Working with neck fusion, post operative massage

Post Surgical massage and chiropractic

This is a 56 year old female that had anterior neck fusion surgery about 9 months prior. Muscle pain, spasm and weakness are considered normal and generally treatable under Physical Therapy. Unfortunately PT did not help and she came to us for help… this is her story.

Well, for months now we have had a large influx of people that have had surgeries with implants and all kinds of screws and plates too!

This is a story of a woman that had an accident which really damaged her neck so bad that traditional care did not really help.  By traditional care I do mean medicine, physical therapy, massage, and chiropractic.

This is not a ‘bag on’ any of the providers that helped this woman.  This is a discussion after the end treatment option has been given, (surgery).  In my opinion, I do think some changes in her previous care would have saved her from surgical repair, but I was not there.  She did have all the signs that would have made surgery applicable: pain that did not go away with NSAIDs, or physical therapy, nerve problems such as tingling, numbness, and weakness, as well as chiropractic care.

Now she has permanent limitations in range of motion, permanent nerve damage, and permanent weakness.  For her there is also tightness and pain that just does not go away.  There is so much pain that she cannot sleep.  She has medications that make her too sleepy to drive and they keep her from working more than a few hours a day.  Her life has changed and she had lost hope, a little at least…

When she came in I had to be honest with her and tell her that her neck could not move in that area ever again (obviously) and that chiropractic is not a good idea for that part of the neck (very specific adjustments above and below the surgery area would be OK, but lots of attention to detail needs to be done.) , but may help her upper back from being so tight.  The muscles in the back of her neck were ropey and tight as banjo strings.  She got recurrent headaches and had trigger points all along her upper back and shoulders.    She was also suffering from bone loss around the titanium screws in her neck.  The base of each screw was not showing any bone growth around it and she was given an electrical stimulation machine to help stimulate bone growth, but it was not working.

We had decided to work with her and focus on the muscles and pain.  We did discuss nutritional changes she should make to promote any bone growth as well as some supplements she could get to help with muscle tightness.  The treatment we offered was mindfulness meditation training for pain as well as massage.

I have used massage as a therapy since before I even became a doctor of Chiropractic some 17 years ago.  I also taught massage therapy for over 5 years at the college level and got to really perfect my own work and teach many how to really do deep work.

Her first few treatments were to see what we could find and how much we can get into the muscles without causing too much post treatment pain.  I used a thick oil and did all the work with her breathing into each movement so that we could train the muscles to relax.  There has been great results, we have seen about 20% decrease in reported pain and much more relaxation, I write the thickness of the muscles in the neck and there has been a softening of those muscles in the back of the neck near the surgery site.  If course no change in range of motion of the neck, but the motion is much more pain free.

We are still working on her, the main goal was pain relief. We achieved some, and with upkeep she should be able to maintain and gradually decrease her medications (they are prescribed by her MD as PRN, take as needed).  This way we save her stomach some stress and her poor liver the cleaning work too.

She was able to reduce her frequency of massages to about one each three weeks with some home self care and a great little secret of Salon Pas…

She is currently under care still, we are waiting for news on the bone growth in a month or so.  We are requesting new x-rays to see if her nutritional changes have helped at all.  I will write an update in a few months.

I welcome any questions and comments regarding post surgical care with massage, chiropractic and acupuncture.  Next time, the Quantum Touch connection.

Yours in mindful health and wellness

Dr. Sean H. Thompson, Chiropractor

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