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ACDF & Plating C5-C6 C6-C7 Surgery

cjones5349ccjones5349 Posts: 13
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am 49 year old female I had ACDF & plating for c5-C6, c6-c7 surgery I had this surgery 2 weeks ago. I was so scared. I had the surgery 1 day and went home the next. My surgeon used synthetic material to fuse as they say if you use bone graft it is painful. I came home wearing a hard collar which in florida is a pain in itself. My numbness that I had in my left arm is virtually gone, the strength is back in my hand, it was the very next day. Yes the throat hurts but mine was only painful to swallow for about 2 days. I still have the feeling of a blob in my throat which will probably be there for awhile. All in all I feel that I made a good decision to have the surgery. Each individual is different and I too wanted to hear from other people who had the surgery but ultimately it is your own decision. As my husband said to me before surgery are you living a good quality of life and do you want to live that way forever or have it get worse. Good Luck to anyone who is facing the probability of surgery. I know I have a long road to recovery but each day it gets better. I also have good days and bad days but the bad days are getting less and less. If anyone wants to talk about their surgery or pending surgery I will gladly respond.



  • That's awesome that your surgery went so well for you and that you had near instant relief of the weakness and numbness. Stay strong and heal well. Life is here for us to live.

  • I'm so happy for you that you are doing well!!! I may be in touch with you later today.....Looks like I may have a similar surgery facing me; my issues are also at C5-6 and C6-7.

    I'm meeting with a NS this morning to discuss the results of my MRI:

    At the C5-C6 intervertebral disc space, there are severe disc degeneration changes. This is associated with anterior osteophytes. There is also a broad-based spur or a disc herniation complex that displaces the cord dorsally. There is a flattening of the cervical cord lateralized slightly greater towards the left side. In addition, there are also severe bilateral foraminal stenotic changes seen at this level. The AP diameter of the spinal canal is compromised at this level. It measures approximately 5 to 6 mm in its AP dimension at this level. In addition, on the sagittal images, there is suggestion of a focal area of increased T2 signal intensity in the cervical cord at this level, most likely represent myelomalacic change.

    At the C6-C7 intervertebral disc space, there are also disc degeneration changes with anterior osteophytes. There is a broad-based spur or a disc herniation complex that displaces the thecal sac posteriorly. There is a slight flattening of the cervical cord at this level as well. Mild foraminal stenosis from osteophytes in the neural foramina are
    seen at this level as well. There is also an AP diameter spinal stenosis with the AP diameter of the spinal canal measuring approximately 7 mm in its

    Thanks so much for being a resource! Although I have already had a fusion done, that was 15 years ago and was just one level. And I have to say, it went very well without any complications. As I'm reading through this site I realize that I may have a more complicated surgery facing me and I'll need all the advice I can get from people who have "been there and done that"!

    Now I'm off to get ready for the appointment!! Wish me luck!!
  • I wish you all of the best for recovery. I feel fortunate compared to others who have had the surgery. I am just so grateful for the headaches that have disappeared. I used to have severe migraines now I get a mild headache but I believe it is from the medication. Please keep me informed as to your progress. I care.
  • Thank you for such kind words.
  • I hope that you are continuing to do well. Reading your story is making me feel less scared about my upcoming surgery in July. I am going to have either an ACDF or a corpectomy at C5 - C7 -- I'm still deciding between two options from two different doctors. It's so frightening to think about, especially wondering how I will feel when I wake up from the surgery.

    Thanks for sharing your story.
  • ...that's great news regarding your recovery so far. Keep up the positive vibes!

    I had the same procedure 4 weeks ago (but with cadaver bone graft). I've been out of my soft collar for a few weeks, and I too have the "lumpy" feeling remaining in my throat. Otherwise I can't say I've had as much progress with my pre-op symptoms. Numbness and tingling is still there in my right hand, although slightly less than before. Neck pain and tightness still there, but no surprise since I believe that takes longer to resolve and some of it could be surgical soreness. I didn't have severe arm or hand pain related to my cervical issues, but I have wicked shoulder pain related to a chronic condition/previous injury in that area. Next up for me after I heal from ACDF is to tackle the shoulder problems...

  • Hi - my first time ever doing this blogging thing but it is great to be able to talk to people in the same situation.I do wish you luck as there is so much information to take in. I am also considering surgery for herniated C6-7, bulging at C5-6. Pain has persisted in right arm for a year and its driving me crazy. I am very interested in hearing from anyone who has had a Prestige or ProDisc Artificial Disc Replacement. I am also looking at going overseas to have a M6 ADR - the newest to come along. As I understand it, this Spinal Kinetics ADR actually mimics the natural disk. It is in clinical studies here in the states and the reports are good. So any one want to comment on these specific ADR's? and allicat I have no idea what a ACDF is or a PCF& L is but I hope that they work for you.
  • I understand your fear, I was so scared that I seriously thought about backing out of the surgery. Thank god I did not. I too wondered how I would feel after surgery. They do give you good pain meds. I had the morphine drip so much of the day of my surgery is a blur (good blur). My only problem was that the morphine made me sick to my stomach which I finally came to that conclusion at 3:00 am in the morning. They had given me phenergran for the nauseousness which helped. But I had 2 options I could continue with the morphine drip and then know I was going to get sick or decide to stop the morphine and try to swallow percocet even though it was hard to swallow I opted to go with the percocet (good decision on my part) Once I did that it was so much better. I do not recall any real pain in the incision area just soreness. I was real anxious to get out of the hospital. I made myself get up out of bed to go to the bathroom, they teach you how to do the roll out of the bed. I am not going to tell you it was a piece of cake, it all depends on your pain tolerance also but I must say I am seriously a baby when it comes to pain. I just got my stitches removed this past wednesday and boy did that feel good. It is very important that you do as the Dr tells you, no lifting and definetly no bending over. If I felt the need to bend I just stooped down with my legs/knees. PS - Before you go in for surgery take and put the toilet paper on your bathroom counter so you do not have to bend to get to it. I wish you all of the luck and if you need you can pull whatever strength you need from me. You can write me as often as you need and I will try to convey strength and courage through our posts.

    Good Luck

    Also it is very important that you feel good about your surgeon. I am a awful patient and he was understanding but firm with me which was what I needed.
  • So glad to find your post. I had the same surgery on June 16 with donor bone & am in the Aspen hard collar, which I hate. You are right about the heat! I was so scared also; almost told them on the pre-op table to forget it! I do not have stitches; my doctor used steri strips which have not bothered me. I had some soreness in swallowing for the first few days, but that has pretty much subsided; I did not experience the blob in the throat feeling. I, too, was on the morphine drip, but unfortunately for me, I have found that I am allergic to the narcotic pain meds. including the morphine, percocet, loratab, darvocet. They make me itch unbearably all over. I was prescribed the generic for vicodin & muscle relaxer flexipril which have helped. I do not have the numbness in my hand any longer, but wearing the collar makes my shoulder blades & neck ache in the back.

    I have had a hard time getting comfortable to sleep and with the not being able to drive. Bad case of cabin fever.

    I go back to the doctor next Tues. & I hope I can come out of the collar.

    Everyone hang in there & I thank God I found this site.
  • Hi, I am new here. I just had this surgery on 6/9. I went home the same day, no collar at all. I had a few rough days tring to get comfortable, and I could not swallow hardly anything for 4-5 days. The pain and numbness in my left arm & fingers went away almost immediately. Now 2 weeks later, as I start to try to do more, the numbness has come back in my fingers. Although not as bad as before the surgery.I too have that lump in my throat, but it is getting better everyday. I have returned to work today, office job. My doctor said it was ok as long as I take it easy, and not lift anything. My doctor has also ordered a Bone growth stimulator to help speed up the fusion in my spine. I get that on Monday. Well good luck to all of you...
  • I've been reading posts for a while this morning and starting to feel panic rising in my throat. It's suffocating panic.

    I'm glad you posted about the surgery AND the pain relief they were able to provide you while in the hospital. I'm not a candidate for surgery - but needed to hear a happier ending.

  • I am so amazed at the amount of individuals who also have had the same surgery around the same time as us. It helps to see how each of us are progressing. I too am having cabin fever. I am relying on my 86 year old mother to assist me, don't get me wrong she is in great health and she can work circles around me but you just do not want to get in the car with her. You are taking your life in your own hands (haha) I went to the Dr this past week and I came out of the hard collar and I am in the soft collar which I take off from time to time while I am sitting watching tv just for a break. I too get that pain in the shoulder blades - Doc said that is to be expected and will subside. I wish you luck and I hope that when you go back to the Dr this next Tuesday you can come out of that miserable hard collar. Write back and let me know how your progress is coming along. We may have cabin fever but at least we have modern technology (computers) to be able to talk/vent/support with others.
  • I was thinking about you and wondering how your appointment went on Tuesday. This week has been a little rough for me for some reason. I am finally able to sleep in the bed but with alot of pillows for props. I think the collar is making my shoulder blades and neck hurt worse. When I take the collar off for awhile, it seems to feel better. But the doc said I have to wear the soft collar for 2 weeks and I have done 1 week so 1 more week to go. My incision looks good, just itches cause it is healing.

    Let me know how you are doing.

  • Wow, you impress me. I am surprised you were able to go back to work so soon. I have a office job also but I also know I will overdue it as I would rather do it myself than ask for help. Keep in touch and let us know how you are doing?

    Take Care
  • I too have found comfort in others and their experiences. I am sorry that you are not a candidate for surgery. As scary as it sounds it seems to provide relief. I am not telling you what to do but if you feel strongly about surgery and relief you might want to talk to another dr. Please do not misinterpret that I think you should push for surgery as I do not know you.
  • CJones,

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I feel like I will be able to handle it now and am not so terrified, although I know I'll get worried the week or two before the surgery. I hope you are continuing to have a good recovery.

    Do you think it's realistic for me to do some work two weeks after surgery? It would be mostly work at my computer that I could do from my home office and I would also need to attend a few meetings. I'm a consultant and trying to decide if I should take on some work that would need to be done a few weeks after the surgery.


  • I'm 30 days today post ACDF C5-C7, My first weeks were the hardest, and the pain between the shoulders from surgery position was intense at times. But let me tell you this much, when I went into Surgery 6/2/09 at 7am I went in with pain/numbness & tingling in the right arm and fingers, When I woke up from surgery and got my bearings, the arm and fingers were 99% back to normal. The pain was gone and stayed gone. The numbness which was on a scale of 1-10 prior to surgery was staying around 9 in the fingers had gone to 1 after and within 2 weeks has gone to (0) yes Zero. It's hard to learn how to sleep in the hard collar but trust me you'll figure it out. I go back to my surgeon this Monday July 6th I hope I'm released to go back to work. I'm just not the type to stay home, I do walk several miles a day .

  • Each person is different and how they heal along with their pain threshold. I have read of individuals who did go back to work after only 2 weeks. I have noticed after my surgery that I was anxious to get on my computer and it all depended on how my arms were positioned. If I stayed on the computer too long then I would get this pain across my shoulders. I said that is my reminder that I was doing too much. But I wish you well with your surgery and with your recovery.
  • Hi cj - I've been away from the computer for a few days, so I'm just now reading up on the messages.

    My x-rays looked great & I was able to go into the soft collar, which is so much more comfortable. I'm doing much, much better. I'm only taking tylenol & a muscle relaxer at night. I'm still feeling the aching in the back of my neck & upper shoulders, but from what I understand, that's to be expected.

    I've been thinking about everyone here & wondering how everyone is doing. I hope you are progressing & feeling better. Thanks for all of your encouragement.

  • gary - that is such good news that you are doing so well & very encouraging for me to hear. I had the surgery a little after you did on 6/16. I hope I am doing as well as you seem to be at that point. How is the acing in your back neck & upper shoulders. Has that eased any as time progresses?

    Continued good luck & great recovery to you. It helps to hear the successful stories, too.
  • I am a 41 year old woman who had the same surgery on 6/18. Immediately following the surgery the numbness in my right and middle finger in my right hand was gone. I was in the hospital over night and released the next morning. The first week I felt incredible wasnt on any pain meds and thought it was a miracle. After the first week is when all the pain and numbness returned. The pain between my shoulders was incredible.not only does my right arm hurt so does my left one now. The feeling of having a ball in my throat is still very evident. it is just 3 weeks past the surgery and getting better slowly. I have not returned to work only because my doctor hasnt released me to do so yet, althought its prob the best thing, i might have hurt myself more with out realizing it. after the surgery i was able to move my neck with out the cracking sound but that too has returned. I started putting maderma on my scar and im not sure if its the healing thats itching me or the maderma i have been using it for a week now, i'm thinking maybe it was to soon to start using the maderma??
  • I'm going to have this surgery done on my C4-5, c5-6, and C6-7 on august 20th! (with plates, too) I'm glad to hear you're doing well! :)
    I'm really nervous about this, as I have a 4yo little girl, and my hubby won't be able to take off of work for very long...so I'll have to start taking care of her about a week or so after surgery. :P
  • My surgery will be Aug 20th on C6 & C7. They will replace with cadaver bone and then a plate screwed in place for stability. Dr tells me i wont have a collar to wear. Im just wondering what kind advice you guys can give in order for me to prepare. I will be at home alone after surgery with family coming home at night. I am so independent so i want to get as much prepared as i can. I do a desk job during the day at work so what can i prepare at work in order to get back as soon as possible.

    Thank you guys so much and your words have been so encouraging!
  • Hi, I had almost the same surgery,but 2 levels C5-6 & C6-7.
    After Surgery I had a difficult getting up from laying down, very painful. Had to hold the back of my head as I got up or I had someone help me up. Without a collar there is just no support. I found that sleeping in a recliner was much easier. You may need help getting dressed, at least for the first few days.Also you will not be able to lift anything heavy for a while. I also have a desk job, I was back at work in a little over two weeks, I think it may have been a little too soon. I wouldn't rush going back to work if you don't have to.

    Good luck with your surgery, please let me know if I can answer any more questions you might have.

  • I'm about 20 days out and doing OK. I'm still on pain meds but it's not a bad as I thought. Cough drops are great for your sore throat. It really isn't that bad, I was so scared before and after I was like, this feels funny but it's not terrible. You'll see and my doc said some don't even get a sore throat. Good Luck and I also have been wearing the stimulator, which if I fuse sooner will be worth the effort.

  • Im also wanting information on things i can get/do ahead of time to make things easier on me. I had a lady tell me that she had a neck pillow that had a ice/heat pack that helped greatly. Thanks so much for the encouragement and information on recovery.
  • Greetings all! I am new here, and too the first time I have posted to sites such as these. Reading has been very informative! :-) A bit of my background:

    I have been a helicopter pilot for 30 years some of which the flying was with night vision goggles, and almost all with a flight helmet. The other portion of my job is law enforcement. In late 2007 I started getting a lot of numbness, weakness and pain radiating out to the right side of my neck, shoulder down to the hand. After x-rays, EMG testing, MRI and physical exam, it was determined that I had generative disk disease at C5/6 along with a herniation abutting the cord. In March of 2008 my NS completed an anterior fusion with instrumentation. That surgery was awsome! When I awoke, pain, weakness, numbness - GONE! I was back to work 9 weeks later. Okay....

    April 2009 I am stretching my arms up in a yawn, my hubby asks me a question. I turn my head about 90 degrees left to answer him and feel a "rubber band" type of pop. Instantly, burning pain in the right shoulder blade and triceps, numb index and middle finger, nerve twitching in the web between my index and thumb on the top of my hand. About 15 minutes later I got on my hands and knees to change out a CD. Being left handed I reached with my left hand to extract the CD and my right arm completely collapsed.

    Tests again. EMG and MRI (stand up) showed my C6/7 now herniated! Gawd - a yawn?!?! On August 18th I underwent fusion at this level. I guess I signed the wrong warranty as I only got a year and a month before the level adjacent went bad! When I woke after the surgery, as with my prior fusion - pain, weakness, numbness - GONE. Okay (sniff), I am now in week 7 and guess what? You got it, starting to get burning pain in my right shoulder blade, burning (and warm to the touch) in my right triceps and my index finger is going numb again. The nerve twitch is now in both hands in the web between the index finger and thumb. Typing is clumsy again as well.

    Today was my "release back to light duty" doctor appointment. Nope, "I don't like what I am seeing. I want you to get another MRI to see if there is something else going on. Depending on what it reveals, I will release you for light duty, but you might have permanent damage." Great...medical retirement might be on the horizon. Oh, did I mention I am only 47, but my neck is like 90?

    Of you all that have had many of the symptoms return weeks or months after surgery, what was the final result? A bone spur missed? Scar tissue? Shift in the graft? I am trying to keep a positive attitude as it has kept me alive all these years, but the look on my surgeons face today did not bode well to me. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks all.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • DonnaLynn said:
    Hi - my first time ever doing this blogging thing but it is great to be able to talk to people in the same situation.I do wish you luck as there is so much information to take in. I am also considering surgery for herniated C6-7, bulging at C5-6. Pain has persisted in right arm for a year and its driving me crazy. I am very interested in hearing from anyone who has had a Prestige or ProDisc Artificial Disc Replacement. I am also looking at going overseas to have a M6 ADR - the newest to come along. As I understand it, this Spinal Kinetics ADR actually mimics the natural disk. It is in clinical studies here in the states and the reports are good. So any one want to comment on these specific ADR's? and allicat I have no idea what a ACDF is or a PCF& L is but I hope that they work for you.
    i want to go to germany also...
  • I'm awful sorry to hear about your pain. I am having similar problems. My problem became worse within 2 years after my surgery. It started with a car accident in '95. I tried everything possible to avoid surgery... for about 7 years. It got to be intolerable and so(based on my neurologist rehab doc's advice)I had the surgery. Fusion at c45 & c56. This helped the numbing and tingling for a while, but the pain has persisted. The surgery was 4 years ago. The last two years have been my worst. I know I have spurs and also degenerative arthritis in my neck, but I didn't suspect any other disks might be involved.

    Recently I went to see a new Pain doc, cause my old one left the practice. I was taking a lot of pain meds & neurontin for years. This new pain doc doesn't do drugs and wants to see a new mri and is having me consider an implanted CSC - like a tens unit under the skin and attached into my spinal canal. This would come with a remote for changing the intensity and pulsating action as needed. I don't know if i like the idea.

    The burning that I feel is in my right forearm and upper arm, shoulder blade muscle and up the right side of my neck and face. This doc leads me to believe that it's permanent damage to the nerves that is wearing on my muscles surrounding them. I will get the mri but also a second opinion with a new doc. Good luck to you and I hope to hear more about how you're coming along.
  • Howdy Pain in the Neck, and thank you for your reply. :-)I have a "trauma" history, but according to my NS, it is too far in the background to have caused my slowly degenerating disk issues. I was hit by a drunk driver (rear end) in 81, crashed a helicopter in 84 (messed up myself from the neck to the tail bone! 8 months of therapy to get back to work on that one.) Then in 2002 another jerk hit and ran me through an intersection...wow, that hurt the ole neck!!! The pain from that did go away for 5+ years....

    For my C5/6 I "put up" with the pain for about a year and a half. Basically I have been a pilot for 30 years, and 1/2 of that is flying helicopters wearing a helmet and many times at night, night vision goggles - a lot of abnormal weight on the noggin! Once the pain started with what I later learned was herniation at C5/6, I stopped flying with goggles. The C6/7 from what I have now learned is "normal" to be an issue after fusion at the higher level! It just doesn't normally happen a bit over a year later - as I stated...hehe...I signed the wrong warranty!!!

    I have a Stand up MRI on Monday as my pain has now increased to BEYOND what it was before the surgery. It isn't directly in the neck, but if you can picture it, it feels like some 300lb dude is standing on my shoulders and pushing straight down! Major painful. What scares me is it is out both sides now instead of just the right side. My NS used (as you can see in my Avatar) an "wing thing" instead of the standard screws and plate for this fusion support. I don't know if that has anything to do with it, but that is the only thing that is different. I (believe it or not - and hopefully this doesn't come out wrong as I am NOT a fan of the knife) HOPE they see what the heck is going on with this MRI. I really don't want to hear "But I don't see anything wrong, you shouldn't have any pain." Or something to that effect!! Grrr....In just a week, I can now only feel my middle finger and thumb on the right hand, and in certain positions of my arms, I get "tingles" in my middle and ring fingers of both hands! Fingers crossed on this go around! Thanks for listening! I will post an update either way next week. Thanks again!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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