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Plan for pre and post ACDF

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm about six weeks out from two level ACDF c5-7...My focus will be on planning and prep to help get ready for the surgery, and then recovery as quickly and as soundly as possible...

> Ramp up cardio and strength training...In some respects I don't have the energy to do this due to my issues, and the strength training (light) tends to inflame my worst symptoms. But the theory here is that surgery is a shock to the system, and the better shape I'm in, the better odds I have for a faster recovery.
> Lose 5-10 pounds...I don't really "need to", but it probably won't hurt, and it will make it easier to move around after surgery.
> Stretching program, maybe yoga...I've noticed that a lot of folks comment on muscle pain from surgical positions, so the theory here is that if I'm loose, I have better odds of avoiding some or all of this issue. I'm going to stretch for 30 minutes the morning of my procedure.
> Take care of my "business" at home, work, etc. before surgery. The less I have to worry about, the more I can focus on a quick recovery.
> Load up on books, comfy pillows and easy to eat foods to ensure comfort and avoid boredom after surgery.

> Week 1 - Complete focus on recovery...No pushing it. Meds when necessary, but hopefully tapering off by the end of the week
> Week 2 - Gradual return to my "desk jockey" job, from home of course. This assumes I am mostly or completely off the meds...I will be taking a minimalist approach with the pills.
> Week 3 - Back full time to work, from home only if necessary. Begin reasonable cardio and very light strength training. No meds, buy maybe in the event of extreme pain.
> Week 4 - Most "normal" activities, with full respect for the need to have those bones properly fuse.
> 3 months - Vacation time...active, but nothing that would compromise the health of my c-spine.

Of course all plans can change and some of this may not hash out as expected, but this is my approach for now...I am optimistic about surgical success, but I have low expectations regarding resolution of some of my symptoms, since they have been chronic and persistent.

Let's hope it works out on the upside.



  • I had just written a lengthy reply & lost it so I will just summarize...

    You seem to have a good attitude & that is very important. However, the surgery you are about to have (exactly the one I had just over 2 wks ago) is a major one. I have had no complications & was in good shape going into surgery but even with that your timetable seems extreme. Be careful with your exercise before surgery...you don't want to do more damage. After surgery you will have restrictions. At this point I am allowed to walk as much as I am comfortable with but NO other exercising is allowed & am not allowed to lift over 8 lbs. My next followup is at 6wks so those restrictions are in place until as least then. You may also be required to wear a collar.

    Good luck with your preparations & your surgery. Ask lots of questions here...there is so much experience you can learn from. Feel free to PM me if you would like. Take care
  • i was in great shape before surgery so i think t helped a lot! but when i got home after i kept a positive attitude like you!! i only did walking for my first 6 weeks til my first post op visit. i was walking up to 7 miles by then. had to where collar for another 2 weeks after visit. still didnt lift more then a jug of milk. when i felt comfortable to exercise i started with 10-15 lb reps at 8 weeks. not pushing myself because muscles were weak. i used only the total gym for 5 weeks then switched to free weights and did my neck exercises daily. went back to work carrying mail on march 2nd surgery was nov 13. docs still dont want me to lift or carry more then 35 lbs. when i was off work i had gained 30 lbs and went from a 31 waist to a 36 waist. now im back to original size and working out daily. just keeping in mind i have a plate with screws in my neck. so i dont lift heavy objects without help. so stick with your schedule, but if your body says no then dont do it. there were times i took a few days off and relaxed, because my body told me too. thats why i recovered the way i did. not pushing to hard but hard enough to feel good. so take it easy and push forward one day at a time!!
  • Hi obx...

    I must say that I have to agree with the other posts. You have a very positive attitude, which will go a long way. I had a 1 level ACDF 3 1/2 weeks ago, and I still have restrictions from the NS. I had to wear an Aspen collar 23 1/2 hours a day for just over 2 weeks. Now I can have it off for the most part unless I am riding in a car or going to be out in public where someone could bump into me. I am allowed (and encouraged) to walk, but that is it. I can't lift anything heavier than a milk jug. And I can't drive until I hit my 4 week mark.

    I was healthy before surgery and that did help. I stopped taking my pain meds 3 days after surgery because they were making me sick. When I stopped, the muscle spasms were horrible. AFter a steroid pack, that seems to have subsided, but not completely. Some days are better than others. It is important to listen to the restrictions. The doctors give those restrictions to be sure that you are given the best chance of a good recovery and fusion. It's great to be so optimistic about your surgery and recovery, but I really think it's important not to push yourself. I think you would be really sorry if you did something too soon, and had to go back in for surgery again.

    Take care & continue to keep that positive attitude!! If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me.

  • I just had the same surgery March 26th and your pre-op plan looks pretty good. I also tied up loose ends as far as work and bills and financial matters, so no worries afterwards. I loaded up on paperbacks which I'm plowing through now. Another thing you could do is go through the post op must haves at this site. One suggestion is get yourself a grabber. Very helpful, because you can't reach above your head nor bend at waist. If you drop something or even need to pull your pants up, the grabber is great.
    A long necked bath brush is good too for lower extremities.

    You're Post-Op might be a little agressive. The first week or so, you need the meds and you will be tired. Bear in mind you don't know what your post op pain and numbness levels are going to be. Everyone is different.

    You're also going to be in cervical collar which is very restrictive. It's exhausting just getting used to it, especially sleeping. Sometimes I feel like I'm being punished by the village magistrate by being strapped in this torture device ~X(

    Plus You have to sit back away from the keyboard to see it because collar offers no vertical vision and you're not allowed to bend at waist-that's da rules :B . You can't sit in the same position for hours on end either-also in the rule book #o

    I'm at the three week mark and I'm doing about 2-3 miles a day on treadmill at a fairly slow speed. No strength exercises until I see therapist next week.

    Bottom line,DONT overdo it because if you mess up that fusion, you'll find yourself back in hospital. Trust me, I'm a desk jockey also and I really want to get back to being productive for my team, but I'm taking on everything in small doses so I don't screw up my recovery.

    Good Luck obx4me-keep us posted.
  • ...for the advice and encouragement.

    I absolutely respect real life experiences from those of you that have gone through the procedure more than anything. I have a "battle plan", but also understand that these change when the first shot is fired, or in this case when the first disc is removed :P

    When I say cardio, it will likely be confined to the elliptical (very low impact) or brisk walking on the treadmill. I actually tried sprinting earlier this week, but had to stop after a few paces because the bouncing was killing my neck and shoulder! I would also keep the strength training very light, maybe 5-10 lb dumbbells to start, and then go from there...

    Last thing I want to do is screw up my chances for a good recovery...It's been hard enough making the decision to go forward with the procedure, so I will certainly be careful with my choices after surgery.

    Thanks again,

  • I'm glad to see you stopped sprinting! You need to be careful here! I know you want to be preemptive, but being in
    "Good Shape" otherwise will not help you if your neck is wrecked when they go in!

    Take that list with you when you next see your OS,NS I hate to say this but they will probably shoot it down. Just realize as everyone says, it is better to take time to heal right then to get in a hurry and heal wrong or not at all!

    I remember how shattered I felt when they told me I had to wear the "minerva" brace for 12 weeks, then it ended up being 15! I was very depressed! Don't go there! It's dark in there!

    Also, being stuck with chronic pain because you got in a hurry is something you really want to avoid at all costs! The time will pass and you can catch up with your fitness!

  • The only thing my ortho has shot down so far is surfing, which is fine since I don't surf!

    If all goes as planned I'll be in a soft collar for two weeks...My main concern is getting back to work ASAP. This would be from home, mainly phone and laptop work. So I figure if I'm coherent and off the meds, there's not reason I can't work starting seven days after surgery. I can't justify just laying around on the couch and not being productive.

    Less concerned about my physical fitness timeline...I'll be flexible there, since top priority needs to be fusion and healing. I just figure that whatever I can do in general to increase my fitness will help with the recovery...

    thanks again...
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