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Question: I'm 47 and have fusions in my lower spine and neck. Recently I've had a lot of pain in my t-spine and after an MRI, the neurosurgeon says I have a strange mass at my t 5/6. They do not know what it is without further testing or if it is connected to my spine. Are these common? I have been told I have acute arthritic joints. Could this be the problem? My buttocks ache as well as the legs all the way to my ankles, is this a symptom? My left and right hand middle fingers and both arms get numb when I drive, is that something related to this mass? Before my neck was fused my index fingers went numb like this only more severe. Should I be worried as I have lost my mother and aunts all to CA? Tony

Answer: Dear Tony,

There is more than one form of acute arthritis, each one with varying characteristics. Spine and neck fusions are usually common in people that suffer from rheumatoid arthritis to relief its effects.

Risks and side effects of a neck fusion surgery include:

- Failure of the fusion, breakage of metal implants (if used), or both.
- Blood clots in deep veins.
- Nerve or spinal cord injury.
- Graft rejection.
- Infection.
- Excessive bleeding.

Numbness, tingling, stiffness, muscle aches are all common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

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