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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index

I have just had cervical fusion 5 weeks ago and can share my experience with you in hopes that it might be of help in some way. I had to have the surgery because my legs and arms were getting weaker and weaker because of the stenosis. According to the MRIs, I had 40% compression on my spinal cord. I could not even walk a block and could barely lift a glass of water. Yet I was shocked when the surgeon said I needed to have the cervical area done in priority over the lumbar region, which is what was the most painful to me. I didn't think that the spine in the neck area would be what was causing my legs to not cooperate any more. I wanted to cancel many times, mainly because of fear of the unknown. After having the surgery, I realized that I didn't have any headaches in the morning like before. The same evening, I was able to walk in the hallway without the heaviness in my legs that I was usually having. On the downside, I had a pinched nerve on the right that prevented me from using my right arm and was extremely painful. I was given a steroid to reduce inflammation and eventually it took care of the pinched nerve. With the brace, I could not brush my hair. I would have someone put in a treatment and braid it so that I could have it like that for a couple of days without having to brush it. I have very long hair, down to the butt, and it was painful (and not allowed) to lift my arms up or reach to be able to do it. I also had issues with my hair sticking to the Velcro of the brace. If I had known about these potential issues ahead of time, I would have planned for them by having someone come by to braid my hair every so often, get some silk scarves to wrap around my head and keep the hair out of the way of the Velcro, etc. As for sleeping, the physical therapist suggested a lazy boy chair or a wedge in bed so that I could sleep in a higher position than normal to ease any potential pain. I was also told to not lift anything at all, not even stuff in the fridge. He explained that anything that you pick up that is away from the body is even heavier on the spine at a distance. I was also not allowed to bend to pick things up on the floor. So basically, I had to spend the time just sitting or lying around waiting for days to pass so that I could do stuff. I got out my knitting stuff and crocheting and starting working on projects I hadn't had time to do. It was extremely difficult and painful to use my right hand because of the pinched nerve, but eventually that resolved when I was given Celebrex to reduce inflammation. Today, I am no longer wearing the collar. I was glad to get rid of it.. I was getting quite fed up of having to wash the pads all of the time. It doesn't come with spares and being in the heat of Arizona, it would get sweaty pretty quickly. I still have issues trying to brush or wash my hair though, and putting on eyeliner is quite the task. But the headaches are gone totally, the grinding I was feeling and hearing when I moved my head is also gone totally, and so is the pain that was always radiating down in my shoulder blades when I turned my head. I can actually sleep and wake up without having that dreadful kink and stiffness in the neck. I had regretted my decision to have the surgery initially, but as days go by and as I can do more and more stuff, I'm starting to have a change of heart and think it actually might have been worth it. I was not able to drive before surgery, since I couldn't turn my head far enough nor quickly enough to check blind spots, but I have a feeling I'll be back to driving in no time now. I don't know if any of this has helped you in any way, but I sure hope so. At least it can give you an indication of what you might need to plan for, just in case you have the same issues that I did. Good luck with your decision and with your surgery if you decide to go that route.

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