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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index


I'm Akiko, and this is my 1st post... Well, I fell backwards on the back of my head, dislodging my C5-C6 vertebrates. These were fused at Mass General Hospital exactly 2 months ago (6 hour surgery), which was followed by 3 weeks at Spaulding Rehab.

I've weaned myself off the neck-brace over the last 2-3 weeks. However, I still am having a lot of arm, hand and foot pain (the exact location/intensity of these changes almost daily), as well as some sporadic right-side numbness. In fact, there has been pain in, say, location "X" one week, then gone a few weeks later, then it's come back again even worse?! I'm on Oxycodone / Motrin / Tylenol for the pain, but wish to wean myself off these as well.

I just want to know if I can expect these symptoms to continue or improve. My X-rays / MRI's I'm told are fine, and I'm slated for a follow-up MRI /appointment on 08-08-11... Could these be symptoms of the neck nerve healing? God gave us too many nerves!

Thank you so much,
This can definitely be caused by the injury/surgery. Spine injuries recover very slowly as does the area that was operated on. I broke the lamina of C 5and 6 and bone grafts that had been put in previously at C4-5and 6 and wound up with incomplete paralysis and lots of pain, coming and going, numbness coming and going, and the strangest sensations you can imagine.But it all slowly but surely settled down and and VERY slowly went away. Even the paralysis went away...most of it.

But it can take months. Mine took 2 1/2 years. Nerves just take a long time to heal.

I wouldn't worry unless you find that you have increasing weakness. That needs your doc to take a look.

I was the opposite end of town...New England Baptist. Just there last week. Boy I hate Boston traffic!

Hugs.............Jenny(fused C3 to T1)
jenny is soo right about the healing process with spine surgerys/injuries. but what i am wondering here considering your foot is also involved along with you even HAVING to spend any time at all in what is a rehab facility and not have been discharged directly from the surgical hosp to home? did you have ANY actual cord contact or injury upon your initial MRI? do you have a copy of that inital MRI to type out here word for word? having our own copies of ANY and ALL types of ongoing testing results really ARE needed since this IS just a big part of our ongoing medical/injury history. the overall "wording' that identifies a specific finding or impact to the cord really IS crucial to tell where exactly it was and overall level/depth of injury too. and also knowing if this area actually 'fragmented" at all is VERY helpful since it can place certain fragments into very delicate areas as well. if you either have that copy of that first MRI or can obtain one from either your ordering doc or the facility where it was done would really truely be so much better in knowing what was impacted in you and what your symptoms just are at all and tracking them back to the real underlying source by how they are presenting too. there just really is alot that can be gleaned in simply looking at the actual rad report and how he or she worded specific findings.

just exactly what did you sopecifically have to go to rehab for? what area was not up to par that even required the rehab facility at all? that answer IS very important to try and help you here.

i am also wondering if they did what is referred to as 'intra operative monitoring" on you too? this is where they place little electrodes all over your body to simply better monitor all of your motor and sensory nerves during surgeries that are a bit more higher risk for cord contact or if that cord itself is actually invloved in your actual need for surgery. they did NOT do this on me with my c spine surgeries for my herniated disc and the hardware placement surgeries, but when i had to have a surgery where they had to actually go/cut into my spinal cord to resect a glob of blood vessels, i DID have that then. the neurophysiatrist who actually does this level of monitoring in patients would usually introduce themselves to you and also tell you what his or her responsibilitys were during your actual surgery if you DID indeed have this. it just means that your cord was at high risk for being hit/potentially damaged, or it actually already(from the level of your injury)suffered some level of real damage. this is simply like a form of early warning system for the NS as he navigates around very delicate areas that allows him to know by virtue of your own possible motor or sensory changes/responses upon the monitor that the surgeon is in danger of hitting some level of your cord and to back off.

its just what you are feeling and where that has me more concerned that your injury was not 'just' something calling for simple fusion, but potentially also impacting your cord as well? if that is true, your healtime and esp ewhat is even POSSIBLE to actually 'feel' or esp even 'percieve' is simply 'going on(like an action or activity TO your body) is even possible.

while i was healing from my cord surgery, esp during that first year, every SINGLE day was different from the 'yesterday' i went to bed with. soo much and so many different things would change like a pain turning into some stupid sensation or vice versa constantly. and the wierd "perceptions' of things that just truely 'felt' like someone was 'doing something TO my body" were over the top at times and felt sooo flippin real it was crazy. but one really helpful thing i did that not only is something i can still, and do look back to as a timeline of my post op healing and the changes and certain 'syndromes' that can set in once your cord is simply damged in any way was with 'journaling" anything and everything that just 'was different/changed or set in on me. this really HAS been soo very very helpful in determining so many different things for me later on and things/potential symptoms of 'something' i could have easily forgetten about had i not actually written them down with date and time? and it also really helped my NS to better evaluate potential areas of damage that were not at all certain post op too? its just what you feel post op and the intial like month or so(alot of inflammation and swelling can stay for quite a while), seriously can change in oh so many different ways down the road.

are the symptoms you are feeling NOW the very same as pre op post injury or different in any way shape or form? this too is a rather crucial question. but knowing just exactly what was listed word for word upon that inital MRI would really help us to know now. it kind of tells its 'own' story' about the whys of what you may be feeling and from what level of real impact too.

how soon after your injury did you have surgery and when did they actually do that initial MRI? was it in an ER immediately following injury or at some point after when things had a chance to 'settle' and clam down? and just becasue your NS told you everything was 'fine' you STILL NEED to obtain that and every other type of test result from here on out as well to 'see' what HIS definition of 'fine' actually is with your specific situation. trust me on this one, not every doc, and ESP surgeons will always even tell you what is actually even IN your very own reports, only what 'they feel' is pertinent for you to actually know. and that is the bigger reason for always getting a copy of every single type of testing report for YOUR own medical records you just do keep on yourself at home too. you need ALL of those MRI reports along with obtaining all medical records from that surgical hosp esp the 'op notes" from your actual surgery too? these are like a timeline of events or transcript OF just YOUR surgery that tell you what they found and how the mitigated it. they can reveal alot in some cases. you just call the hosp and ask for the medical records dept and ask them how do i obtain all my surgical/medical records. amnd make siure to state, when theysend out what is called a release of information sheet, that you specifically ask for everything included IN your medical file esp the op notes. and if they DID use intra op monitoring on you, that neuro phys also has to make HIS own intra op notes too.

this simply gives you as much overall info of your injury, surgery and alot of other vital info for YOU to always have.
but getting copies of those MRIs right now really needs to be done first. the easiest way is to actually go to the facility that did them and ask for your own copy of the rad reports. you fill out that lil release, and they can run off copies right then and there.

you can also get copies of all your rehab records too which are really helpful in knowing what your baseline was when you arrived and how your actual rehab course went too. just some stuff i really think you need to do here akiko, for alot of real solid reasons. esp considering what you are displaying now? while as was said, this can simply be YOUR particular healing course(and it CAN get a bit more wierd than it is even now too, normal healing), it could mean other things too. you just wont truely know until more time actually passes. while some things can be permanent(esp if that cord was actually impacted in any way) and some still has alot of room to return to 'normal' here too. its just the way this crap works unfortuentley. but it still needs to be noted, journaled and told to your surgeon too. this way you know he IS simply aware.

but anymore info you can share, re the questions i asked, would seriously help us to best help you right now. good luck akiko, marcia
Thank you all for your replies, I really appreciate it!

As to your questions, feelbad, I did have some cord trauma (though, no "fragmented" bone, per se), as well as tore some of the ligiments that surround and hold the vertebre in place.

After my fall, I couldn't move my legs at all (my husband had to call 911 - thank God he was there). The numbness ran fast up from my feet to my abdomen. It was the scariest moment of my life! I had my surgery about 14 hours later. 8 days after this, I was sent from the hospital to rehab for almost 3 weeks.

As of now, I don't have any MRI copies, but thanks for the advice - I will look into obtaining them.

As for rehab, I needed this because my walking was not good (wobbly), due to that slowly recovering lower weakness/numbness (I was using a walker for a week or two), and my upper back & shoulders/arms/hands were really weak and painful (the former partly due, of course, to that annoying neck-brace).

And, yes, I did have that inter-operative electrode monitoring. But I was told this was only a precaution (in surgery, it never indicated anything went wrong or that the cord was touched).

Since post-op, I am doing better. I was just wondering what to expect with respect to this ongoing left arm/hand pain, the aforementioned "patches" of lower numbness, and the burning sensations in my foot (like hot sand).

My rehab rep. told me that nerves heal the slowest (about 1 milimeter per day), so I guess I'm in for the long haul here. However, I have to say that I am GRATEFUL, as my surgeon was amazed that I can walk! So I guess I can't complain (I suppose I'm also lucky in that, if you're gonna "break your neck", Mass General is the best place in the world to get it fixed!)

Thanks again!

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