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Posterior Cervical Foraminotomy (No Fusion) - Long Term Results?

In February 2013, I had a posterior cervical foraminotomy without fusion. 15 months later, I still experience significant pain on most days. I'm not sure what finally prompted me to register and post on a site like this. Maybe it's just the slow realization that I possibly will not make a full recovery, regardless of how long I wait. My question is whether anyone here has had this same procedure, and if so, how long it took to become significantly pain free for more than one or two days at a time. Thanks.
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  • LizLiz Posts: 9,699
    edited 05/25/2014 - 12:33 AM

    Liz, 

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • I am glad you joined this site. people like you help others to make decision. I have seen three spine and neurosurgeons. two wants to do fusion only one recommended posterior micro foraminotomy. this surgery is not common and some surgeons don't even know how to do it. In past I have posted for long term outcome of this procedure but no one have responded. Thank again for your post
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  • fardaaftab said:
    I am glad you joined this site. people like you help others to make decision. I have seen three spine and neurosurgeons. two wants to do fusion only one recommended posterior micro foraminotomy. this surgery is not common and some surgeons don't even know how to do it. In past I have posted for long term outcome of this procedure but no one have responded. Thank again for your post
    I saw two surgeons who would not do the ACDF (fusion), in part because of my relatively young age (now 28). The third surgeon recommended the PCF (foraminotomy), so that's what I went with. It seems that after a month no one here has replied who has undergone this same procedure.

    At this point I'm considering the fusion, whenever I'm financially able to do so. Unfortunately, my insurance was just canceled. Thanks for the reply.
  • sandi said:
    and none of us have access to long term medical studies, unless we search them out on the internet. You can use the search feature at the top of the page to search the entire Spine-health website, for articles written by various surgeons over the last several years.
    I'm not really looking for studies, but for first-hand experiences from anyone who has undergone the same surgery I have: a PCF (foraminotomy). Thanks.
  • peterguyppeterguy Posts: 4
    edited 07/06/2014 - 5:08 PM
    I had c4 to c7 foraminotomy and c4 to c6 laminoplasty last July. The foraminotomy was the main issue due to bone spurs sending twitches down my arm, slight nerve damage starting as determined by EMG, and my right hand, and parts of the forearm and triceps, felt like they were waking up from having laid on them, i.e. severe tingling, that occurred 24-7. The laminoplasty was an added measure due to stenosis, but no obvious problem related to that at the time.
    The moment I woke from surgery the tingling and arm pain were gone. I dealt with surgical pain for several months, but some excellent PT got me over that hump. Very important to get a good, aggressive therapist with experience in these type of surgical recoveries and to follow through with what they say. I started with a different one at first, who mostly dealt with elderly patients who were sedentary, and I strongly believe that prolonged the recovery pain and slowed my progress.
    After the surgery I was quite happy for about 7 or 8 months, and then pain in my neck and right shoulder/scapular area started. That has proven to so far be a stubborn issue and a miserable experience. After several failed injections I had a MBB done to show I was a candidate for RF Ablation to knock out the suspected problem area at the c4 to c7 facets. Almost 4 weeks out from that bad experience I now suffer from worse neck pain than before and now also a burning sensation in a 4 inch diameter patch around the injection site. It is very sensitive to the touch in that area, right below a dead spot (i.e. absolute zero feeling) midway down the right side of my neck, so the whole right side of my neck is very oddly fubar right now and indescribably worse off than before. I am still quite happy the original problem and tingling/pain in my arm is gone still. Now if the various physicians I see could just fix this confounxed neck pain life would be grand. In the meantime I'm always in pain, extremely grumpy and don't sleep much, if at all some nights.


    I think we all wish there was a magic solution to fix us, but reality sucks. Keep working with your doc to address your issue if it is the same, or seek another specialist if you think you're experiencing new issues outside the scope of the doc that helped with the first issue. It helps to look into/research and take ownership of your neck issues and work with the docs to solve it. If they are good I find they are just as frustrated as you if things are not going right and they appreciate any additional help you can give them.
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  • I'm a newbie to this site and read people's cases with interest. I have had neck problems since my teens - manifested then with painful right shoulder caused by inflamed bursa. I'm now 55 and for the past few years I experienced excruciating pins and needles in left arm which have gone now but MRI showed bulging disc at c5/6 with troublesome spurs that accounted for my problems. The past few months, I have had some pain and weakness in both thumb joints which affect writing, gripping etc. An EMG showed some carpal tunnel syndrome. Doctors not too bothered but it is affecting my life. Rheumatologist has referred me for a neurosurgical opinion for a cervical foraminotomy which I am not keen on. A shoulder physiotherapy practitioner suggested cervical nerve root injection in preference to surgery.
    I'm worried about the thumb weakness. Things are progressing
  • Hi. I just joined this site. I sought out advice online and came across your forum. In June 2013 after years of neck pain and headaches and then finally left arm and hand tingling I had an MRI of my neck. It showed moderate to severe arthritis and nerve impingement which caused the tingling. I then had an epidural in the side of my left neck and then 2 facet blocks, each of these were weeks apart. No long term relief. Finally in July 2014 I had a S/P posterior left cervical 5-6 and 6-7 foraminotomy withOUT fusion. The tingling in my left arm is mostly gone. The neck pain is the same if not worse. The surgeon told me prior to having the surgery that it would help the tingling 80-90% and MAYBE help the headaches. I had the surgery mostly because I was worried about the nerve becoming severely damaged by the impingement. That can cause a whole lot of other problems in and of itself. So in that respect I'm glad I had it. However I did suffer some neuropathy around the incision in the back of my neck towards my left shoulder. I'm still taking neurontin for the burning pain which helps. The aching pain that can radiate over my left ear and to my forehead causing painful headaches still occurs if I'm not careful with posture in performing daily tasks or from stress or sleeping wrong, etc. I m just exhausted mentally from having to watch my every move and deal with daily pain. It's not quite been a year since the surgery so maybe it will improve.
  • KevinWB said:
    In February 2013, I had a posterior cervical foraminotomy without fusion. 15 months later, I still experience significant pain on most days. I'm not sure what finally prompted me to register and post on a site like this. Maybe it's just the slow realization that I possibly will not make a full recovery, regardless of how long I wait. My question is whether anyone here has had this same procedure, and if so, how long it took to become significantly pain free for more than one or two days at a time. Thanks.
    Wandaneill
  • In june ,2014,i starting having bad pain spasm in left arm,tingling in fingers,burning pain in back neck,an freeze burn headaches,in back,head,doc sent me for,injec,after,mri stated,bulging disk,and bone spurs at 5/6,that madr it worst,so i had infusion,at c5/6,well that help,made it worst,so doc told me,posterior decompressuon was very ,painful,but might help,so dec2014,i had that surg,needless to say,it didnt help,2 months later,he did 2 differant mri,lower back and neck,well bulging disk in lower back,with lots narroring,and c6/7 is bad off,so i go back to doc in a wk,hes gonna trll me when he can do infusion,on c6/7,all i want is to sleep all night,and go back to my reg,schedule,im 42,and its not lookin good,not a day go by that im so scared and afraid,of the next day pain and grief..is it ever gonna get better
    Wandaneill
  • what is infusion? do you mean ACDF?
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