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Two years post-op ACDF (C5-C7) still in pain

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,000
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am a 46 year old female. I had a ACDF (C5-C7) two years ago. I have been in constant pain since the surgery. I have pain and weakness in both arms and hands.My neck and shoulders hurt and I have terrible headaches everyday. I have been seeing a pain management doctor for a year and a half. I've had several epidural injections, nerve blocks, PT and I am on Duragesic patches 100mcg and Oxycontin, and I'm still in unbearable pain. My doctor says that I couldn't have a spinal cord stimulator because my spinal canal is to narrow from the fusion. He says that he is up against a wall and does not have any more treatment plans other than medication. I've not slept in a bed since I had surgery due to the pain and both arms and hands being completely numb. I may get 2 or 3 hours a night sleeping in the recliner. I recently had another MRI and it said that the disks above and below the fusion are buldging. I also have DDD, but my surgeon says that surgery would not benefit me at this time.

I am to the point to where I am ready to blow my brains out. I've been seeing a mental health therapist for about 6 months, but the antidepressants or the therapy are not helping. I have not worked since before the surgery, nor will I ever be able to work in this kind of pain. I have two young children and I can not even care for them. I depend on my husband and family to do everything for me.

Do you have any suggestions that may give me some relief? I've heard that Botox is being used to help with neck pain, are you familuar with this treatment? My doctor says it's almost impossible to break the chronic pain cycle.



  • I'm so sorry your in so much pain. I just had ACDF March 3rd and I'm still in unbearable pain. I'm starting over with the epidural shots tomorrow, then the nerve blocks two weeks later. I'm only on percocet and it doesn't even touch the pain. I wonder if you would be a canidate for a pain pump. I hope they figure something out for you soon!
  • I go to my pain doctor tommorrow. I will ask him about a pain pump. He is very conservative. That's kind of good, he don't put you on some of the really bad stuff. But sometimes I think I'm hurting when he could be giving me something that would help. I hope you get to feeling better soon. It's still early for you, it takes a long time for the nerves to heal. Good luck and thanks.
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  • Sorry to hear of your suffering...Has your Dr tried extended release pain meds? I was on Mohpine Sulpahte every 12 hours, along with oxycodone for breakthrough pain. Last month she switched me to Methadone every 12 hours with the same oxy. The morphine wasn't doing much for me. I am very leary of using narcotics, but since I also am in such unbearable pain, I've used them. Anyways, the methadone really has helped me. I still feel pain, but it's bearable, and I'm sleeping well, which isn't a usual thing for me. I just wonder if I will build a tolerance to this and have to increase or switch again!?! I don't feel that I abuse drugs, because my pain is real. So I wouldn't feel bad about trying to feel better. My PT told me that when pain meds are working, they are giving all of your muscles,nerves, etc a break so they are able to decrease swelling, irritation so you eventually heal. I hope you feel better!!
  • Hi Bev...I would have to wonder if the problem causing the symptoms just wasn't fixed. Have you gotten a 2nd opinion? Sorry....I'm sure you've already thought of that, but just thought I would ask to see what other surgeons may have said. It's wrong that you have to find ways to deal with the pain instead of being able to FIX the source of the pain. No one knows as good as you about what you're feeling. I hope you can find some solutions that work for you.
  • Thanks Amy, I will mention the Methadone to my doctor. Patricia, I have had several MRI's, xray's and a mylagram and they all say that I'm fully fused. My pain management doctor has looked at everything and says the same thing as my surgeon, but my husband has also said that we need to get an opinion from another neurosurgeon. Thank you, that will probably be my next step. I'm in the process of trying to get on disability and my hearing is May 5.Which is a nightmare.I thought I should wait until this is over before I may be changing doctors.
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  • Can't they test your C-spine again to find out for sure where your pain is coming from?Maybe its coming from the discs that are bulging and not related to your surgery at all.Just a thought. good luck at the pain clinic
  • They have checked everything, I'm fully fused. I do have some permanate nerve damage due to having to wait over two years to get the surgery, thanks to workers comp. Your right, I think that it is coming from the other disks. But my surgeon says that surgery want benefit me at this time. Workers comp has approved Botox, but after reading up on it I'm kinda worried that it will just be more pain for nothing.
  • i think if fusion surgery is my only option i should just kill myself why would insurance not cover endoscopic lazer and ADR...why would they make people get stuck with fusion so there life is ruined?????
  • JKD,

    There are some people who don't qualify for ADR. ADR was only approved for use in the cervical spine July 17, 2007 so anyone before that didn't have the luxury of using ADR as a choice. What happens when a ADR fails? Also make no doubt that many of those maybe recalled as they proper procedures where not followed on the control group. When did you have a fusion or ADR? There have been many successful fusion stories come here and leave they have moved onto busy lives. Also even with the approval of ADR not all patients qualify for the procedure. The makers of the device have set the guide lines as to who does qualify.
  • JKD and Bev and others who want to give up,
    I just wanted to let you know that I care as do so many other people on this site. We are the ones who are generally NOT success stories. The success stories usually move on. So to you and others who read about us hopeless sounding cases, just remember that even with limitations, LIFE IS STILL WORTH LIVING! Your family, friends, co-workers, etc., care about you and would miss you immensely. There are things you can still do. Ask questions and seek what options you have, but don't give up!
    I care.
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