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What to Expect During and After a Cervical Spine Surgery

Updated on April 26, 2016

Cervical spine surgery is a procedure that corrects the movement of the neck and alleviate nerve compression. The prospect of surgery can be downright intimidating. If you are having one in the future, continue reading to know what to expect.

When is it necessary?

The cervical spine begins at the base of the skull, made up of the first seven vertebrae which are abbreviated as C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6 and C7. Compared to the other spinal vertebrae, the cervical bones are smaller in size. The cervical spine functions to support the skull, protect the spinal cord, and allow a diverse range of head movement.

The cervical spine is stabilized by a system of ligaments tendons and muscles. Ligaments prevent excessive movement, while the tendons and muscles provide spinal stability, balance and movement ability. Intervertebral discs (cushion pads) between the vertebrae function as shock absorption, and allows slight movement between the vertebrae.

Surgery becomes necessary when a degenerative disease or deformity occurs. With degenerative disease, the intervertebral discs shrink, which causes a wearing down of the disc. The wearing down may lead to disc herniation, which is a bulging of the discs. Degeneration results in compression to the nerves which causes pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness.

Individuals with cervical deformity, such as hyperlordosis or swan neck may have cervical spine surgery to help straighten and stabilize the spine. Cervical deformities leave the neck vulnerable to injury, and some injuries may lead to dislocation or fracture of the cervical vertebrae. Surgery in this case is beneficial for relieving pressure on the spinal cord.

The procedure

The specific cervical spine procedure depends on what is causing the problem. Generally, surgeons use two techniques: decompression and stabilization. With cervical spine decompression surgery, the tissue that is impinging on a nerve structure is removed. A decompression procedure may be performed from the front (anterior cervical spine surgery) or the back (posterior surgery). The types of decompression procedures are:

  • Foraminotomy, which creates a bigger space in the vertebra
  • Laminotomy, creates a whole in the lamina of the vertebra to make more space for the spinal cord
  • Facetectomy, removes the facet joint to relieve pressure on a nerve
  • Laminoplasty, reconstructs the lamina to create more space for the spinal cord
  • Discectomy, removes all or part of the herniated disc
  • Corpectomy, the entire vertebral body is removed to gain access to the disc.

Stabilization surgery limits movement between the vertebrae. This becomes necessary when there is abnormal movement in the spinal column, which potentially leads to nerve injury. Stabilization surgery is usually necessary after a discectomy or corpectomy. The two stabilization techniques include:

  • Fusion, which bonds the bones together via a bone graft; stop the motion between the vertebrae
  • Instrumentation, fusion is supplemented by devices such as plates, screws, wires, cables, and rods.

A new medical technology known as artificial disc replacement is another option for cervical spine surgery. Instead of fusing the spine together after surgery, a disc is replaced so the patient can retain normal neck movement.

Depending on the severity of the condition, a patient may qualify to undergo minimally invasive cervical spine surgery. In this surgery, a small incision is made with the help of an endoscope to disrupt the muscles minimally. Compared to normal cervical spine surgery, the pain and recovery time is less. This surgery relieves patients from scoliosis, herniated discs, and several other painful conditions.

Any type of surgery is performed while a patient is under general anesthesia.

The recovery

The hospital stay following cervical spine disc surgery may may up to seven days. Activity is an important part of recovery, a patient is encouraged to walk the first or second day after surgery. This is to reduce the risks of blood clots.

Normally a surgeon orders a collar/neck brace, and gives the patient specific instructions about its use.

Full recovery takes about 5 weeks. There are no restrictions for walking or stair climbing during the recovery period. For the first six weeks at home, objects heavier than 10 pounds should not be lifted, especially over the head. Any sleep position that is comfortable for the patient is acceptable as long as the neck brace is worn properly. Driving is prohibited during recovery, but short rides as a passenger is allowed.

Prescription medications are also provided for when the patient leaves the hospital. In the event of a bone graft procedure, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications are prohibited for six weeks following surgery, as these medications may interfere with the healing. As an alternative, a patient may use hot or cold moist compresses over the site or shoulders.

Incisions may be washed with mild soap and water, but tub baths, swimming pools, or any water immersion should be avoided for six weeks after surgery.

Complications and risks

As with any type of surgical procedure, there are some risks associated with cervical spine surgery. Common risks include:

  • Infections
  • Adverse reaction to the anesthesia
  • Potential of further injury to the spinal cord and the surrounding nerves
  • Improper healing of spinal fusion
  • Rejection of bone grafts.

It is important for the patient to understand the risks as well as the potential benefits of having the cervical surgery, making it possible to prepare adequately for the recovery period.

What are your thoughts about cervical spine surgery?

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      michelle crockett 6 years ago

      i am due to have anterior fusion surgery on c4 c5 c5 c6. i am only 37. do you know how long i will be in hospital after op, and how long i will be off work. any help would be great thanks michelle

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      Ellie 6 years ago

      I am 31 and had anterior neurosurgery 5 months ago. I had a discectomy at c4 - c5 level. I had a disc replacement rather than disc fusion!! Your length of stay in hospital is relatively short considering the nature of the surgery. They like to have you walking within 24 hours of the operation, and usually discharged within 2 to 3 days, however this will depend on your circumstances and condition. Your consultant should tell you all this information before your surgery. Time off work will depend on your occupation and how well you recover really. Driving is prohibited for appx 6 weeks. All the best for the future

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      Kurt 6 years ago

      I had a fusion of c5 and c6 with hardware. Im a 38 year old construction worker.I spent one night in the hospital, was driving my kids to and from school one week later with no pain, its been 2 1/2 weeks and im walking up to 3 miles a day at a slow/ safe pace. I would only recommend the surgury as a last resort as mine was due to spinal cord compression not to relive pain, i was ready to live with the pain until i was told about the long term effects of spinal cord compression.

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      Janine  5 years ago

      I Had surgery 3 months ago. fusion c6 and c7. I was in the hospital for 24 hours. recovery was going great until i went back to work this week! I have a very physical job. pain is terrible!!!!! Not sure if this is normal!

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      Judy 5 years ago

      I had surgery 10 month ago.fusion c6 throw c7 with plate and screw,My neck,should,arms,hands in so much pain everyday I wish I wouldn't of had it done.

    • profile image

      Gail Holst 5 years ago

      Great post. It is really impressive and informative. I also had a surgery 1 year ago when I got a motor accident. My neck and elbow was suffering pain everyday. I can relate your sort based on my experienced also. I really enjoyed reading your post. Keep it up.

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      Suzanne Twitchell 5 years ago

      Nice video..Very informative shows in their..I have learned a lot about that..Thanks for sharing.

      James Makker Neurosurgeon

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      RA 5 years ago

      I had a c5-7 ACDF 8 years ago and woke up feeling like nothing had ever been wrong. Then needed a c3-7 laminoforamintotmy a few months ago. Everything went great for that too.

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      janice 5 years ago

      i was rearended in december, now i have total sublaxation of C3-C4-C5-C6, have been through months of meds, therapy and injections, no help, now have a 6 inch drop of right side of body, they just put me on disability, the pain is like fire and there is numbness in right hand, i'm now being told i'll need surgery, my job requires lifting and lots of movement, one doctor says minimal three tier fusion, another is saying he wouldn't let anyone do a fusion, not effective enough get a second opinion, any opinions

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      kris g 5 years ago

      I had surgery on Sept 6 had c4 and c5 c6 and c7 one day I am better and the next day I am not.I cant even wash my own hair, my arms hurt, It feels like I had a drape of pain over the the front of my chest clavicle area. Arm pain as well. Im wondering what kind of life will I have.I had spurs removed to, I have spondalyosis.It has been 4 weeks and I hurt worse than i did. I had the same surgeon for 3 neck surgerys.The other surgerys helped alot. Maybe I need more time. Email me if you have comments please help.

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      Anne Webster 5 years ago

      I agreed about your post. The cervical prickle begins at the illegitimate of the skull, made up of the foremost digit vertebrae. Thank you for the information. Keep it up.

      James Makker

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      LD 5 years ago

      I had C4/5/6 fused in 1998 as the result of major whiplash on August 1, 1997. I could hardly walk and my arms and hands were in terrible pain before. After, I was so sore and achy I wondered if it would ever get better. In maybe week 12 or 13 after surgery I started an exercise program that hurt at first; stretching by rotational, lateral, flexation and extension movements, chin tuck, etc. from a book "Fix your own neck". I started incline pushups about 6 months after and then acupuncture of the neck and shoulders two years later. Continued all exercises and acupuncture for 11 years. In year 11 C3/4 and C6/ started going bad and some pain has returned. Options are two more levels of fusion or ADRs. I'm going with ADRs. I am not looking forward to the pain and exercises that are to come along with the post op, but I'm going to get through it just like thee last one and remain flexible. I know that I have to keep moving or I'll freeze up. I'm going to keep moving. All soft tissues will be stretched and in a trauma state. So, I need to get them supple again by stretching and moving. I will start all processes mentioned above about 8 to 10 weeks after the surgery to allow healing. The first year will be slow and minimal on rotation, flex and extension so the ADR gets well seated. Heat and ice and acupuncture will be mainstay for maybe 2 or 3 years. These are heavy duty interventions and take a lot of time to gain full function afterwards. In physical therapy and condition - pain from being at the edge of the movement can result in no pain later on. Lots of the bunched muscles and tissues need to be re-stretched and re-healed. It is a long process like being real good at something. We all started out slow when were were first born and this is another time to start out slow. I have great range of motion and know the ADR will not allow the same, but I hope to get the most I can out of them.

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      Warren38 5 years ago

      I believe what you have said is correct. Men nowadays are continuing to exploring options for them to look good. It’s not just for the physical aspect but for your self esteem also. Can you post more details of men that face post-surgical depression? Do you have the numbers or statistics or perhaps testimonies? Thank you.

      James Makker, MD

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      LD 5 years ago

      I'm 4 weeks post op from a 2-level artificial disc replacement surgery using the SpinalKinetics M6-c installed in C3/4 and C6/7 at Stenum Hospital Germany. I only have a few sore and stiff muscles. All the tingling in the hands as well as horrible cramping I used to have in the right hand is all gone. When I rode in a very bumpy train ride for 3 hours 2 weeks after surgery and I was amazed that I had No radiating pain at all. If I had done this prior to ADR surgery, I would have been in pain on pills and in bed for a few days afterwards. I am so happy I went to Germany and had this procedure. It is truly amazing. The airline flight home was tiresome, but it was the first flight in 14 years without pain for days afterwards. The limitation now is waiting the 8 weeks before driving. I'm currently laid off so the timing was great. I plan to be back working in January without limitations.

      If you suffer from cervical or lumbar disc degeneration check out Karma Spine. THese guy's can help you become more normal.

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      carlinchoudury001 5 years ago

      I am looking for such a post, thanks for sharing such valuable information.

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      shonmarsh61 5 years ago

      I am looking for such a postI am looking for such a post, thanks for sharing such valuable information., thanks for sharing such valuable information.oking for such a postI am looking for such a post, thanks for sharing such valuable information., thanks for sharing such valuable information.

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      harrye654 5 years ago

      I am looking for such a post, thanks for sharing such valuable information.

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      AnnaMichelle 5 years ago

      I am going on feb 7th for a c2 fusion. I broke it in 2 places in a car accident and they put me in a collar to heal but my bones are not healing at all. I am 21. I was wondering if there were any long term effects to having screws put into my neck and if i should be extremely worried about anything or if you can suggest any additional questions to ask my doc. My email is any replies are valued. THANKS

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      Wendy 5 years ago

      I had Corpectomy of c5 and 1/2 c6, also had bonespurs removed that were compressing into my spinal cord and bone grafted from my hip. I feel AMAZING!!! I actually came on site to look for exercises that I can start doing to lose some of this weight I gained while waiting to get the surgery. But from reading all this Maybe I should wait a few more weeks, I have already started walking a couple of blocks daily. Maybe that should be enough for now! Surgery was only 3 weeks ago today!!!

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      todd lee 5 years ago

      i am scheduled for artifacal disc replacement at c6-7 c5-6 in april 2012 at barcelona spain ,with dr clavel not worried about the disc i am worried where i have foraminal stenosis at 6-7 they they can reach it from the front and are able to open the foramina ...if any has any insight on whether they can reach it from the front as opposed to the posterior i would love to hear from you.....

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      matt2cho 4 years ago

      Wow! It has only been just one week,since my c-5 with the bone graph and plate surgery was done on march 23rd 2012,guess I was expecting to hear better things.My pain just seemed to move from my left shoulder directly to the center the pain is so bad im starting to wonder if this was a good idea. I realize I need to give it alot more time. This has just put me in such a spin trying to remain the house painter I used to be. I'll check back here. Good luck all!

    • profile image

      Kathy 4 years ago

      I'm having a anterior discectomy with autograft from my hip. I'm 55, very active and exercise often.

      I need to fly to Hawaii for my son wedding (9 HR flight) 6 wks after surgery. I'm planning on doing isometric exercises and getting out of my seat often.

      Is this a possibility. I have flight insurance in case it is not.

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      SRdolphin 4 years ago

      I had ACDF on C5/C6 on March 20, 2012. With it being almost two weeks post op I thought I would feeluch more relief at this point. Am I rushing it? I didn't have a collar and have not lifted etc... Little worried

    • profile image

      David 4 years ago

      I had cervical spine surgery 9 days ago. I'm a registered nurse and finding out I am very impatient with myself and the healing process. I had fusion (bone graft) of C4-C7. I know it going to take at least 4-5 weeks to start feeling better. It strange being the patient. I just finished a post-master adult nurse practitioner program last December and have been delayed in taking the national boards because of my neck problems. In my studies I've focused on pain and palliative care. It's strange that as a patient I think many of the principles of pain and pain relief don't apply to me. I know going through this will make me a better practitioner.

    • profile image

      Greg 4 years ago

      I have L shoulder radicular pain due to SCDD at C5/C6, C6/C7. I have been trying to get my insurance company to pay their 70% out-of-network allowable amount without much success. I was going to Dr. Clavel in Barcelona, Spain and he was going to do a 2, possibly 3 level ADR using the M6-C. The insurance company says neither the M6 or a multi-level is FDA approved, so it's excluded. All I get from U.S. surgeons is a multi-level fusion which has a very bad track record (one person I know now has a Morphine Pump installed). If anyone knows of a way to get the insurance company to pay, please let me know by posting an answer here. ADR is WAAAYY better than fusion. I've researched this for decades because of a lumbar problem, now cervical is worse. Thanks all.

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      Surgery 4 years ago

      I just had disc replacement on 4/2/2012 and I think the worst of it all is this neckbrace that I have to wear till 4/30/2012 or longer don't know until my appt. I am in pain but This collar is horrible

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      Jennifer 4 years ago

      I had cervical fusion on my neck in Feb. and now I have hives all over. I have gotten 3 steriod shots in the past 2 days and I am taking prednizone. And I still have hives. Yesterday at work my lip swelled up and was numb like I just left the dentist. Is it possible to be allergic to the metal plate?

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      gary345 4 years ago

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      lamliton05 4 years ago

      I am looking for such a post I am looking for such a post, thanks for sharing such valuable information,thanks for sharing such valuabkkle information

    • profile image

      Becca 4 years ago

      Glad I found this. I'm 37 and have no curve in my neck. A neurologist found it when I was 22. Didn't cause much problems till 3 years ago. The pain is excruciating. My surgery is May 8, 2012. I forget what its called but it was explained that I'm getting 4 cadavor bones and they are getting fused and something about clearing out my disk space and around the nerve area. My right ARM is almost useless. I've been on pain meds since I was 12. The pain this month was so bad I went through my pain meds in 10 out of 30 days. So now I'm just suffering till surgery. I've had 7 other surgeries mostly abdominal. This is the only one that scares me. I'm freaking out.

    • profile image

      Vee 4 years ago

      Hi Becca - I totally understand you freaking out...I am really scared as well. My surgery is May 2, 2012. I am having the same thing done as you but two bone grafts - not four. This site is making me worry. These people seem to regret having surgery. Look on YouTube because I found that almost everyone who posted something there, was happy they had gone ahead with surgery.

      Good luck to you!

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      Amanda79 4 years ago

      I need some positive help! I am having surgery to fuse disc c4 and c5. I am so scared to have the surgery, but I am in so much pain. I am only 32, and injured it at work, in which I am a special education aide. It has been over a month and a half since my injury, i have had 3 epidurals, and been to the doctor more times than i can count. I have left arm numbness, and sometimes pain, but mainly tingling in my fingers. My doctor said the ruptured disc is apparently pressing up against the nerve. Can anyone tell me what to expect the first 48 hours after surgery? My email is

      I would appreciate any advice or tips to help me relieve my fears!

    • profile image

      Sarah 4 years ago

      I broke my c2 on February 13th. I am 35 years old and have been in a halo for 9 weeks. I am praying for a miracle that I won't need fusion surgery. My left side is almost healed and my right side is about 50% healed. My surgeon (which I will not be going back to) is addiment on me only wearing the halo for 12 weeks and says I will need the fusion surgery. My question is, is there a way to just repair the ligament if the bone heals?

    • profile image

      Andrea 4 years ago

      Day 19 after c5 c6 c7 spinal fusion with cages and a plate. No drugs other than panadol, no pain, no sleep though but hoping that will change. Walking to the corner and back most days which is about 1km. Ok riding in the car but not driving. Weakness in my arms when I try to wash my hair. Am I expecting too much to want to do more? Can anyone tell me what sort of restrictions they have for the same surgery.

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      Barbie 4 years ago

      I just had a fusion at C7- T1. My vertebrae was slipping far and my spinal cord was being touched. I've had neck pain for years because of degenerative discs. Now I'm feeling a lot of pain in my muscles in my upper back and upper arms. I didn't expect to be pain free as I have arthritis but he took the bone spurs off too........ so why am I having all this muscle pain still?!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      sophia57 4 years ago

      Oh! Its really a helpful post for all.I think for every online business, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the core mantra of success in the business. It is the process by which a search engine optimizer brings a business website to rank highly among major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. The process of SEO is very beneficial to drive more and more traffic to a website and that turns in to revenue. Unique content, relevant keywords and link popularity are the major factors to provide high rank in any search engine.

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      Andrea 4 years ago

      Hi Becca, I am now 25 days post surgery. No pain meds, panadol maybe once a day but not every day. I do have discomf from the base of my skull to the middle of my back. But not pain, just stiff muscles. Got driven to work and picked up yesterday and survived ok with just lying flat on the floor once for about 15 minutes. I couldn't use my left arm and had pain that was only controlled with morphine, lyrica, and oxycondone every day. I didn't have a bone graft though, I had two cages (filled with bone shavings from my spine) 1 plate and six screws. It is my understanding from my surgeon that your recovery time is fastest with the cages and plates. You should ask if you can have that and avoid the bone graft. That will increase your recovery time. I had no life prior to surgery. I pray that you have the same experience as me and that your surgery is a success.

      Hi Vee, I just want to confirm to you that in no way do I regret having my surgery. It gave me my life back. I am currently doing all things that I used to less, lifting over 5kg, tilting my head to look at the ceiling and when I turn my head I turn from the waist I don't twist my neck. I just get tired by the end of the day. I pray that you are not scared and that God uses the surgeons hands to heal you both.

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      Indiana Kim 4 years ago

      On April 27 I had corpectomy and replacement fusion on c6. I was having pain in my shoulders as well as forarm and bicep. Numbnessin all fingers depending on position I was standing. I also had mild scoliosis. My MRI showed no cusion between c6 and c7. The sugergy was to be anterior to add a wedge remove all bone spurs affecting nerves in my spinal cord. Once my surgeon strated the procedure he relized my spinal cord was compressessed and pinched. As of today I have no pain and taking minmal pain meds. Wearing my collar when I sleep and walking slowley around my culdesac. The only thing I am noting is slight vertigo every now and then will be calling my doctor about that. Recommend surgery highly for those in pain better to fix issue then live in agony.

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      BRIAN 4 years ago

      I had a c5-7 anterior fusion in June of 2011 and did good for about 6 weeks and then my pain came started to come back and now its twice as bad as it was before the surgery I'M MISERABLE....but now they're saying that the screws used are to long and entrapping the nerve and will need another surgery to correct it. My problem is I dont know how risky or dangerous is messing with the screws almost a year after they were put in not that i really care because i cant live with the pain much longer so I'd be willing to do practically anything to fix it

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      blake 4 years ago

      In 2009 I broke my neck in three places had neck fusion from c5 to t1 I have cage plate and six screws it hurts alot even two years prior

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      marygrace 4 years ago

      I had my C4-C5 fused with instrumentation and bone graft from my thigh last 2011..its been a year now after that operation..i don't feel much pain after the operation so i take pain relievers occasionally.. I'm just experiencing heaviness of my shoulders whenever im so tired from working...i started working in the office a month after my doc told me that i can have check ups now once a year cos my spine healed completely..Im 30 and i gained back all my motor skills and living normally..saved from the fact that i cant carry big heavy things anymore..that makes me sad...Im a single mom and before the operation I used to hug and carry my daughter..but its least now i can run and play with her anytime..At t he time of the surgery my spine was so compressed by the herniated disc that the doc said its so thin that it will takes minutes before i get paralyzed..Thank God I had been scheduled for surgery earlier than what is scheduled XD

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      Laletaah krishnanklaletaah 4 years ago

      Hi. My sis fiancé gone through the c5-c6 surgery due to barrelss pain and numbness on 1st may 2012. He's still in hosp n unable to walk still. He could feel anything below his hip after the surgery until now. Just started to move his fingers slowly but still can't grab or hold things properly. Going through rehab activities but not sure when he can recover fully. Their wedding is on 7th June but he's still hospitalized. Can someone tell roughly when he can recover fully? Also how long normally it will takes to recover from these kind of post surgery prob?

      Really hopes that he can walk in another one or two weeks time, before their ceremony. Is that possible?

      Or else, worst come to worst, we need to cancel the ceremony which involve lost of deposits paid for the event.....

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      jj 4 years ago

      @Jennifer did they possibly use that bone growth stuff in your neck? Its only approved for the lumbar spine - and Medtronics tried to promote off label uses of it and it makes people swell in the neck. hmm

    • profile image 4 years ago

      My father is also suffering from bulge at c2-c3 disk and

      there is a slight increse in the bone on vertebrae c2 and c3, i tried and touched every hospital and spine surgeons, every one said we shd under go Surgery. We know Spinalcord surgery is at high Risk. We just joined here at Kerala ayurvedam and started treatment.

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      Crystal 4 years ago

      View James Makker's profile on the medicare database!!! Google his name and read what he does!!! He is a scam to these patients!!! He says you need mulitple surgeries to fix the issue but waits til after he 1st surgery to tell you that you will need a 2nd surgery and so on!!!! DO NOT USE THIS PERSON'S ADVICE NOR AS A DOCTOR!!!!

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      nirmal kumar singh 4 years ago

      i will be very thankful as well as debtfull to you people if you make me understand the cause of my fathers death after being operated for c2-c3 cervical injury.3 days of his operation he was very fine but suddenly he became unconcious followed by seizures after a week. later we came to know that he got cerebral question is when he was done tracheostomy all time he was on ventilator. so how come he had insufficient supply of 0xygen.i tell you the fact my dad was diabetic. if this is the reason we should be informed earlier. as the doctor said they can control the sugar and do the operation. the electrolytes was balanced, there was no sign of infection, csf test was negative. still the doctors were unable to find the cause. after seeing mri we found his cord was swollen from c2-c7 level. please please please i want to know the cause of these problems.if you require further study i will help you with that. please mail me at thanks

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      tracy 4 years ago

      I had cervical discectomy on May 24th

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      Ange 4 years ago

      I had a Laminectomy at C5 a Foraminotomy.

      On recovery after surgery I had no arm movement. Its six weeks since surgery and I till have no arm movement. The arm weight hanging down is now causing problems with shoulder dislocating and having trouble holding head up. Horrible stuff I am 64 year old male and the loss of my left arm has changed my life over night. DO NOT have surgery if you can avoid it. Surgeons love to practice. Once you sign the on the dotted line it becomes your problem. All care no responsibility.

    • profile image 4 years ago

      I had c5 / c6 disk replacement in March 2012 - don't know what brand, plus I had the titanium plate screwed into my cervical spine as well, and have had 2 MRI's and three xrays, and the pain is just TERRIBLE! I can't get comfortable, it feels like my head is too heavy to hold up. There is pain down my right arm into my hand, and my shoulders and neck are ALWAYS tense, tight, and in pain. I'm in tears all the time. I was referred by my neurosurgeon to a pain management doctor, and I've had 2 nerve blocks since the surgery, not helping much at all. I don't know what else to do. The pain doctor now wants me to get a doppler screening to see about possible Thorasic Outlet Syndrome...that appontment is next week - does anyone have any advice? I also find that I get very dizzy for no reason at all - not sure if this has anything to do with the pain I'm always in or not? I'm very uncomfortable, very hurt, and pretty miserable all the time - it's affecting my way of life drastically. I'm normally a very happy person, but pain is making me miserable. I also don't react well to most medications (they make me feel sick to my stomache). Please reply there are any suggestions that might help. Thanks very much!

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      Chris 4 years ago

      Sorry for all the posts from people with a negative experience with spinal surgery. I feel very fortunate. I have experienced neck pain and discomfort for at least 10 years. Finally got a doctor to agree I was in disrepair. I am 49 years of age, work at a computer and do not get the excerise that I should have. I had C5-C6 disk replacement on May 2nd 2012. I was in surgery for a mere 1 and a half hours. Woke up with no pain at all in my neck, back and left arm. I walked out of the hospital two hours later. Its been about 5 weeks, the incision is mostly healed (Its tough to shave though) and I ran around the block last saturday. I would say radius motion is around 80% or more.

      Again, I feel fortunate to have had success and look forward to running 5 miles again in the coming months like the old days. Good luck everyone in healing.

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      Joan 4 years ago

      Had ADCF surgery 5 days ago and yipee. From the moment I got back on the ward I noticed I had no more pain in any arms. Both arms before surgery were very painful, my elbow in my left arm was getting impossible to bend and the shooting pains in my wrist and hands was horrible. The only pain I have from surgery is a sore throat, so I have only been able to eat soft foods. Cant believe I have put up with this pa in for a long time and to resolve it has been so simple. It feels really weird not to have any pain anymore. Can't wait to get back to all my usual activities. Found a fab neuro surgeon, just amazing.

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      Emma B. 4 years ago

      Hello ! I'm 14 years old and 4 weeks ago I had a major surgery for my neck . I'm a high level gymnast and I fell hard in practice. When my surgeon saw the x-rays , he said that I should be paralysed and even dead :S So he took the chance to give me the surgery ! I had 5 days of traction before and then the surgery .. I woke up 6 hours after I left my room and finally it was done. They explained to me that they went in front of my neck to take the entire C5 and that they replaced it with my hip bone by the back of my neck . They used 2 metal plates and 11 screws to fix my C5 with my C4 and C6 ! They told me that I had a lot of risks because my spinal cord was compressed a lot and that I only had 2mm left until being paralysed ... and I stayed 5 days at the hospital after the surgery. For the moment I feel good, no pain . BUT I have a question to all of you , if someone can answer me it would be really helpful :) As I said I'm a gymnast , I was training 25 hours to 30 hours a week for national competitions and I still want to go back into gymnastics ( even if I broke my neck twice ) because at 14 my career is not done ! When I asked my surgeon about gymnastics he said that it's not sure that he allows me too start again cause I have big risks ... But he said that we'll have to talk about it in 6 weeks . Now , I have an appointment with 2 specialists and him in 1 week to remove my collar and to do x-rays but especially for gymnastics :) I need to know if some of you as been told after their surgery that they could start sports again and how long does it takes before coming back !!! Plz I need to know , I hope it's not like 6 months or a year ... Maybe weeks ??? CAN SOMEONE HELP ME ?

      Thank you and good luck to all !

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      Isaac 4 years ago

      I'm 42yrs old had a c3-c6 fixation last april; since then iam induring numbness, tingling pain in arms and legs, my legs are very heavy with cold knees. Any one with a helping idea?

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      ian 4 years ago

      i had c1 and c2 fused with a bone graft and plates n screws 4 weeks ago was out of hospital in 30 hrs. have been doin some things that i wasn't supposed to lifting to much mowin grass 2 days after. i still get days where its stiff n soar but im thinkin that the way it feels now in time the only limitation that i will be left with is a slight loss in left to right movement in my neck . next time i wont let that guy drive lol

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      nibin 4 years ago

      plz help me out wit my problem ....hi this is nibin ..i met wit an accident on dec 9th 2011 ..i had a severe headinjury due to that i had a cervical frature on c1c2..ihad a c1c2 fission surgery said abt 2 procedures 1 is about srew and plate and another is platinum thread binding gods grace srew nd plates dint fixd ..platinum thread was binded to c1c2..i had this sugery in the month of march 2012 nt comfort wit my neck.. i hav pain..i cnt rotate my head by side by side ...always a questuon hits me whether cnt i move my neck frevr or cnt i c turning my head by cn any 1 give details abt my procedure wuld b very thank full to u .....

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      Nat 4 years ago

      I am now 8 days post op of a C4/C5 anterior discectomy. I can say that I was up and about within 8 hours of the operation and out the following day. I was discharged with codeine and paracetamol and after one week needed niether. I am sticking religious to what physio and my consultant advised for exercise and make sure I take 2 walks a day for at least 20 mins. After the initial swelling and soreness of the throat area the pain in the neck is less than what I was experiencing before my op. I needed the operation due to severe mylopathy of the spinal cord due to hernia of the disc. I can't praise my consultant enough and hope to continue to recover at my current rate I can barely see the scar already. I have been told that driving is a no no for 6 weeks and I am following this advice as I don't want to set my self back and the most uncomfortable time is when I am passenger in a car so can't contemplate driving myself or others about. Hope you find this post useful.

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      Kay 4 years ago

      I'm 21 & 3 years ago I was involved in a car accident where I suffered from severe whiplash. Since then I have been in & out of hospital, tried acupuncture physio, all types of massages to get my arm & neck moving! I have an annoying numbness in my arm & constant neck & shoulder pain! I was told a few days ago that the only way I would fully recover was if I have surgery or otherwise to 'put up' with the pain! Urgh! I feel scared, as I've never had surgery in my life & the thought of it makes me feel physically sick! Ive been reading up on this now & my physiotherapist warned me that with my particular injury I risk the threat of paralysis if I do have surgery! I'm 21, recently graduated have so much ahead of me! So much aspirations & right now my life has come to a sudden hault! Sorry had to share that with people who are/ have experienced similar things to me! I'm sick of everyone I know telling me 'not to worry' and I will 'be okay' when they live completely normal lives! :(

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      Nat 4 years ago

      I really felt I needed to post a comment after reading all the above posts prior and post my operation. I read the negative posts and focused on these before my operation but 5 weeks after my c4-5 discectomy with fusion, which was needed as I had severe myelopathy of the spinal cord, I experienced pain in my upper arms weakness in my legs, pain in the base of my skull etc but I continued to work and accept my situation until I was told that to continue like this would be catastrophic for me. Within a couple of weeks of the diagnosis I was operated on by a fantastic surgeon who explained everything, I have had no plate and no collar or brace, I had the disc removed and decompression of the spinal cord and root nerves which were badly inflamed. My stay in hospital was 1 night only which I have to say there was no sleep due to observations and neuro tests throughout the night. I came home sore and needed codeine and paracetamol for the first two days after day four I was sat on a local beach sun bathing, I have followed advice to the letter walking every day at least twice a day, there was no promise of relief of pain just stabilisation of the neck however I am thrilled I no longer need pain killers and I'm sleeping better than I have in the last year. I have nothing but positive things to say about my operation and thank god for the good doctors and at 5 weeks I feel great with a scar which is not really prominent. If you need this operation then don't worry my worse thing was the reaction of the anaesthetic being sick! Easily remedied, Take it easy do as you are told and walk walk walk even on the third day get out there it not only does you good mentally but physically as my co-ordination due to the myelopathy was affected but now at 5 weeks I am improved on post op. Good Luck!

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      Joy 4 years ago

      Just had anteriour cervical fusion on C6/C7 on Monday, Sept. 17th. 1st day, I was fine. The second day, I have extreme neck, shoulder and arm pain. My thumb, pointer middle fingers being numb. Sometimes the numbess radiates down my arm so intense, it takes me to the brink of almost loosing it. Wondering why I did this. Can't sleep in a bed, rocker recliner is in only way I can get comfy. I was given no collar to wear? Have valium for a muscle relaxer and hydro-codeine for pain. Dr just prescribed a steroid for inflammation. I know people heal at different rates but is there any relief in site??? Please. I will say my headaches are gone but that is the only plus as of yet. Praying for a speedy, healthy recovery...

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      Gianna Hunter 4 years ago

      My 46 Year old nephew had frontal neck surgery, He passed away 11 days later ! He was in fine shape.

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      Lor's Stories 4 years ago from Central New Jersey

      It saved my life. But also changed it.

      I'm starting a piece on my life-death decision I faced last year,

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      Dennis 4 years ago

      I had surgery yesterday: Anterior cervical Discectomy and Fusion of the c-4 and c-5 disk in neck. Surgery was said to of gone well ,however throat is real sore and it's hard to swallow. This was done as an outpatient and I'm not wearing a collar, nor was any therapy offered. I was told to follow up with DR. in about 4 wks. What I have noticed is unable to sleep at all because of neck pain as well as upper back muscle soreness , shoulder soreness and when I point with my right hand I'm experiencing uncontrollable shakes of my right hand. My right hand never hand any issues prior to surgery. The numbness has settled down in my left hand fingers, still some soreness in left forearm. No metal plates were placed in neck. I'm a little concerned about maybe lack of treatment as well as follow up treatments . What does anyone else think is going on?

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      paul 3 years ago

      In July of 2012 I developed a tingling sensation down my left arm. Went to see my gp he did a WMV everything was great. But had mego for MRI. It showed degenerative disc in c3 and c4 plus other issues. Saw two neurosurgens advised me my cervical spin was diseasing and I needed complete rebuilding and lamintomy from c3 to t1 .so on1/17/13 they operated.

      Woke up after surgery ok druged arm movement some pail. The evening of 1/20 both arms became paralyzed. The ran test and had no answer . I was transferrred to a rehab hospltal until 2/15. I ve been home left arm works but veryweak the right arm bicep and shoulder are degenerating the left shoulder and my neak are painful. The surgeon says that the xraya.dmri shows everything looks good and we need nature to take its course.oh the neuroligist did post op test and discovered that my c5 and c6 are now in a denervation pattern that did not exist pre op. I started out patient therapy this Fri and is not very optmistic becacuse there shows very little relay from c5and c6. I'm seeing anorthpedic

      A orthpedic surgeon Monday. Plus my diaphram is note expanding fully the right side so my breathing is resticted because the c5and c6 are not functing ... Any help,sugestions, or the same problems would be appreciated...

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      imtiredofdpainguy 3 years ago

      I just had a C4-5 nerve block done yesterday because my left shoulder and bicep and on down my arm were in severe pain and i could hardly turn my neck. I have little strength (so weak) in my left arm.I have bulging at C3-4 and C4-5 and herinated at C5-6. I didn't won't the nerve block because i only had 12 weeks to be off work .If 1 day pass they will fire me. That's how it works there and I been there 18yrs. As of today, I have 8 weeks left of short term disability left. I want to do the surgery and have time to rest before I go back. My job is hard labor is the reason i'm in this situation now. I'm not used to not working. I love working. I have been working with a herination at L5-S1, bulging at L1 and L2. I been on pain meds for the last 4-5yrs. I got Sciatica and nurophathy in my legs. I wish i could go 1 day with no pain but I don't see it for me no time soon. I know its only been a day after the nerve block but im feeeling pain in my neck and left shoulder and arm again. it still week, I go back on the 29th of May if not sooner. im going to tell him to go ahead and do the surgery if it starts hurting again. I had 7 nerve blocks in my lower back and it didn't do any good but take my money. The 29th of May will leave me 6weeks left on short term disability.

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      Lydia Hackworth 3 years ago

      I had surgery done on my cervical spine April of this year made two years and I have been having some real odd feelings in my neck! I have been experencing a choking feeling even to the point it has been waking me up in the middle of the night out of my sleep .I was wondering if this could be a side affect from my surgery I have a tight choking feelingin my neck all the time, some days are worse than others! I just need to know if this will ever go away!

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      Amit Kumar 3 years ago

      My cousin brother had C5 C6 spinal surgery with plate & screw fusion on one week back, but still there is no improvements in terms of deparalyzing the post chest part of his body, huge pain around beck, respiratory disorder.

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      maria 3 years ago

      I had a cspine surgery one year and a half ago and still can't depend on my own can somebody tell me if I'm going to walk?

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      Zac 2 years ago

      I had surgery consisting of c3-t1 posterior fusion with rods an screws. Allograft an autograft an bone marrow aspiration with the works. This was two year ago and they said that I have to keep the hardware in for life. I hate walking like a Robot. It do not feel good at all but I guess it could be worse. I am 52 right now.If I knew what I know now I would not of had it done. I pray everyday hoping that I get better. I am in pain every day but like I said it could have been worse. After the surgery I was in a wheelchair for three months then a walker for four months now I am on a cane so I have to say that I am blessed. I just wish if someone could tell me is it really true about the hardware. I wish I could take it off myself.

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      Darlene 2 years ago

      I am 21 days post C3-C6 decompression with fusion. I am still in pain with burning in my shoulder blades. I am to start PT, but feel my pain is too much for this. Is this normal?

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      Yuli 2 years ago

      Broked my C1, they put a plate and screw from my skull to c2 can't turn my head to the sides, I'm 26 year old only 3 weeks since surgery.. I'm in soo much pain and is soo unconfortable... My head feels stuck and is so heavy Im still in the process of recuperating and I hope I can at least be able to drive my car again... It sucks.. ;;;((((

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      vincent p 2 years ago

      I have had a fusion of c3 4 consists of a plate and screws with 3 titanium discs.I was disappointed that the numbness and tightness in my forearms and hands[right side much worse]has not improved.i am 2 weeks into recovery and it is still a problem...doc said it was a 50 50 chance for improvement...but said it would not get worse.the surgery was done for severe spinal stenosis.

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      Sue p 2 years ago

      I had surgery for compression from C3toC6. I woke up in ITC paralysed from the neck down. Spent 3 months at Sheffield spinal unit. 1 year on i am walking on crutches and have nuropathic pain. I still have no feeling down my left side from my waist down. Just unlucky to have complications due to spinal shock.

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      Painz 20 months ago

      The reason there are so many different outcomes is because each person has surgery for a different condition. I am over a year post op from a C4-7 ACDF, which was done for spinal stenosis. In other words if I didn't have it, just turning my head too fast would have caused me paralysis (this all stemmed from whiplash). I also have severe DDD and so my whole spine is falling apart. I am in constant pain and am now having to stop working. Don't have the surgery unless there are no other options or your doctor thinks that your condition is a relatively simple surgery to cure you. I didn't have a choice; if I didn't have the surgery I would be paralyzed, if I did then I live with lots of restrictions and chronic pain. I was athletic, a health nut, thin and healthy and now I am applying for disability because I cannot work.

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      Supers49 16 months ago

      I had a anterior cervical fusion of the 5-6-7 with a plate , screws and cadaver 9 weeks ago. I had horrific pain down the right arm. Now that pain is gone and I have numbness and tingling of the right thumb and two fingers on and off. I have difficulty moving my head to the right. Has anyone experienced these symptoms. Please let me know. Thank you.

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      Nancy 11 months ago

      I had my first neck fusion C3 & c4 in 2008 and I was doing well. Then in 2012 I had a whiplash and it damaged the lower disc. C6 & C7 . Doctor replaced my disc with a cage. To date I am pain free. I move freely.

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      Ekul 10 months ago

      I had my c5 c6 disc explode. The most pain in my left arm and neck I could ever imagine. Words can't explane how I was feeling. After mri scan I was advised surgery was the best option for me being a semi professional surfer. My surgeon advised me to go with the m6 disc replacement. Because the fuse would limit my mobility. After surgery the pain was gone completely and aparently I was as close to becoming a paraplegic as he has ever seen because of the damage around my spinal cord. 6 weeks later I'm surfing again and never felt better. I was off pain meds after 3 weeks. In my opinion the m6 is the way to go. Just thought I'd tell my story because I know how stressful it was for me. My advice is research the surgeon. The outcome could be different.

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      Shari'a 7 months ago

      I had a5\6 fusion in 2008 went back to work four weeks later before surgery I couldn't lift right arm I have a tiny bit of weakness. Rolled my truck and fractured c,5 surgery above and below my other fusion couldn't raise left arm and index finger and thumb numb. Two months later I feel great hope to go back to work in one more month

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      Graeme Thomson 7 months ago

      Hi all, I'm 8 weeks post op from c1-c4 fusion with screws / rods and bone fusions. I was suffering for 3 years with neck pain which ranged from a dull thud to very intense depending on my activity. It got to the point where I needed to do something about it after an initial consultation with my local doctor suggested arthritis. But I went to see a neurosurgeon which is when I found out I had degeneration in the top 2 vertebrae and it was a lot more serious than was first suggested. Surgery my the diagnosis and I had confidence with my surgeon this was the best result. It honestly scarred the crap out of me, not only the surgery but life afterwards and what restrictions I would have.

      I'm a very active person, bike rider, drummer in a rock band, bush walking.. Generally lots of outdoor activity. So I prepared myself as best I could both physically and mentally in the month before the surgery. On the day I went into the operation with a million emotions go around inside me( I even got my will updated, just in case). Waking up after 6 hour surgery, everything was working, I could feel all limbs, my voice and sight was good and the pain wasn't to bad. The 8 weeks between now and then haven't been easy, and at times really stressful. Living in a neck brace 24/7 and bed bound quite a bit was hard, but now I'm just starting back at work and beginning to drive again. My surgeon is happy with the results of my surgery ( he said it was " innovative surgery he performed on me that day" and I will will be forever grateful for to him for taking my life in his hands and performing a delicate substantial surgery when many others would have floundered I feel. ( for you reference, Mr Patrick Chan, Epworth hospital, Melbourne.

      To say the last 3 months of my life have been quite a trip, I'm feeling strong now, even though I have some limitation in neck movement forever and I need to be careful with how I live in the future. For anyone facing what I've faced my advice is find a surgeon that you are comfortable. With, who is clear in what he is planning on performing, and stay as active as possible before and after the surgery with plenty of walking. I also benefited from seeing a counsellor to help with the dark days ( and there will be plenty, trust me).

      So now I've started Physio, 8 weeks post op and I'm confident that my life has been turned around compared to where I was 3 months ago.

      Good luck and stay strong if your facing what I did, it's a long road, but you will get through it with the right team around you and the support of family and friends

      Graeme, the spinal surgery survivor

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      LoriBolton 4 months ago

      Hi, First time here.

      On October 20, 2016 I had a second ACDF done. This was above the 1 that I had done 8 yrs ago. At that time I had c4-5 and c5-6. With plastic replacement disc, screws and a long plate. I felt WONDERFUL after!! Minimal pain, off ALL meds life was great. Now 6 yrs ago pain started aging went thru ALL tests AGAIN. I needed to have c2-3 and c3-4 with a plate tied into the other, more screws and again plastic disc. This time I am in a hard neck brace, with a lot of restrictions AND a lot of PAIN and muscle spasms I NEVER had with the other!! It's 13 Days post op. I feel SO BAD. Myes husband is wanting to take a 12 hr drive in about 2 wks. I don't think I can do it. I can't even DRIVE myself or ride YET.

      WHY is this surgery SO much worse? Why do I HURT and tire easily? Why are my upper back around my shoulder blades spasming CONSTANTLY?? And the tops of my shoulders are VERY SORE. Not to mention I am still having trouble swallowing and have a scratchy throat.

      CAN ANYONE give any feed back?


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      Ruwan Kumara 4 months ago

      Dear All

      I had car accident last week and now in a hospital, with c2 neck injury

      After MRI scan show that c2 fracture but nor harm for the spinal code, Nuro Sargon given me a two option to chose

      1) Do C 2 fusion surgery and stabilize with the crews


      2) Put a Neck color and keep 8 weeks for natural fracture healing

      am 26 years old

      Can anyone give me a advice and help me to go for a right decision



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      devteja 4 months ago

      i am 28 yrs old male from hyderabad.. i went to nims hospital doctor suggest me go for surgery, c5 and c6 nerve right hand side compression .. but i didnt get more pain, i am using tablets, i have exams .. without surgery is there anything complete solution.. if go for surgery is there any side effects.. plz give me anyone advice

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      Dinesh Manani 4 months ago

      I had cervical spine TB in 1974, at age of 25 then, my C1 to C4 were effected by TB , luckily my C1-C2 were fused spontaneously with compression on brain steam odontoid peg was displaced and was moved upward decompression procedure with the front anterior surgery was ruled out in 1997 ( surgeon had advised to learn to endure the pain and stay alive they could give me strong pain killer to help manage various chronical pains surgery was not possible for me with osteoporosis and already very thin bones)

      I wear SOMI brace since 1974 with chronical pains, with numbness and burning pain fulgurating on left side of head, pins and needles in arms and grinding and crunching notice when I walk or do anything. With two angioplasty, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and prostate cancer waiting to be treated I am fighting to carry on as long people on street do not see all these hidden cocktails – my life long DLA is coming to end with help of PIP – but it is nice to be alive in pain then a cabbage, reading other people’s heart churning stories – my neck pain is much sweeter then it God blesses all

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      Gail Young 4 months ago

      Had C456 fusion done 4 weeks ago. Now pain in right arm is back, can't sleep. Dr said to stay active and not to lay around. Also said neck brace was not necessary. Feel like I'm not improving at all. Only taking Tramadol and is not helping. Anyone having same problem?

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      Senteria 3 months ago

      I had neck surgery back in 2008 a c2 c3 fusion with a rod in three screws my question will I ever be able to turn my neck they way I used to turn it

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      Holly 3 months ago

      I had six weeks ago C-5 through C7 replace with silicone discs and screws.since then, I have been feeling sick as a dog all the timewhen I look down! I'm having issues with my left arm still going numb and I can't go back to work because of all this. I have passed out also to three times since my surgery when I look down or if I'm reading a book for at least 30 minutes Is this the norm?I feel like I'm constantly being gagged all the time as if you put your thumb on the lower part of your throat and your four fingers around your neck and squeeze that's what it feels like 24 seven

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      Roger avery 3 months ago

      I had my surgery November 3 of this yr ..yes my tingling is gone in my left arm but like u I also have problems looking up or simple things as watching TV ..I get dizzy and sick to my stomach also I'm constantly feeling like a lodge in my throat Everytime I swallow..I had my c5 thru c7 fused with plates and screws ..I go back for my 2 appointment tomorrow..I'm lost ..this sh** hurts still hmmm

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      Ldynblk44 3 months ago

      I am with you Roger, I had my second cervical spinal surgery October 31. They removed one vertebrae at c2 and put a cage in, removed additional bone buildup between vertebrae's and fuse C6 and seven screws and rods and I have a plate in front of my cervical spine also. My collar came off yesterday and I have difficulty turning my head in any direction, it also feels as though something is stuck in my throat at all times! I had one follow up appointment and no more are scheduled. I am also still in A lot of discomfort and I still have an extreme amount of swelling. From my chin to below the incision on my neck looks totally awful.

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      Penny wells 3 months ago

      8/12/16 I had c5-c7 lamnioplasty with instrumentation fusion. I was out of bed the same day (aided to walk) and assisted for a 2 days after that. By day 4 I was walking unaided. - doing stairs and getting in and out of bed reasonably easily. The first week was the hardest - its a balance between doing enough and not doing too much. - I found moving my shoulders in the first few days very painful but after a couple of exercises they loosen up and all is good. I am now home and this is where it becomes difficult to restrict what you do - Pain wise I am on meds still but it is manageable and I have started to reduce them (ice packs are also good!) Time off work depends on what you do for a living. - but I am advised 6 weeks and not to drive for 6 weeks. Hope this is useful to anyone heading for this opp. The fear is far far worse than the reality.

    • profile image 2 months ago

      I had c4 c5 c6 surgery 5 months ago, is it normal to have arm pain

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      Afzal 2 months ago

      Hi All, I also had an operation done on the 07/12/2016, A donor bone was taken from my left hip and was fused from C5 to C7. Ever since then, I have a numb feeling from my left hip to my knee and my left shoulder and arm is in constant pain. I was laid off work for a year and still suffering. I am currently taking the medication DF118 and Lerica which only helps for a short period of time. Any Advice?

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      Graeme thomson 2 months ago

      Hi all, my second post here, I'm now 7 months post op after c1-c4 fusion with screws and rods. It's slowly getting better , but I still have quite a bit of stiffness in my neck and I've lost 50% of my left / right and lateral movement. The pain is slowly getting better and I'm back doing most things I enjoyed. I'm getting a new ct scan done next week to see how the fusions are going so fingers crossed it's progressing as planned..

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      Michelle johnson 2 months ago

      I broke me neck in 99, had bone replacement and fusion with hardware. My hardware is made of nickel plated steel. My surrounding bones have dozens of fractures and bone disease I do not have good ROM, I have migraines every day for over a year, Iam always in pain. The neurologist can't help me no one can, is there any chance this could be taken out and replaced with titanium? Is it possible to re-do this? Yes I have nerve damage, tingling, numbness and more. Is this it for me? Survived double mastectomies from breast cancer and my pain is horrible I need help, any suggestions? Pls advise 815-679-6830

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