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Neckies - How long did you wear collar post ACDF??

CRASH21CCRASH21 Posts: 139
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:22 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
My NS said I will be wearing a hard collar for 3 MONTHS!!! I think he has all his patients do that as it was on the printed information his nurse gave me. Also, how long was it before you were able to drive?
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Comments

  • I will be 3 weeks post op on wednesday. I am still in my collar!!! I still cant drive either. I dont see my doctor again until September 17th and we will see where I am as far as recovery goes.
  • Actually, the Dr. told him FOUR, but I think he changed it, because he fused one less level.

    I think it's against the law to drive with the collar. I was surprised that someone mentioned driving with it on.

    Dave got a lazyboy yesterday!! At least he can be comfortable while in that. They even delivered it the same day!

    Linda MI
  • I think a lot of it depends on the doctor. After my first surgery I was in a hard collar for 6 weeks while I was in a car, and only used the soft collar as needed. After my second surgery I used the hard collar in the car for 6 weeks and the soft collar for 2 weeks. Seems they all have different ideals about lenght of time .

    mark
  • Just about 6-weeks in the soft-collar 24/7, no driving.
  • I had surgery July 16 - hard collar for sleeping and driving, soft collar rest of the time 24/7 for 6 weeks. Less than 3 weeks to go! Am allowed to shower without a collar which is wonderful.
  • The hard collar is for riding NOT driving in a car. Sorry about that.
  • Thanks for all your comments. I would like to know more about driving. I can't believe I won't be able to drive for 3+ months. I'm a Mom and their personal taxi service!
  • TRUST me I know what you mean about their taxi service!!! My hubby works nights so this coming week he is gonna miss out on several hours of sleep because my son has a meet and greet at school, and then a mini band camp that is mandatory for him to go to. Its been almost 3 weeks since I have driven and man it feels like a year.
  • I started freaking out with the hard collar on in the hospital after surgery! I felt like I was suffocating. They let me open it and get some air as long as I lie still on my back. That helped alot just to get a break.

    At my two week visit, the ortho surgeon let me graduate to a soft collar. It is so much more comfortable...especially when sleeping.
  • I would imagine it does depend somewhat on how many levels the surgeon ends up working on as well. My DO says she thinks the surgeon will do a 4 level as I have stenosis, nerves being impinged on and discs bulging all thru my cervical spine.

    I see the surgeon on monday after CAT Scans and radiology report. The radiologist is supposed to compare the CAT with the MRI's then report to my surgeon.

    Ken GreyEagle
    Greyeagle
  • I have had two fusion surgeries, and both times I had to wear the hard collar for 3 months and the soft collar another 3 months, I am still in the soft collar from the last surgery. No driving for 3months. 1st surgery fused levels C5 - C7, 2nd surgery they fused C7 - T1. Now I am having left arm pain,burning and upper neck pain and headache for about 10 days now, I have tried heat(made it worse), use ice(only works for awhile), take more tylenol then I should(takes the edge off for awhile) debating on whether or not to go back to the doc. or try to treat longer myself. Anyone have any suggestions? These are the exact same symptoms I had before my last surgery. I was told I have DDD. 40yrs old and sick of surgery!!!
  • I am right their with ya as far as the symptoms go. Yeah its only been almost 3 weeks since my surgery so I know I shouldnt be complaining, but I am just so dad gum tired I cant see straight anymore. Wish I could have been more help to you.
  • You sound a lot like me, I have had 4 surgeries in the past 6 yrs. My symptoms didn't go away right away either, it took a couple of months, but now they are back full force and at times worse. I am just hoping I didn't mess up the fusion by doing to much. I don't want to be a whiner and run to the doctor again, but I would like to make sure to that there isn't something else going on before they release me to return to work. What is your opinion?
  • I told my doctor last wednesday that I still had numbness, tingling(the same places and new places as well as the numbness), burning, headaches were back and he didnt seem to concerned at the time. He said my headaches were caused from the pressure of my collar. I didnt think totell him that he told me on more than once occassion that my soft collar only needed to be worn while sleeping, outside, in the car, or out and about. So how can my collar cause headaches when they start typically after about an hour and a half of NOT having the collar on? Guess when I get to go back to him on September 17th(also the day I go for xrays then I go see him) if things are still like they are I guess I will reiterate all of this yet again. Not to mention I still have problems swallowing and now off and on talking. Heaven forbid I sneeze cuz I feel like the "golf ball" in there is gonna come flying out of my mouth. As for you taking to much tylenol I am taking way to much excedrin.(which contains aspirin, and from what I have read aspirin and ibuprofen isnt good after a fusion surgery for a while), but tylenol dont work and i am sensitive to a lot of the meds that control my types of headaches. (tension migraines and regular migraines.)
  • For the hard collar, though I convinced my NS to let me out after 11 weeks. Drove after four months, but I'm headed for 6 months and not really driving a lot - can't turn my head well to the right, and if I force it, well, the nerve starts to act up. Maybe if I had to drive more I'd do it, but great excuse to work at home or drive in with friends. Saving the environment one stiff neck at a time ...
  • After my fusion I was never in a collar. My neuro didn't believe in them. He told me my neck was stronger now with the titanium p;ate and screws, than it was before the surgery. I was driving after 2 weeks, but just short distances. I went back to work in 1 month. I drive a car for a living. Just the differences in surgeons I guess. And how many levels are fused. Mine was one level, but now the level above needs done. I'm not even thinking about doing it at this time, just trying to cope with the pain. Good luck, trust your surgeon, and keep a positive outlook. It's so important.

    Maggie
  • It's definitely all different from doctor to doctor on their collar protocol. Mine told me originally anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks depending on progress and what the x-rays looked like. Well, after my 8-week checkup this morning, everything looks great and the Aspen collar and soft collar are gone!! Says I no longer need to use either one. Thank goodness!

    Do what your doctor recommends though so you can have as good a recovery as possible. You don't want to risk messing any of that work up, for sure.

    Good luck.

    Monique
  • I had surgery 18 days ago. Wearing the hard Aspen collar is hard but I do what the Dr. says. Dr. said the soft collar doesn't support the neck enough so I have to wear hard collar for 2 months maybe longer. I do not have a spouse or family to help me so it is hard but problems can start if you do not do as you are told. If you are getting headaches when not wearing collar then maybe you need to wear the collar more or do physical therapy to strengthen neck muscles. Do not try to rush things. Everyone that I see with problems didn't do what they are suppose to or didn't tell Dr. when there was problems. You are not suppose to drive because if you get in an accident you could snap your neck and die or become paralyzed. Why is it that some people cannot do what they are suppose to. I know it sucks but I am sure you read enough to know what the process is and that there is no guarantee surgery will fix anything but it will keep problem from getting worse. It takes about 1 year to completely heal so be patient. I have muscle spasms, arm/leg pain, but try to not over use pain meds. If you know you shouldn't take aspirin or ibuprofen then you shouldn't take it because you will not heal right. Come on people we are all adults and we know what we are suppose to do. I know it is very hard and you have family you think you need to take care of but you need to let others be the taxi, maid, cook etc. Relax and heal.. Sorry for the lecture but I am in the same boat as all you all so I know it sucks but I do not want to mess it up and not heal correctly so I make myself do what I have to. Best of luck all.
  • Hi guys, ok so I had discectmy 2 year ago on lumbar spine after 12 months horrific nerve and leg pain. It was a total success and I'm back to normal . I then became pregnant and during pregnancy I had awful neck pain and arm pain twinges. However with being pregnant I couldn't have an MRI so had to wait. The pain subsided for a while. It then returned when my baby was 6 weeks old. It was horrendous, the pain was unbearable but I saw the neuro surgeon n he suggested and MRI, which showed a prolapse disc at c6/7 I knew it was I could tell the pain... Anyway he offered surgery but I declined as I had a new Borland she was my priority. Since then ( my baby is nearly 2) I have had 4 flare ups of the neck pain arm pain numbness optical headaches, and I saw surgeon beginning of July, after another awful flare up. Hands numb durning the night etc, we discussed an acdf and he put me on his list for surgery, I got a letter to confirm it all and just told to wait until I was informed of a date for surgery. The week after I received another letter off his stating he has looked at my scan again, and feels surgery wouldn't benefit me?? I'm totally gutted and lost, he says surgery is necessary in one breath the in another says it won't help?? How can the scan change surely he can't change his mind... Please advise me guys.. I'm all geared up for surgery
  • he now feels that surgery wouldn't be of benefit. Not all patients who see surgeons require surgery. Conservative measures in many instances are far more beneficial to the patient than surgery. Surgery may also not be recommended if conservative treatment measures have not been given a fair trial, so until you know why he changed his mind, there isn't much we can recommend.
  • I had 4 level PCDF. C3 to C7. After 3 months had to wean off. Had to keep on I. Shower and everything. After showering just rotated pads. Was no problem since I was scared to death and listened.
    Vicki
  • Pamela9PPamela9 WashingtonPosts: 42
    Reading these posts has not helped at all. Have not had my 4 level ACDF yet, and am very concerned that I am going to freak out. I can not tolerate a necklace, scarf, or god forbid, a turtle-neck top now, due to increased pain and a very claustrophobic feeling.. Are there tests that be done before surgery to know what kind of collar will be needed?
  • On August 4, I had ACDF on 4 levels, C3 - C6. I am almost 4 weeks post op. After my first post op visit with the surgeon after 2.5 weeks, the NS told me I no longer had to wear the collar and I could drive. He also advised range of motion exercises. Driving is fine in terms of being able to look over my left shoulder. What bothers me about driving in the vibration on the spine even sitting on a pillow. I bought a soft collar today to see if it would help with sleeping. I just can't get comfortable. I have a neck pillow and a wedge but most of the time I feel better laying flat on no pillow. So, I'll try the soft collar and see if I can get more comfortable. I've read all of the posts with people staying in the collar for long periods of time. There apparently in no standard time length among surgeons.
    mkirv
  • The collar is for your protection. Some of the collar selection is based on surgical difficulty, surgeon's preference, and the amount of support you need post op.
    Surgeon's vary their time frame requirements post op, so you really want to discuss that with your particular surgeon before undergoing surgery.
  • I just had an appointment with my NS and he said that he no longer requires his patients to wear a collar. He said the collar is strictly for comfort and is optional. Right now I am considering surgery. I am a surgical candidate, but don't want to rush into it. I had an ACDF c5/6 in 1999, and now it looks like I need it for c6/7.
  • I had close to zero after care and never had a collar, has anterior cervical discotomy of c5/6 with bone graph and plate and screws. Worst was when I got into the car for the first time, and had the giggling going on...OMG the pain. I am not sure if the collar would have stabilized it better but really check out your doc's history of after care is all I have to say...(Not bitter here :) ) I started driving at week 3...just cause I had to, and had weened myself off the hard meds on my own...everything was brutal.
  • I wore that sucker 24/7 ( not in shower-my only escape) for 12 weeks post C 4/5 fusion. So uncomfortable but necessary so fusion takes. Biggest challenge eating out in it-plus the looks you get! I followed my Dr's instructions to the letter. Fortunatley I did not have small kids and had friends to help with errands. I stayed hone, watched lots of Netflix and healed. It's hard but just try to be patient.
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