to comment. acdfouch - i have had occasional problems with chest pain, too. i was very freaked out the first time or two it happened, but suspected pretty quickly that it was neck-related. i have had some slight facial numbness at times, too.

i tend to get these particular symptoms when i've been (oops) typing for too long. luckily, in my case, simple rest usually alleviates the problem.

after i'd had the chest pain thing a few times, i started looking around and found this little animation that illustrated the radiculopathy symptoms associated with each cervical level. the C5/6/7 areas shown were right on target for me.

[url]http://www.laserspineinstitute.com/Laser_Spine_Cervical_Radiculopathy.aspx[/url]

i think you were the first i saw to mention chest pain and facial numbness, so i was glad to see your post.

i was really surprised, however, to see you mention taking motrin after surgery? although i know there is still some controversy, i believe it's generally thought that nsaids (and possibly the newer cox-2 inhibitors) delay bone healing, and that they're specifically contraindicated in fusion cases. everyone (i.e., assorted docs & surgeons) told me i'd have to avoid them for three months after surgery.

anyone else on this?

i'm about a week away from my surgery date and it's been very interesting reading all the post-surgical comments from both those who, like you, are right out of surgery and those who are the longer-term "veterans". having some idea of what to expect has brought me much more comfort and confidence.

unlike some others here, my ortho doc had been suggesting surgery for a couple of years, but i pretty much shut him down every time he brought it up. i had met with one surgeon about three years ago, before i started seeing the ortho, who said, literally, "yeah, i can operate on you. with your mri, your insurance will cover it with no problem. will it help? maybe yes, maybe no. you'll just have to wait until after surgery to see."

i didn't leave there with much confidence in my surgical options.

in december of last year, things took a turn for the worse and my doc pretty much said, "look, you've reached the point where you have no choice". without all the information and advice i've had access to online, i'd have certainly gone in kicking and screaming all the way.

my current surgeon told me almost word for word what mb100 heard:

"My surgeon said with the extent of my neurological impairment before surgery it was likely that I would have some permanent nerve damage. He also said this type of surgery did not guarantee that the pain would go away.
He did say that 95% of the relief/recovery from symptoms would happen immediately after surgery, with the other 5% coming over time."

that was certainly better than "we'll see".

look forward to hearing more about your recovery experience and progress, and willl certainly be hoping for the best of outcomes for you.

as always, thanks to everyone for your posts here.[/QUOTE]

Cheers and a half!!!

A terrific post and it sounds as if you do indeed have very similar symptoms.

What specifically did your MRI show? Where are your problem nerves? Etc?

As far as how I am doing today?

Well, I am VERY happy to say that I continue to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I am not without my valium 5mg or tylenol 1000mg, but I ACTUALLY have times of little to no pain. It is just an incredible feeling.

Perhaps my situation was one of the bad ones... I had a pretty bad MRI writeup. I'll see if I can dig out my copy and post it for others to see.

And in regards to the motrin - apparently there is not evidence stating 110% that it is the cause of fusion failure HOWEVER I only took it twice during the entire proccess and the realm of unknown is just not worth the obvious risks and problems down the road.

So, I don't take it - at all.

Best of luck to you and please keep an eye on my thread.

I will try my best to inform others of my progress and hopeful success!
Got my post op MRI.

Not quite what I was hoping (?)

I was hoping for a "wow - look at c5/6 - its perfect".

Instead, I got this :

At C5-6, there has been interval anterior fusion with plate and vertebral body screws. There is some left paracentral enhancing tissue i keeping with granulation tissue that results in mild left neural foraminal narrowing and mild central stenosis. The right neural foramen is patent. Metallic susceptibility artifact from the fusion hardware obscures portions of the the images.

IMPRESSION :

Enhanced MRI of the cervical spine. Status post anterior fusion at C5/6. Small focus of emhancing left paracentral tissue at C5-6 in keeping with granulation tissue that results in mild left neural foraminal narrowing and mild central canal stenosis. No recurrent disc bulge/protrusion at this level as described.

So... Vets. Did my doc do the best he could do? Should I be free and clear o n that side? Is this why I am still in as much pain as I am? Or is it "just the way it is" kinda thing?

Of course, the only one that can truely speak on this is my NS, but he is out this week and I won't be seeing him until the 6th.... Interested in any and all thoughts and opinions!

Thanks.

[little edit : i did some reading... sounds like the scar tissue is something that everyone gets after surgery? sucks! now im back with some narrowing ... UGH! :D)
ACDFouch,

That MRI should concern you. I don't think that is normal after surgery.

I would be asking a lot of questions of my surgeon. This is the area they "cleaned" out during surgery. It shouldn't be showing "mild left neural foraminal narrowing and mild central canal stenosis.

This could very well explain the pain you are experiencing.
[QUOTE=dennisgb]ACDFouch,

That MRI should concern you. I don't think that is normal after surgery.

I would be asking a lot of questions of my surgeon. This is the area they "cleaned" out during surgery. It shouldn't be showing "mild left neural foraminal narrowing and mild central canal stenosis.

This could very well explain the pain you are experiencing.[/QUOTE]

That's my thoughts exactly.

Apparently, from some research I have been doing, many people get scars after the surgery.... It will only show up on a contrast MRI. And sadly, mine have apparently reintroduced the problems that I originally had / grown around the problem areas of before...

.....

........

Anyone else with any random thoughts?

(thanks for the ones so far)
My random thought is, that you should continue to research the bone healing/fusion process, as you have. Obviously, you're going to be visiting your Dr. about the MRI.

The first stage of bone healing is inflammatory and only results, from my VERY limited point of view, in a starting point. The first stage alone can take many, many weeks (4-6). Formation of bone only begins after this stage. Lastly, something termed "remodeling" can continue for a long time (2 years?).

This may just be a bridge you need to cross to get to the next, better place.

Hopefully, you will be feeling better soon. :wave:
[QUOTE=funny4mony]My random thought is, that you should continue to research the bone healing/fusion process, as you have. Obviously, you're going to be visiting your Dr. about the MRI.

The first stage of bone healing is inflammatory and only results, from my VERY limited point of view, in a starting point. The first stage alone can take many, many weeks (4-6). Formation of bone only begins after this stage. Lastly, something termed "remodeling" can continue for a long time (2 years?).

This may just be a bridge you need to cross to get to the next, better place.

Hopefully, you will be feeling better soon. :wave:[/QUOTE]

Thanks...

And like I was saying before, apparently this is very normal after surgery... Most people probably don't know they have it because this stuff only shows up on a contrast MRI... It's essentially scar tissue... Unfortunately, it just happened to grow into something like my old symtpoms... It's probably much less than it was before so my pain is probably not related to it. Hence, that is also probably why my doc did not say anything...

Before I was all the way INTO my thecal sac. I no longer am... So....

I'm happy. :)

(and feeling a little better a little bit at a time...)
[QUOTE=mb100]Hey Ouch,

Is that scar tissue or swelling indicated on the MRI? You said the doc wasnt worried about it, but that he hadnt seen the films yet is that right? Hey, you're on the mend so it cant be too bad. Wonder if the doc will have a different opinion when he see's the pics.

Hey Funny,

Havent heard an update lately, how ya doin?

Mike[/QUOTE]

Welp, what I wrote is what the MRI results show. Granted, that was read by a generic .... MRI reader person. My NS (many of you may find this surprising to some degree at this point) is a top doc not only in my area but in all of US ... So... He REALLY wants to read it for himself - just to be assured of what it truely shows. He was not however concerned about the scar tissue based off of the reading alone.

And the reason I named it scar tissue is that is the... laymans term ... for the granular tissue. Its basically scar tissue. It also happens after ALL spine surgerys. People just don't know it bc they typically only get Xrays after. You need an MRI with contrast to see it ... So.. I'm MUCH less concerned than I was before. I think I was jumping to conclusions on my own (bad bad bad thing).

Matter of fact, I feel a lot better than I had when I originally started this thread... I haven't had a valium today either... So... I think (hope?) that I just had a VERY bad herniation (which my NS confirmed originally) and he probably had to get in there and really work me out to fix it the best he could... So.... I had a longer recovery than others.

Perhaps.

At least thats my hopes! :)

(I have gone from 24x7 pain to having hours at a time of just "waiting for it to kick in"... Feels GREAT!)

I hope others out there either getting the surgery / in the midst of it / etc in pain are finding help with my thread!!!

I am trying to do my best to post as often and as realisitc as possible.
[QUOTE=jjmaxx]acdfouch--I have found you and others on this thread to be very helpful. If you recall, I had c4-5 and c5-6 acdf on March 1st. The pain today is about double of what it was prior to surgery and the numbness in my left hand is probably triple what it was prior to surgery. When I saw my doc on monday, he said the xray looked good--fusion was starting and spacing was really good, and also my spine was getting straighter.

My question for you is why did your doc order another MRI post-op or did you request it--seems that is not unheard of that a few of us don't get the instant pain releif because it may just take longer for our spasms to calm down. I am not scheduled to see my doc again for another 3 weeks and he is going to do another xray at that time. However, at what point, if my pain does not improve, do I request another MRI (with contrast) and is there a reason I should have to ask for it as opposed to him recommending it? How far out post op where you when you did the second MRI and what exactly was your NS looking for in that post-op MRI?

Sorry for all the q's but you seem to have alot of godd advice.
Thanks bud.[/QUOTE]

Please!!! Ask as many questions as you want!! :)

Let's see.

I had the MRI half out of my own request because I had so much pain that he felt was somewhat unwarranted (at least to the level that I was having it....) ...

That said, keep in mind that I had the horner's syndrome ... etc etc... So.. I've had a really rough time so there certainly was (is) a metal element to all of this...

From there, I guess I'm lucky to have the guy I have. Although he felt it was somewhat ... not at the level that it is - he thought I was bringing some if it to the level it was on my own - he said ... well, just to make sure its NOT something else, lets get an MRI.

So, ultimately, he was the one to get it for me. It is very non-protocol to have it... So... Hopefully that answers your first question.

I would say that if you are STILL in pain after your next postop visit, perhaps you can ask for an MRI with CONTRAST. Contrast is CRITICAL for people with hardware. A normal MRI will likely show lots of black (where the hardware is) and not be as valuable as one without.

And he was basically looking for any re-herniation / slipped disc / etc that may be attributing to my pain that just cant be seen on an Xray.

Hope that helps!

And for me, I know that my muscle spasms REALLY can translate not only into new pain, but old too.

And in regards to the numbness - I wouldn't be overly concerned about that one... You got poked back there. And that 110% across the board seems to be the last thing to go according to just about everyone.

It's as common knowledge as not taking NSAIDs from what I see out there...
Dennis,

I couldnt agree more, being alone in my head is a scary place. All sorts o' critters come out. My symptoms had symptoms! Who feels like they have cold water running on the inside? It took some sorting through to get to the meat. Most of them dissipated over time. I'm still left with some serious stuff, but most of it is gone.

I did feel vindicated when they finally did the MRI and found reasons for what was left, I thought I was nuts for awhile. I really like my new doc but I'm uneasy with a couple things. I have a new herniated disc at c-3/4 which he doesnt think will be a problem, my old surgeon said the same, as well as workers comps Dr. But listen to the reports from the MRI and ct scan;

MRI
C3/4 there is a left paramedian disc herniation which contacts and slightly compresses the cervical cord. the disc height is well maintained. the c-4 neural foramina are widely patent.

CT
At the c-3/4 level there is degenerative disc disease. there appears to be a small blood based midline disc herniation. this results in mild central spinal canal narrowing. there is no foraminal stenosis.

See the conflict? I have the films as well. Looking at these the herniation definitly pushes the cord, not just the sack, in and to one side. This is at the top of the fused section and I assume it takes a beating. I dont want to go back under the knife after this next one.They'll be removing loose screws and possibly the plate(anterior) and c-5/7 fusion posterior. Also using autograft from hip. I want it to be the last time!

I would love to get another MRI before surgery to see if c-3/4 has settled down, just to be sure.

I also think(hope) some of the neuro symptoms will be relieved, but he says no. I show nerological deficits at all 4 extremities. I hope he is just painting the worst case scenario. I'll believe it when I see it, but that could take quite a while to get a clear picture.

I wonder, since you were part of a study if your Dr. was any more conservative than he would be normally. Was the study sponsored? I dont know how that stuff works.

Dennis, I've read every word you've written on this site, no research needed. That goes for most of the others I've talked to on here. It's a good group.

I cant tell you all how much I enjoy the fellowship.

as always....take it slow
[QUOTE=acdfouch]And the NS office nurse called back.

She was dumbfounded and had no real advice for me. Just said some people need more time than others and perhaps I was mistaking pain for tingles. [/QUOTE]

That made me laugh out loud, because my orthopedic surgeon's nurse has the exact same reaction to every symptom I report. Stunned, STUNNED I TELL YOU! that I could possibly be experiencing actual pain.

Posting in this thread because I like it, and would feel lonely out front. =)

I'm just over two months post-surgery. I wore a collar for two weeks, then was back on the job - the job being "sitting around for 8-12 hours a day", so it wasn't anything more strenuous than I'd get at home. Possibly less! =) My two week and 1.5 month x-rays have shown that fusion is proceeding as it should. I don't smoke, don't drink, don't do drugs. I was doing a ton of walking at first, but when my chest pains started, I quit for a while to find out what was going on. I'm trying to get back into it now that I have an all-clear from the GP.

My pain was hard to regulate, enough so that it kept me in the hospital an extra day while they figured out that the only drug that helped my pain before the surgery (oxycontin) was also the only drug that helped my pain after the surgery. But it was all pain I "recognized" at first as being related to having someone cut me open and poke around in my neck. The pain I'd gone in for - intense shoulder pain on the left side by the shoulderblade, just at the point of my shoulder, and slowly radiating down my left pain - was gone when I woke up and hasn't come back.

Weirdly, my pain got better up to a point - about a month ago. And then it changed and started getting worse. I must have called the nurse and the surgeon a hundred times asking them, "Is this normal? Is this supposed to feel this way?" and each time they were surprised, but said yes, it was normal, and I'd get better, give it time.

Specifically, the new pain is in my upper back - pretty much all of it - and in my chest wall. if I lean forward, my breastbone and right ribs hurt. If I lean back, pain shoots through every muscle from mid-back to the base of my neck. It's like I have no muscle strength at all anywhere in there anymore, so anything requiring the slightest support of my head - anything that pulls me slightly off balance - hurts. (btw, thanks for the description of what a "spasm" may actually feel like - I kept thinking my muscles would need to be twitching to have one, but apparently just incredible tension and achiness is also on the menu.)

My neck feels fine. I don't have any pain in the area where the surgery occurred, and no pain in the incision area (which is almost all healed up now - visible but not broken at all). I have a wide range of motion - I can look at my ceiling without pain, and from side to side about as much as I remember doing before. It's just that my entire torso *aches*.

I've started PT, and I'm really hoping that will help. I had to pretty much bully my surgeon into prescribing it. I'm on for a month of it, twice a week, until my next appointment with the surgeon where we'll re-evaluate.

For those of you who have gone to PT - did they test your upper back strength? My guy had me lie down on my stomach and hold my arms out to each side. Then he said, "I'm going to push down; try not to let me move your arms." But the second he touched them I folded - I literally had no strength to resist at all. I imagine that's part of what's causing the pain?

What I'm not getting is -- how could my muscles atrophy so much in *two weeks* (the time I was in the collar)? I had some pain pre-surgery, a lot of it actually, but only in two specific areas.

On the other hand... I never had an injury. The pain I had pre-surgery I've had for years and years, and always wrote off as "sleeping wrong". It would hurt a bit then go away. Only this last time it hurt like hell and didn't go away, and they carted me off to surgery after an MRI showed trouble at two levels. So maybe the weakness was always there, but now the muscles are trying to protect the area and don't have the strength for it?

My GP says the chest wall pain could be costochondritis brought about by the position they have you in during surgery - kind of butterflied, so they can get at your neck better. Unfortunately the only useful treatment for that is anti-inflammatories, which I can't take because I'm still fusing. Bah! =)

Other things that I've loved in this thread? The description of what this surgery can do to your *brain*. I read the pamphlets going in, the ones that tell you that minor depression afterwards is normal. I had no idea they'd mean THIS. I've turned into a total hypochondriac; every new symtpom has me convinced I'm dying. The chest pain was the worst of all - heart attack! CANCER! something awful, anyway, and I was convinced for days. It took negatives on a chest x-ray and ekg to convince me I wasn't about to keel over.

I live in an apartment with beautiful lake and city views, but have to close the blinds at night because the skyline - distant and dark - is too *depressing* for me. I went into this surgery with an almost obnoxiously cheerful personality and came out of it fighting to keep myself from descending into despair on a regular basis. It helps to know I'm not the only one out there predicting doom every time her fingers get tingly. (I did, for a brief period, think I had Parkinson's disease because my head would twitch minutely when I got really tired or cold. Doom!) I still have my sense of humor, thank god, but it's getting twice the work-out I normally give it. When you've had a heart attack, cancer, Parkinson's, and MS -- all in the same day -- a good sense of humor is imperative!

Anyway, mainly I wanted to post because I'm so relieved to finally find a place where people are talking about this stuff, and to know I'm not all by myself in it. I think my recovery is probably fairly normal at this point, but it's scary and lonely and weird, so reading this thread has been great for me.

And if anyone wants to tell me about how they also had chest and back pains and after a few months they went away... that would be okay, too! =)
I missed you guys! Ouch I did not have a good weekend. Matter of fact since Thursday when I had the relief PT gal I was in pain for 4 solid days. The only think I can figure is the way she jerked my neck around and had me increase the weight I was doing from 1lb to 3lbs. I am a glutten for punishment so I continued to walk with my baby in the morning and had a day or two of a short easy ride. Dang if I am going to be in pain I am going to do my fun part early before it all sets in. ( I had prior approval for all I do from my doctor). But the past few days have been aweful. My arms, shoulders, wrists hands and fingers hurt. Not tingle, not numb HURT! My left tricep felt like I had a broken bone and my forearms just felt like I had a bruised bone. All fingers hurt. Typing on this computer is a chore.

I did some jr. sluething and looked into having my ulnar nerve injured. Since I have so much pain around my elbows. I asked my doc today about that and he said it could be. He is going to order a EMG. Since this is workman's comp he isn't sure they will say I had these issues before hand. Which I have proof I didn't via films and 2 prior PT's who never heard me complain about this until this second injury and then I told 3 PTs about it. Plus I keep getting asked if I have TMJ since my jaw aches. I never have had it before and I do now.

Doc told me today that I may never be relieved of the pain. He keeps saying this type of injury should have been done asap. Not my fault. Yes I got preg 6 months after I started this entire thing. I blame the physiatrist(sp) who kept having me do PT and a PT who didn't believe it was my neck but thought shoulder. It took until the nerves in my forearms hurt so had I was unable to straighten my arms. I was then sent to NS who did MRI and said I needed immidiate surgery. It was WC who turned him down since he was retiring post 3 mo and it took 6-8 weeks to get into his replacement. Walla I was pregnant. I even had approval from my periontologist that during the second trimester the surgery could be done but noone wanted to go there. So dang it I did all I could do right and am made to feel that because I got pg I am in the shape I am in.....................ugh!

Dennis you were so lucky. I wish I could take my baby and my horses and be dropped off at a lake with mountains around so I could walk, stroll or ride and get some peace of mind back. Do not get me wrong I am not ready for work yet. I know I will go back to work and when physically I can I will. My mental side is just so concerned about right and wrong and if I will have WC following me when I walk down the road. I would love to be a stay at home mommie but I am not one. I am just blessed with being able to be at home so I can't get into a grove with that either. How long were you out of work?

Here I go again whinning................waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa but I just feel like I need to.

Thanks
[QUOTE=Backinthesaddle]I missed you guys! Ouch I did not have a good weekend. Matter of fact since Thursday when I had the relief PT gal I was in pain for 4 solid days. The only think I can figure is the way she jerked my neck around and had me increase the weight I was doing from 1lb to 3lbs. I am a glutten for punishment so I continued to walk with my baby in the morning and had a day or two of a short easy ride. Dang if I am going to be in pain I am going to do my fun part early before it all sets in. ( I had prior approval for all I do from my doctor). But the past few days have been aweful. My arms, shoulders, wrists hands and fingers hurt. Not tingle, not numb HURT! My left tricep felt like I had a broken bone and my forearms just felt like I had a bruised bone. All fingers hurt. Typing on this computer is a chore.

I did some jr. sluething and looked into having my ulnar nerve injured. Since I have so much pain around my elbows. I asked my doc today about that and he said it could be. He is going to order a EMG. Since this is workman's comp he isn't sure they will say I had these issues before hand. Which I have proof I didn't via films and 2 prior PT's who never heard me complain about this until this second injury and then I told 3 PTs about it. Plus I keep getting asked if I have TMJ since my jaw aches. I never have had it before and I do now.

Doc told me today that I may never be relieved of the pain. He keeps saying this type of injury should have been done asap. Not my fault. Yes I got preg 6 months after I started this entire thing. I blame the physiatrist(sp) who kept having me do PT and a PT who didn't believe it was my neck but thought shoulder. It took until the nerves in my forearms hurt so had I was unable to straighten my arms. I was then sent to NS who did MRI and said I needed immidiate surgery. It was WC who turned him down since he was retiring post 3 mo and it took 6-8 weeks to get into his replacement. Walla I was pregnant. I even had approval from my periontologist that during the second trimester the surgery could be done but noone wanted to go there. So dang it I did all I could do right and am made to feel that because I got pg I am in the shape I am in.....................ugh!

Dennis you were so lucky. I wish I could take my baby and my horses and be dropped off at a lake with mountains around so I could walk, stroll or ride and get some peace of mind back. Do not get me wrong I am not ready for work yet. I know I will go back to work and when physically I can I will. My mental side is just so concerned about right and wrong and if I will have WC following me when I walk down the road. I would love to be a stay at home mommie but I am not one. I am just blessed with being able to be at home so I can't get into a grove with that either. How long were you out of work?

Here I go again whinning................waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa but I just feel like I need to.

Thanks[/QUOTE]

I personally don't see it as whinning. You are looking for a place that you can express your feelings that are VERY difficult for others to understand. Go on with your bad self.

That said, I have had ALL of your symptoms. The jaw stuff. I have recently attributed that to my head exercises.... And I was recently told that I have TMJ (new to me) at a dentist appointment. If you look for another post I started outside of here, I had CRAZY bad pain in my elbow, wrist and fingers.... This was at about... week 7. It's subsided quite a bit and I thought the SAME exact reason as you - ulnar nerve. I have since had EMG and I do not have any evidence of this. (Things have been better too in this respect however).

You mention head jerking and the like.. Perhaps it is just simply too much? In a short paragraph or two - or even compare it to mine or dennis's workout... What are you doing in PT? Do you feel its too much?

Good luck and take it slow! :)

I also find that walking at LEAST thirty mins a day helps me as well.





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