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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

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I have been informed I need anterior cervical discetomy with fusion C5,C6,& C7 and preferably this week.

I have had pain my right arm, shoulder, neck, and back, and numbness in my right hand and forearm. Also some weakness in the tricep acea. It started this summer with what I thought was a pulled shoulder muscle that would not heal. After months of being seen my different doctors it has finally be decided that I have heniated discs at C5-6 and C6-7. The Neural Canal at C5-6 is approximately 11mm. C6-7 is worse on the right side and the Neural canal at midline measures 9mm. I also have bone spuring on each of the vertebrae. Other levels of the spine appear normal.

The orthopaedic surgeon cancelled my appointments for an EMG and Spinal Epidural as he feels surgery is needed instead. This surgeon does harvest bone graft from patient's hip bone instead of using bone bank grafts as he sees faster mending and less rejection with this method. He does hundreds of these surgeries a year and has be specialized for 13 years. He says I will have problems swallowing after the surgery for a while.

I was too busy quizing him about how soon I could go back to work and his philosophy about different methods to ask about pain management....

The other neurosurgeon I was going to be evaluated by cannot see me for two more weeks. The pain is too much to endure until then.

Can you all help me with some of this please?

How much pain are you in after the surgery and for how long? What type of meds are you given for this pain? How long do you have problems swallowing? Is that forever?
Hi Deb,

Good luck with it all. This is such a big decision. I had the same surgery, same 2 levels.

Expect to be in some pain afterwards. It might be hard to hold your head up for any length of time the first few days post-surgery, but that will improve. My throat hurt from being intubated, but that went away in a few days.

I think they sent me home with vicoden which I took for a week or two. Most of all, I was very sleepy, probably from the anesthesia so I slept for a couple of days. Much of the worst pain I was feeling pre-surgery went away but pain lingered for about 9 months afterward. I think I was so careful about moving my neck that I ended up with a stiff neck all the time.

If you work, plan to take at least a month off. No joke--you need to make sure the fusion actually fuses so don't overdo it. No lifting anything either, so if you have young kids get some help if you can. You'll probably have physical therapy afterwards for a while which will be good for building strength, learning good posture, etc.

I hope it goes well for you. I had donor bone, but you might heal better with your own. It's a drag to have to have the hip surgery though, so do take it easy as much as you can afterwards. No belly dancing for a while!


1999 fusion C5-6 & C6-7
2002 herniation of C4-5

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