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Post-Cervical Surgery Desk Job - OUCH!

Cath111CCath111 Posts: 3,702
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:26 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hiya fellow spineys.

I have a question. I went back to work on Dec. 15, nearly 8 weeks after my 3-lvl ACDF. Doctor approved me for part time, but, OMG, it hurts SOOO much to sit at my desk during that time. I'm a graphic designer so I don't have any choice if I intend to work (which I do - I love it). I do get up at least every 30 minutes and my pain subsides a bit, but the minute I sit back down - OUCH! :''( I'm also pretty good about paying attention to my posture.

I've been trying to build up my stamina by staying a bit longer each day but it just doesn't seem to be getting any better. I get a deep ache in the back of my neck and severe muscle spasms in my shoulders and back.

Interestingly, on Christmas we went to see the Benjamin Button movie (2hrs, 40min) and I didn't have any pain sitting in the theater.

Has anyone had this experience? Is the pain coming from working with the mouse? How long before I can expect it to go away? I start PT on Jan. 21 so I'm wondering if that will help. Maybe shoulder muscle strengthening exercises?

If anyone has any ideas, I'd sure love to hear 'em. This is getting really annoying! ~X(



  • Have you tried moving your monitor up so that you almost have your chin "jutting" out towards it? This has helped me tremendously. That plus I moved my mouse in closer to my body.

    Sitting in the theater is a breeze, since those seats recline you a bit back and you tend to look a tad upward (jutting the chin forward).

    I have no idea if this is something that a PT or ergonomic consultant would tell you, but this is what works for me.

    The mouse is still the most difficult. I got a wireless one with controls that reduce the requirement for movement. One that gamers love to use. It makes a HUGE difference.

  • I also sit at my desk on the computer & answering telephones all day. This has not gotten easier since I went back (2 weeks post ACDF c 5/6) first part time & now full time. I have tried moving my moniter, mouse, telephone, schedule book,etc... So far nothing seems to have helped. If I could relax in my recliner with my laptop & take breaks to "get away from it" sure would make things easier I'm sure.
    Good luck! I'll be looking for others to post. Maybe other suggestions!
  • I have a heating pad in my chair for those spasms. I've also decided just today to put on my soft collar for a little while each day just to remind me of my posture and give my neck muscles a break. I find that even though my workstation is ergonomically correct the pain gets to me and I tend to start sitting ackwardly before the day if over to compensate for the pain. The best thing I did was to add heat to my chair. I know I get stuck on phone calls for 30 minutes and sometimes an hour at a time so I know how that is. I use my speaker phone and my company bought me a chair which is much more supportive of my neck. If you're in a standard office chair you might try something with a higher back that supports your head better. Just a few things that I've tried that might work for you too. I know how intense your job is I've worked around Graphic designers for the past 8 years and it's hard to stand up when your in the middle of a design but don't forget to move around even if you can't stand up and walk. I hope some of this helps.
    Oh one more thing. Sorry for the long post. But shoulder rolls which you will learn in PT are the one thing that I make sure I do during the day since I can do those while sitting. They will show you hope to properly do them. I found a lot of relief from those.
  • I wear my soft collar to work every day. It's a great reminder not to hold the phone between my ear and my shoulder.

    I couldn't raise my monitor, but I lowered my chair, so hopefully that will help. My HR manager has offered to have my office assessed for ergonomics, so maybe that will help too.

    Thanks you guys for the suggestions. If only this were just a little easier... :W
  • By all means, do not use your neck or head to hold a phone. This and DDD is what caused me to have a 4-level fusion.

    For pain ask your NS for muscle relaxers (Soma). Also get him to order a TENS unit from a Rehab Business. I get most relief from going to phsyical therapy twice a week. After performing exercises or stretch moves, the PT has me to lie down on top of moist heat pads while attached to a TENS unit for 20 minutes. W O N D E R F U L.

    Hope you get to feeling better soon. It took me and still is 3 months post-surgery to feeling better. My biggest problem is Swallowing. Keep in touch
  • I went back at week 7 to my desk job. That and all added activity was too much at first. I really started to hurt more than the previous couple of weeks. Was really disappointing.

    I did move everything on my desk closer to me (like keyboard and mouse). My monitors (2 of them, neat huh) are up as high as they can go. I am also watching more carefully what I do - making sure I do not overextend, push or pull too hard, etc. - as it seems the small things add up quickly and cause pain. Including getting up more often and walking around, I am doing better over the last few days (almost into week 9 now). I can see that recover is slow - but progressing - and requires way more careful attention to the details of daily activity than any other injury I have ever had.

  • This is obviously a common issue with us cervical spineys.

    Mrlee, I am taking a muscle relaxer (Flexeril) and Hydrocodone. What is a TENS unit? I've heard it mentioned quite often on this forum.

    I lowered my chair at work and that seems to have helped a bit. My HR manager is going to get an ergonomic assessment done in my office and we'll see where that goes.

    As I posted on another thread, it is so frustrating that there is always pain, no matter what you do. You have pain before the surgery and after the surgery. Yeah, they're different, but I'd like someone to tell me if you are ever pain-free after this kind of surgery. I might start a thread on that. It's beginning to piss me off (sorry for the French).

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,848
    problems than physical labor.
    When I returned to work after each of my lumbar surgeries, it took a while to build up stamina, but I eventually did.
    Now, with each of my ACDF surgeries, that was different.
    No matter how long it was post surgery,no matter what I did, the perfect workstation setup, get up and move around, I would get neck pain while working on my computer.
    Even now, I have some very tight muscles going from my shoulder up to my ear... I am in the middle of a flare up, so I have to take that into consideration, but put that aside even at my best, I will get neck pain (or thoracic) from using my computer and sitting at a desk.
    There really isnt a good answer. The best thing is to make sure that you do get up every 30-45 minutes, stretch, walk around, etc before you sit down again. You should also try to limit yourself to 6-8 hours a day in doing this. Some companies may not like that.
    I am very fortunate that I work from home. This way I can get the hours I need to do the job, but they could be spread over 18 hours and their is no driving involved.
    Even know, I will sit at my desk at times with:
    - Heat wraps
    - My Tens unit on
    - Ice packs
    Just ways to make it more comfortable.

    Just do not push anything. Take things gradually. You will be up strength over a period of time. Continue to do the neck exercise (Chin tucks, side to side, etc) that were given. Those help make your neck a bit more flexible.

    Good luck
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • This is abreviation (or something like, not sure) Transdermal-endo-neuromuscalar stimulating. It looks like the size of an IPOD, with two sets of wires that are attached to 2 or 4 pads. These pads are attached to the areas of your body (the back side) and sends a small electric current to the stressed area of the body. It helps relax the muscles that are tensed with pain. They cost about $300. Your NS can prescribe one, and with good insurance will be paid for.

    I take Soma, muscle relaxer and Loratabs Plus (with hydrocodeine) for pain.

    To me it sounds like you went back to work Too SOON!
  • Did you file for workers comp for the surgery?
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