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Spine and Back Health

Headaches after cervical fusions of C4-C7

07/15/2008

Question:

I am 54 years old, female, have osteo arthritis, degenerative disk disease. My surgery, which was disk removal, donor bone implants used between C4, C5, C6, C7, and they used titanium screws to hold it together.  Also my spinal cord was scraped, as it had calcification around it. I have been having extreme headaches which started at three and 1/2 weeks following surgery. An MRI looking for spinal cord leakage was done and a CAT scan was done also, which showed normal for both tests.

Since I was wearing a neck brace following surgery 24 hours a day, I wonder if this is the only cause the headaches could be from? It has been 6 weeks now and I still have the headaches and cannot lay down still due to the severety of them. It is worst when I lean over to pick up something and when trying to lay down, the pressure is extreme. On both sides of my neck seems to be where the shooting pain which spreads up to the top of my head starts. My left foot on top swells up and I have been trying to walk more thinking I just need to get my blood flowing more. Any ideas on why the headaches are still here, as I am now not wearing the head brace? Today is the second day without it.

Answer:

Thank you for visiting NetWellness. On this site, we try to answer general questions about health but cannot diagnose or recommend treatment. You appear to have some very, very specific questions about your condition, which can only be answered properly by a physician who is familiar with your history, physical exam, and test results. Your questions about the testing results you've been given or the risks, benefits, and alternatives for proposed treatments of this condition need to be directed to your treating physician(s). You should insist that they answer these questions in a way that you are able to understand before consenting to any treatment. If your physician is unable to help you understand these issues, you should get a second opinion. Take care.

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Response by:

David J Hart, MD David J Hart, MD
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University