ACDF 6/2016 pain now in upper back and ribs

I'm hoping someone can relate, give advise, or share their experience after a cervical fusion.

I had a cervical fusion last year 6/2017, age 33, neck injury in 2001. Because I was young Surgeons kept sending me to pain management, not wanting to do surgery on a 17 year old. Finally after years of suffering we traveled to the best surgeon I could find which was 10 hours away. He performed an ACDF at C5-6, and 6-7 with 2 cages with my own bone fragments, 2 titanium plates and screws. He also fixed a curve in my neck bc my neck was straight, stretched some tendons back to normal both which increased pain and recovery time. 

 My Recovery was long and hard. I was so desperate for relief and excited to hopefully have my life back that I didn't think of the problems that may come by having a surgeron located so far from home.  At 6 weeks I was still in major pain from the surgery, not just my usual pain. No doctor near home would want to touch me for an exam due to liability, and always referred me to go see my surgeon.  I was able to get mild pain meds to last until 6 weeks and images ,an MRI and xray sent for my surgeon to review. At 6 months I started to feel better from the surgrey pain and start physical therapy and massage therapy. I was in extreme pain daily, in my neck and under my shoulder blades.  Prior to surgery I had excruciating  pain in my left shoulder blade area and bad muscle spasams only. I'm in more pain now  than ever. 

A few months ago I started having severe pain in my spine from my neck down to mid back, mostly  on the right side and even both ribs,  deep bone pain along with my shoulder and neck pain.  I understand that bc my nerves were compressed for so long after my injury (16 years) that the nerves may be permanently damaged.  I've seen a local spinal surgeon who reviewed my crevical MRI and I do have bulging disk but other than that he couldn't explain the bone pain. He sent me to another Dr who did facet joint blocks on yesterday 7/25/17 in my neck and mid back. I didn't get total relief, maybe none, hard to say bc I have so many things contributing to pain in seems. I still have awful muscle spasms and the terrible bone pain in my neck, back, and ribs came back the night of the procedure. I'm going for a CT scan and lumbar MRI this week and will be sending those to my Original surgeon, along with my cervical MRI so that I can get his opinion on all of this and follow up with my local surgeon too. Pain meds, massage and back adjustments from my chiropractor seem to help a little but the pain is always there ruining my life.  I feel so guilty I can't be the mom and wife I want to be. The frustration to find a Dr who is efficient at trying to find the source of the pain is so depressing and after 17 years I'm losing hope that I'll ever feel better.

If anyone has any advise, or has or is going through a similar situition please share it. I feel alone bc no one understands what this pain does to a person unless they are living this battle too. Thank you!  God Bless!



  • I pray you get relief. I am 11 days from surgery and c4-7 and experiencing mild pain between my shoulder blades. You never know what your new normal will be. My best to you.

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