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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board


Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index


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)
Touch-

My road to recovery was not as smooth as yours will be. I had a spinal fluid leak post surgery and spent 6 days in the ICU while it drained from a tap in my lumbar. That original ACDF was in 2002.

The surgeon left part of the middle disc in for stability. It later shifted and compressed my cord at C5/6. I just had a posterior laminectomy in February to fix that. So the whole process took 4 years. I begin PT for that surgery starting this coming Monday. it was my 4th (2 cervical, 2 lumbar). As far as I'm concerned, I'm done. Thus my handle, whackedback.

I'm only now beginning to feel normal.

wb
Touch-

My road to recovery was not as smooth as yours will be. I had a spinal fluid leak post surgery and spent 6 days in the ICU while it drained from a tap in my lumbar.

The surgeon left part of the middle disc in for stability. It later shifted and compressed my cord at C5/6. I just had a posterior laminectomy in February to fix that. So the whole process took 4 years. I begin PT for that surgery starting this coming Monday. it was my 4th (2 cervical, 2 lumbar). As far as I'm concerned, I'm done. Thus my handle, whackedback.

I'm only now beginning to feel normal.

wb
[QUOTE=whackedback]Touch-

My road to recovery was not as smooth as yours will be. I had a spinal fluid leak post surgery and spent 6 days in the ICU while it drained from a tap in my lumbar.

The surgeon left part of the middle disc in for stability. It later shifted and compressed my cord at C5/6. I just had a posterior laminectomy in February to fix that. So the whole process took 4 years. I begin PT for that surgery starting this coming Monday. it was my 4th (2 cervical, 2 lumbar). As far as I'm concerned, I'm done. Thus my handle, whackedback.

I'm only now beginning to feel normal.

wb[/QUOTE]

Wow! Jeez. Good to hear that you are at least getting on the track to recovery!
[QUOTE=acdfouch]And after posting my last message... I had one more thought / question.

To all of you that were "pain-free" after surgery.... What do you mean by that?

The "intense" pain that you had was gone, but still some lingering pain / numbness or it was REALLY all gone.

I wonder if that definition is what had me overly concerned too....[/QUOTE]

I am 90% better than I was before the surgery. I can maintain about a 99% pain free situation, as long as I am diligent about excercise. This is one of the most important things, and the most difficult for me, as I didn't excercise much before my surgery. If I miss a session, I feel it. My neck will tighten up and the muscles will spasm. I'm hoping that at some point down the road this won't be as critical, because I travel quite a bit for my job, and it's hard to carry my weights with me.

I was in terrible pain before the surgery. I had "instant" relief right after the procedure. So much so, I didn't take many meds. The pain from the surgery was about 25% of the pain I had before. Now, during recovery, there were spasms and issues like everyone that goes through this, but within 3-4 months, I was so much better.

I am able to do things that were impossible before my surgery. I painted my 2 story house last summer. I couldn't climb a ladder before, let alone look up to paint eaves. I love to fish, and could not get on a boat before surgery, because one bump would put me down in pain. Now, I have made three deep sea fishing trips (I live in the midwest US), and fish my home lakes regularly.

I could go on and on, but other than a slight tingle (hardly noticeable), in my left index finger on occasion, the pain from before the surgery is gone. I am also in the best physical shape since I was in my 20's (I'm 54), due to the excercise regime.
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!
[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.
Mike,

I don't have a problem with your using me :-)

I wish more people here could have the same results that I have. Although my docs were very conservative, keeping me in the collar longer, restricting activity and weight. I couldn't drive for 8 weeks. I was on a 10 lbs lifting restriction for 3 months. 25lbs for six. My doc has been involved with numerous studies and has written a number of papers on ACDF. He is well respected, and lectures on the subject all over the country. My case may have been different than most, but he seemed to be following a normal course all though very conservative. While I hated the collar, and wanted it off, I trusted what he was telling me, and stuck with it.

I didn't have everything go perfectly, but was patient with the process, and recovery. If you go back in my posts, you will find that it was not all that different.

Honestly, once I got to the point where I could do the Physical Therapy, then I really started to feel better. It took about 6-8 weeks of excercise, before I really felt good. The excercise was very difficult at first, I couldn't do but a few reps of each exercise initially. Then as I gradually built up, the results were amazing. Once you strengthen and loosen up, you can tell the difference from the spasms caused by the surgery and pain.

I don't think I can stress enough how important the excercise is once you get to the point where your docs will let you do it. Then, you have to keep with it. It's important to learn the correct way to do the excercises too. Particularly the crunches, as you can put stress on your neck if you do them wrong. Eventually, you can tell when you do them right, by the burn in the muscles. It takes me 15-20 minutes every other day, and it helps so much.

I don't take any pain medicine (no aspirin, no Tylenol). I stopped the medicines not long after surgery.

Probably the other thing that changed my life was being able to sleep. I went for years getting 2-4 hours at a time, because my pain was so bad that it would wake me up. Now, I sleep for 8 hours. That makes such a difference in how you feel.

There is no question my life has been changed by this. I told my surgeon at my last visit that he had given me my life back. He was embarassed by this, and said he was just doing his job...I see it differently.

Sitting in the fighting chair on the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii, with a Marlin on the line, twice since my surgery...well, I had only dreamed about doing that again. I wouldn't have lasted 10 minutes before the surgery. would have been lucky to crank the real a few times. Both times, I was out all day, And in the chair numerous times. Brought in 4 fish! No problem.

There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Dennis
[QUOTE=Backinthesaddle]Ouch what did the NS say about PT?

I do not take anything now regularily. An occasional Naperson and muscle relaxer but truely nothing works so why bother. I almost thought I was going to have a semi painfree day. At least I did in the morning for a bit. That was nice. Sigh I really want a 2 hour massage. Must look into that.

Hey Ouch or other friends is it me only or did/do you all have jaw pain?[/QUOTE]

Today was actually a very good day at the NS.

He said that my fusion was happening - FAST ... Like surprisingly fast.

I say its becasue of my diet - I am strict veg these days with only fish as my source of meat... And I take great supplements and vitamins (and when I get my soy milk) ... Sooo Shrug! I guess all that matters is that it is happening!

In regards to PT, I have a script so I start whenever I can.

Gonna call around tomorrow.

In regard to jaw wierdness, I had face numbness as well with mine.. And a bit of dizzyness... A lot (if not most) has been resolved since surgery in that realm. Matter of fact, I didn't realise it until today that that was the case.

I also got my MRIs back from the doc now that surgery is over.... I took a look at em and it is VERY clear that my thecal sac indentation was RIGHT there on the spinal cord... So this may have been worse than I was led to believe before I met my NS...

I also feel this may be attributed to why it is taking me so long....

But generally speaking, today was a pretty good day - I do see small improvements day to day.

I also got a script for flexeril. Apparently this will knock me on my butt so I probably won't take it until this evening before bed.

Other than that... Takin it one day at a time. But like I said, there is a distant, dimly lit light at the end of the tunnel that I am starting to see!

It's actually very exciting.

Best of luck to everyone that is reading this thread and shares the longer-than-typical recovery!!!
Hey Ouch,

You said you didnt have swallowing issues pre-surgery and it feels like you have something stuck in your throat occasionally, uh, thats because you do have something stuck in your throat!! Sorry, I'm easily amused. I'll feel like an *** if it is a problem. I apologize in advance. (we have to keep a sense of humor and I have a warped one sometimes)

I went through the typical sore throat/swallowing issues initially. Then about a month ago I was looking up (at one of my MRI films, what a suprise huh?) About an hour later I was brushing my teeth and noticed my throat hurt a little. You know how your windpipe moves side to side, well, I was rubbing around my incision and when I moved my windpipe a little I felt it snag on something and then kinda tear loose. Thats the best way I can describe it. It was tender for a week or so. On of the screws in C-7 is backed out about 3/8ths of an inch and I assume thats what it snagged on. Scared me a little, but its ok now. I can feel it when I gently move my windpipe. I go to the Dr. tommorrow for my pre-surgery appointment so I'll tell him then. It has been kinda weird swallowing from the beginning though, I kinda have to bob my head when I swallow, it's not a big problem and it's to be expected since theres a plate in there!

I would guess yours is PROBABLY nothing to worry about. You feel better, move your head more, more physical activity in general, yadda yadda, you'll probably just have to live with it.

Insert my usual disclaimer here

Heres to your continued recovery and as always.....take it slow

Mike
[QUOTE=mb100]Hey Ouch,

You said you didnt have swallowing issues pre-surgery and it feels like you have something stuck in your throat occasionally, uh, thats because you do have something stuck in your throat!! Sorry, I'm easily amused. I'll feel like an *** if it is a problem. I apologize in advance. (we have to keep a sense of humor and I have a warped one sometimes)

I went through the typical sore throat/swallowing issues initially. Then about a month ago I was looking up (at one of my MRI films, what a suprise huh?) About an hour later I was brushing my teeth and noticed my throat hurt a little. You know how your windpipe moves side to side, well, I was rubbing around my incision and when I moved my windpipe a little I felt it snag on something and then kinda tear loose. Thats the best way I can describe it. It was tender for a week or so. On of the screws in C-7 is backed out about 3/8ths of an inch and I assume thats what it snagged on. Scared me a little, but its ok now. I can feel it when I gently move my windpipe. I go to the Dr. tommorrow for my pre-surgery appointment so I'll tell him then. It has been kinda weird swallowing from the beginning though, I kinda have to bob my head when I swallow, it's not a big problem and it's to be expected since theres a plate in there!

I would guess yours is PROBABLY nothing to worry about. You feel better, move your head more, more physical activity in general, yadda yadda, you'll probably just have to live with it.

Insert my usual disclaimer here

Heres to your continued recovery and as always.....take it slow

Mike[/QUOTE]

No worries on the joke.

:)

From the sounds of things, I don't THINK I have the same problem as you do... Probably more of a "there is something in there" kinda thing...

I would assume that when I eat and stuff, I could bring it on...

One thing that does have my curiousity peaked a bit tho is that when I move my neck to the left, I think I can replicate the feeling.

Just hope that's not something backing out on me!

Mmmmm.. So it sounds like you give a vote on not looking up too much :)

What levels did you have done again?
[QUOTE=dennisgb]You may not like this.

The answer to your question is NEVER.

My doc would not let me go on the neck machines, and never asked for neck flex excercises. The idea of the excercises they gave me was to strengthen the neck without putting pressure on it.

Personally, I think you are too early in your recovery to be doing any of the stuff that puts stress on the neck. I have been hearing more and more people on here talking about this and other things that I would consider "risky" at earlier and earlier points in recovery.

I was told that the bones are not fused for 1 year. Why put stress on it before it is fused?

The most important thing I can say is, "You know your own body...listen to it." If something doesn't make sense or feel right you should make the decision.

When I went to PT, my doc told me to not get on the flex machines. When I got there, the first thing they said was "We'll put you in this machine to flex your neck." I said, my doc said no. "Oh, some are okay with it and others aren't."

I thought to myself, 'If I hadn't said anything...'

You read what you want into that. I think there is a gap in communication, as well as mistakes being made wanting to please patients who want "Instant Results".

I'm on a soap box here, but the way I felt about it, is that I did not want anything to happen to mess things up. I didn't want to go through the surgery again.

One last story about getting things right. I am alergic to aspirin and ibroprophen. It almost killed me. So, I am being prept for surgery, have my alergy wrist band on. The anastegiologist (sp) comes in and is telling me about what they will be doing. I ask him if he is aware that I am alergic to aspirin and ibroprophen? He turns white as a sheet and stares at me with a blank look. "Boy, it's a good thing you asked that question, because one of the things I was going to give you contains aspirin."

Take control, make your own decisions. Listen closely to what's being said. Don't assume that everyone knows what their doing...

Dennis[/QUOTE]

I agree 110%.

If I'm not comfortable doing something, I'm not doing it.

I have no intention of going through this ordeal again if I can do anything to avoid it!

I try and have as much proper posture as possible - a VERY big leap from where I was before with things.

I was a typical "rounded-shoulder", drooped-head type person. Matter of fact, I can remember when I went for one of my first massages to see if I could find any relief that way... They told me to stand up and looked me over to see if they had an indication as to why I was there.

They hit the nail right on the head.

My head dropped to the right as to protect the area of my injury. I never even noticed myself doing it.

Now I sit at the computer looking straight ahead using my eyes - not my head to look at the screen.

I think a lot of things had me progressing backwards the past week or so.

I started PT two weeks ago. I started work one week ago... I went from 0 to 60 in about .5 seconds.

And my body said no.

So I'm listening.

I do appreciate your comments as always.

I would love to bounce this off my NS / team but unfortunately, their perspective on it at this point is that I am in the hands of the PT and what they feel is proper is ... proper.

Gotta love it.
[QUOTE=acdfouch]Little quick update directed to dennis :

Dennis,

I asked my PT about the stretching ... Here's what he had to say :

The "gentle" stretches that I have been doing are just that - gentle.. And he said that I have more possibility of doing "damage" doing daily things - things that would make me jerk my neck around in a rapid motion - not turning my head side to side slowly or up and down...

I'm interested to hear your thoughts!

What do you make of all that?

It kinda leads me to a question I was going to ask you before this conversation.. Would you say that you never look up and down? Or are you cautious to eliminate it as much as possible? Just curious - thanks![/QUOTE]

Ouch,

Well, my opinion is still the same. If you are moving your head, even "gently" to the ends of rotation, I don't think it is good at this point in your recovery. If your not going that far, then it's okay, and will help strengthen the neck.

As far as my situation, at some point, I was able to move my head in all directions. I can't remember when that was exactly, but today, my movements are normal, without pain, and to be honest, I can't tell the difference from before the surgery, even with 2 levels fused. I think thats because I had so much pain before my movements were limited.

As far as limiting movement conciously...I don't...I don't think about it anymore. I am careful of shock type things, like roller coasters, off roading, hitting waves with my boat...

Dennis
[QUOTE=dennisgb]Ouch,

Well, my opinion is still the same. If you are moving your head, even "gently" to the ends of rotation, I don't think it is good at this point in your recovery. If your not going that far, then it's okay, and will help strengthen the neck.

As far as my situation, at some point, I was able to move my head in all directions. I can't remember when that was exactly, but today, my movements are normal, without pain, and to be honest, I can't tell the difference from before the surgery, even with 2 levels fused. I think thats because I had so much pain before my movements were limited.

As far as limiting movement conciously...I don't...I don't think about it anymore. I am careful of shock type things, like roller coasters, off roading, hitting waves with my boat...

Dennis[/QUOTE]

Very well put!

I thought this would be the way you were leaning (no pun intended! :D) but I wanted to get your thoughts on things too... I do value it!

I'm anxious to see what the NS thinks of the fusion. I have the scan from last week and it looks pretty far along if not fused to me... I compared it to images on the web and theres not too much black, if any, in between the two levels.

And that is great to hear still that you simply "forget about it".

Can't wait for that day!
[QUOTE=kross426]I keep watching for updates :) . My turn is 05/18 :D ! I need all the information I can get :wave: .[/QUOTE]

I love to hear that it helps people out there!!!!

That seems to make all this worthwhile!

Well - I still have a bit of the sinus stuff going.. I *SWEAR* I never used to have this allergy / sinus issue before surgery... Is it possible to inherit allergies??? :)

Anyway..., Past few days I have had good and bad times... But the good have been... REALLY good.

And the bad have been pretty bad... But Im acutally starting to see a good ratio of 50/50 ...So... That's a LOT of progress to me.

MATTER OF FACT... Told the wife these exact words :

"... I'm so used to being in pain 24x7 of some type... Never a 0 on the level.. Well. It didn't last hours BUT for the first time in recent memory... I had 0! *0*!"

So... I guess there is hope out there!

I have had a bit of pain off and on and I attribute that to doing the "right" stuff in PT... I'm hoping in a few weeks I'll be even better!

So - all of you out there.... Another word of warning from the new me.. Get the right PT!!!

It can help if you have a harder recovery than most!

(congrats to dennis on giving this advice over and over :D)
[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! =)
[QUOTE=merryish]That's the most important thing anyone has said to me about the recovery process from ACDF. Ouch said it a while back, and hearing it off and on throughout these threads has saved my life. Or at least, my [I]quality[/I] of life! Being afraid that I was regressing, or that my pain was abnormal and meant there was something else terribly wrong, or that it would never get better, consumed the better part of the last month for me. It's only since finding this board and starting PT that I've begun to feel like myself again.

So, thanks for saying that. I'm going to have to make sure I find someone to say it to, myself.[/QUOTE]

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

It's THIS kind of post that makes me feel like all of this ranting was worth something!! I REALLY appreciate it (and I'm sure dennis does as well).

I saw your post on the lasik side when I poked around, and figured out that you had your surgery sometime in jan / feb timeframe? How are you doing overall? Better than the previous month etc etc? What kind of PT are you doing...

Just curious if you have time!
[QUOTE=merryish]Thanks for asking!

The lasik went great, I had some issues at first but they've all resolved. The weirdest thing was that my dry-eye from the Lasik was apparently cured by my two night hospital stay for the ACDF! =) I went in needing eye drops hourly, and came out not needing them at all. No idea how THAT happened.

The Lasik was in December, mid-month; the neck problems (which I thought were back problems) started to intensify at the end of February. I was out of work from about the 23rd of that month to the 21st of March. Actual ACDF was 3/6. I have to say, there's nothing like a round of cervical herniation to take your mind off your eye troubles!

I'm doing really well, I think, now that I'm in the PT. I checked out your other thread, and I seem to be doing a lot of what you were with your first therapist -- just without any weights.

a) 4 minutes on the hand-cycle, low intensity, just to loosen up

b) about 10 minutes of deep tissue massage to loosen up whatever's spasming (he's finally stopped being shy and really works me over - and it's helping a LOT)

c) various strengthening exercises with the pulleys, with no weights. The thing like you're trying to start a lawnmower, then pull-backs, and pushes; there's an area of my thoracic spine with almost no mobility, so he wants me to do things that loosen that up some - 3 reps of 15

d) the thing where you pretend someone is holding a pencil against your spine and you try to hold it there with your shoulder blades. I do that with stretchy things in my hands for resistance now, I've graduated from teal to blue. I do that with elbows bent, and then with arms straight down - 3 reps of 15

e) holding my arms out in front, clasped, elbows straight, trying to pull my hands apart - which stretches across my shoulders. 3 of those, 15 second hold.

f) something he calls "the cat", where I'm on hands and knees and arch my back up by segments, then lower it by segments - starting with head tucked, ending with head up and butt sticking out (it's VERY dignified.) as many of those as I feel like I can handle

At home, he's got me doing 3 sets of 20 punches, lying on my back and punching up from the shoulder; 3 sets of 15 with the stretchy bands, elbows bent and elbows straight; a pec stretch I do standing in a doorway; and a thing where I lay on my side with my arms out in front of me, and swing one arm up, following it with my head, until it's just back over my shoulder; 3 sets of 15 on each side.

I also do some isometric stuff - the pressing your head against your hand, front back and sides, about 5 seconds 5 times. And finally, I get iced; that's my favorite part.

I'm going every Tuesday and Thursday morning for an hour. Writing it all out it seems pretty extreme, but it's actually pretty gentle. I'm not doing any PT for my neck at all; just for my back, which was horribly weakened by the surgery. I was feeling pretty awful right before I started the PT two weeks ago - taking darvocet every night to sleep, and baclofen as well some nights, and tylenol on days I didn't take the darvocet. Now, most days I don't take anything, and it's achy, but not the scary "something is wrong!" ache - more like the "ow, but I can tell it's getting better" ache.

I have occasional random numbness in my fingertips, and I have muscle twitches in odd places - under my left arm, where I had a significant weakness (that's what made them do the surgery), left thigh... but not really often. I had a weird head-twitch thing for a little while that was never enough for anyone to notice but me, but it was scary - I thought I had nerve damage, or worse. That's gone now; it comes back when I'm chilled, but I'm pretty sure it's a normal part of the shiver reflex for me.

I realized today that in general, my pain is positional - "it hurts when I do this" rather than "it hurts all the time". Sitting around, standing around, even walking, my pain scale is a zero. It's just that there are still some normal things - like leaning back, or tilting my head back a little bit - that I wish I could do, and so far I can't. Not because of my neck, which seems to have a full range of motion; because of the muscles in my back.

Weird, huh?[/QUOTE]


Not so wierd at all.. And I dumped that other PT so I'm very on track with things that you are doing these days so no more weights for me (except 2 pounds on shoulder shrugs)

Sounds like you are on the road to recovery - quickly too!

Congrats! :)
[QUOTE=acdfouch]All made perfect sense.

Today I'm having one of those lingering days... I think I may have tried to do a little too much yesterday (as it was a "good" day) and now am paying the price a little...

I have my PT today so hopefully getting in there and moving things around will help a bit!

I can tell where I am at today may stick around a bit... I'll have my good days and I'll have my bad... But the gaps between the two will improve and feel better overall.

I'm looking forward to that 6 month marker! Seems like I have been going down a similar path as you so far.[/QUOTE]

I was thinking, that there are three things going on. One is the healing from the surgery...the cutting and stitching part. The second is the muscle atrophy (sp), from lack of use, and damage done while in pain before surgery. The third is the recovery of the nerves. Part of that is from the time they spent being pinched and abraded. The other is from the manipulation of them during surgery. I really think these are three completely separate parts of what our bodies are dealing with. I think the nerve recovery is responsible for some of the "weird" feelings...some of which is very different from what we were used to before the surgery.

Dennis
[QUOTE=dennisgb]I was thinking, that there are three things going on. One is the healing from the surgery...the cutting and stitching part. The second is the muscle atrophy (sp), from lack of use, and damage done while in pain before surgery. The third is the recovery of the nerves. Part of that is from the time they spent being pinched and abraded. The other is from the manipulation of them during surgery. I really think these are three completely separate parts of what our bodies are dealing with. I think the nerve recovery is responsible for some of the "weird" feelings...some of which is very different from what we were used to before the surgery.

Dennis[/QUOTE]

Now that time... You put it in perfect words that demonstates my viewpoint on everything as well.

If I had to guess, the first healing probably is the first two months point.

The second is the sixth month point.

And the third is (hopefully) by year 1.

How about you?
.... And some days you hit a bump in the road.

Been some time that I felt the need to take off from work but today is one of those days.

I had a grrrreat weekend and probably overdid things and I have been paying since.

I took a skelaxin for some extra support today for the first time in weeks.

As I thumb this (on blackberry) I'm waiting to see if it will help.

I actually feel reallllllly guilty I haven't done my walk.

That's a great feeling! Guess I'm really getting into it.

The pain is hovered in the shoulder area and around to my scapuylar area. Anything from a burn to an fuzzy ache.

See what tomorrow and later brings.

I had a great conversation however with my pt yesterday.

Told him I was bummed over feeling this way and asked some questions :

I hurt and I'm bummed. Some people wake up 110 percent. Assuming surgery itself was a success and nothing goes wrong is it safe to say some people have nerve damage while others do not and can this present itself as a longer recovery?

A resounding yes. The sooner you get the surgery, the better chances for getting the initial full relief.

Nerves grow an inch a month - full benefit of two years. Can you equate that to length of referred pain? In other words, the pain in say my shoulder - will that go away in six months.

Great and logical info here. The answer is no. The pain is referred pain from a damaged nerve. In other words, the nerve could be damaged let's say a total of five inches (oversimplifing).... Its the last two (making this up) that is causing all the shoulder reffered pain.... Hence why you should not give up hope all things being equal.

I was having difficulties in the prognosis of 3-6 months recovery until I heard this.

It makes logical sense and gives me something to keep pressing on with.

So - on I go!


I don't know if this info helps anyone else, but its this type of stuff that I personally have a desire to know.

And I'm not out searching for fluff - I need reasoning and I believe I got it yesterday. That in turn makes it easier to press on while things aren't quite 100 percent.





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