Revision: The journey is now in the recovery/rehab stage. I am not a doctor, Speak with your Doctor and Specialist.
The worst part is the first week of recovery for swallowing. learning how to sit and urinate since looking down will not be possible. Having a person a few hours a day to help with chores. Food will be limited to soups, smoothies, Food processed to liquid. Apple sauce, fruit, and ice smoothies boost protein drinks and powder protein try for 60 added grams a day. protein is key for Bone fusion.
85% of neck pain will go away on its own but what if it does not? At any time there is a tingle or numbness to any finger or hand it needs to be addressed. If after 10 days of home OTC treatment, seek medical attention.
Muscles of the Neck
Cervical Spine Anatomy
A really good 5-minute primer of the cervical spine anatomy by cross-section. Very complex paths (tracts) from the sensors (heat, pain, touch) and the motors.
Neurology from NINJA Nerd
This guy makes learning easy, lots of energy. Over 70 lectures for the Spine start with Video #25 – #44.
History, Symptoms, Diagnostics (MRI, EMG)
History: 1997 whiplash rear-end collision, 2008 Numb thumbs, and index fingers used traction, chiro, and PT, 2020 pain after 10 lb lift.
2008 treated for Numb both hands index and thumb. Dual Axial traction 3 months. C6. My alignment was out 55 mm. https://skidome.org/ZardozRen/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Neck_Arm_Pain.pdf Link to history.
Symptoms: bladder issue, loss of grip in right hand, 10/10 pain behind ear and back of the neck, 80% of day numb and tingle behind the right ear. legs and feet go numb and left leg pain. Pain can be intense and a lot of narcotics.
Numb right ear and behind right ear to neck and lower jaw. 85% of day pain is 2 or 3 /10
Second Pain type Searing hot, pressure and poker type pain 8 to 10 out of 10. Brought on by turning head and looking down / up.
Fingers not numb, legs have felt heavy and numb when walking, Sciatica and some low back pain.
Fingers can get numb, my balance and gait are off, and my fine motor skills are lacking.
ISSUE #1 – Spinal canal is smaller than average and for white males, 14 mm is avg. At C6 is usually the tightest area. in my case a 5mm small area.
ISSUE #2 C7 has nerve root impingement on both sides
3 months of anti-inflammatory medication, chiropractic, and PT an MRI was ordered in March.
MRI – Golden standard. In my case, I was born with a 50% smaller spinal canal.
With the MRI diagnostic, the next step was a Nerve EMG study. The neurologist put me through Neurological Assessments. Diagnostics like Hoffman test, Reflex testing, Babinski test, Eyes, etc.
The ROM range of motion you have before surgery is what to expect after.
My neck muscles are strong from many years of competitive sports. The link below is a PDF 2 page with the prehab exercises for ROM.
Things to do or buy before surgery, Tips
This list is decent but it will depend on age, how much help you have, and how fit you are.
No lifting above 7 lbs will limit what you can do.
Chores need to be completed
OTHER people to help
Home Help Aids
Grab bar in shower
Wand in Shower
A sponge on Stick for washing back and legs
Bed Wedge, Pillows
Heating Pad, hot water bottle
Ice Gel Pads
Puree device- Blender, Food processor
Boost/Ensure high protein
A-Shirt – a sleeveless T-shirt larger hole
Extra pair of TED socks
Vitamin B Complex
Senna cot S
Apply for temp disability Parking
Some like having a reclining chair
Extra pads for Hard Collar
Extra soft collar
Library – for DVD, Books and LinkedIn learning
Internet Streaming Free Movies
Yidio – Nice Guide to find free content
Surgery is always a last resort. In my case, the plan I followed was least invasive to a progression of now surgery. In my case, the birth defect of a smaller canal was the final reason. I did get relief from MBB (Medial Branch Blocks), RFA (Radio Frequency Ablation), and an epidural C7/T1, but exch lasted 8 weeks and did allow me to stop all narcotics. Four Opinions were all the same cervical fusion will be in my plan now or in the future.
Does the MRI, Nerve, and Physical Evaluation all point to the same conclusion. YES, it does.
ACDF – An anterior (Front) approach requires a cut in front of the neck and a retractor system.
This link is a video of the example surgery https://youtu.be/GQA8IRL5Gds This is the type of implant used on me.
Risks are always in play and I do understand the risks.
REHAB starts slow. Be able to shower, put on clothes, and prepare meals. Some days are better than others. If you do too much your body will let you know.
day 1 post-op, the OT person made sure I could get in and out of a fake car, climb stairs, and walk a block.
2 days after Surgery Pain from the surgery diminished. Swallowing was the main discomfort.
I am restricted to 10 lb lift, no bend or twist
Supplements: To enhance bone growth and spinal health. Protein Powder, try to add 15 to 30 grams of protein per day extra. Vitamin D3 10,000 (normal daily intake for me) Calcium 1,200 MG, B-Complex vitamin, Multivitamin.
I am under care at home PT https://www.bayada.com/. Julie keeps me on track and makes sure I know that my balance was off and not to be aggressive on the rehab. She knew I liked to go fast. She was spot on and 11 days out I have a much better balance. No need to fall. Be patient.
CDC A Fall Assessment link:
Climbing up and downstairs, and walking indoors.
Week 2 Another fall assessment, walked outside, curb test on and off.
Week 3 Another fall assessment, walked outside, curb test on and off.
Week 4 Walking 1 mile at 3.3 MPH 5X a Week
Week 5 Now can Lift 15 to 20 Lbs. No overhead lifting. Driving ok. The bike is stationary only. No bending over with lifting no deadlifts. Light Stretch Band workout. more balance work. Can remove soft collar but use it if muscles get tired.
Week 6 Start Physical Therapy
I use the patient portal and have access to the itemized bill. That will list everything in detail. The company of mfg is Globus Medical. Two parts – plate and spacer.
All Located nearby Baltimore MD.
Like Humpty Dumpty All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again. Today medical science can help. You Need to Assemble a team and Drive the process. That is the hard part. I am fortunate to have help in picking my doctors.
Thanks to my family and friends who are irreplaceable as a support team.
PCP, Dr. Syma Rizvi http://www.clinicalassociatesmd.com/main
Pain Mgmt. Medial Branch Blocks, RFA, and epidural. https://www.treatingpain.com/find-a-doctor/mark-herbert-coleman-md/
2nd Opinion by https://www.2nd.md/ Dr. Malhotra https://www.2nd.md/specialist/profile/gautammalhotra “I don’t usually recommend surgery, but in your case, you need to see one” He spent 30 minutes explaining and showing me the MRI. He was my deciding factor to move fast.
https://www.bayada.com/ At Homecare Nurse and I have PT 2x a week for 3 weeks.
https://www.physio-pedia.com/home/ Good guide for definition and terms.