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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

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According to my neurosurgeon, the bones will continue to fuse for a year to year and a half. Are you wearing a bone growth stimulator? If so, I highly recommend it. You should be fused in about 1.5 yrs.
yes I have bone growth stimulator, but I hate wearing it. I am suppose to wear it 4 hours a day! I suppose I need to start making myself do that. The burning is getting horrible and I can't find anything that helps. My pain management doc increased the topamax to 300 mg a day. So going to try that for a while. I have had other friends who have had this done and they fused rather quickly, why is it taking mine so long? I wonder if he had used my bone if it would have fused any faster? and is there a chance he will have to redo this?
I'm sorry to jump in with a question of my own, but what's a bone growth stimulator? My NS told me I'd be fused in 4 months, though he did add that it can take longer for some, said it could be 6 months or even to a year if someone has difficulties. He made it sound that fusion was most common in 4 months, but not a sign of anything bad if it took longer. He never said anything about a stimulator, but that sounds like a real help.
Meghan -11 & 1/2 wks post acdf & 6 weeks post lumb lam
A couple of questions about your procedure:

1) Did you have donor bone, did they harvest some of your own bone (typically from your hip), or did they use some artificial means?

2) Did you get a plate and screws to stabilize the vertebrae while fusing occurs, or did you use a collar, or both?

Assuming you had donor bone and a plate (because that seems to be what most of us here have experienced) - fusing is a process that takes a year or so to complete. The donor bone is gradually replaced by new bone produced by the body, and the donor bone is simply a medium for that growth to take place. Eventually all of the donor bone gets replaced, and what is left is a single bone mass - the vertebrae on either side, and the 'new' bone where the disc used to be.

In my case, the new bone growth could be seen on x rays a month after the surgery, but only on the edges at first. MRIs taken 14 and 14 months later show new bone growth throughout.

Each case is different, so your mileage may vary! But assuming you also have the plate, there should be no movement of the vertebrae, and pain should be minimal at this point - so I wonder if you've got other things going on as well as the surgery recovery?

And, you MUST follow the post-op directions if you want to maximize your chances for a good outcome, so if you're supposed to be using the bone growth stimulator, you really should make every effort to do so!

Best wishes for a good outcome!
Yes I had a donor bone and plate and screws. I also still have this weird burning pain when I do exercise. They think it because I have not fused yet.
If I try to do any exercise simple as walking it causes the burning in the back of my neck to start up. It is the strangest feeling and sometimes becomes unbearable if I walk or do exercise to much. They think it is coming from the fusion. Because they cannot find any other explanation for it. Had the same burning before the surgery as well. I just pray that as the fusion heals it will get better. My pain management doctor says I will continue to have this until I fuse. What do you think?

A bone growth stimulator is a battery operated unit worn around the area needing healing. So this can be used for surgery or even for non healing fractures.

For my cervical fusion I had a bone growth stimulator and it aided the fusion. Mine hung around my neck and I wore it for 4 hours per day.

I had the bone growth stimulator and wore it 4 hours per day. At 6 months I was about 75% fused. My surgeon said a full fusion is usually at 12 months if I followed the rules of no NSAIDS (aspirin, aleve, iburpofen, etc) and wore the bone growth stimulator. At 12 months I was fused - though he said it even continues to strengthen up until the 18 month mark in some people.

But I didn't have the type of pain you are describing. Is this new since the surgery or has it been there all along? I woke up from ACDF and my searing nerve pain was gone.

Hi Dredd, I had a L4-5 dischotomy in 2001 and a donor bone, plate and screws in C5-6 and will eventually have to have C6-7 done. Although I still smoke (yes, I know it is bad for me and terrible for my discs), I have remarkably been growing bone fairly quickly but was told by my neurosurgeon that bone growth continues for at least 1 1/2 years. It sounds like that part is ok for you. The pain you talk about sounds like the nerve damage I sustained when my disc finally ruptured. The nerves were so inflammed that even after major repair it took 10 months for the pain to finally ease off to a now and again twinge. 7 years later, and I don't have that particular pain. Hang in there, our bodies heal at different rates, and it is important to do simple exercise at a slow pace and gradually build up. Your body is taking its time healing and you have to allow yourself that time AND follow instructions from your medical team. Best of luck to you!
Mim Gregg

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