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[UPDATE Post #12] Okay to travel one week after ACDF?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
April 24th I have an ACDF scheduled. The NS is deciding whether one or two level should be replaced. One week after that, my hubbie and I have a business trip planned, a trip planned months ago (tickets and reservations already made).

The weeklong trip is about 1,000+ miles, and 90+% of the mileage is very easy traveling (interstate highway through Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas). The business trip for me is just, well, attending two parties where I'll just be standing or sitting around. (It's to support my husband's business interest). Other than that, it's just driving to the next location. I'll be in the passenger seat, of course. I'll have a hard collar on (for 8 weeks).

If the pain is too bad or I'm not feeling well, I can skip the events (although I'd rather not--the tickets are already paid for), and I can then just wait in the hotel room.

My husband is willing to cancel the trip and would cancel the trip in a heartbeat if I asked. But he's been looking forward to these events (me too) for so long, I don't want to cancel it.

Those of you who with experience, do this sound out of line or too much? I know each person and surgery is different so there's many answers.

(Okay, I admit, I want someone to say "it's okay, go for it!")

I look forward to reading any responses or ideas. Thank you!



  • Hi Barbara. I can only speak for myself, but I wasn't nearly ready to travel for some time after surgery. Even a short drive a few blocks away was painful and nerve wracking. In my situation I only had one level done, and didn't have to wear a collar. My Dr didn't believe in them. I also had nausea problems, and a bad recovery, which I am still trying to deal with. All people heal differently and some people are definitely more outgoing than me, but I don't recommend going. That would be too hard for you. Is there any way you can post pone the surgery?? That way you can go on the trip with no hassles, worries, and recover at home. I would want to go on the trip with no apprehensions. Do you have a lot of pain now?? Is your surgeon recommending surgery ASAP?? I know a long drive would have bothered me even before the surgery, so waiting to have the surgery may not be the best idea, eighter.
    This is only my opinion, maybe someone else can offer you better,or the advice that you want to hear.
    Good luck to you,
  • P.S. Maybe you should talk to your Dr about this...He would give the best advice.

  • Barbara,

    I had the same surgery on March 26th that your having and I cannot even fathom a long car trip within the first two weeks of post-op. You don't know what your pain/numbness level is going to be. Also, part of post-op instructions are going to be not sit in one position for more than 30 to 60 minute, not conducive to long car ride. Plus cervical collar is huge pain in the butt, a major living adjustment, very difficult to sleep in. Would be surprised your Doc would let you make this trip.

    Think about what your having done-(fusion)bones are trying to grow together inside of you. You need the comfort of home. And if your having the graft taken from your hip, forget about it, you aren't going on no car trip, not even in a Lexus or a Winnebago. :>

    I know your bumming :''( - I booked a sweet Disney vacation for family for beginning of June before my symptoms came on. Now were debating if we can still make that trip and thats 10 weeks post op.

    Good Luck on your surgery. You stay home and recover, get on Spine Health and you can chat with us. But make sure you have someone to help at home!
  • I had a totally different surgery than you (PLIF L5,S1), but I would think that riding in a car would be the worst thing you could do one week after surgery. Just my opinion though.

  • Just my opinion but I do not see how you could make a trip like that 1 week post op. I think my recovery has gone very well but I hate to get in the car to go for a 15 min drive to my dr appts. Tomorrow I will be 3 wks post op. Plus you are planning on using your own bone for grafting. I would be very surprised if your surgeon would clear you for that kind a trip. I'm sorry no one is telling you what you want to hear but honestly, even with a perfect surgery & recovery I think that trip would be pushing it to say the least!
  • Many surgeons do not want you riding in a car except to the first post-op doctor's appointment. Even when wearing a brace, there is so much vibration when riding in a car that the spine is unstable. When you go around a corner or the car swerves, muscles and soft tissue in the spine tense up in an attempt to hold the body erect. Also, you are trying to get the bone to knit together, and the movements of the car are not conducive to that.

    I would definitely ask your surgeon. Maybe you could postpone the surgery for a couple weeks till you get back??

    Plus, quite frankly, I'd be surprised if you really will feel like such a big trip after having a big surgery. You'll be tired from the anesthetic, your system will be disrupted...you just won't feel all that great for a little while.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,863
    I would say that there would be no way you would be ready to make a trip like that one week after your ACDF surgery. Even 5 or 6 weeks post surgery would be pushing it.
    After the first week, you would be just calming down from the surgery hopefully, spasms and any immediate soreness decreases.
    In many cases, Physical Therapy is not started until about 3 weeks post surgery.
    I dont know if your doctor has told you if you are going to wear a Hard cervical collar, soft one, or none at all. Different doctors have varied approaches and beliefs with this.
    If you did go on this trip, I can only see a lot of pain and discomfort for you.
    But, the bottom line, you need to discuss this with your surgeon and see what their view is on this.
    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
  • Like the others, this is not what you are going to hear, but I doubt if your surgeon will say that travelling like that is OK 1 week after surgery. I had my surgery 4 weeks ago today, and although I am feeling really good, I don't think I could sit in a car for that long even now. My surgeon didn't want me riding in a car at all until my first post-op appointment at the 2-week mark.

    Even though riding in a car doesn't seem like it is stressful on the neck, you'd be surprised at how much your head bobs around, even on smooth highways. AFter surgery, my head felt extremely heavy, like my neck couldn't hold it up very well. It still feels that way most days. There is a risk of your head bobbing around. The idea of keeping your head still for a couple of weeks is to give the plating a chance to set - the bone will eventually fuse around the screws. But if you are moving around the screws could become loose. (sort of like screws that hold 2 pieces of wood together - if the wood shifts around, the screws become loose)

    I'm sorry that you're not getting the advice that you wanted to hear. Good luck with your surgery and please keep us posted!

  • If ya don't want to know the answer, don't ask the question! Well, I certainly wanted to know your answers. Thank you all for your thoughts.

    I know each person/circumstances/surgery is different, but the opinions of those who have been there is important. It's one thing to read the threads and read how post surgery is going. I had trouble relating that to a specific activity (the trip). You've all been very helpful!

    I had a talk with my hubbie. To him, nothing is more important than getting me well (am I lucky or what!?), and if the trip gets canceled because I just can't, so be it.

    Thank you all again, for your insight!
  • I just had a 2 level ACDF 1 week ago and when I tried to ride to the drugstore five minutes away, I couldn't do it. Just backing out of the driveway was too bouncy and unpredictable.

    My friend wanted me to recover with her in Key West for two weeks, but I can't even imagine what flying would be like. Takeoff alone would do me in at this point.

    BT, you are most lucky to have a supportive partner! I know what it's like waiting for surgery. Mine was booked a month in advance and I thought it would never arrive. Once it's over you are that much closer to recovery!
  • Howdy all,

    It's been almost two weeks since my surgery. My surgery went so well, and I felt really good, so we decided to take the trip. The entire trip would have been about 1,500 miles, and we cut out almost half of it--just to be safe. We took it easy and stopped often.

    When we arrived in Denver, I thought about repurchasing the ticket to the event, I felt that good. But I thought about these forums, and folks reminding each other DON'T PUSH IT, especially when you feel good. So I vegged in the room. After another day of traveling, again, took it easy.

    The only thing negative was the days we traveled, during the night I had some spasms on the right side, pain level 10! As soon as I sat up/got up, they vanished. Weird, huh?

    Since then, I've rarely taken any pain medication. Trying to behave myself while wearing the Vista "plastic maiden" is the worst part.

    Thank you all, for your time and thoughts on this thread. I DID listen and carefully considered everything you wrote. I feel I am very fortunate to have such a great support here and that I had a great outcome. I wish everyone on this board such great success.


    PS: I've tried add to this forum several times since my surgery. I have a 12K dialup (yes, twelve), and it takes about six minutes for one of these pages to download. Usually the page times out. Frustrating!
  • I'm happy to hear that things are going well for you. That's great!
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