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Does Anyone Have Any Suggestions Following 2-Level ACDF Surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,900
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone. I am new to these forums but I feel that the best advice I can get is from those who have actually experienced what I am about to experience. I am scheduled to have a 2-level ACDF surgery on January 09, 2008 on C5-C6 and C6-C7. I am told that I will be required to wear a hard cervical brace following the surgery. I would like to know what things can be done to make things easier for me and make me more comfortable after surgery? I would also like to know whether the people who have had this surgery would have it again if they were in the same situation? Thanks in advance for any and all responses.


  • Well I'm not an ACDF person, but I wanted to Welcome you to Spine Health. You are right, this place is a wealth of information. I don't have the links handy, but there are some specific threads that address your exact questions. I will bump this post back to the top so that someone can see it and lend a hand.

    Best of luck to you,

  • I am having the same surgery on the 7th of January. I will let you know if I can after I get home. I am hoping everything goes good and I get my feeling back in my Left arm and hand. Best of luck to you Candy.
  • Hello easttexas,
    I had a two level done at the same levels you are having done. I am not a medical profesional, can only go by what I went through. I will say that if I had to do things again, I would do so, from where I was 15 months ago to today I am much better than I was. I had much more wrong than we thought, hence the second surgery. We all recover at different rates and it is never quick enough. My best advice it to follow your doctors instructions, you may feel like doing a lot of things, but your body is going to let you know you just went through major surgery. Try to walk as much as you can after surgery, it does help with healing. Some people find a recliner helps with sleeping, I did ok in my bed, just need a few more pillows to get comfortable. We tried to keep things waiste high for me to pick them up, reaching out and up are troublesome at first, one of my PT exercises was like that after 6 weeks or so. Just try to limit what you do and you should be fine. Good luck and feel free to ask questions anytime.

  • I had a 3 level C3>C6 in Sept. My suggestions would be get a grabber or two. Its a neat little tool that lets you reach for and get things up high or down low without needing to bend yourself. I bought two that are less then $15 each and kept one upstairs and one downstairs. Lots of pillows is always a good idea, they can be used to make you comfortable in a chair or in bed. I also slept in a recliner for the first several weeks. Ice packs are great to have on hand and will help with inflamation (just stick them in a pillow case first). The best kind to get are the ones they have in physical theraphy offices (I bought mine from my PT office for $15 and it long and made for necks). Lots of what I call smooth foods to eat the first few weeks, smooth soups like any cream of soups, pudding, jello, ice cream, etc. Try to set up your TV, computer etc so that the screen is at eye level and you don't have to look up or down. I know someone has some lists around her but I'm not sure where. Keep in mind any suggestions I make are just based on my own opinions and I am not a medical person (thats the basic disclamier :)). I wish you a lot of luck with your surgury and recover.
  • I had a 3-lvl ACDF C4-7 w/hardware (8 screws) a couple of months ago. Like everyone else, I found my recliner was the most comfortable to sleep in and to hang out in the first couple of weeks. I hope you have someone that can stay with you the first couple of weeks, as it's difficult to get your own food, etc. and it's lonely because you can't do too much.

    Bendy straws and ice cream are great, and I don't think I could have lived without my Nintendo DS Casino Game pack - it helped me keep my mind moving (rather than have my eyes glaze over staring at the TV all the time).

    I would do it all again if I had to. I was losing the use of my left arm, had constant tingling in my right arm and the muscle spasms were just killer. I still have some spasms and still take pain meds and muscle relaxers (when needed), but it gets better every week and I look forward to being pain-free one day.

    Take care of yourself and good luck with your surgery.

  • Thanks for all of the responses. Im so glad there is somewhere that a person can go to get this valuble info. My doctor tries to comfort me but I feel more comfort just by the responses I have gotten here. I will keep everyone informed on my surgery and progress. I feel like I have a new family and once again, "Thanks to all of you".
  • I didn't have a recliner, but bought a "bed wedge" from Bed, Bath and Beyond and that worked well for me for both relaxing and sleeping.
    I also would recommend having some type of chair for sitting in the shower. You will be amazed at how tired and how little energy you have for the first few days.
    Throat losenges were a must for me too.
    Walk, walk, walk. The more you do, the more you will feel like it.
    And I would ABSOLUTELY do it again.
  • I will take all of the advice I can get. My doctor tries to comfort me by telling me that he has performed this surgery many many many times but as I said before I prefer the advice of those who have actually experienced this surgery and the recovery. Good luck to all and I wish you all the best.
  • had acdf level 2 c3-c5 on nov 13 my first wk and half was most uncomfortable. i drank lots of ice water to sooth throat. if i wanted to eat i loosened collar. swallowing was difficult so i would make sure i had a drink to swallow food down.couldnt sleep in bed flat first week. would sleep sideways against recliner or stacks of pillows against headboard of bed. got to take collar off in shower, but make sure neck stays stable. i would let shower hit back of neck for long periods.you will have knots in neck after surgery due to positioning in surgery. have someone rub those out first wk the pain will go away quicker. when i sat in recliner i would take off collar. if you have a cadaver bone you can walk right away. that will be your best exercise. other wise follow docs rules and you should be fine. ive had brace off since dec 25 and driving. and i feel great. a little stiff but nothing compared to what i felt before surgery. good luck.
  • Hi there and welcome to Spine Health!!!

    I had my 2 level ACDF on 9-3-08.
    If I had to go through it again I would!

    I think the best thing I had purchased was A wedge Pillow that had a think 2 inch layer of memory foam and was long enought that I did not slide down the pillow. It really worked wee and I was able to add a pillow on either side of it to help keep me still during the night. I love that wedge and got it on line..

    The other thing that I di was to take a piece of T-shirt material and use it on the insed of the hard collar because I got a rash there...
    All my advice is from my own experience and I am not a doc...just telling what worked for me...

    I followed docs orders and had someone around for the first few weeks after surgery to help with eveything. I am single and my Mom came up to help me...

    The hard collar sometimes would really bother the back of my head and the surgeons office told me to bend to collor at the back to try and reshape and give it just a bit more room. Please do not do this unless your docs office says to do so. There are a few different types of hard collars and yours may not be the same one as mine...I had an aspen collar.

    I also purchased a nice shower stool that was plastic that was tough and durable and the legs were thick and had rubber on the bottom to prevent slippage on the tub floor. It also said the weight limit was very high, although that was not the reason I purchased it...It comes with a back rest that can or can not be put on...It took a long while for me to be comfy to take a shower without the stool!

    Swallowing was difficult for about the first 3 weeks so I tried to make sure to eat soft easy foods to swallow, and to chew my food completely, but sometimes even water was hard to swallow...this is an issue that seems to widely vary from person to person.

    I started out walking short distances a few times a day. I mean very short...

    Since my ACDF, which was the second neck surgery I had, the first being a posterior cervical foraminotomy; which I felt was much more painful then the ACDF, I have felt much better other then one symptom that still persists.

    My arm weakness and numbness, and clumsiness went away right after surgery and has since stayed gone. I do still take pain meds, but the pain I have in my neck now seems mostly from muscles...The only burning pain I have, which I feel is mostly the reason for the continuation of medications at the level I am at is due to the burning inbetween my shoulder blade and my spinal cord..

    Just remember...Every person is different and has a slightly different experience!

    Here is wishing you all the best and if you need extra suppor feel free to PM me anytime..
    Again Welcome to Spine Health!!!
  • in the posts above.

    I also bought a 12" wedge pillow that was, and still is, a lifesaver for me. I slept sitting up for 2 weeks. Now, I'm able to watch TV with it in bed.

    I only wore a collar for 8 days (hard collar) and then once advised I didn't need it -- I took it off and never looked back.

    Range of motion, up and down, was challenging for a couple of weeks, but I was fine with side-to-side. Reaching or above head was a no-no . . . and immediately caused some pain -- which made me stop!

    I'm still, yes still, dealing with the throat issues -- 24/7 it feels as if somebody is pressing on my windpipe. It doesn't hurt (it was quite painful for the first 3 or 4 days post-surgery, but it never kept me from eating), but it's challenging to deal. My NS told me that the reason I am having problems is that they cut the muscle and sewed it together -- shortening it just a bit. With the muscle stretched over my windpipe, it feels like a choking sensation. It should go away after all of the layers of stitches resolve . . . probably a total of 3 months. I've got 6 weeks under my belt -- and I'm anxious for total relief. I'm good in the morning, but after being up all day (yes, I'm back to work full-time), it seems to swell and be more painful.

    My left index finger -- painful and numb for 18 months is, slowing, getting better. Each day, I have less numbness -- and only minimal pain now with left arm use.

    The surgery . . . like everybody, I was scared to death and even considered cancelling it . . . but it was a good experience. I awoke it no pain and had no real "pain" post-op -- just discomfort. I took 3 Vicoden per day and a Soma at night . . . after 5 days, no Soma and 2 Vicoden . . . after 7 or 8 days -- nothing.

    Would I do it over again???? HECK YEAH!
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    I'll keep this brief as it looks like you have already received a lot of good idea's here, this is a good place!
    And would I do it again?
    In a heartbeat! I like the idea of being able to walk.
    Just listen to your Dr's, be positive, and don't overdo it post-op no matter
    how good those meds make you feel.
  • Don't forget to buy Chapstick, it was a lip saver, my lips always get so chapped in the hospital and I wanted my chapstick. What they give you in the hospital if they give you anything is usually not what you want.
    I had ACDF at C5/6 in March 2008. The only advise I have is don't think you are recovered when you feel better, my doctor said it takes 6 months to a year. That does not mean you will be feeling bad that long, just don't get upset if you have a setback at 4 or 6 months. I got worried at 4 months and just needed to give it a little more time. The doctor ran some tests to make sure, but I think he did that more for me, I think he knew they would be ok.
    Best wishes on a quick feeling better remember complete recovery takes a while.

  • Thanks again to everyone. I have decided to proceed with the surgery and the reasons are because I want the pain to stop, I dont wanna continue taking the amount of meds that Ive had to take on a daily basis to get relief, and last but not least because of the responses that I have received here from each and every one of you. I have purchased some grabbers and I will have someone with me during my recovery. I will also make sure that I get some chapstick. At this time Im trying to decide between a wedge pillow and a recliner. One thing that I failed to mention is that following this surgery I will also have to have surgery in the lumbar area {L5-S1} so therefore when I am considering what to purchase I must consider what will help me in my cervical area but wont cause me problems in my lumbar area. Im leaning toward the wedge pillow because of this but since I have gotten such wonderful advice from all of you I figured I would ask whether anyone else has been in this situation with your cervical and lumbar area both being herniated at the same time or whether either of these items caused discomfort in the low back while providing relief in the cervical area. I will also note that I have already had a laminectomy done on my lower back but the disc herniated again so therefore the Orthopedic Dr and Neurosurgeon are telling me that I will have to have the L5-S1 area fused.
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