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3 level acdf experience so far (5 weeks post op)

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi -
I just wanted to write about my positive experience (so far) with surgery and recovery because there seems to be a lot of people who are experiencing more pain after acdf surgery.

Before my surgery on July 31, I had pain in my left shoulder and arm and then increasing numbness. My MRI results showed that 3 of my cervical discs had formed bone spurs which were pressing into my spinal cord. I decided to undergo surgery to get rid of the pain. At my pre-op appointment, my doctor did a run through of the dangers of the surgery and I was very scared about becoming paralyzed, damaging my vocal cords and having problems swallowing.

My surgery took four hours and I was released the next day. Most importantly, the surgery took away most of the pain from my shoulders,neck and left arm. I took painkillers the first week after surgery, but now only take a Tylenol once in a while for pain that I have in my shoulders.

The first 1 1/2 weeks it felt like I had a really bad sore throat (which I expected.) I ate soft foods and protein drinks. Now it still feels like I have a lump in my throat when I swallow, but it's not painful. I have a weird tugging sensation across my incision, but it's not really bad. I was surprised how big my incision was (almost 4 inches) and that it's almost vertical vs. horizontal.

The most helpful posting on this site for me was the POST OP MUST HAVES. The items I felt helped me most with recovery were: cough drops, bendy straws, facial cleansing cloths, grabber contraption that I bought from a pharmacy and lots of pillows. For the first week, my mom and friend split shifts in keeping me company so I was never alone. I couldn't shower or wash my hair for the first three days. I bought this dry shampoo stuff which helped.

I was dreading wearing the hard collar because I'm claustrophobic. I have to wear it for 2 months (about 3 more weeks I'll be able to wean myself from it - yay!) Now, it's not so bad - it's like wearing a big scarf! I still have trouble sleeping with it because I find it smashes into my jaw while I'm sleeping and I can hardly move my mouth in the morning, but that goes away. My doctor told me I can sleep in any position but I had to pile a bunch of pillow so I was almost in a sitting position to sleep for the first few weeks. Now, I'm sleeping while only a little propped up.

I had my four week post op appointment last week. I had xrays taken of my neck and examined by my doctor. Everything looks well and I'm supposed to see her at the end of October. She does not want me to do any physical therapy yet, no lifting, pushing or pulling, and I'm just supposed to keep walking to build up my strength. Initially my doctor said I'd be out of work 6 - 8 weeks, but I'll be going back 7 weeks after my surgery.

This website has been invaluable in helping me deal with surgery. I hope my posting will bring encouragement to people who are worried about cervical surgery and recovery

- Margaret



  • I hope you continue to heal well. That's positive news. Don't overdo it at work. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • hi booktribe...you have done justice to your name by doing your homework. by following drs orders and preparing properly you have graduated back into a better life =D>
  • I am so glad that you are doing so well.

  • What a wonderful and positive post! I just had single level cervical fusion done and did well also. Some days I forget I had it done.

    Best wishes to you,

  • Welcome here to Spine Health...
    Thankyou for the wonderful post...
    I hope you keep feeling good and have a good recovery
    I'm a neckie too.. surgery was done in Feb 09...
    Hugs to all...Patsy
  • i pretty much had the same recovery as you! had a level 2 c4-c6 acdf.did everything the doctor said and asked many questions. doing that got me back to work carrying mail and exercising. im now going into my 10th month post op and i feel great. so do as your told and your recovery will turn out great like mine.
  • Hi. I also have done well since my ACDF C6-C7 July 22. My upper arm pain, both arms, is just about gone. My very sore right thumb is totally pain free. I thought I had arthritis in it! My shoulder blade pain is gone. My legs feel much better (except for the sciatic pain that I have a SCS for). I was able to sleep in my bed from the first night. If I over do it I can my throat feels sort of closed up and lumpy inside but the physical therapist said it's swollen muscles, not hardware moving. My left thumb still has some tingling but it's less than it was and there is still plenty of time for it to get even better. To be honest, after having 4 back surgeries and ending up with the SCS I was so surprised when this surgery worked! I'm glad Booktribe and Marlilpn that you also are having good luck. I just wanted to send this because it was something positve I could post! :) Diane PS I still love my SCS!
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