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Exercise after ACDF surgery? + how long after

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi everyone -

I am scheduled for July 29th, for c4/c5 acdf surgery. However, I am aware that things can change once he is in there. I have a cyst that has eaten away my verterbrea of c6 so I am not sure as of yet what the plans are if any to address that.

I finally signed up for a 1/2 marathon in March 2010, and although my dr said I should be fine to do it --- I wanted to see if anyone who was active as far as running has been able to resume it. Before I was running 25 miles a week, nothing major but having four children I truly miss not being able to do it (Feb last time I ran) my neck and arm pain is just too much. When I wear my ipod on my wrist/arm it feels like I have a 50 pd weight on it.

any thoughts?????


  • Ok, I am scared now that NO ONE REPLIED!!!! or is it because you are unable to have an active lifestyle after this surgery?????

  • well this is a toughie. I would do a walk marathon first. Because of the fatigue after the operation your muscles wont be in shape by then. I don't think your neck muscles will be up for it to be honest. It took me a full year to finally feel normal. I had 2 levels done and fusion took 3 or 4 months. During that time you wear this hard cervical collar and running isn't one of your instructions. Walking is however.
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • i guess it depends on your health prior to the operation,how your body is able to handle the operation.I've heard some people after there operation do really well and do things i could never do even now over a year out.But then again i had alot of physical problem because of the spinal cord damage.There was a woman on here a long time ago who did start running again very soon after her operation which i thought was amazing and it didn't seem to bother her.So there is hope that you could do it.I'm sure she got better fast and just doesn't come on here anymore.Good luck with your operation.
  • TAMMYC -

    thank you so much for posting, I was starting to get worried that life after the surgery is doom. i have four young children so i have no choice other than being active, i am not pixie thin but a normal "italian" size 8 - hence i love to eat and cook.

    i am just so tired of saying i cant do anything because of my neck, which is why i want to have the surgery done. if my life is not going to change, then maybe being in pain is worth it otherwise i will blow up :)

    again, thank you for letting me know it is possible
  • As every one said its differnet for everyone and main thing is listen to you're surgeon.

    all i can tell you is how mine went a few years ago. I had ACDF on C6/C7. I was ecourged to walk as much as i felt comfortable with pretty much right after the surgery. I was not allowed to run till i was fused which was 5 months after the surgery. The ACDF has not bothered my running although i pretty much stick to trail running these days because being older now and trails easier on my knees.

    good luck on you surgery.
  • Robert -

    From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU for posting that you run too :) I was really starting to get worried, I have a 1/2 that I signed up for in March 2010 and I figure as long as I get back out there in November I should be fine (I think, hope, pray)

    When I was running, when I wore my ipod on my arm it felt like it weighed 50 pounds so needless to say I am so excited just to wear my ipod without actually feeling it :)

    Again, thank you!
  • don't be scared - you'll do fine
    I know it's easy for me to say, but recovery depends soooooooooooo much on the individual ---- you sound very active and so eager to get this over with to become yourself again... you're one of the ones why they say "everyone is different" -----
    alot of people sit around & complain about everything, because they can.......
    take care....
  • I miss running. I was running 36 miles a week before my injury. I had an ACDF in March and I may need another surgery soon on the other two discs. They only fixed one out of the three. I honestly don't plan on running again and I'm crushed by it. I should of had a 3 level fusion in the beginning.

    I'm sure you will do well in the 1/2 marathon. Good luck. :)
  • Swim-mom, I can understand your concern. I had a surgery on C5/C6/C7 in on 2/28/09. I had just run the Disney half marathon in Jan. I had no feeling in my left arm/hand the whole way. Much to my surprise my running came to a halt when I found out I had two herniated discs. I too am very eager to run. My doctor tells me 6 months. I should start running by my follow up at the beginning of Sept. I am planning to do a half 11/22/09.This might be pushing it but if I can't run it I will walk to the finish. I have been going to the gym. I am trying to do whatever I can so when I get the go ahead to run my body is ready. I ride the bike, treadmill and eliptical. I also do light weights. Tonight I just came in from my 5 mile walk. I keep hoping to see someone who has already gone this road to get their opinions but I haven't found anyone yet. So maybe I can help you since I am eager to do the same things.
    It is frustrating to go from being so active to doing nothing. I just started feeling better at about 14 weeks post-op. I still have pain in my arm and no feeling in my thumb. Only time will tell how that goes. At 9 weeks I had begun to fuse so I hope at 6 monts I'll be all set.
    I hope all goes well with you and I'll be happy to answer any questions for you.

  • well my scar is still covered by dressing, had surgery 2 days ago, but it doesn't seem like it goes in that direction. i also was rear-ended. can't wait to start running again my arms feel normal but my shoulders are killing me along with my neck. good luck with your recovery
  • i feel better in my arms, ask for benadryl in the hospital it will stop the itching and help you sleep. just had surgery two days ago.
  • Hi Chanelle -

    Thank you for posting, sorry in my delay but life has been crazy :)

    Did your dr, say you would be clear to run again? or is that just what you are hoping to do?
  • I am really glad you posted this thread. I can relate so much. I am also very active and was wondering how long it takes to start exercising.

    I had a posterior cervical fusion at C4/5 level. I used to run 25 miles before I dislocated my neck. I really want to get back to running. I was planning on doing my first marathon in December, but I dont think that it is going to happen. Right now I am 8 weeks post-op and feeling much better. Lately, I have been swimming so that at least I can do something. I hate being kept up in the house all summer.

    Chanelle, I also would like to know how you are doing now.
  • I think you should be fine, but you'll have to listen to your body. July 30th will be my one month mark out of ACDF surgery. It isn't that bad and one great tip is to make sure you get cough drops. They do wonders for your throat afterwards. My throat wasn't bad at all and the cough drops just help the tiny discomfort I had. You'll do awesome and I just keep in my head that at least I'm trying to get better. We're brave little soldiers!

  • i was i pretty good shape before my surgery nov 13/09. i didnt try any exercising except walking for first 10 weeks. after that i took it slow by using my total gym for a few weeks at the low levels. worked my way up to free weights and cardio till i had a good routine every day. while i was off i had gained 30lbs and 6 inches on my waist! now im 8 months out and ive lost 25 lbs and 7 inches on my waist. i just started running last week a mile a day to get in shape for soccer reffing in sept. im now in better shape than i ever have been. before surgery i had bad arm pains that kept me from lifting a lot so you should be ok to run the minithon next yr. just take it easy on the training. if something hurts take a day or two off. dont push it! good luck!!
  • Hi,

    Swim-mom, my doctor says that in 6 months I should be free to run again. I'll let you know at the end of the month if that was a reality or not. I see my Dr.again on the 27th.
    I have to say, I have been working out like I stated before. This past week we were on vacation so I have done nothing and let me tell you, I am sore as ever again. I don't know if it the lack of exercise or sleeping in a different bed but I feel it. I'm heading back to the gym first thing in the morning.
    Shadowinthenight- It took me a long time til I started feeling good again, at about 4 months I was feeling great. Today, I am sore but I am hoping it will go away. I don't think I could have done anything to damage myself so I don't understand it. I think by now I should be well under way to fusion. I think it's normal to have good days and bad but I think exercise really helps. I still have numbness but I am told that can take up to a year to heal.
    Like Cliffy1012 I feel like I am in better shape now than before my surgery!
  • Wow, I am so glad that I found this thread. Here I am, in the hospital, about to face an ACDF surgery tomorrow morning at the c5-c6 level and quite frankly, completely terrified. All other threads I had read on this surgery were incredibly scary regarding resuming a normal, active lifestyle. I have been a surfer for over 25 years and an avid cyclist, tri-athlete, skateboarder and outdoor activity nut. After perusing these forums I was about to give up. My surgeon had told me that he has operated on professional football players in the past with great results (he did advise me not to do high impact spots such as skateboarding anymore, though). I'm really interested in hearing what some of you followed as a regimen for getting back to an active lifestyle again. I want nothing more than to be able to surf again and also teach my 11 year old daughter and 3 year old son how to surf, as well. Right now I feel as thing my life is pretty much over. Any suggestions as to the first few weeks, months of physical therapy to ensure he best success? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
  • Shadowsurfs, good luck with your surgery tomorrow! I'm just over 12 weeks post-op and my best advice is to take it easy until you start to gain strength again. I just injured myself last week trying to open a window that was jammed. It has taken me over a week to bring myself back to my baseline. Honestly, recovery hasn't been bad minus the setbacks I created. My symptoms are all on the left side, so I've been compensating on the right side. I was also very active prior to surgery, but the year before surgery, I had to give up running and was only allowed to walk. I can't wait to be able to get on some roller blades now that the weather is warming up. Good luck tomorrow and let us know how how it went! :)
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • So live this thread......thanks ti the original poster even though it was a few years ago I find this thread helpful. I had anterior cervical discectomy fusion done to my c5-c6 April 26th 2011. I am exactly one month out. I am so glad I had the surgery because I am out of the pain I was in everyday. Before my surgery I ws very active. Running, biking, weight lifting etc....I am having a very hard time not excersizing. I go for three mile walks.....that's it'. I wear my bone stimulated 22 hours a day in the hope that it will get me there quicker. I am having a hard time dealing with the fact that I am four months away from my wedding, and I have never felt so bad about the way look as I do now. I need to know when i can get back in action. My neck still hurts by the end of my day but I di take it easy for the most part. I don't life heavy things and Are super carful. Ayone out there that had gone back in after one month?
  • if you were active before surgery or had an active job like mine.(mail man) it shouldnt take you long. get on a cardio machine or bike at first. remember you body has been innactive from strain. anything you do is gonna hurt after. (funny story): i got the WII drum set for Christmas 1 month after surgery.(AC/DC version) felt pretty good so i played for a long time. next morning woke up in real pain in my biceps. thought i did something bad and forgot i had played the WII the day before. so any kind of workout is goig to have pain. even if its swinging the drum sticks.
  • I second the motion to get on a bike after surgery, but not necessarily a road bike. I personally love spinning classes at our local rec center -- it is really hard to hurt yourself in this environment! That is, there is nothing to make you lose your balance while you work out and you can get your heart rate up to the levels you are accustomed to while running.

    I had C5 and C6 fused 2 weeks ago and am feeling great but a bit weak--probably because of all the medications I have been given and the lack of activity. Just a bit of tingling in my left hand and a small amount of nerve pain under the left shoulder blade. This too shall pass. Today I went for a 30 minute walk and then practiced putting (golf) with a long/chest high putter later on. Before surgery, I participated in yoga, weight lifting and spinning classes 3x each every week. My surgeon specifically approved spinning for me next.

    As an aging athlete I want to tell you this is my 12th surgery and that I have always found that if you can be very patient immediately afterward and treat your body respectfully you will be rewarded for this.
  • I'm so glad this thread popped up as active again. I've only recently been diagnosed with c5-c6 extruded disc (7mm) with spinal compression along with slight bulging at c4-5 and c6-7, and after today's visit with the surgeon I wasn't very hopeful regarding. Prior to this I had just become more active again - back in the gym, slowly working up to running my first half-marathon within a year - and the surgeon basically said that would be completely off my to-do list for good. I know everyone is different, but seeing here that people do continue to do these activities after ACDF really lifted my spirits.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    hi Kristie,
    I gotta agree with Aging Gym Rat, being I am one myself. Of course we must listen to our Dr's and follow pre/post op procedure. But never count yourself out on what you cannot do. Patience is the key as pointed out above. I have found that I have gone above and beyond my expectations in my workout routine and I now have the motivation to continue to push myself to goals that are safe to attain without ruining what I have already gained.
    Just take your time, you will have setbacks, but don't let that get you down.
    You can do this!
  • i too am very active in the gym and do Tri. Were you able to be active after surgery like you hoped? how did it go for you?
  • Zack said:
    don't be scared - you'll do fine
    I know it's easy for me to say, but recovery depends soooooooooooo much on the individual ---- you sound very active and so eager to get this over with to become yourself again... you're one of the ones why they say "everyone is different" -----
    alot of people sit around & complain about everything, because they can.......
    take care....

    I know this is an old comment but THANK YOU for saying this! It helped me a lot and tomorrow I'm going to get back to living and at least try to be productive. I want my life back and the only way that's going to happen is to just try do and what IU used to do before. Before this I walked 5 miles a day-couldn't when the pain set in from the spinal stenosis. I think what happens is that sometimes we just let the pain take control of our lives and forget that before it happened we lived a productive life.

    I'm going to call the NS tomorrow and ask what type of exercise equipment I can use. We have a clubhouse with several exercise machines. I would rather be out walking but with the weather it's hard-I don't want to fall on any ice.

    I'm also going to ask when I can start sewing again-I see my NS in two weeks so maybe I can get some answers. I'm also going to avoid people who stress me out which seems to be the long lost family members who found me on facebook.

    Thanks for the kick in the ass!
  • Post op 6 weeks with one level fusion. I am itching to run. Walking is so s-l-o-w! What is the earliest one has taken to the streets without causing trouble ?
    ACDF C 6-7. July 25, 2014
  • Jeff4lifeJJeff4life Posts: 1
    edited 09/07/2014 - 8:52 PM
    I had my surgery 8/6/14, I was out of my collar by 8/21/14. I also had a bone graft from my hip, by which was put in my neck and it's slightly painful now in my hip. I don't wear the neck brace anymore.
    , and there's no neck pain, just tension and slight pain in the shoulders along the neck once in a while. I'm careful about turning my neck, as you loose 10% turning left of right for good after the surgery. The fusion takes about 3-6 months depending on the individual. I must say, I believe I'm healing far quicker than the average person. I want to run so bad, but I know my Insides are still healing. I will follow the doc instruction, when he gives the approval to work out again. Walking morning, noon, and Evening is encouraged to avoid putting on more weight. Diet is very important during the healing process as well. Good luck on those who receive the surgery. The 1st 2weeks are the most uncomfortable healing moments. After the 2 weeks it's smooth sailing.
  • csbassccsbass Posts: 1
    edited 03/01/2015 - 10:58 AM
    I love to run and have a marathon scheduled in November. Anyone have Os odontoideum in respect to c1/2 and run again?
  • So how did it turn out my I ask how soon after the surgery did you start walking and how much a day 
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