Welcome to my neck pain story.

This is my online journal of the struggle to overcome neck pain which developed into a herniated disc between C5-C6 and ultimately neck surgery.  I have no medical qualifications or expertise.  My intent is to personally track my own journey and in so doing, to share it with others who are at some point in their own neck pain journey.  Perhaps you will learn from my experience, or will be able to add a comment that will in turn help others.

If you are reading this, then you probably already have or know someone close to you who has neck or back pain.  I wish you well.  For me, this has definitely turned into a marathon and not a sprint, which I originally was hoping for.  Good Luck to you.







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Monday, May 24, 2010

Prodisc-C Disc Implant X-Rays

Prodisc-C Disc Implant X-Rays.  These are X-Rays taken October 14, 2008, two weeks after my surgery to replace my herniated disc at C5-C6 with the Prodisc-C implant.  This will have significance to anyone contemplating having this surgery with this particular implant ... there are other procedures available, such as a disc fusion and other disc replacement implants.  I was fortunate in that my medical insurance covered the cost of the disc replacement as opposed to a disc fusion procedure (for a later blog).  I have complete neck movement.  I feel no discomfort.  I do hear occasional clicking and feel occasional tension in my neck from other cervical vertebrae.  Read more about management of my neck post-surgery in future blogs. 
C5C6_ProDiscC_Implant_SideView.jpg        C5C6_ProDiscC_Implant_RearView.jpg

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) officially approved the Prodisc-C disc replacement on December 17, 2007.  Read more at the US Dept of Health & Human Services FDA Website.

9:22 pm edt          Comments

Sunday, May 23, 2010

C5-C6 Herniated Disc X-Rays
C5-C6 Herniated Disc X-Rays.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words ...  In this blog I am publishing the xrays of my herniated disc before my operation to replace the C5-C6 with a Prodisc-C disc implant.  These are various x-rays of my neck taken August 8, 2008, 8 weeks prior to my surgery when the Prodisc-C was implanted by Dr. Todd Albert of The Rothman Institute, Philadelphia, PA. 

C5C6_Herniated_Disc_side_view.jpg        C5C6_Herniated_Disc_neck_rearview.jpg

C5C6_Herniated_Disc_neck_flexed_forward.jpg        C5C6_Herniated_Disc_neck_extended_sideview.jpg

Note how the C5-C6 vertebrae are closer together due to the herniated disc which doesn't show on the x-rays.  The space to accommodate the nerves is only milimeters in size, so it doesn't take much for the space for the nerves to be compromised and a pinched nerve to result.
10:20 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My C5-C6 disc replacement procedure in the Jefferson Hospital, Philadelphia

My C5-C6 disc replacement procedure in the Jefferson Hospital, Philadelphia.  My husband drove me to the Jefferson Hospital and we arrived in Philadelphia at 8:00 am.  I was checked-in around 8:30 am.  My husband and son were long since gone, since a Mickey D's breakfast was their first agenda item.  I was moved into a small room where I was given a gown to change into and spent the next 30 mins+ watching a very nice small flat screen TV.  Then they wheeled me into an open room next to the surgery.  Several patients and myself were being prepped for surgery.  I do not recall anyone's name, except Dr. Albert who, in his usual charming fashion, greeted me with a cheery, "There she is!"  He had already successfully completed one operation that day and if I recall correctly he'd been there since about 5:30 that morning.  I had to ask whether the surgery went well, and he nodded in a positive fashion, as if to say, could it go any other way?  I was not at all nervous.  I wasn't in good hands ... I was in the best of hands!  Surgeon assistants, nurses, and others came up to me, introduced themselves and told me what role they were playing in my procedure.  Everyone had a positive manner.  Nobody was grumpy, tired, bored, irritated.  Good!  The young lady who I recall the most I believe held the title of neuro-anaesthetist.  She was the kingpin in this procedure.  She was monitoring the activity of my spinal cord!  My successful outcome depended on no damage to my spinal cord.  Worst case scenario I could be paralyzed.  Looking back, I cannot believe I knew nothing about what she was going to do. It was fascinating.  She placed two-fork prongs all over my body.  The places I recall the most were the top of my hands and top of my feet - these are very painful areas to be stuck into, so she used an icey spray to temporarily numb any feeling.  Once the prongs were in place I felt nothing from them.  They went down each arm and leg, and shoulders.  I looked like a pin cushion!  Each prong was connected to a wire that went to a monitor.  My entire nervous system was going to be scrutinized.  Excellent!  It was while she was finishing off that they anaethatized me and the next thing I knew I was waking up in a hospital room. 

I felt groggy and they were quick to tell me that if I felt any pain to press a button.  Any pain?  Feeling pain was now optional?  The concept was foreign to me!  Self-medication is a wonderful thing!  This was the first time in months I had gone pain-free!  To my amazement, that tingling and painful feeling that ran down my left arm was completely gone!  I was thrilled at the outcome already! 

I was wearing a soft neck collar.  I had been fitted for this a couple of weeks prior to surgery.  I still have it and it feels very comfortable to wear, if I ever feel I need not to bend my neck.  (Dr. Albert feels that the hard collars are not necessary, and I completely felt the soft collar was sufficient.)

The staff at Jefferson were great.  There was one male nurse trainee who irritated me as he made a couple of sexist remarks about my not being interested to learn which channel had sports TV; he was very full of himself.  Other than that it was a great experience.

The one thing that nobody at the hospital told me until before I left the next day was how to sit up correctly. I was pulling myself forwards and apparently this is incorrect after neck surgery.  I was supposed to roll onto my side and pull myself up that way. They completely missed that one. 

That night I didn't eat much, and did at one point feel nauseous and threw up some liquid - a natural reaction to the anesthesia.  In the morning I think I ate a little beakfast.  By noon my husband was there, but it took a couple of hours to get me checked out.

The physical therapist gave me a lesson on how to correctly sit up (a little late)  and how to go up and down stairs.

I was given a prescription for hydrocodone/acetaminophen, also known as Vicodin, Vicodin ES, Anexsia, Lorcet, Lorcet Plus, and Norco for the pain, with instructions that as soon as possible I needed to switch to Extra Strength Tylenol.

I was released from the hospital.

2:43 pm edt          Comments

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Rejuveness - Scar Healing Center

Helpful resources on back and neck pain information and solutions

Neck Pain Story Store
View and read the reviews of the products I used to alleviate my neck pain.


Honest & Understandable Info on Back Pain Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments.



www.arc4life.com Neck Pain Relief Products
Arc4life is all about natural pain relief through neck pillows and neck traction systems designed for improving your posture and giving you better sleep. Read our testimonials about our neck pillow.

http://www.ReJuveness.com  Scar Management solutions.  It worked for me - even my doctors were impressed!

Fiona Thompson
Taken 1 year after surgery

The Author of this Blog

Here I am 1 year after surgery, in the Fall of 2009.  Happy days; a far cry from my pain one year earlier.  Below you can view a closeup of my scar.



My scar 1 year after surgery
Click on photo for enlargement

My scar after neck pain surgery.  Dr. Albert explained to me that access is much simpler going through the front of the neck and eliminates cutting through any muscle which would extend recovery time.  In fact, he told me that it is possible to use a finger and push through the neck to the back of the neck or spine.  Read my Blog entry about how I prevented any ugly scarring on my neck using ReJuveness silicone and scar cream.  It really works!

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