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ACDF surgery For sure :(

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all,
This is only my second post but people have been so supportive I figured I better keep you updated :)

Saw NS yesterday...waited 2 months for appt on appt date waited almost 2 hours to be seen then a 10 minute visit. UGH. Guess thats the price for a highly rated specialist.

He said my c5-c6 was severely torn and was surprise I was up walking. C3-4 also torn but not as bad. He did offer up cortisone shots but said they only last a short time and with the severity of the tear it wasnt a good option. So we wait for surgery approval from workcomp.(very nervous bout that)I am just ready for it to be overwith.
My doc did give me a GREAT dvd to watch about conditon,preop,postop and recovery. It was so informative and made me feel I was making the right choice. Doc was also very calming and welcoming to and questions I might have. Of course I didnt have any until got home LOL.

So if I may can I ask you all some of those ??'s ?
My dr said that the only motion limit I would have in the future would be looking up. Whats your experience with that?

Do I need someone to stay with me after I come home from hospital if so how long? (Trying to figure out if DH and DD need to get time off work)

What type of pain meds did you all get to take home post op?
Am on Vic now and it only takes the edge off.

Dr is going to fuse BOTH areas at the same time is this common practice?

Thanks all am sure will have more questions as date gets set and closer.

Love and God Bless.



  • Welcome to Spine-Health. I can answer your questions, but keep in mind that I'm no doctor and everybody is different. I also have questions for you.

    My ROM is slightly limited left and right, but more so up and down. The real problem is that I can't look in any one direction very long before my neck begins to ache. I doubt that will ever go away.

    I had my MIL stay with me for three weeks after my surgery, but two would've been fine, and one would've been doable. The issue is no BLT which is hard to do when you're alone.

    As far as pain meds, it amazed me how many muscle relaxers were prescribed and how many doctors prescribed them - about four different scripts and docs. I was also sent home with dilaudid (what was used in the pain pump at the hospital), but I only took one. They don't really do anything for me. The mix that worked before, after and now is hydrocodone 5/500 and flexiril 10mg. The important thing to remember when you get home after your surgery is to take your meds as prescribed to stay ahead of the pain. If it gets ahead of you, it's hard to get it back under control. I was also sent home with a very strong antibiotic that I took for three days.

    Yes, it's common to fuse multiple levels at one time.

    A couple more things: My hubby had to bathe/shower me and wash my hair for the first few weeks. A chair for the shower was wonderful, as was the portable showerhead. Also, in your preop appt., talk to your anesthesiologist about adding anti-nausea meds during surgery. Mine added a bunch during the surgery and put an anti-nausea patch on my shoulder that I took off about four days after surgery. Lastly, stock up on ice cream - whether you have a sore throat after surgery or not (this REALLY varies from person to person) it's perfectly legal to have ice cream for breakfast after ACDF surgery. :-)

    Most everyone here has said how they slept in their recliner for a week or two after surgery, and so did I.

    I'm glad you have confidence in your surgeon - that could be the most important thing. I had something else to tell you, but it slipped right out of my head.

    Will you be wearing a collar afterwards? Soft or hard and how long?

    Take care and feel free to PM me with any questions or if you just need a friend.
  • Cath thank you so much for your answers and just for being here for me. Wish I could tell you how much it means and I am terrified.

    I am not sure of the collar I forgot to ask him. Do you think that is something I should call about?

    I just know I will come up with more questions along the way so will be Pm'ing you for sure :).

    The only thing thats really got me right now is the fear of work comp denying the surgery. Its freaking me because I just want it DONE and OVER WITH.

    Thanks again, you're and angel.

  • I'm really glad to help in any way I can. This probably won't help much, but I was also terrified before my surgery - I'd never even stayed in a hospital before. As it turned out (and many here would agree with me) the anticipation was much worse than the surgery itself. My surgeon had no problem prescribing Xanax for me before the surgery because I was so uptight, so keep that in mind if you need a little help during the time leading up to surgery.

    I don't think it's necessary to call your doc regarding the collar, but if it were me, I'd really want to know what I'm in for. If you have a hard collar, you won't be able to drive, so that's one consideration.

    I'm keeping my fingers crossed that work comp approves your surgery.

    PM away, my new friend and be sure to keep us updated on work comp and when you'll be having the surgery.
  • I will try to answer your questions. I know the feeling of not thinking of them until you are home. I kept a notepad close by and wrote down any questions I had and stuck them in a folder that I had set up for surgery. Then I had them when I went to my next appointment.

    My dr said that the only motion limit I would have in the future would be looking up. Whats your experience with that? I am 10 weeks post-op now, and I still have to limit looking up. I haven't really tried, but I expect there will be a little lost of ROM.

    Do I need someone to stay with me after I come home from hospital if so how long? (Trying to figure out if DH and DD need to get time off work) YES! For the first few days to a week, I couldn't have done it without extra help. You will not be moving much and will want someone to get things for you, adjust your pillows, fix food, etc. I even had my mom standing outside the bathroom door while I showered just in case. It was comforting having someone there.

    What type of pain meds did you all get to take home post op? I was given Vicodin, but couldn't take it, as it made me nauseous. I also have muscle relaxers. Oh, and I was having such bad muscle spasms that they prescribed a Medrol dose pack 2 weeks after surgery.

    Dr is going to fuse BOTH areas at the same time is this common practice? Fusing multiple levels is quite common.

    If you have any other questions (and I'm sure you will), feel free to ask!

    Hang in there!
  • I had 2 levels fused. My ROM is really good in all directions but if I move too quick or look up or down for too long it hurts a bit. NO problems driving even the first time which was 6 weeks post op...I was in a hard collar til then.

    My sister stayed with me for a week...I live alone. Since you don't live alone you will have help part of the day but you may need someone all day for a few days to a week depending on how you feel.

    I went home on Percocet & Flexeril. Took them around the clock for the first few days & then cut back. Muscle spasms were my main complaint. I had no pain at the incision or "inside" the operative site. I had a lump in my throat & it was sore for a few days. I was able to eat soft foods the day after surgery.

    Good luck!
  • the others that have responded have more recovery time under their belts (I'm at 8 days post op), but I'll also share my experiences so far:

    Range of motion - my doc said that the only issue I might have is looking down, but it's obviously too soon for me to tell. I have been doing "mini" stretches since day 3 after surgery to help keep my muscles loose. You'll also find a wide range of experience in terms of how collars are used post op...I suspect this might play a role in how much initial range of motion and stiffness the people experience. My guidance was a soft collar for two weeks, which I've mostly complied with but I've also tried to spend time out of the collar to keep loose and do some stretches.

    Help at home - I'd highly recommend having someone around all day/all night for the first 72 hours at least, depending on how you are doing on release day. I've had periods of independent time since 96 hours post op, and it's been fine, but I think this will vary by the individual...

    Meds - I went home with a bottle of Percocet, which I'm just about to wrap up. I'm rolling the dice by not having anything stronger then Tylenol available to me starting Sunday, but I suppose I could always ask for more if needed.

    Best of luck...You'll find the folks on here very helpful and supportive...

  • I had a two level fusion at C5-6 and C6-7 (single plate, 6 screws) on 2/5 to address spinal cord compression.

    I was given hydrocodone, but truthfully...I didn't need much. The pain was less than going into the surgery, pretty much as soon as I was home.

    The guy next to me had a single level and was eating a cheeseburger and chatting away right in recovery, claiming he was cured!

    Now, I was PARANOID about things but in truth that is all it was. I don't feel I was limited much at all. I took the week off work, and maybe should have rested a bit longer but, it wasn't crazy. I had the surgery on a Thurs, husband stayed home on Friday (then there was the weekend). The next week I was basically on my own as my husband went on a business trip. Really no problems overall except the hydrocodone made me ill. I really didn't need it, IMO.

    I was allowed to wear a soft collar but they didn't recommend it much. They wanted me to limit looking up (eg going to an airshow :D) but otherwise, no restrictions. The best thing for me was getting out the week after and driving because I was trying not to turn my neck - real life is the best PT for it.

    I've had a lot of long term side effects (4 months now) but they are unusual. Basically I have had a chronic hacking cough for 4 months and I still am overall in good shape neck wise. It is not a foolproof surgery, but it is pretty darn impressive, IMO.
  • that you need surgery, but at least you know help is on the way. How cool of your surgeon to give you a DVD showing exactly what to expect. It think that's a great move! Best wishes to you.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Hello,
    I had a one level ACDF C5C6 on July 15, 2009 and I'm still experiencing symptoms. NS says I should be betterr by now. Finally my NS has sent me to a physical therapist to do work hardening which has not been easy. I go 3 days a week for two hours which is not easy, I left early monday had sharp pain in left side of my chest and shoulder blade was hard to even breathe. I have really bad muscle spasms in my neck and upper back, headaches, still tingling sensation and pain in my right arm and shoulder. Some of the posts I've been reading are very old glad that I stumble on this site. How are ya'll doing now? Need some reassurring that there is light at the end of this tunnel!! I'm so ready to get back to work and back to normal life!!
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