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Neck Pain after ACDF

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am a Newbie to this site. I have been viewing posts since my sugery I had 12/11/08. My sugery was ACDF with a plate and screws. I have been suffering with neck pain and burning down left arm along with numbness in hands when sleeping since April 2007. I have been off work since October 2007 due to the degree of pain I was in. I have been on different types of pain medication since then. I have been on Oxycontin 20mg every 12 hours and Hydromorhone 4mg every 4 hours for some time now. I am still presently taking this medication for pain after surgery.
During the last 7 weeks I been off and on with the degree of pain I am in (neck pain) pain in the arm is not as it was before surgery. I am still unable to do much of anything but lay on the couch. I have been suffering with really bad pain along side of neck opposite scar and back of lower head and neck. Pain medication does not seem to help. Almost went to the hospital due to the amount of pain I was in. I was unable to make the 30min drive to the hospital.
Called NS and have not received a call back yet. I was hoping that maybe this forum could help or give me some suggestions.
Is there anything I could do or take to help with this excruciating pain in my neck. When the pain flares up which is later in the afternoon till I go to bed is a level 10. I ice constantly and take my medications. And the pain level remains the same for some time. Is there a differnt type of pain medication I should take or musle relaxer that could help?
Has anyone had any side effects from taking pain medication? I have had bad face pimple rash on my face.
My doctor has not told me to go to PT yet. Is there anything that I could do when I am not in so much pain?
I am really lost on what to do with the degree of pain I am in. I have been getting really depressed about the whole thing, and the amount of pain I am in. It just seems like it is never going to end. Nothing seems to help, the pain medication never seems to take the pain away. I know thinking positive really helps. It is really hard some times when you have been suffering in pain for so long. As, you all know.
I would really appriecate anyones suggestions. And thank-you very much for your time. Collsparky


  • Hopefully someone will have some suggestions on pain management soon. I was going to suggest ice but your doing that. I do agree not PT until you feel better. You might ask for a script for a massage though.

  • First of all welcome to the forum. You're still not very far out from having had your surgery and as some pain is expected if you aren't getting enough relief from your pain meds then you definitely need to make a phone call to your doctor. And while you're at it make mention of the rash on your face. I'm allergic to Hydrocodone which usually causes rashes for most people but for me it swells my throat until I can't breathe. Are you in a collar? I didn't read that if you are. The best thing is to get you moving even if it's a little bit at a time and I COMPLETELY understand wanting to not move when you're in that kind of pain. There are many other pain medications out there and maybe this one just isn't for you. He might recommend something else if you call and ask. I hear lots of people around here talking about long acting pain meds giving them much more relief than the fast acting ones. (Although I don't recommend going into your doctor's office and asking for anything specific but you might be able to work into a conversation with him.) Have you tried heat? Heat works much better for me than ice. Some people find their favorites and stick with them for a long time. Anyway. What I'm getting at is don't think that you have to suffer until your next appointment. Pick up the phone and call his office and just tell them what's going on. You might be surprised at how helpful they might be.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,877
    For a Spine-Health Site introduction, Click on :

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    Check the various tabs at the top of the Spine-Health page and you will find so much that is offered here.

    Please remember that all information you receive from members on this forum is NOT
    formal medical advise. You should always consult with your doctors.

    To get back to the Forums, you can always click on Forum Home

    Please feel free to contact me at rdilauro@gmail.com or send me a message
    After reading your post, the MOST IMPORTANT advice I can give you is that anytime your pain level raises about 8 get yourself to the Emergency Room as soon as possible. Your pain medications are NOT going to do much with pain levels that high. At the ER visit, while your pain level is 10, you will be admitted. Any doctor that hears you have pain levels of 10, will jump in and make sure things are done to help youi
    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
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,368
    For any type of "injury" surgical or not .... the rule of thumb is ice for the first 24 hours ..... then warm moist heat thereafter.

    Postsurgically I found warm moist heat to be the most soothing and reducing of pain - spasm. Ice would put me on the moon and would greatly increase pain and spasm ....

    Where did you get the idea of ice this many weeks postsurgically??

    Spine-Health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!  (Click on Welcome to Spine-Health)

  • I agree about the ice issue. If I go out into the cold weather without wrapping my neck I get immediate spasms and they do not go away until I've sat with moist heat on my neck for several hours.

    Sometimes after PT the therapist will tell you to ice for 10 minutes them use heat. Personally, I wouldn't use any treatment, ice or heat, without the blessing of your surgeon.

    Are you doing too much during the day when your pain levels aren't so bad? Sometimes simple things like folding laundry or sweeping the floor can be triggers when you're so soon out of surgery. It's hard to train ourselves to not do all the ordinary things that we'd never give a thought to otherwise. I'd advise you to write down all your activities and how they affect your pain levels- that could be helpful information for your doctor to have when you speak to him.

    I hope you get answers soon.

  • You guys are just wonderful on this site. Thank-you for resonding so soon. I have called the Doctor (NS) and they have not called me back yet. You always have to leave a message. I see the surgeon on Feb 9 and will also be having an x-ray.
    I feel that I should feel better for being 7wks, I am sure everyone is different. I am unable to do anything with this degree of pain. When I do feel a little better I may fold some clothes and help with dinner. Do you feel tha is too much? Should I not be feeling better?? I am in worst pain now then when I had surgery.
    I am not in a collar.
    The oxycodone is a slow release after 12hrs and the Hydromorphone is for break through pain. I was just wandering if any other medication worked for anyone else.
    Ice always seemed to make me feel better then heat before surgery, so I continued the same after. I will take the advise on the heat and hope that helps.
    The pain is been really bad these last few days and it takes everything I have to try and make it through. Reading your forum and for the people that answer my questions really do help.
  • When you talk to your NS, I would ask how you can stay in front of the pain so you don't have the flairs. Additionally, based on what I read, it seems the ice may be causing the pain in the first place. Good luck and let us know what is happening. I get fused in March, I hope, so I need all the advice I can get.
  • Hi. I am new, but I have been reading since my ACDF on 11/3/08. It sounds like you have occipital neuralgia. (the pain on the back of your head/base of your skull). I have alot of trouble with that, as well. I use a heating pad, and slight pressure helps, too. try putting two tennis balls in an old sock and placing that under your pillow for about 5-10 minutes. That will release the pressure. Hope that helps.
  • Hello,

    I can relate to your problems, I had C4-7 with plate and cage on Dec 9th, also lots of bone spurs, the surgery took six hours.
    I found sleeping on a recliner help alot, last week I got to throw my collar away, I told my ns about my shoulder blade pain (a 10 at times) he said it was from wearing the collar and had me go to pt. I start pt last week adn they said the same thing my mussles in my neck and shoulder were really weak and with easy exercises I will good as new.
    I have seen a lot of improvement, I not longer take any Norco, I take Felxerl three times a day. I got back to work on Feb. 9th.
    Good luck and I hope you start to feel better on this road of recovery.
  • Hi it sounds difficult right now till you have had the xray and spoken to your surgen you cannot exercise. Try laying flat on a carpet but warm place, close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose filling your stomach seeing that it is pumping up, not your chest, your stomach and then exhail through your mouth emptying your stomach completely. At the same time you exhail hold your arms, shoulders and elbows straight on the carpet and your head and neck completely straigh, ask some one to make sure your head and back are straight, ah sorry your knees bet, feet flat on the floor and make sure your lumbar area is straight. Do the breathing slowly counting five before reliasing the air and say to your self RELAXXXXXXXXXXXXX mentally while doing so.
    Good luck and I wish you a prompt recovery
  • I appreciate the update. I am really excited to be better.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,877
    but you did not authorize the use of Private messages.

    I want to say that in the future, when you make a post that suggests what a person may have, you always need add a statement to the effect, that the information you provided is ONLY your personal opinion and it is not medical fact.

    We do not want any member to make decisions based on personal opinions. That should only be done by doctors.
    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
  • I had my 3 level ACDF on 1/13/09 and I feel great. Just a little pain (maybe at a 3 level) between the shoulder blades but the Doctor said that is normal after surgery. All my pre surgery pain is gone the only problem I have is I still have to wear my collar for at least four more weeks but I can deal with that.

    But I agree with everyone else if you are in that much pain please call your dr and if they don't reply quickly I'd go to the ER.....There is no need for you to be in that much pain.

    Good luck
  • I had my surgery on Dec 26 2008 with C45 C56 with two disks removed and hardware and I am fortunate that the pain has eased up but yesterday I did to much and today I could feel it and had to go easy again but just after reading this I sure hope you have heard back from your doctor...I am fortunate his nurse calls me back within 4 hours of calling...have you left a message with the nurse of the doctor..as that is how my office works...flexeril is what helps me also as others have mentioned...I am now facing right arm rotator cuff surgery as my left arm came back totally fine after surgery but my right arm has not and I was sent to an Orthopedic last week but they have to wait 6 weeks out of surgery for the MRI of the fusion...hope today was better for you...cheryl
  • The Doctor's office finally called me back she could not speak to the surgeon, she spoke to the nurse. The nurse just told her if I could come in on Wednesday (Feb4) at 8:00 am to see him nothing else. Which I am unable to do so. I already have an appointment on Monday (Feb9). I have been using the heat as suggested it has calmed the pain down to a level that is at least bearable most of the time. Thank-you so much for the suggestion.
    I just don't understand like Libby, Rick and Cheryl that have posted notes for me. That they are doing great so soon after surgery. And i am so happy for you guys. I am just wandering why I am still in this much pain at 7wks.
    I believe all my pain is surgey pain. I don't have pain in my arm as much as I use to. And my neck pain is different too. Most of the pain is on one side of the neck and at the back of the neck. I am just wondering if anyone thinks it could be muscle spasms. I try and think positive that this pain shall pass too, for myself and my family.
    It has been a long painful, and stressful road to get where I am now. I can only hope that I am on my way to recovery. Thanks, again...
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,368
    I am so glad that my suggestion to use warm moist heat has given you some relief.

    I am not a doctor nor have I ever played one on T.V. I am a former EMT paramedic and worked in primary care for 5 years - 25+ years in healthcare in all.

    The goal of any social networking group is to share our experience, strength, hope, and wisdom to help our fellow sufferers achieve relief, and support the feeling that you are not alone.

    Our moderator Ron is correct that we are not here to diagnose conditions, but given the level of contact and concern from our various practioners - sometimes Good Orderly Direction from fellow suffers is the best and quickest path to (some) relief that we can receive.

    Prayers are comming your way,

    Spine-Health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!  (Click on Welcome to Spine-Health)

  • Thanks again for everyones suggestions. I will be 8wks post op. My pain levels have come down a bit. My pain levels have not been at 10 for a week now. I am still feeling pain 24/7 even with taking my medication. Pain levels are between 5-8. I was wondering how long will I be experiencing this degree of pain. Is there a period of time for recovery, so I may know if the operation worked or not. There was no complications with my surgery, everything went fine. I was hoping I would at least be off the pain medication by now. I was wondering about everyone else's expierence after sugery. I am trying to think positive and hoping that this pain shall soon pass too. And I will be on my way to a pain free life!!!!
  • Dear Collsparky,
    not all of us heal in the same way and every surgery is different don't try to rush things let your body heal it's own way and don't compare yourself to others... Think that your spine was a long time with a different curvature and after the op it has to get used to the new curvature and also posture, it has to fuse and settle properly so don't over do it! take care of yourself and look after yourself specially now at the beginning, spine bones take up to one year to fuse completely it is not like a broken arm that takes a month. Try not to think (I know it is difficult I couldn't the first time) about it and keep your mind busy, brain training or something where you can't drift and think of the pain and don't abuse heat it is not good to abuse, try 20 minutes at a time and leave long intervals between or you could get the opposite effect. (I made that mistake) and please try the breathing exercises.
    Take care and a wish you a promp recovery.
  • Just had surgery last Monday....doing okay. A bit of pain and still learning the line between resting and overddoing it (until it was too late twice and realized I needed to rest more). Would love to hear some of the positive movement any of you have made since your surgery. While you are "fusing" do you feel it? I wonder if some of the spasms and slights twinges of pain is a healing thing or should I be worried?
  • I'm 5 weeks out from C3-C7 ACDF. So much has changed in my life. As a result, I am more IN THE MOMENT, so life is more precious at this slower more deliberate pace. I am like a kindergartner learning to use my alternate hand instead of my preferred hand to prevent pain (understatement used). I'm more willing to ask for help with the hardest parts; people are more helpful than I ever realized. Although specific pain in my right shoulder, neck, head is more noticable after the surgery, I have so much improvement in bladder and bowel function, appetite, strength, and total body pain that I give the surgeon an 80% success rate in helping me.

    I'm trying to be useful since I lost my income, but martyrdom doesn't pay well. So, I ONLY do what is comfortable and I use pain meds and naps as needed. I would love to get full use of my dominant arm back without suffering pain, but ... in Texas we have social services that will help retrain for other work. So ... I'm looking forward to a useful and full future whatever it holds.

    Be patient with yourself and your supporters, be attentive to your body, and be persistent to get answers and/or help.
    Kind regards, Tweedle
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