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Diskectomy and Fusion (D/F)

Jul 17, 2016 9:01 PM

Had level 2 d/f (C567). Early in the recovery, but mixed results on pain/numbing mitigation. Any experience with this out there? Curious about realistic recovery time and expectation management.

Jul 18, 2016 12:23 AM

Alwayz.....Flappys....? Can you help answer BII. There are lots on here who've had cervical spine surgery BII, so hopefully they'll be able to give you some pointers!! 😊

Jul 19, 2016 10:21 AM

Hey Bll! As Jahmac said I've had experience with spinal neck surgery. I was in a freak accident going over speed bumps the summer of 1995. Trying to brace my daughter's car seat coming off the ferry boat (no warning of bumps), my body was hooked up and I struck the top of my head, rolled forward and struck the back of my neck them slammed down onto my tailbone... The beginning of most of my spine injuries. I fell from a tall slide in 5th grade, knocking myself out & breaking my left leg in 2 places. Six months later I was in the ER flat of my back barely able to move. I went through chiropractic treatments for six months with very good results.

In 1989 I was hit from the right side spinning my car around. I didn't feel hurt other than typical whiplash so we're settled with their insurance company (young & naΓ―ve if long term consequences). In 1992 they fused C4-C5 for herniated disc. I woke in recovery with immediate relief from the neuralgic pain in both arms. I wore a hard brace for 6 weeks, then a soft collar for 2-3 months I think. Recovery was fairly easy and quick with no restrictions after release.

In 1993 I was in a bad car wreck, nearly totaling my car, where someone stopped in front of me & I was too close. Again whiplash but nothing showed on tests. In 1995 (been in 5 wrecks by now, but only the 1 my fault) they did my second fusion, C5-C7, with a titanium plate and 5 screws for bulge & herniation with nerve entrapment. Again I woke with immediate relief from pain. But this time my neck movement was greatly restricted. I wore a hard collar brace 6 months, followed by a soft collar 3 months. I wasn't allowed to even be in a car for 9 months except to & from the doctor. I nearly forgot how to drive! Lol When I was released the doc said no sweeping, mopping or vacuuming, and except occasionally I still don't do those. It cause severe pain if I do.

Since 2011 I've complained of spine issue from my neck to tailbone. I have bulges, tears, facet & foramina stenosis in every section of my spine; C2, C7-T2, T11-12, L2-3, L5-S2. Every Ortho surgeon & neurologist is seen said the same thing, "You need surgery but I won't do it because the risks are too high.".

In January & March I threw up choking on for our drink. It hurt but the episode in March was way different. I decided to return to a neuro-ortho surgeon is not seen since 2008. Immediately he found C2 & C7 facet & foramen stenosis pressing on nerves. But the worst is C3 which is called "retrolisthesis," where the disc is pushing backwards into the spinal cord. Every level in my neck must be dealt with to relieve pressure on the nerves. But Aug 8th I go in for C3 diskectomy with donor bone replacement. The doc told my hubby and I there is great risk to become a quadriplegic with our without the surgery. I'm choosing to take my chances to correct it before a fall, sneeze, or God forbid another wreck completely pushes the disc into the spinal canal. He said the nerve at C2_3 level controls everything from the chest down, so they must be very careful. He warned I could have swallowing or taking difficulties afterwards. Yesterday (for surgery clearance) my lung doc informed me if the nerve is damaged it can also cause my diaphragm to be paralyzed on one or both sides, which will make it very hard to breathe on my own. But I'm praying & trusting God's got control and the verve won't be damaged. They must remove the old plate & screws to place one at the new site. We are also concerned because of my bones already being osteopenic (just shy of osteoporosis), hence the donor bone. The first 2 surf they took my hip bone, which hurt way worse than the neck.

As for upcoming recuperation, the doc said I'd need 24-7 care the first 2 weeks, assistance with showers & dressing, and I'll be rechecked every 3 weeks, until I'm released which will potentially be in November. I'll s wear a hard collar 3-6 weeks followed by the soft collar ,and PT 3-4x each week. He said I won't be driving until released, not an I to do any lifting more than a milk jug, no bending over, housework etc. My hubby has put in for FMLA. Thank God we're blessed in that!

I think the most important advice I can give you is to follow the doctors orders & restrictions to the letter! My sister had surgery on C4-7 a couple of years ago. She didn't do as the doc ordered, nor did she go back for itching & oozing for a month, though we kept telling her to. She claimed she couldn't wear the brace due to the itching, and she kept moving her head & neck around. Needless to say they had to go back in for staph infection. But the damage was done and she has permanent neuropathies and neck pain. I know several others who also did as they pleased, and they too have problems.

Recovery time is important, and the more you follow instructions the better your healing results will be. Be patient and have lots of movies, books and such to occupy your time. I went on Amazon and purchased a floor stand that will hold my tablet upright at face level, whether I'm sitting or lying flat. It came this week and I've already tried it out... It works awesomely! Hugs love & prayers you heal completely! πŸ™‚πŸ’•πŸ™πŸŒΈ

Jul 19, 2016 6:27 PM

Thank you very much for the detailed reply. Best to you as well.

Jul 19, 2016 6:46 PM

Hi Bll. I had my C5 and C6 replaced 3 years ago. Went in thru my neck, put pipe and a cage in there. Ground up the bone and put inside the pipe. Piece of cake! Good luck to you

Jul 22, 2016 10:09 AM

Thanks much!

Jul 25, 2016 4:15 PM

Bll, I am sorry that I'm late to the party. I have had laminectomies and laminotomies from C1-C6 and I have an implanted neurostimulator which is broken. I've had 8 surgeries on my cervical spine alone and they want to do fusion on me now since the injections are no longer working. I am trying to put it off as long as I can because I'm chicken and not only that, I've already had 30 surgeries and really don't want to go through any more. I hope that your recovery is coming along and that your pain levels are decreasing. Sending gentle {{{Hugs}}} and prayers that your surgery was successful for you.πŸ’•πŸ™πŸ»πŸŒ»πŸ˜Š

Jul 25, 2016 4:21 PM

Hello and thank you. Recovery is surprisingly good. My original post was post-op, but I was not far enough along to really know what to expect. Knock on wood, no more numbness/burning in hands/arms. Funny thing with the pain drugs: they work in the AM, not so much at night. Overall, I am very pleased so far.

Thanks again and best of luck!

Jul 26, 2016 10:05 AM

Yay! So glad to hear this Bll πŸ™‚πŸ’•πŸ™πŸŒΈ

Jul 26, 2016 10:09 AM

BTW, my normal daily pain is always worse at night. I think it's because as we try to get still, quiet, and sleep, all the pain signals are multiplied. During the day we have noise and activity to distract us. Are you taking the meds to keep the pain under control around the clock, or just as feel it's needed? This early post op you may want to do the around the clock, like every 4-6 hours, if you aren't already. Stupid me didn't do that with my foot surgery and, yeah the first 3 days I barely slept. When t the doc found out he corrected my mistake. πŸ˜‰ Hugs love & prayers you continue on the upswing! πŸ™‚πŸ’•πŸ™πŸŒΈ

Jul 26, 2016 11:14 AM

Great explanation of the day/night rhythm. I go around the clock if I wake up.

All great feedback. Thanks to all!

Jul 26, 2016 4:03 PM

Remember to use heat and ice for first line pain relief even years after surgery. Always warm up muscles and ligaments to prevent future injuries. Glad to hear you are healing well.

Jul 27, 2016 8:50 PM

God advice. Thanks!

Jul 27, 2016 8:50 PM

Good... But hey... 😬

Aug 01, 2016 9:08 PM

Question: 3 weeks now into recovery, screaming nerve pain between shoulder blades and up/down neck, worsening over the last 4 days. Now almost as bad, maybe even a litle worse than pre-op. Meds now not making a dent. Going back to doc, but curious if any similar experience. Just the healing process for that procedure?

Aug 02, 2016 5:46 PM

I had the same surgery on top of that fibromyalgia and still have all of the same symptoms

Aug 03, 2016 11:48 AM

Not good. To be fair, I was told it was only a potential 85-90% solution (curious how that is calculated, but that is another discussion). Any recommendations?

Aug 04, 2016 8:52 PM

I am not thrilled to hear either of your experiences. My doc didn't mention percentage of success. I do know I have 2 other things to do for the full treatment, beyond Mondays fusion. My neck, head and shoulders is my pain right now. It's so bad everything else feels great. Hugs love & prayers things will turn around for you both! πŸ™‚πŸ™πŸ’•πŸŒΈ

Aug 04, 2016 8:54 PM

As we are all reading this, my head/neck/shoulders feel like a root canal without novacaine... Right?

Aug 04, 2016 11:11 PM

So sorry you are having such unrelenting nerve pain. I shudder because I know that pain & nothing compares. I will be hoping that it releases it's grip on you. ❀️

Aug 05, 2016 1:25 PM

Bll I am so sorry that you're feeling so badly. I hope that it starts to feel better quickly.
Flappsy, don't panic, you're going to do just fine with your surgery and it's going to fix the problem and you'll feel better. Then I'll have to schedule mine. I'm scared to... LOL!! I have to get a mammogram first because I found a lump and I'm scared to go and scared not to go. I'm so messed up. πŸ˜³πŸ™„

Aug 05, 2016 9:38 PM

It will all be ok AlwayZ! Mine was fibrous tissue. Hugs love & prayers for you covered! πŸ™‚πŸ’•πŸ™πŸŒΈ

Aug 06, 2016 11:32 AM

Thanks Flappsy!! From your lips to God's ears!! I have to get it over with or I'm going to make myself have a meltdown. LOL!! 😜

Aug 18, 2016 8:21 PM

Hello, all.

4 weeks post-op and no more opioid painkillers. Flexeril (sp?) and extra strength Excedrin 3X daily. Walking helps and I have a neck/shoulder heating pad (as suggested above). Doc tells me one more month and I should be functional (read: can drive to work). Can't wait.

Aug 19, 2016 1:00 PM

That's great Bll! I want to start back walking but my hubby wants me to wait another day or so, since occasionally I still veer sideways. I was suppose to use another Fentanyl patch today but told my hubby i want to see how I do without it today, and maybe tomorrow. I'm 11 days post op and realize it may be a bit too soon. But normally I'm off pain meds by week 2. Now knowing I can use Fentanyl without having side effects, is like to put it on my "reserve for surgery or severe pain" that doesn't respond to other meds, like breakthrough pain. I was wondering if you were driving yet. My doc mentioned November, and I'm like "yikes, so long!" I'm glad you're healing well. Hugs love and prayers you continue to do so! πŸ™‚πŸ’•πŸ™πŸŒΈ

Aug 23, 2016 11:44 PM

Complete 180 and not sure why. Narcotics ineffective. "Gimongous" pinched nerve feeling in upper back/shoulder. Holy cow!!

Aug 24, 2016 9:03 AM

Omg, Bll, I'm so sorry to hear this but I understand. Take it easy for a few days and see if you can regain control of the pain. Can you think of any movement you may have done that started the pain return? I caught myself twice this morning, reaching up over my head, which I'm not suppose to do. My right shoulder has tightened up. And my hubby scolded me good! I'm on chair-rest duty by him the rest of today. πŸ˜‰. Hugs love and prayers you get control of the pain back quickly! If not put a call into the doc. πŸ™‚πŸ’•πŸ™πŸŒΈ

Aug 24, 2016 9:07 AM

Bll, I am SO sorry to hear that you're hurting. Perhaps whilst trying to sleep or trying to do something else you moved wrong and aggravated the area?? (Or, should we be putting you in Lulabel's naughty book???) I hope you feel better soon!! {{{hugs}}}πŸ’•πŸ™πŸ»πŸŒ»πŸ˜Š

Aug 24, 2016 9:09 AM

Flappsy, I'm glad that your hubby scolded you and that you are on chair rest!!! You have to take care of yourself.. NO shenanigans or else YOU'RE going to be in Lulabel's naught book as well... I'll just be forced to tattle on you... LOL!πŸ˜‰ I hope you get to rest and feel better. Sending gentle {{{Hugs}}} and prayers your way my friend. πŸ’•πŸ™πŸ»πŸŒ»πŸ˜Š

Aug 24, 2016 10:43 AM

Hee hee hee! 😁 Speaking of moving wrong in my sleep, when I woke at 2 am my neck brace was completely couch-eyes on my neck. I must have between having a really bad dream. I remember running in one dream, and looking begging me like I was being chased...really!😨 Thank God I didn't damage anything in my neck, hopefully. 😢

Aug 24, 2016 2:28 PM

Be careful Flappsy!!! Maybe you should watch really light shows before you fall asleep so there's less chance of you having nightmares. Did the doc say how long you have to wear that God Aweful thing??πŸ’•πŸ™πŸ»πŸŒ»πŸ˜Š

Aug 24, 2016 3:23 PM

Did somebody 🐫mention.......πŸͺ
The N A U G H T Y book!🐴

Aug 28, 2016 2:16 PM

6 weeks in from surgery. Walked almost everyday, 1-5 depending, bit I still put on unwanted weight for sure, due in no small part to the drugs as well as reduced activity. So, that said, tomorrow I will start using the "7 minute workout" and up to 30 min on a stationary bike. All in addition to the requisite dog walking, of course (they have no mercy what so ever; probably a good thing).

Aug 28, 2016 8:02 PM

That's really good Bll! I hope to start walking tomorrow again. What's the "7 minute workout?" I follow up with my doc Tuesday. I'm hoping he'll put me in the soft collar, but I don't know. Keep updating, because you definitely inspire me! πŸ™‚πŸ’•πŸ™πŸŒΈ

Oct 13, 2016 8:23 PM

How are you doing Bll? I had a ACDF at C67 6 years ago. I was fine one night and woke up in excruciating pain the next morning. Due to no accident causing the pain, my insurance would not approve a MRI for 6 weeks after onset of pain. Then 2 more weeks to see neuro who immediately scheduled surgery a few days later. Due to the long wait, I am left with nerve damage. Initially after surgery I felt great. Unfortunately a few weeks later the pain started creeping back. Over the years is has gotten worse and is now constant.
My shoulders, neck, and upper back are always in spasm, very tight muscles, and painful. After failing many meds and injections, I had a spinal cord stimulator implanted. Just my luck after a few months it quit covering any pain, and was removed after 2.5 years of frustration. Now I'm just trying to find a pain clinic that will help me. I've been turned away from five within a two hour drive from my home. There is only one left, and I'm waiting on their decision.
Keep advocating for yourself. I hope you are well!

Dec 11, 2016 1:57 AM

So, fusion didn't work. Starting the run up for another one. As much as I applaud the surgeons, this is all just a crap shoot end of the day. We'll see how this next evilution pans out. πŸ‘πŸΌ

Mar 01, 2017 12:46 PM

Ok. So, moving into month 7 since cervical surgery. Unfortunately, things are the worse for wear and, EMG indicates the nerve damage, while hardly catastrophic, has worsend to some degree. To be expected. I tried therapeutic yoga (is there another type??) to no avail. Traditional mitigation via pharmaceuticals, while it does take the edge off for a bit, is hardly a life-long solution (at least it should not be). Elecic shock/tingling, cramping (that surprised me), and numbness down both legs, hips and arms.
What's next? More MRI; more EMG. Repetitious discussions of physical therapy that is not going to happen. Ultimately, some form of lumbar surgery. My suggestion is to fuse EVERYTHING and build a morphine bath tub πŸ˜‰πŸ‘Œ.
Just a rant.

Mar 02, 2017 10:47 PM

I've had two cervical fusions,about six years apart. The recovery time varied greatly between the two because of different methods used. First one took forever because they replaced was disc with a cadaver bone so i had to wait for it all to fuse into one solid bone. The second one i was moving and driving two days after the surgery, they used a rubber like material to replace the disc and then held it together with metal plates and screws. I prefer the second way much more now.

Mar 02, 2017 11:47 PM

I've had 1 cervical fusion about six years ago as well. About a month ago I began to have the same pain like before I had my first surgery. Went to my dr and he did X-rays and then told me I have more degeneration of my cervical disc in my lower neck this time. He told me it wasn't uncommon to have more discs fail after surgery because it puts more stress on the other vertebrae. I had the surgery 9 yeas ago but now it looks like I'm going to have number 2. I am curious about the rubber disc. Can you tell me more about it.

Mar 03, 2017 12:53 AM

I'm not sure if it was actually rubber, that's just what i call it. They put a spongy material in instead of a cadaver bone then held it all together with titanium plates and screws, no neck brace after surgery and no limits in my motion. Was pretty much no recovery time at from the surgery. The disc was actually pushing on my spinal cord the second time so it was emergency surgery. Can't say all my symptoms are gone, but at least I'm not paralyzed from the neck down.

Apr 18, 2017 8:38 PM

Twice in 45 days I have had such a sensation that my legs were numb and not functioning. I finally got into a fetal position, massaged the hell out of everything and was able to stand (I sleep on the floor in hopes it will ease the pain). After this weekend, I ended up at my docs unannounced, could hardly stand, itchy nerve pain (rot canal with no novacaine, get it?). I was prescribed prednisone (4th time) and valium... I am waiting on a new neurosurgeon appointment. Any insight, suggestions from experience? This is getting very old...

Apr 18, 2017 9:03 PM

Wow Bill! I have bulging discs in my neck and did have a herniatuin that healed on its own. I also have bone spurs in my neck. Lately I have been having terrible burning at the base of my skull on the right side. I do chiropractic, massage, heat, ice, traction, aleve, muscle relaxers and pain pills. I'm concerned that I will have to have surgery some day but I'm trying to do everything I can to avoid it. You are soooo right! THIS REALLY GETS OLD!!!

Apr 19, 2017 9:26 AM

I just found out that my neurosurgeon wants to go in and fuze c-4 through c-7. He told me that my bones are moving sideways and if I move my neck too fast I can paralyze myself. I'm told that the doctor will go in through the front of my neck. But after reading everyone's messages I'm afraid to get it taken care of. How would you like handle it if you had it to do all over? Surgery or live with it?

Apr 19, 2017 9:33 AM

Sometimes I wonder if these docs don't try to guide us with fear but I guess I still would listen to him. Especially if he says paralyzed. You could also get a second opinion. One doc tried to rush my husband into surgery so we got a second opinion. The second guy told him to stop resting his leg on the counsel of his car when he travels and see if that helped. He had drop foot where he had a numb foot and his leg wasn't working right. The first doc said immediate back surgery. He decides to try what the second doc said and he has absolutely no problem with his leg and foot now.

Apr 26, 2017 7:17 PM

I personally would do it all over again; however, I would have insisted on more time to assess. In my case, we are now discussing fusing more as we did not get it all the first time (I am not exactly sure what "get it all" means, but that is my point about more assessment). As it stands, I am living on oxy for pain management until I meet my nee neurosurgeon. Quality of life is a constant concern.

Apr 26, 2017 7:24 PM

I should have added I did at least find a workout regimen that works for me. I got a fitaboo strap system (similar to trx) that attaches to my pullup bar (THAT has gone unised for at least a year so it has been repurposed) in my office. I have been pleasantly surprised. I can travel with it. Can't hit everything, but definitely get appropriate strength and cardio (not 30 anymore, right?). 🀣🀣

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