For a long time I’ve had this pain on the left side of my neck between my spine and my shoulder blade. Sometimes it aches, but most of the time it’s a very sharp, deep feeling. For the past several months my pain has increased into my right shoulder/neck, my arm pits, and along my spine. Although my spinal cord injury is at C-1 C-2, it is incomplete. I’ve been told that I have incomplete sensory and motor (some feeling and movement) below the level of my injury. Some people have one or the other or neither depending on their injury. In my case, I can feel pain in my neck and back; it’s good because then I know when something’s wrong but it’s bad because it hurts. I do have a high tolerance for pain because it isn’t at a full affect.
We had been trying to locate the source of my pain, linking it to muscle tightness. Last year I saw a neurosurgeon to see if I could get some answers. He suggested a CT scan so he could see what the bones were doing. From the results, he determined that I have a bone spur. Because my spine is already fused from C-1 to C-4, it’s counted as one vertebrae instead of four. The pressure from it is pressing down on C-5. Ultimately C-4 and C-5 are trying to fuse themselves together creating a spur.
In order to fix the problem and take the pain away, the doctor gave me a few options. One would be to leave it alone and try to manage it with medication and/or more therapy. The other two involve surgery; one small or one large. The small surgery would consist of taking out the bone spur and then putting a "plug" in place of it. Then a metal plate would be attached to help keep the plug in place. The surgery would only take a couple of hours and I would be in the hospital just a few days.
The larger surgery includes the exact same procedure, but afterwards he would fuse a larger section (C-4 to T-3). This would prevent the same thing from happening in the future. The downside is the larger surgery is that I wouldn’t be able to move my neck. Having limited mobility in my neck already, this doesn’t really concern me. The upside is that it should take the pain completely away and also straighten my neck (my spine also curves and my head tilts to the left).
After some careful thinking, I opted for the larger surgery because of the long-term benefits. I told that doing the small surgery could result in a catastrophic failure and that’s the last thing I want to happen. My surgery is scheduled for May 6th and will last about 12 hours. I’ll probably be in the hospital anywhere from 3 to 7 days. Recovery and rehab time/process afterwards is unknown at this time but I’m hoping it won’t be too long! I’ll keep you updated as things move on afterword and how I’m feeling.