View Full Version : Neck problem post op

11-26-2010, 12:49 PM
My neck is causing me the worst problem post op than anything else. My neck/head is not lining up straight, it leans forward and I look like a turkey! My surgeon didn't seem concerned, just showed me an exercise to do, but I'm concerned. Anyone else have this problem? I try to hold it straight but it hurts! Should I use warm compresses? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

11-26-2010, 01:08 PM
laurie i have that problem my head still leans forwards plus it also make my neck hurts.
I whould try a icy hot patch of the neck

11-26-2010, 04:20 PM

You could have slept wrong. I had some issues, then rolled up a towel into a 2.5” dia roll to place under my neck for sleeping on my back. This will help extend and establish support for the lordosis in your neck. Do not use a pillow.

I did go to my Chiro at 8 months for my neck, with my surgeons permission. You are not fused yet, so wouldn’t recommend this right now.....

A little heat will help.

11-26-2010, 04:53 PM

Do you think pillows are the culprit? I was propped up on pillows for my almost 3 weeks in the hospital, and I lay on my back quite a bit in bed on a pillow. How else do I watch tv? It makes sense...I like your small towel roll idea. I will try it.

11-26-2010, 05:25 PM
I have been reading about quite a few people complaining about having a sore neck, mobility in their neck and saying their necks kinda protrude forward after they've had fusion surgery. What exactly is causing this to happen and how often does this generally happen and of course, is it temporary or permanent?

11-26-2010, 05:32 PM

Many of my neck issues I can blame from sleeping wrong.

The main thing is maintaining a neutral or straight position with the neck. If you fall asleep with your neck bent to the side 30 degrees, it creates inflammation in the neck.

Soft down pillows are the trick. The mold easily into the shape and height that is needed. Some cheaper soft pillows are not quite soft enough, just run them over with the car 50 times and they will be perfect! LOL

Macys sometimes has the good super soft ones.

The towel concept I have been using for many years now. Usually when my neck acts up.

11-26-2010, 05:44 PM

These neck issues (leaning forward) are usually complaints from people with kyphosis.

If you look at a sagittal x-ray of someone with kyphosis, the spine curves forward, and the neck has to try to compensate for this.

The kyphosis surgeries are toughies.......I don’t like saying this, but its true.

Normal “average” kyphosis runs about 35 degrees. These numbers will vary, as the whole package needs to be balanced. In the side view, you have cervical and lumbar lordosis, with kyphosis in the thoracic area.

Google kyphosis and select images and start looking at various x-rays. It will help understand this disorder.


11-26-2010, 06:11 PM

Woman was perfectly normal 3 wks ago walking 3 miles per day and using both arms and hands without difficulty.
Three wks ago she slept on a pillow much thicker than usual, and then developed progressive neck and arm pain, then numbness, then clumsiness in both arms and legs. The clumsiness was so bad she could not sign her name or open her own buttons. Her walking became so bad that she came to my clinic yesterday in wheelchair only able to take a few clumsy steps w assistance.
MRI cervical spine done urgently yesterday showed large disc herniation crushing spinal cord at C56, w a "flash lesion" in the spinal cord t that level, which suggests spinal cord bruising or injury.

11-26-2010, 06:22 PM
Okay, will do Ed, thanks. The chiro did mention kyphosis when he looked at my son's back and I've been reading a bit about it as well. I'm just worried that if he gets his back issues dealt with then he'll have neck issues to deal with. I have neck issues on and off and honestly they're more painful and annoying than any back issues I've had and I have put my back out a few times over the years. :confused:

I cannot wait for him to be seen by a spine specialist b/c the suspense is killing me.

11-26-2010, 06:24 PM
I have neck issues on and off and honestly they're more painful and annoying than any back issues I've had and I have put my back out a few times over the years. :confused:

Well, step one would be stop falling, neck first, on paint cans. I predict your neck problems will improve greatly. :D

When do you go down to Shriners?

11-26-2010, 06:26 PM
laurie some times i sleep with out a pillow from under my head because in my presonal opian the pillow just hurts my neck

11-26-2010, 06:36 PM
Well, step one would be stop falling, neck first, on paint cans. I predict your neck problems will improve greatly. :D

When do you go down to Shriners?

Lol, yes, that would certainly help with my neck issues I'm sure. :o

I haven't gotten an actual date yet but I've been in contact with the office in Burnaby via emails and the gal there sounds positive and says "onward!" so I'm taking/hoping that it is fairly soon. The gentlemen I met with on Tuesday said he didn't think the big cushy bus made runs to Portland in December b/c of the holidays etc. and did mention January.

I'm still getting all the required paperwork together. I need a copy of his health certificate which will be ready in a few days and then of course I need to get all the passport info ready.

If you must know, I put my back out a few years ago b/c I was running across the mall parking lot b/c it was windy and rainy out and I tripped on my own shoelace. I had some really nasty scrapes and bruises on the palms of both hands as well as my right elbow and knee and I fell with such force my watch flew off. A very nice man stopped and scraped me off the pavement and handed me back my watch.

11-26-2010, 11:46 PM
I don't have kyphosis. I am sleeping with the very same memory foam pillow as before my surgery. I have been freaking out a bit because my neck is so far forward now and I hope its not permanent! I tried hanging my head backward over my bed yesterday in hopes of moving and stretching my neck muscles but all I did was cause more pain. I'm so frustrated! :(

11-26-2010, 11:47 PM

There is a recent thread from Ryy that questions this problem. I posted on it, so it will be near the top. Several people have had this "syndrome" or commented: JenM....Hdugger has some interesting comments.

Hope it subsides and readjusts quickly. Take care.


Did you have kyphosis or any neck issues before your surgery? When you say "neck issues", what were your symptoms? I know you have bolts sticking out of the sides of your neck. I've seen some of your "Frankie" pictures. :D

11-26-2010, 11:55 PM
Laurie, I have the same neck issue that you have described. At my 4 week post op my ortho gave me some exercises to do as well. I remain concerned about the situation and will re-evaluate with my ortho at my next visit.

11-27-2010, 03:09 AM
Thanks for posting Dr Hey’s write up about this lady’s neck problems. Sleeping with the neck “angled” due to pillow mismanagement, can really cause problems.
I don’t know how she possibly could have managed a cervical herniation in all of 3 weeks or sleeping wrong for an evening, but it shows how serious neck disorders can be.

No, I didn’t have an abnormal thoracic kyphosis. My neck issues in my past are the standards... you know, stiff neck mostly...maybe a very slight headache, and feeling lethargic.

After my surgeries, I did have a “forward lean” happening at around 1 month post and that had me a little worried. This was from all the way down, but I kept walking and it finally resolved itself in time. I guess it was about re-training the muscles again.

I have been to the Chiro 3 times in 3 years for stiff necks after my scoli surgeries. I would say that the frequency of stiff necks is the same as it was before my fusion. Everybody gets a stiff neck, it’s a design flaw. Our heads are just too big. Could you imagine if we all had heads the size of ET? We would be sitting around with cervical traction devices on all the time!

Looks like he also has a problem with his finger....

11-27-2010, 01:32 PM
laurie may you need to get pillow that make your head go up

11-29-2010, 07:40 PM
Hi Laurie - sounds like you are doing good. It's amazing how many of the same things we all experience. My first 3 or 4 months, maybe even a little longer, I kept saying they put my head back on wrong. My husband always said they didn't take your head off (only felt like it). I definitely felt like my head was pushed forward. Over time and the general physical therapy for my back I guess my muscles have gotten stronger and are holding everything in place. I find I still have to make sure to keep my head up high and shoulders back. Hope healing continues well!!

12-10-2010, 04:04 PM
Anything new going on with you guys with neck stuff going on?

12-12-2010, 09:39 AM
I am having surgery tomorrow and am wondering what is the best kind of pillow to use? It is safe to use a contour or will that mess with spinal alignment?

12-12-2010, 02:37 PM
LaurieAnn, good question re: the pillow. I don't know the answer to this, maybe you should ask your surgeon or physical therapist. I've been using a memory foam pillow that is relatively flat and it seems to be supporting me well enough,

12-12-2010, 04:41 PM
Ask your doc for sure, but i'd say if you will be laying on your back, have a pillow that doesn't push your head up too much off the bed, and if you're laying on your side, have a pillow thick enough that keeps your head parallel with the spine.

Iray, how's your neck doing? Mine is very bothersome and is a huge concern. I have an appt this thursday.

12-13-2010, 02:25 PM
I don't know the exact cause for the forward neck posture post-op, but I know it's very common in people regardless...mostly because of bad posture and sticking our heads forward while we work on computers, watch tv, etc. anyway, that being said, I am certified in pilates and I know that we like to do most exercises with a gently 'tucked' chin to counteract this posture. just imagine a ping pong ball under your chin and you want to keep it tucked in there (don't press too hard!). do this throughout the day to strengthen your neck flexors! with forward neck posture, the neck extensors (in the back of the neck) are overly worked and lengthened.

12-13-2010, 10:39 PM
Ryy, my neck is maybe a little better. I can't hold it straight yet, still leans forward. My guess its because the top of my fusion at L2 is still healing and my heavy old head is causing the soreness. I rest my head throughout the day to take the pressure off.

I would like to hear what your doctor says. Hope you get relief soon.

12-13-2010, 11:50 PM
You mean T2 I presume right?.. Mine is really getting bothersome, causing lotta discomfort and pressure back there, keeping my head up and straight.

Anyone know who is fused the highest on the forum? If it gets worse i don't see any other option but to fuse up? I wonder how the range of motion is affected by fusing up in the C spine, as well as what the risks are. I have an appt this Thursday with my doc.

12-14-2010, 01:25 AM
Sending good wishes on your visit, Ryy. I have seen lots of these problems sort themselves out, and I'm hopeful yours will resolve in the same way.

Let us know how it turns out.

12-14-2010, 11:01 PM
Thanks guys.. Anyone know who's fused the highest in here? Ed, do you know?

12-30-2010, 03:21 PM
Hi Ryy,

Just checking to see how your doctor visit turned out.

12-31-2010, 04:11 PM
My Dr didn't really say too much about it. He said in a few months to do some weight lifting with it, using the head strap. I hope it doesn't get worse, I don't wanna have to struggle through the workday with my neck, now that my back is feeling better. Still curious about what there is to do, if it gets bad.

Anyone else with this neck stuff going on have any updates?

01-01-2011, 10:05 AM

Linda knows people fused all the way, and mentioned that they are not happy campers. I wouldn’t doubt that for a second.

Doctors have the ability to fuse ALL levels from the front and rear. Fusing up into your neck will be a last ditch effort if all else fails. For now, you will have to be as positive as you can and try the exercises as your surgeon has suggested. You too, have had an extremely serious and difficult surgery and are still very early at 3 months.


01-01-2011, 06:49 PM
I am now 5 months post op and my pain got so bad over the holidays I went to see the surgeon. I am fused T-1 _S1 and my neck has always been the most difficult. My rotation is very poorand therapy has only helped a bit.
There is a longer piece of rod up into cervical area. He is going to remove Jan 14th(overnight only).
I cried because the thought of surgery again....

01-03-2011, 08:26 PM

Linda knows people fused all the way, and mentioned that they are not happy campers. I wouldn’t doubt that for a second.

Doctors have the ability to fuse ALL levels from the front and rear. Fusing up into your neck will be a last ditch effort if all else fails. For now, you will have to be as positive as you can and try the exercises as your surgeon has suggested. You too, have had an extremely serious and difficult surgery and are still very early at 3 months.


Yeah I could imagine. Must be so stiff. Idk though, my neck has slowly gotten worse since a few wks post op. When I relax, neck is so far forward. Takes so much effort to hold it in a decent position all day, even with breaks. Causing a lotta strain and discomfort and headaches. I wonder what this does to my C discs in the long term too, being the curve in my neck is so big in such a short distance now. It's at least 90 degrees from C7 to C2 or 3 at rest. Gr!

01-04-2011, 01:14 PM
Ryy, I can't quite get a picture in my head of what's going on - have you posted pre and post-op xrays somewhere?

And, do you have a sense of what the curve reduces to if you do exercise? Is the issue that the curve is OK when you're consciously working on it, but that that work is really difficult. Or is the issue that it simply does not change, no matter what you do?

01-04-2011, 06:35 PM
My kypho curve was pretty high up pre op, and i'm fused to T3. Above T3, I'm still hunched over, it's not almost vertical, like a normal persons back is way up there, which is pushing my neck out forward/down to compensate. Like, if i'm slouched in a chair, with my butt on the front of the chair and my upper back way up by my shoulders touching the back of the chair, my neck is looking forward at the computer screen and is parallel to the ground, which is perfect. But when I sit up straight and proper in my chair, with my butt to the back of the chair where it's supposed to be and back is touching the whole back of the chair, my neck looks forward/down at about a 45 degree angle downwards. Another way to describe, is if you are sitting in your car, and recline the seat back to a approx 45 degree angle, my neck is looking forward and chin is parallel to the road. When i put the seat normal, straight up, my neck is looking down a bit, about 45 degrees, where i have to manually hold my head up to see in front, instead of looking down at the pedals. The vertebrae above T3 are still hunched a bit, which throws the balance off up there. Maybe I should've been fused higher, idk.

I'll post some pics tommorrow!

How are you hdugger?

01-04-2011, 06:47 PM
Ah, that makes sense.

I'm good - it's my son who has the unfused curve, I'm just the concerned parent :)

I was trying to figure out if the exercises my son did would be of any help to you, but it sounds like your neck problem is different from his. He had a "head forward" posture, but the orientation of his head was unchanged, so he just did chin tuck types of exercise to move it backwards.

But, it sounds like you need something to change the orientation of your head so that it faces forward instead of down. I wonder if that would just entail strengthening the muscles on the back of your neck.

01-04-2011, 07:14 PM
I'm seeing my dr next week about it. Mine shoots out forward as well as tilt down. I have to physically chin tuck and look up, to keep it in check. Neck muscles get very fatigued and strained, creates a pressure feeling in my head sometimes from the strain and headaches. I don't see anything to do other than exercizes and eventually fuse higher. I don't know much about fusion that high. I'll see what my doc says. Maybe I can lay on my stomach, and he can stomp on my back above the fusion, to flatten it out up there! xD

01-04-2011, 07:20 PM
I am so totally *not* a doctor (I couldn't even play one on TV) but I think if you can correct it, even for short periods of time, just by using your muscles, that you'll be able to resolve it without needing further surgery.