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Hope someone can help. I had acdf c5-c6 no plate, donor bone 6/03. I now have new pain. It started out with pain on left side arm, neck, shoulder. Numbness, and no reflexes in left arm. Tried consevative methods spinal injections, pt, MRI noted herniated disc at c5-c6 level. I now have even more severe pain than before on the right side, neck, arm, shoulder, heaviness. The left arm has gone numb, pins and needles several times in the last few weeks. Pain meds, along with tens unit and heat and ice help manage the pain. I have to go thru this ritual serveral times a day and night to get thru. PT helped with the muscle spasms but didn't last. NS did MRI Friday, I will get the results soon I hope. I also am trying to swith NS. I am on work comp so it will probaby take a while. Been out of work for 8 months now, 3 months post op and in worse pain than before surgery. The NS assistant told me I have scarring on the nerves that control the right side. Atleast he was honest. I have the MRI but not the report. The report will go to my current NS. I wonder why he wouldn't want to look at the mri pictures himself.
If anyone has any suggestion on this please help.
I completely understand. I am on work comp and it's been 4 years. So sit back and try to enjoy the ride. I had an ACDF at C5/6 back in 2000 and after that I've done just about every therapy you can name. Then I start having the pains you describe but on my left side. I switched ns but it was hard to get him to agree to do the surgery after 2 1/2 years of me and my doctor screaming that I need it. Please remember this phrase it will help you understand alot "NO DOCTOR WANTS TO GO BEHIND ANOTHER DOCTOR TO CLEAN UP THEIR MISTAKE" It's like a lawyer suing another lawyer. Of the record, sure they will tell you that the doctor messed up. But they will never go on record with that. I've been there. I had an ACDF at C4/5 in July and i'm having some of the same pain as when I first got hurt. Today is the worst day ever. I am having terible pain in my hips to the point where I can barely walk. Sorry to get side tracked. Trust your instincts when dealing with that ns. If you feel like you should change ns, then do it. Workers comp will herd you along like cattle and do a dump job as soon as they possibly can. Get yourself a good lawyer and stick to your guns. There may be another disc giving you problems. Good luck and I am sending prayers for a pain free night your way.

C5/C6 ADF with my bone with plate and 4 screws Jan 2000
C4/C5 ADF with my bone and hardware removal at 5/6 with plate and 4 screws July 2003
hello tidbit,
You are not alone in this case, there are a whole load of people like this on this site similar, most of the time it start hurting again 3-4 month post. I will make it short to explain what is happening up to now.
Pre op MRI
“ C5-6; there is 5-6mm disc osteophyte complex centrally and to the left.
C6-7: There is moderate bilateral neuroforaminal narrowing with a diffuse disc osteophyte complex of approximately 3-4mm.”

Surgery was on the last week of 01/03, ACDF C-5-6, C6-7 with donor bone and hardware. Feel better for 2-months post op, x-ray confirm C-5, 6,7 fused already. But after 2-months all pains came back, Neck, left shoulder, and shoulder blade, left arm and finger. Went for the EMG nerve test, result came back negative. Since I have hardware I cant do MRI anymore, so C spine CT Myelogram was done, and the result came back as follows:

“At the level of C5-6, there has been anterior cervical fusion with plate and screws placed in the anterior aspect of C5 and C6 vertebral bodies. There is no displacement of the plate and screws. There is 3-4 mm central osteophytic spurring with narrowing of the AP dimension of the thecal sac to approximately 8 mm. There is contouring of the ventral aspect of the cervical spinal cord. There is left uncovertebral hypertrophy with mild to moderate left neural foraminal narrowing.
Doing physical theraphy not helping much, first Epidual steroid injection done not much help.
No lawyer, still in good term with w/c & dr.
Your case is very similar to mine and have a lot of question and like to ask how to go about doing things right. Let me know if & how I can do it. If I can do by e-mail I will post my address for you.
Yes, you can have MRI's with the hardware... I don't know exactly how they do them but it's done all the time. And from what I know, narrowing to 8 mm is pretty bad... And this is post-op?

Right now I don't have any real suggestions... except that if you are in serious pain, go to the ER if you have to... if your symptoms are unmanageable, don't mess around and wait... Just read YankeeFan's posts to see what happened. I know this is an extreme case, but none of us here are doctors, and even without seeing MRI's we cannot tell exactly what is wrong... Anyway, I am being especially conservative at this time.

[*]12/29/89 C5-6 Microdiskectomy (no fusion)
[*]4/9/03 ACDF C4-7 with plating and donor bone
Tidbit- Very similar symptoms here. I have been on 900 mgs Neurontin for the last 2 weeks, not much help so far. My Neuroligist wants to inject Botox in my neck for my chronic cervicogenic headaches. I am thinking of holding off until after my Neurosurgeon visit. I have tried it all for over a year now and the ridiculopathy is now in the left arm.

Good luck!

Hit in head by freight Elevator last August.
HNP C5-6 Small to Moderate in size, eccentric to the right and right paracentral in location. Associated nerve root displacement especially on the right. Associated effacement of the subarachnoid space @ C5-6. on root nerve.

Cervical Radiculopathy.
Chronic Cervicogenic Headaches.

Past Meds:
Elavil, Reglan, Relafen, Flexeril.
Now Taking:
Nortriptyline, Feldene & Trazodone. Vicodin no more than twice a week.
Pnuematic traction unit
zero gravity chair

You are definitely not alone. I am still in pain 4 mos later, with the arm pain, headaches,still have balance problems, and decreased strength in my left arm.

My newest MRI is showing spurs(osteophytes) that weren't there 8 mos ago. I had the MRI after my ACDF. The artifact caused by the hardware was minimal.

I am going for an EMG/NVC a week from Friday and then to a new PM the week after that. My NS is trying to tell me I have nerve compression somewhere else, other than in my neck, but hopefully the EMG will tell the tale.

I take Ultram, Aleve, and occasional hydrocodone or Mepergan, although I tend to shy away from using the narcotics, because they make me feel wired and interfere with my sleep [img][/img] However, when I have a cervical headache, and I do now, the opiates are what do the trick.

Hope both you and I can find out the cause of so much discomfort this far out in our recoveries.

God bless,


C4-5 noncompressive disc displacement
C5-6 compressive disc displacement
C6-7 broad based disc protrusion encroaching on the anterioposterior aspect of the spinal canal.
ACDF C6-7 5/13/03 with titanium plate,4 screws, and no collar postop.
New MRI 8/25/03
C5-6 posterior annular bulge, now with spurring,canal stenosis, and foraminal stenosis

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