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5 Days Post-ACDF

precsmmtspprecsmmts Posts: 52
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:29 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Well, on Monday I had an ACDF w/hardware on c5/c6. Once the NS got in there, he found that I had a torn ligament in my neck in addition to the herniation. He said that much of my discomfort might have come from that.

As for the surgery, things went well. I spent 1 night in the hospital (not a pleasant one - a lot of nausea from anesthesia). I have to wear a hard collar for 3-4 weeks, and I believe that's what I am having the hardest time with. I can't get comfortable ever, and I have a lot of achiness/pain in the back of my neck and shoulders. I had to stop taking my pain meds because of nausea, so the doctor has put me on a steroid pack. Hopefully this will help with the muscle spasms. All in all, I think my recovery has been better than expected. My throat feels weird, but I have been able to eat regular foods. Sleeping is tough, but I think that's par for the course.

Hopefully things will only get better from here.



  • I'll be 4 weeks post op from the same surgery this coming Tuesday. I do not have a collar. I did not have any surgery pain after 2 weeks post op, but I do have the horrible nerve pain in my neck as well as arm pain. I have pretty bad muscle spasms as well, but those are getting better with time. I do have to take a muscle relaxer and I rotate with the ice and heat. I hope you have a fast recovery. :)
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hey Tina & Nicole,
    As you can see everyone has a different experience with similar surgery.This is a major surgery and you will find that some days are better than others.You may also experience some set backs that may cause you concern. Try and be patient and not over do it even if you feel great. I had a major rebuild done in August of 07 to C3 thru C6. It took some time to feel really good and get used to the "new me" but it was well worth it. Take care, I wish you all the best and a speedy recovery!
  • I am brand new to this and looked up support for this after undergoing C3-C6 (3 level) with hardware ACDF on 4/6/09. Just reading each of your comments helped! The meds have me thinking I am feeling good ...so I do something like reach down and pull a weed and I can feel it later. So slowing it down was a first lesson (thanks Ranger :). I am on a muscle relaxer and loritab that I am committed to for a couple weeks before weaning off...skipped a couple doses at different times and it isnt worth it. I go back for check up on 5/12. Excited to see if this took and I can get back to normal. I worry because so many complaints of pain still from others...not hearing too much of the success. I am the eternal optimist and am willing me well BUT I do feel pain at times through the neck and shoulder blades and wonder if this is normal...part of the healing? Any updates on the improvements since the surgery from anyone?
  • Just a quick update: I am 3 weeks post op now, and I think things are going very well. Last week I went for my first post-op appointment. The doctor said that things look good and he said that I can start to have my collar off when I am at home, and the best part is that I don't have to wear it when I sleep anymore. Woo hoo! I still have a little bit of pain in the back of my neck and occasionally in my shoulder. But overall, I haven't had near as much pain as I expected. It's very hard for me to sit still, but I am learning. When I do too much, my body lets me know later that day. And if I do too much, I get tired very easily. I suppose that's because my body is using so much energy to heal.

    Hopefully that gives you some hope. My next worry is that I will fuse properly, and since patience is not one of my better virtues, it will be hard waiting to see. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

    Take care, and try hard not to overdo it!

  • I'm on day 18 post op for the same surgery (2 level) and you're right Aspen Vista collar is no fun. Sleeping has been about the worst part of it. Expecting to be in it 8-12 weeks. I see the NS again in two weeks to see how fusion is going. I don't get how some patients don't even need to wear a collar and others are in it for months. Once again, I guess every ones case is different.

    Cathy, when is your NS going to assess how your fusion is going? How many weeks out? Also, was it a little freaky when you first started sleeping without collar?

  • Disco...

    I have gotten used to not wearing my collar for the most part. Sleeping without it was nerve-wracking for the first 2 days or so. I was so scared that I was going to move wrong in the middle of the night. I will say that the collar is a really good reminder that you just had surgery and that you have to watch how you move. Since I don't wear it at all when I'm home now, I catch myself moving probably a little too much. The only motion I am not allowed to do with my neck is to look up as this could loosen the screws.

    I think the reason that some people need to wear a collar and some don't is purely doctor choice/philosophy. I've researched the pros and cons for both. I am quite glad that I had to wear it for a few weeks. I felt more secure and knew that it would keep me from moving wrong, especially in my sleep.

    Best of luck to you!
  • Hey Disco and precsmmts:
    Thanks for inquiring. Hope you are all doing well on here. I am at week 3 and ns doesnt want to see me until May 12. It seems a long time and I have questions. I still need my muscle relaxers around the clock or I feel it and would like to know when to ween off that. Loritabs are as needed. I am slated to return to work on May 18 but cannot even imagine that right now. I worry about being able to be sharp again! I still need to sleep alot and I wake up in the middle of the night since surgery. So I found out I was a level 3 which is more recovery and I do feel the pull and pressure but stay positive that soon I will notice a huge difference! I am curious how everyone else is doing. I have to wear my soft collar til I see the NS again. But I do feel vulnerable without it. Although I woke up two different nights here I had pulled it off in my sleep. ha!
  • I only had a 1 level ACDF, so I'm sure my recovery isn't quite as bad as yours. I am 5 1/2 weeks post op today, and for the most part I feel pretty good. I haven't been on any medication since the first week after surgery, but that's just me. I hate taking any kind of medication, so if it's possible at all I don't. Painwise, I feel pretty good for the most part. Rainy days kill me though. I get really achy and sore. I don't sleep through the night either. Every time I turn over or shift positions I am awake briefly. I think it may just be the fact that I am very aware of it and I'm scared to move the wrong way. I haven't been in my collar for the most part. I am supposed to wear it if I'm the passenger in a car or if I'm going to be in a crowded place. But I am allowed to drive now.

    I go back for my 6-week post op next week and hopefully will be returning to work on the 11th of May. I am not sure how I will make it through a full day either. I get tired sooooo easily! I am trying to be somewhat active and not sit on the couch all day, but I need naps after I do anything.

    Hang in there - if you have questions, I'm sure you can always call your surgeon. I did that a few times.

    Take care,
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