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post op acdf

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Iam now 3.5 weeks post op for acdf c5-C7 and can anyone that has had this tell me when they were able to get out of the collar and start driving? I am in the soft collar and with my check up next week I am hoping to get rid of it. I have been taking it off for about 30 minutes while I sit in the chair but I found that I feel like I have a lump in my throat and sometimes my ear feels like it is under water. Then I put the collar back on and they go away? Has anyone else had those symptoms? Also every now and then I get this burning down the back of my left arm and sometimes numbness in the back of my hand. Any info on post op would be greatly appreciated. I just want to get back to normal. I am finding that the rest of my back hurts and cracks and crunches from the sitting around doing nothing. Thanks


  • I started weaning myself off my hard collar after 2 weeks. NS said no driving unless absolutely necessary until about 5 weeks.

    The throat lump lasted almost 3 months for me, remember, the doc has to move all kinds of things around to get to your spine! :D I also had bouts of tingling and a little pain, I chalked it up to my nerves getting back to normal. I'm now 5 months post-op, and I feel almost normal. (Although my friends would tell you I've never been normal....)
  • Sounds like you are doing great snapdragon. I will be 4 weeks next week and going for an xray and hoping to loose the soft collar and start driving. (hope I am right). How long did you go before you had no restrictions? I am dying to get out and bike and golf now that the weather is turning nicer. You give me hope. Thanks and take care.
  • I had ACDF of 2levels btw. C5-C7, w/o screws 1 year ago..Only small piece of titanium is put instead of discs.(no HW)Ive learnt that according to statistics, 80% of the surgeries are done in those 2 levels.So I was hoping to be 90% free of pain.
    Since this surgey makes this section "fixed", the existing tension in those sections distributes to the neighbour secitons.And although just before the surgery my C7-C8 was perfect, now I feel pain in my arm and fingers, so that according to the figure, I can see that this comes from C7-C8, + sometims I have pain in my triceps although surgery is already done in there. So in short,
    now I am afraid to have another MR and I dont think ACDF is a very good technique....Sirdalud MR, keeping neck muscles hot,making everyday exercise, trying to have good posture, same life as before.
  • ACDF C5-6-7
    My surgeon doesn't advise wearing a soft collar, but I did use one only to help keep ice packs in place in the hospital.
    I am allowed to drive 20-30 min at a time after 2 week post-op check-up.
    My pre-op symptoms are gone! Still have some swelling that interferes with swallowing, but it is improving every day.
    Good luck to all of you who are going to have this surgery.

    Helpful post-op hints:
    1) Crush several doses of your larger meds (Calcium) before surgery (Can smash them inside plastic baseball card sleeves and label them.) Mix the powder in applesauce to make swallowing easier.
    2) Make sure NO ONE leaves the toilet seat UP. Leave a light on in the bathroom at night. You can't turn your head to check it easily before sitting down. To fall in the commode would be a disaster.
    3) COLPAC makes awesome reusable ice packs in different shapes that last a long time.
    4) Make a couple flat little pillows to use under your head, in the car, wherever.
    5) For women, buy bras that hook in the front.
    6) Teach your significant other how to dry your hair with your blow dryer before surgery.
    7) Carry straws in your purse.
    8) Elevate everything you may need to chest height. (We put a board over the end of our separate bathtub for the laundry basket, cosmetics, etc.)
    9) Post your instructions on the shower door & kitchen cupboard as reminders.
    10) Buy some Tylenol. ANSAIDS (Motrin, Aleve, etc) are not allowed after surgery.

  • I am having surgery next week. Thanks so much for the helpful hints! That is awesome. I have been so greatful for all the help I have gotten here.

    I am just wondering about post op and how long it will be before I can do things. I like to go listen to live music. I understand a crowded bar is not so good to be in but now that it is warmer the patios are opening and those are so much bigger and it is do-able, I think! My surgery is March 26. Does anyone think I should be able to go out to dinner etc after one month? I get cabin feever fairly easy.
  • Melswartz.....I totally can relate to you getting cabin fever. I had acdf C5-C7 and I still can't drive but I can go out to dinner and short trips to the grocery store. I am finding that after being out for a couple of hours I need to lay down and support my head and neck. I am still wearing the soft collar so I hate going out with that around my neck. I go Wed for my 4 week checkup and hopefully I can get the collar off and start to drive. I think I have to go to PT but wont know for sure still Wed. I have started to take off the collar when I am sitting and walking around the house but only keep it off for 20 minutes at a time then I am ready to put it back on. I want to be careful not to do too much too soon because I don't want to screw anything up. Now that the weather is changing I have been walking which my doctor said I could do as much as I wanted.
    Good luck with your surgery.....keep us posted on how you do.
    Take care
  • All the info here is great! To those of you recovering...keep up the great work and keep us posted. Melswartz, good luck next week. My surgery is 2 wks from today. I'm worried about cabin fever too. My sister will be here for a wk post op but then I'm on my own. I was told I'll be in a hard collar for 4-6 wks so no driving. I'm gonna go crazy. I don't know a lot of people in the area & I won't be able to drive to stay with friends...2-3 hrs away. It's getting humid here in Florida now so that collar is gonna get hot! Take care everyone.
  • Thanks so much everybody!
    Will let you know! I am just thrilled my NS uses soft collars. Phew!

    I am a little crafty so I have made covers for the soft collar. One has an American Flag, another has a little bling on it. Hey, if you are going to have to wear the darn thing, might as well have fun. :) One of these days I'll post a pic.

  • Hi all you fellow cervical spineys.

    As you can see by my signature, I had a pretty significant ACDF last October. I won't go into any details, but just want you to know that I've recovered very well and will be golfing soon. I've hit a couple of balls and know I can do it as soon as I get my strength up.

    There IS life after an ACDF, just give yourself some time.

    Melswartz, I had my surgery on a Tuesday and was out and about, hard collar and all, on the following Saturday. Went to the bar to visit some friends. Stamina will be the most difficult thing, as you'll tire very easily.

    Good luck to all of you.
  • I am having the same thing! WOW! Did they say why the last bit isn't fusing? They are using cadaver bone for me.
    I am having the plate.

    cjlivinlife----how are you doing???? Are you feeling any better???
  • melswartz, I am getting better every day. I have my 4 week check up tomorrow and hope to loose the collar and be able to drive but I have to wait till they see the xray to see how the fusion is coming along. I have been walking every day and now taking the collar off for periods of time when I am at home. It feels great to get it off. I actually have found that I tend to tense up my shoulder muscles when I have it on and walk but when I have it on I am more relaxed. Not sure why. Still have some tenderness in the back of my neck and I have not been told yet that I can turn my head so I have not tried. Maybe after tomorrow.
    I will keep you posted so thanks for asking.
    Good luck to you too and keep me posted.
  • I'm 15 days post op with no collar. I have the same pre-op pains and the arm pain is worse then pre surgery. I'm walking 1 1/2 miles a day in hopes to heal nicely. Maybe I am overdoing it with the walking? My packet says I can drive 10 days post op, but I think that is a bit soon for me. My neck is so stiff and I don't want to turn it. I still have the swallowing issues.
  • Nicole74, Have you called your NS about the continued pain? I would definately talk to them about your walking and see if there might be something you can do to feel better.
  • No, I have not called them recently. I talk to them early last week and told them about my neck pain. The lady on the phone said nothing about it. I'll probably have to go back into pain management. The surgeon will not prescribe any more pain meds. I'll call my PM after my post op appointment, which is April 6th.
  • I saw your reply on a thread and you mentioned that you made cover for your sof collar for post op. You could probably make a business out of that. I am sure people would be interested. Just a thought. Good luck with your surgery.
  • :))) <:P I am 4 weeks and one day post op and ....good news from the doctor. He said that since I already started to wean myself off the collar I can totally get rid of it(put it back on if needed), and I can start driving but still be careful since my range of motion is minimal, and he will let me go back to work next Wed the 25th!! I am very excited since he said normal for this surgery is 3 months off work and mine will be 5 weeks. Of course I sit at a computer all day at work and go to meetings. I still have a 10 lb lifting restriction. I now go back for another x-ray on April 1st at 6 weeks and he said we can talk about biking and golfing at that point. (I think he said that to get me on another subject.) He said absolutly not at this point because he does not want me to fall of jar anything. The x-ray looked funny with all that hardward and screws in there. He said they monitor the bone graft and fusion to see if it is fusing right with the x-ray. Mine didn't show much but he said it was still early and it could take up to 1 year to completely fuse.
    It was weird sleeping with out any collar last night so I didn't get a real good night sleep. All my other muscles can feel it when I try to sleep on my side but I am sure it will get better every day.

    The only post op symptoms I have are muscle tightness in my upper back and shoulders with some swelling at the base of my neck. A slight numbness in the back of my hand when I sit too long in one place without resting my neck back against something, and loss of my range of motion in the neck but that should come back when I start PT at the 6 week point. I still have to make sure that I don't over do it because I am feeling better but this 4th week I have improved tremendously. My arms and shoulders are week from not using them but they don't want me to start doing anything yet. I still have to have patience and be careful with what I do down the road so I don't have to go through this again. I don't want to put any extra strain on the adjoining vertebrae.
    So there is light at the end of the tunnel and I am very excited to get this far this quick. I hope everyone else that has to go through this has as much success as I have had this far and I am glad that I can be one of the success stories!!
  • Happy to hear you are doing so well.
  • CJ, you might want to consider going back to work part time first. I went back part time after 6 weeks and I'm sure glad I did. Sitting at a computer was very difficult after ACDF surgery - the muscle spasms are wicked after about 30 minutes.

    Check out some of the posts around here - there are a LOT of posts about desk jobs after ACDF surgery and how difficult people have found it to be.

  • Cath111 and newfienurse thanks for the well wishes. I am a little concerned about going back to work next week but I don't sit all day at the computer. I can get up and walk around and I do go to meetings. I really don't have the option of going back part time with my job. I can come home at lunch if needed to lay back for 15 minutes. I am hoping that because I have not really had any muscle spasms just tight neck and shoulder muscles and a little burning. I have been able to be up and about for 3 hrs at a time and I have been getting on my computer at home more often to test the waters. Also, I have been really improving every day so by next Wed I hope to be even better. This is another reason I am going back on Wed so I only have a half a week the first week.
    Anyway thanks again and hope all is going ok for both of you too.
  • I had two level acdf. I wore collar for 30 days. I didn't drive for 30 days. I have done 19 sessions of P.T.,and approved for 8 more this is all work comp. Today was my second day of work after being out since 10-09-08... I thought after reading many post that I would be ready to go back to work after three months . Boy was I wrong ! It is so true each persons recovery is different. No more numbness in arm and fingers ! I still have pain in neck, and surgeon from the beginning could guarantee to get rid of all pain, however the main focus was to get pressure off of the spine... My recovery has been a long haul, however I am glad I made the decision to have done. Thank-you for listening to me write and have a GREAT day everyone !

  • I forgot to mention my job includes lifting, paperwork etc.... if anyone cares... Again have a Great day !
  • I went back to work after 3 months with no restrictions. NS still hasn't told me I can ride my bike! It's killing me, I've been off it for two years. Next follow up with NS is in April, I'm going to pin him down on the bike riding. I starting endurance walking before my surgery, that helped keep me sane. :)
    cjlivinlife said:
    Sounds like you are doing great snapdragon. I will be 4 weeks next week and going for an xray and hoping to loose the soft collar and start driving. (hope I am right). How long did you go before you had no restrictions? I am dying to get out and bike and golf now that the weather is turning nicer. You give me hope. Thanks and take care.
  • Hi,
    In response to going out... My dr. wanted me to not be in the car for anything except dr appt and "emergencies" until after the 1 month check up. I felt able to go out after 2 weeks, but my family refused to take me... I had told them my restrictions and they helped me follow them... I didn't have a problem swallowing like others have, but straws made drinking easier. I wore a hard aspen collar for 4 week and am in a soft collar and can drive. The time has gone fast looking back.
  • Hi,
    I'm about 5.5 weeks post op and had cabin fever too. I had my in-laws with me for 3 weeks after the first week and it did help. My MIL encouraged me to take the rx that was prescribed and it did help. I know alot of people don't like the rx, but it did help me chill...
  • I found a nice pair of trouser knee high socks and cut the foot off and it is now a "designer" collar.
  • I had surgery feb4th. I had 6 week check up couple days ago.
    No fusion starting yet. I was hoping I would of started to fuse but...
    I wore soft collar before and after and still wear while riding in car or practice walking.
    I have to go back for MRI on Mon the 23rd,Surgeon thinks maybe some bone might of been left behind plate.
    I still have pain R arm and legs are worse after surgery.
    I walked in hospital day of surgery using cane and left using walker and wheelchair.
    I have alot of neurological symptoms and I do have myeolopathy so surgery was to stop progression.
    I do have two disc areas above 6 and 7 that are not in too good of shape but c6-7 was real bad.
    I have to travel almost 3 hours to see my surgeon. it would be much easier if I could of found surgeon to help me close by but that did not happen. oh I tried believe me but I have found if a surgeon thinks outcome might not be perfect or there are to many issues going on, he kicks your fanny to the curb.maybe worried about repatation.
    I have Awful pain. I hate to have to say that... but its the truth. some posts on the board They don't want to hear about my (our) pains. and think we should just suck it up and learn to live with it.
    well I'm a tough cookie and believe I can endure more pain then most. I'm not a cry baby, and don't complain to much and have been told I have a great heart.And I know I do... call it what ever you wish.I used to say I wouldn't wish this Pain on no one, (maybe the surgery changed me) but those that say we should not complain or let other no the pain we are in well... Take my pain for the day tough one...Well enough of that... I said my PEACE..

    Carla, Good luck and keep up the good recovery, keep us posted its nice to follow someones recovery. sending you tons of smiles...(did you know that a smile not only makes someone happy but can take pain away if only for a minute)

    Mel--great idea with the covers, wish I would of known earlier,... but I made a cover over my favorite soft collar (I have 5 all different sizes and shapes)anyway its from a scarf I have with little ladybugs on it I got at the craft store for a dollar,I left a flap in the back so I can slide a small ice pack in their if I need. thanks!Mel(that's what we call my daughter is Mel her real name is Melissa

    NewNurse The best of luck and keep us up on your soon up coming surgery.
    I worked in the health care field for almost 20 years.Its one of the hardest parts for me I used to take care of people hands on and now I have to have people take care of me, I had to give up my work 3 years ago. I loved my Job so very much.
    Thanks to all for reading my long words.
    Blessings and love to you all.Patsy
  • Hello
    I had my second ACDF with instrumentation on March 9th. My previous surgery was March 26th of 2007. In 2007 I had my C5-7 fused with instrumentation but my neck pain never improved. As the months went on the disc above was starting to fail so I had my C4-5 operated on. Unfortunately my C3-4 is in poor shape now but the doc didn't want to do too much right now and said to hope it doesn't get worse.
    Being almost 2 weeks post op I am somewhat surprised my pain has been really bad with no improvement what so ever, it is actually worse than before surgery. Good news is my tingling and whatever little numbness I had in my arm is gone.
    I am trying to remain optimistic but it's fading fast. I need to be back driving a tractor trailer in 4 months

    Be well everyone
  • I want to welcome you to S.H. Tom. If you need someone to be their for you e-mail me. listen or just talk. Patsy
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