Originally Posted by slipnslide
I had C5-6-7 ACDF surgery back on 6/22/06. Wore my Philly collar and did no lifting as instructed. Six weeks ago the collar came off and I started PT. I was started off with range of motion and gravity resistance exercises which immediately triggered the neck, shoulder, and arm, and upper back pain. My OS stated that the surgery was to alleviate the shoulder and arm pain. Here it is 3 months after surgery and my neck pain is constant and worse. I've been having the shoulder pain with the shooting pain down my upper arms with any repetitive motion (such as PT, washing dishes, scrubbing shower/bath) and it takes 3 days of doing absolutely nothing before it calms back down. I can tilt my head back ever so slightly before it becomes painful and turn it side-to-side 30% in either direction, but I can look down pretty well even with the fusion. Both hands are still tingling, but the intensity and achiness has increased.
The Physical therapist has sent me back to the OS because of the symptoms I was having. I've agreed to try (in the next week or two) facet ESI's, in hopes that it will increase my ability to turn and tilt my head. Backing a car out of a parking space has become down-right unsafe! My OS also mentioned getting an MRI to see if something could be causing the pains.
Has anyone else experienced the same thing just a few months out of surgery? How long does it take for the shoulder/arm pains to subside? What is normal and what is not normal 3 months after surgery? I'd like to think that this is not the way I am going to stay. Any and all insight would be greatly appreciated cuz I sure could use as much information as I can get.
I had a 2 level ACDF With Instrumentation done on May 9th of this year.
Prior to the surgery, I had severe pain in my neck, shoulders, traps and upper back. I also had severe burning in my neck and back, along tingling and cramps in my traps and fingers on my right hand.
I had almost zero range when attempting to touch ear to shoulder on either side and had very little range when rotating my head to the right, but a bit more when rotating my head to the left and up and down.
I have had a degenerative disk condition throughout my spine for about 15 years...at least that is when it was first noticed. Ocassionaly, I would have problems, but after a week off from work and medication, I would usually be functional without pain again.
In October or November of this year, the symptoms became quite severe and the remdies used in the past would not help. I was missing a lot of work because my condition was being even more aggravated by the work that I do. After physical therapy and many tests and forms of treatment, they realized that the problem was due to 2 cervical disks in particular. They were severly degenerated.
Well, after having surgery in May, I figured everything would be ok and I could resume a normal life again.
I wore a soft collar for 2 months and based on the advice from the doctor, I only took it off when I showered and never tested my neck while having it off.
At my first follow up, the doctor seemed surprised that my condition had not improved even a bit from what is was prior to the surgery and stated that I should be ready to go back to work with restrictions.
He never actually examined my neck to determine how restrictive it was until I told him that there was no way that I could go back to work with my neck the way that it was. He had me go to physical therapy for a month, assuming that I just had some stiffness from wearing the collar.
After a month of physical therapy, nothing changed. The therapist was surprised that the therapy did not work, based on the assumption that my problem was related to the surgery and the collar.
When I went in for my next follow up, I explained to the doctor that absolutely nothing has changed and he looks at the x-rays and says that everything is healing fine and totally ignores my concerns and complaints for the most part and only says that maybe it will take a bit more time.
I get the impression that he thinks because he performed the surgery and everything looks ok, then there can't be a problem. He never examed my neck to determine what might be the issue and basically ignored the final eval provided by the therapist which show his concerns.
He sends me back to work with only a limited lifting restriction in spite of my complaints that the repetative motion of my neck will present the same problems that brought me to surgery in the first place.
Now that I have gone back to work, my symptoms have gotten much worse precisely because of all of the repetitive bending and twifting of my neck.
I was frustrated to the point that I sought a second opinion, but the second doctor was reluctant to say anything contrary to the opinion of the first doctor. He only did the standard strength test and basically ignored my complaints about the pain, tingling and lack of range of motion.
He said that since I had very serious surgery, I couldn't expect everything to be ok in only 3 months...that it could take up to a year, but if it was not better in 6 months after the surgery, then it probably wouldn't get any better.
He too, completely ignored my question as to why I feel no relief whatsoever and whether or not there could be other issues that are beyond the scope of the surgery.
Needless to say, I left there even more frustrated.
Now, I am left with going to see my family doctor to ask for advice on what direction to go in to get someone to find out what is causing my continued problem.
He is usually pretty helpful in that he listens, shows concern and asks for your opinion on anything that he might suggest, unlike the surgeon, where there is very little interaction between us.
Sorry...I know that you were asking for insight that might help you with your situation. I just wanted you to know that we are in the same boat pretty much.