Tag Archives: spinal surgery

Neck and Back Pain 101

I felt guilty for years after my four-surgeries-within-two-years for having constant pain. I thought I was supposed to be “fixed”. Yes, I was a nurse, but I was clueless about neurosurgery. I was a cardiology nurse. If I’d had a heart attack I’d have been giving my cardiologist suggestions during my stent placement. Seriously, I would have.

But I was nearly as uneducated as a non-medical person since it had been more than twenty years since I’d studied neuro-anything. So I trusted my docs. #mistakeĀ  Always ask for a second opinion for any surgery unless it’s an emergency. Here’s why:

This is an example of a ball the weight of an adult head held in place with a normal cervical (neck) curvature. Reach back right now and feel how much your neck curves between your shoulders and skull when you are looking straight ahead. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

That’s quite a curve, isn’t it? Kinda like this:

Not a perfect example, but probably accurate if you’re looking up at a kiddo on a swing. With a normal cervical spine. Not hard to hold that ball, right? A bit lighter than the lightest kids’ bowling ball. Move your hand around a bit and you could hold it in your hand all day, right? Especially if it’s permanently attached to your palm.

But here’s what it looks like when you have three vertebrae fused together with enough hardware to make an X-ray tech say, “Oh, wow!” (C4-C6, for me)

Do you see how difficult it is for me to even sit upright? Want me to walk and hold my neck like this with increases in pressure each time I take a step?

Consider this the next time someone tells you they have back or neck pain. I now have moderate scoliosis because the rest of my spine is trying to compensate for the rigidity of my neck.

What are the other co-morbidities of constant, chronic pain? Depression. Opiate use/addiction (I’ll address this in a later post), Isolation, Increased risk of suicide, Obesity (who can exercise?), and many other illnesses.

*HUGE thank-you to my chiropractor for the visual a couple of years ago, and for his staff member for posing for the pics last week! A picture truly IS worth a thousand words in this situation.*

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