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questions regarding post op after anterior cervical fusion/discectomy C3-C6

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,899
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi, I'm new to this site. Am having anterior cervical fusion/discectomy surgery in March from C3-4,C4-5,C5-6. Will have to wear collar and bone stimulator for a month. Am having cages instead of bone grafts. Am concerned about post op recovery time and specific limitations during my recovery. Can anyone help me with this info?
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Comments

  • I had bone graph on C5 in 1994 and just had C4 removed last Aug but this time he used screws......Recovery varies. I had very little pain and went to therapy twice a week for 1 month. I had to have C4 done due to pressure from C5 surgery in 1994. Make sure You get a second opinion, I did. One Dr wanted to do a C4, C5, C6. C7 replacement and I would lose some left to right movement and would have to have special mirrors when I drove. I said no and got a 2nd opinion and went with him. Hope this helps
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    I am 18 months post-op of a discectomy, corpectomy, multi-level fusion that
    was done both anterior and posterior. I had a strut, a cage with my own bone,
    plates, rods, and screws installed from C3 thru C6. I wore a collar for more than a month and a bone growth stimulator for approx 4 months. My recovery time was rather quick, I was out of the hospital in less than 36 hours after the surgery was complete. Weight and driving restrictions were as expected not lifting more than a gallon of milk for a while and no driving for
    aout a month. It seems as though it was a quicker recovery than my lumbar surgery as that part of my vertabrae only has to support my head.
    Take care, wish you the best, and keep us all posted here.
    Ranger
  • ranger, do u hv any limitations on turning your head to the left and right.............that's one thing that scared me.....
  • I had a ACDF 5-6-7 in 2005. Seven weeks ago I added 4-5 and had my hardware removed from prior fusion.

    I already have 80 percent or so of my left to right movement.

    With first surgery the up and down was the biggest difference. Adding one more level didn't affect that this time.

    Driving isn't bad but looking up in the stores like Home Depot is a little difficult. I lean to the right and sorta look up. LOL

    Cindee
  • Welcome to spine-health. Are you sure you aren't having bone grafts inside of the cages? I haven't heard of it being done without a graft, but I could be wrong.

    A lot of your recovery time will depend on your own individual circumstances. how much cord compression you have now, if any, etc. Some are up and going fairly quickly, others aren't as lucky and fight recovery for a very long time. Your range of motion will be limited initially, but once you are able to get started in PT, that will help you to loosen things up a bit. I have significant range of motion issues this go round, but really only notice it when looking down or up, or trying to look over my shoulder when driving.

    You'll want to make sure you are off of all pain meds before driving, as even if you are on prescription narcotics, you could still be charged with a DUI, especially if involved in an accident.
    Sleeping will take a bit of getting used to, and some people end up sleeping in a recliner for a while, while others can tolerate laying flat in bed. For me the reclined position was much better initially. Other restrictions you'll want to follow would be a lifting weight limit prescribed by your doctor. This is important because you don't want the muscles to pull things out of alignment. I have heard of a fusion graft site being broken from lifting something way too heavy. Just take it easy and follow your doctor's instructions. Good luck.
    Cindy
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Thank you for responding. I'm also told that I can't lift my arms above my waist for a month. Did you have this restriction? How did you cope with eating,etc. Did you have to sleep with the collar? They said I have to wear mine 23 hours a day. Sorry about your lumbar surgery. Glad to hear about the recovery for that, too, as I'm pretty sure I have to have that surgery sometime later. Thanks for your help.
  • I'm scheduled for an anterior disc fusion with donor bone and plate in late March. I think I'm fairly ready ... plus I used to work as a surgical nurse, so I know what to expect. Well..... to a point, anyway.

    I haven't seen much on the internet about finger tingling or pain/burning. My neck hurts, but my symptoms are more about my left thumb and first 2 fingers. They started tingling ... then went to itching and pain... then to severe burning.

    Has anyone else had these symptoms?

    --Moonbaby

    Oops! Looks like I posted in the wrong spot. I'll repost a new thread. Sorry for the hijack!
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Edie54 said:
    Thank you for responding. I'm also told that I can't lift my arms above my waist for a month. Did you have this restriction? How did you cope with eating,etc. Did you have to sleep with the collar? They said I have to wear mine 23 hours a day. Sorry about your lumbar surgery. Glad to hear about the recovery for that, too, as I'm pretty sure I have to have that surgery sometime later. Thanks for your help.
    No restriction from my N/S about arms above waist just no lifting of any more than a gallon jug of milk. Eating was a little uncomfortable at first I believe because of the respirator tube installed during surgery. I did have to sleep with the collar, as time went on I was allowed to remove it while sitting still like watching TV, showering, etc... The collar does give you a little security
    especially when you are tired.
    Hope I helped answer some of your questions.
    Ranger
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    hey sems,

    I thought I would have had less range of motion than I do. I notice when I drive and pass a car I have to turn my whole body a little more to check the
    blind spots but I am surprised how much I can turn my head both up and down and side to side.
    Ranger
  • Post ACDF eleven days now. Double disc, I believe was c6 & c7. Bone bank donor. I was scared for so long, as I have not had any major surgeries. Only hospital time for me was giving birth twice. This forum was a life-saver. When I found it I felt so much at ease because of hearing about real life experiences with real people!
    Also I have plate & screws. Surgery was less than 2 hours, had a great surgeon, was out of the hospital in about 30 hours. I feel SOOOO much better except fighting migraine headaches. Getting that under better control with meds.
    I take Soma muscle relaxer and Hydrocodone 650mg every 6 hours, and pop a couple of Tylenol inbetween time.
    I have a soft collar I wear about 23 hrs. I wear a bone stimulator 4 hrs daily. I think that stimulator causes alot of the neck and head pain... anyone else experience headaches? ~X(
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Good to hear you are doing fine. I think my headaches came more from the swelling in the neck area after my fusion. Stay on top of your meds and don't over do it. The worst is behind you.
    Take care,
    Ranger
  • Thanks! I keep telling myself the worst is over. I'll be on here more now that I am signed in. Before I just read forums, now i feel the need to chat some about it all. Going to bed now, but maybe we can catch up again sometime. Thanx again.
  • Hi, Moonbaby. I,too, have had burning in my left thumb and fingers on my right hand. At times it feels like my whole arm is "asleep" and tingles tremendously. I also have weakness in both arms especially when these symptoms are occuring. I thought it was carpal tunnel, hope this surgery cures all the things going on in my arms, neck, shoulder, upper back. I'm scheduled for surgery in March,too. I'm also more nervous that I think I am and this forum is great! Hope all goes well with you! Edie
  • Hi,

    You said that you had your hardware removed. I have read about this several times, Is this a common practice? I did not realize that the hardware was removed later.


    Joyce

    Will have C5,6,& 7 done in my neck with hardware in Feburary
  • Hi Dinky,

    Nice to hear your recovering well! I'm about to have same op in 2 weeks... so i can't wait to hear how you get on! Hope it keeps going well (aside from those pesky migraines lol)

    Best wishes
    L4-L5 fusion 1998; ACDF C4-6 2008; DDD
  • I'm scheduled for C5/C6 & C6/C7 fusion tomorrow with allograft. My symptoms started off with right shoulder pain. I thought I messed my shoulder up playing the Wii. But came to fine out that wasn't the issue when the tingling in the right thumb and index finger started. 8 weeks of PT did nothing for me but make it worse. The MRI showed osteophytes at both locations. SO long story short, I'm so tired of the paoin in the arm, you just don't know. I'll let you know how things go as soon as I can get back on my feet after surgery.. Once again, this is an awesome site. I,have learned so much by just reading.

    Gary
  • I had pain radiating down my arm and into my hand with numbness in my thumb and next two fingers. Could not figure what happened but the pain became so bad I went to the doctors followed by an MRI. It was easy to diagnose and a neurosurgeon recommended surgery. It seem to make sense to me as it was a clear cut mechanical problem.

    I had two epidural injections while waiting for surgery plus was on various meds to make me more comfortable. It worked and I was capable enough to work some hrs at the office but after awhile the medications started wearing me down. The tingling/numbness in my fingers never went away.

    The surgery lasted about 3.5 hrs and I left the hospital the day after. Recovery is okay with the collar and some meds. The pain has move to my neck with a little pain in my shoulder. My arm is much better! I'm on day 3 post op so we shall see how it all works out!
  • Hi! I'm getting scheduled for a 3 level ACDF tomorrow. I hope to get in by July 23.

    I didn't know they could use cages on the cervical spine! I heard about using that for the lumbar. Does that allow more motion? I'm not a candidate for disc replacement due to number of discs I need replaced but would love to have more motion and be able go back to my sports.

    How did your surgery go?


  • I had acdf c4,c5,c5,c6 two weeks ago. I have good days and bad days. The bad days I just take the pain meds and I'm fine. It wasn't bad at all. I don't have a collar, but I have the stimulator for 4 hours and that gets on my nerves but they say it's good, I hope so and other then that I'm starting to feel my neck again. It was numb and so was my jaw. It's not painful at all, just a weird feeling. I'm trying to quit smoking for good and I live on cough drops. They are great for the sore throat! My throat was sore for only a day and ginger ale and cough drops helped until it felt better. It's really not as bad as I thought it would be.

    Cindy
    Cindy
  • I had a 3 level anterior disc fusion iwth donor bone done on June 25. I am not able to drive but can shower. How long does it take before you can drive? I am going stir crazy and do not want to bother anyone.

    I have the bone stimulator I am wearing for 4 hours a day. I was given the bone stimulator after my 10 day follow up. I don't go back to see him until the second week of August.

    I am still in pain some at night. I am going without pain meds until at night.

    Mine was due to a multiple car pile up and damaged my discs. After surgery, I had immediate strength return to my arm.

    I am in a soft collar after my first follow up visit. I was in the hard blue collar before. I am to use the Philadelphia collar for showers.
  • Mine was caused by an accident. A driver rammed me while I was stopped at a light at about 50 mph. I had weakness and lost my range of motion and pain all the time. I can relate how it changed your life forever.
  • I've got to three Dr. all say my c-3,4,5,6 they say i need to have something done to them i've seen a "specialist" and he wants surgery ASAP, i really would rather not, since he says i'll be out of work for at least 4 months maybe 6, i really can not afford that at this time.

    i've heard from others that i can try PT and or Acupuncture, has anyone else tried any of these before the surgery? i'd like to leave that as a very last resort.

    you thoughts and advise would be greatly apreciated.
  • It's always seems prudent to exhaust all conservative means of treatment prior to going for surgery, however that also depends on the risk posed by delaying the surgery. Have your docs explained if there is any risk of paralysis or permanent nerve damage by delaying surgery?

    With a procedure that large, you will most definitely not want to go back to work for a few months. You'll feel like you got thrown in front of a bus for a little while, but your doc should help manage that with meds while you heal.

    Anyway, welcome to Spine Health.

    "C"
  • I felt the same way about my surgery. I'm a single mom and just knew I could not afford my bills...just bought my first house and didn't want to think about possibly losing it. To make a long story short, I went ahead with my surgery on July 24th, 2009. I spoke with my bank and they were able to defer three months worth of payments...thank heavens! I also talked to my employer about short term disability. Also, check with any of your local agencies to see what help is there. That is the purpose of those agencies. I just had my 4 wk check up two days ago. I am healing and fusing exceptionally well. For seven weeks, I could not feel my left arm, shoulder, hand, or fingers. When I woke up after surgery, my 10 yr old daughter was rubbing my left arm and I could feel it! I cried. Yes, I have had my ups and downs and someone once said it would feel like being hit by a bus.....and Lord, that's the truth. But if you were to ask me if I would ever do this surgery again???? YOU BETCHA! Please, if you do have the surgery.......listen to your surgeons restrictions. Sleep in your recliner, wear your collar at all times, and lift nothing heavier than a coffee cup. Hopefully you have family and/or loved ones who can assist you afterwards. Please keep us informed on your decision and progress.
    ~tib
  • Hello...I had C3 C4 C5 fusion done with titanum plating three level. My surgery was on on Sept 24, 2009 and it was a success. I am 5 weeks out and I have minor pain and numbness which sometimes move. But no more constant pain. I wore my soft collar for 5 weeks. Im grateful that I decided to do the surgery because it really did make a diffrence in my life. And I can tell the diffrence already even though Im not a 100%. The recovery time as my surgeon said is a long journey ahead so we just have to take one day at a time and focus on being healthy and pain free.
  • My doctor is trying to get me in for C5-6 on Dec 3rd and this was kinda just thrown at me after my last MRI.

    I've been dealing with this pain and electricity for almost 13 years and have tried everything from physical therapy, massage therapy and trigger-point injections to accupuncture with electrodes and lots of pain med with muscle relaxers. I've been told that we've tried everything short of going in.

    I was excited for something different, but petrified, as this is my first open-me-up surgery.

    I've watched some of the 3-D cartoon videos on youtube, but am not sure what to really expect.

    What questions should I be asking my doctor?

    Thanks, Sean (Kaneohe, HI)
  • My doctor is trying to get me in for C5-6 on Dec 3rd and this was kinda just thrown at me after my last MRI.

    I've been dealing with this pain and electricity for almost 13 years and have tried everything from physical therapy, massage therapy and trigger-point injections to accupuncture with electrodes and lots of pain med with muscle relaxers. I've been told that we've tried everything short of going in.

    I was excited for something different, but petrified, as this is my first open-me-up surgery.

    I've watched some of the 3-D cartoon videos on youtube, but am not sure what to really expect.

    What questions should I be asking my doctor?

    Thanks, Sean (Kaneohe, HI)
  • Hi I am new here I am so glad to have found this site. I just had surgery on Nov 2,2009 So far so good. I had fusion of C5, C6 and C7 area. I saw my spine doctor the other day and he said the surgery went well and he said that I did not have to wear my collar sleeping anymore and that I could use it if I needed extra support. I do have a special pillow I sleep on now but I can lay on my right side and lay on my back but I cannot lay on my left side just yet. Prior to surgery that was where most of my pain was the left side. I have noticed that I have minor headaches later in the afternoon maybe I am swelling still I don't know. I was not given a bone stimulator nor did the doctor mention one. I was also under the impression I would need rehab but he did not mention that either. I'm wondering if that is normal?? He said I should be able to go back to work in December. I was told not to lift anything over 10lbs and not to make sudden turns or shifts. If anyone has advice I am open to suggestions. Thanks!
  • Six weeks ago turned my head and burning pain went through my neck, shoulder, arm, and hand. The next three weeks I was in constant pain and could not lay down. Slept in a recliner, on ice 24/7, with pain killers, Ibuprofen,and muscle relaxers. Finally went to Chiropractor, and then Dr. Ended up in Nuero Surgeons office last monday, recommended Anteior Cervical Discectomy & Fusion. I came home without scheduling surgery. Has anyone has success with alternate treatment?
  • Sounds just like me, but my MRI showed trouble from c3 - c7 with herniation on c5-c6. I am still deciding whether or not that I want surgery. I have lived with neck pain for over 30 years, and even slept in traction for 5 years. I do not see at this point that I can avoid it much longer, especially as we may not have insurance after May 0f 2010. I really was hoping that someone would have a good alternative to surgery. The timing is just wrong for me, I don't heal well, have fibromyalgia, sleep apnea and am hypoglysemic with irratable gut and bowel syndrome. I really do not want to have surgery. I have had 2 bad staph infections this past year, and I am scared. I also have my son and his 2 children living with us and we are in a court battle trying to get custody to keep them from an abusive mom. This just stinks.
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