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ACDF C5C6 8wks post op

txmemaw5ttxmemaw5 Posts: 35
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Have had some type of problems with neck for yrs. Went to chiroptactor for 2 yrs, only to get worse..Got into NS and found out problem..Had xrays and MRI..DDD..C5C6 almost gone..also collapsed bone in area..causing alot of discomfort/pain..had taken hydrocodone and muscle relaxers for yrs..had ACDF surgery on Aug.6, 2009. C5C6 discs were replaced with synthetic material discs, have a plate with 4 screws, rod replaced collapsed bone..I only had to wear hard collar for 1 mo while in car riding. At 2 wks post op, started wearing bone growth stimulator for 4 hrs aday for 3 months. I don't like this, it bothers me alot but am dealing with it if it'll help the healing process.
Went for c-up at 4 wks, doing good, can drive again, resume few more activities. Still no heavy lifting over 5 lbs.
Sometimes average pain med 1 daily..I can feel different things going on in neck..due to healing process. Have had couple bad headaches..not daily which is good. The place above incision is still numb, dr says may come back later on. He says it could be 6 mos before I am back to normal. Everyone heals at their own rate. I hope I fuse fast but can see now A LONG RECOVERY PROCESS. I have to be patient. But I do have a light at the end of the tunnel now..My problem now is sleeping at night..finding the right pillow and right position to get comfortable...


  • tried alot of pillows...start off night fine..about midnite it's downhill..can't find comfortable position and it's toss n' turn rest of nite...suggestions welcome...
  • Your post here sounds as if you have a good surgeon, since you know what & what not to expect from the surgery. Complete opposite of me. They say 3-6 months on average for healing. Did you have it done from the front or back of neck. It is hard to get comfortable, I know. Then when you finally get to sleep, you wake up in pain again. Vicious cycle. They just told me "do whatever it takes to get comfortable" & the surgery was a success!
    I hope you can find comfort during your recovery. Almost impossible, huh?
    hugs to you >:D<
  • Thanks for post..yes I had a great NS whom I trust completely. My surgery was done from the front. I was scared of this from beginning. I can still tell I have abit of swelling when swallowing. But gets better each day.I've had a good support system..I am not very good with patience..so am having to work on that..nighttime is the hardest for me. I wish u lots of luck on your condition and hope all gets better with time...
    take care...
  • Duplicate post removed by moderator paulgla. Please read the forum rules.
  • I had the same procedure as you 8 wks ago. I have been doing pt for 7 of those wks. when I went for my 6 wk ck up the xray showed the plate had moved a little because one of the screws went into soft bone. the NS told me if I was in pain that day that we would have gone back to surgery. the NS said that normally he would have seen me in 6mo but due to this screw he wanted to see me again in a month and told me to be sure to call him if I was having any pain in my right arm. The NS also said now I don't want you to worry about this let me worry. The NS showed me the xray of the surgery the day I had it done and also the xray that i had that day. That was 2 wks ago and about 1 week ago I started having the dull boring ache on the outside of my right arm starting from the top of the shoulder down to the finger with no tingling. I have a call in to the doctor now to report the pain. Have you had any problems with the screws not staying in place?
  • Am so sorry to hear about ur problem...No I haven't had any problems (so far) with the screws..Now this scares me...I haven't done any PT yet, and still no heavy lifting..I guess I'm being extra careful..am so afraid of going backwards instead of foreward... I go back Nov 5 for c-up/exrays..I hold my breathe every day hoping for a good day..let me know how u do..I had no idea when I had this surgery it would take so long to recover from it..do u have the bone growth stimulator to wear..I do..4 hrs a day for 7 more wks..i hate it but am tolerating it for speedier fusion.....I know u've heard it before but "hang in there", I myself am searching for "patience" every day and taking it one day at a time...take care..
  • Thanks for responding. I have been wearing the bone growth stimulator for 4 hrs a day since day of surgery 7-27-09. I wish I would have found this site when I was first told about acdf. It's like I never ask the right or enough questions to the NS. I am 58 so I guess the soft bone is due to osteoarthritis, but I am not sure as I didn't ask the NS what that meant. I have questions now that I am writing down next visit is 10-8. One question would be did the bone get soft after the surgery and if it was already soft couldn't you see that or know of it when you put the screw in. Again thanks so much for the response. I am hoping to see if there are others out there who have had the plate move and if it has caused any problems. The NS gave me the impression that if I had pain that he would have to do a revision and that is the last thing I want.

  • Jewell,
    Your Ns is probably hoping to get you through the fusion process, at which time he/she can remove the plate. The hardware is not really needed wants fusion has taken place. However most don't remove it, as it isn't causing a issue. No since taking unnecessary risk in surgery.
  • I am wishing the best for ya..I always write down ?'s to take to the dr..I too wish I had found this site alot sooner..I am 56 and can keep up with what to expect or what might could happen..are u having trouble at night..i start off good till about 2 and then downhill. I've used 4 different types of pillows..do alot of switching between them from 2 till 7. I hope all goes according to,,,I'd hate to see you have to go thru this again...my next ? would be...if the NS does it again..what will he use this time if the plate moved the 1st time.....sending ya a hug & happy thoughts.....
  • I too had the same surgery on Aug 24, so I am a bit behind you in the healing process. I have found that sleeping on a low wedge is the best for me, and I bought a water pillow that I use. I am in a lot of pain, all of which my surgeon said is normal. My surgeon has not said anything to me about the fusion stimulator, but if it helps fusion happen, I think it sounds great.

    I am so sorry to hear that your proublem with the screw. I called my surgeon yesterday because I am having tingling going donw my arms at times, and also pain in my tumb, he said it's normal and said my nerves have a lot of healing to do. I don't go back to see him till Sept. 30, which is when I will probably have my x rays taken and will see how it is doing....I sure hope this is normal! I have also been getting a lot of headaches almost every day, which I think is coming from my aching shoulders, they are making me nauseous, did you have anything like that?

    I went for 4 opinions on this surgery all said that I had no choice but to do it. I had a large osteophyte compressing the cord and exiting nerve root by MRI, in actuallity my surgeon said it was a large osteophyte which came off easily and then there were also 3 smaller ones under it, which also came off easily.

    Have to admit all the pain I am in is making me feel as if something is wrong, just hope that when I see him and x rays are done that everything is normal.

    Oh, I also have a low grade pain in the area of the disc, does anyone else have pain there?

    I too am glad I found this site.

  • fortunately I am sleeping thru the night I sleep with a cervical pillow...kinda looks like a long tube that has been smashed in the middle. my NS never really said what the problem would be if the plate moved. I have a call into him so his PA can answer some of these questions. Thanks again for the hug and happy thoughts
  • I guess I need to ask the NS if I am fusing or not. I understand that the plate is only to stablize so the bone can fuse. I don't beleive he intends to take the plate out after it is fused. I was just wondering if anyone else had a problem with screws going into soft bone. I continue to have a constant ache from top of right shoulder down to little finger. This is a dull ache and pain ranges between 7-8. Thanks for responding this site is very helpful

  • I was taking oxycotin (10mg) at 8am and 8 pm as well as lyrica for pain. Because strong narcotics make me sick to my stomache they prescribed promethazine (25mg) that I took with the oxycotin and I never got sick. I stayed on this medication for four weeks. The pain eased up quite a bit it has only been in the last two weeks that this dull ache started up again. I also have a tens unit that I use for the muscle spasms that I have in my shoulders. I use that 4 or 5 times a day for 45 minutes and it really helps the spasms. Nothing seems to help the deep dull constant ache in my right arm. I wore a Miami J collar for 7 weeks. I found it to be very comfortable so I even slept in it for the first 4 weeks. I started PT a week after surgery and I am still going 3 times a week.

    My case is a workers comp and I had 2 opinions prior to surgery. One was from an Orthopedic and the other from a NS because they both came up with the same thing I went with the NS for the surgery. I hope your pain lets up a little. I am not having the pain you describe in the area of the disc.

    Hang in there
  • I am so sorry that you have had pain in the recovery process, but have to admit to you made me feel more that what I am experiencing is normal. I have been on the fentanyl pain patch for a long time, and have taken 2mg dilaudid for break thru pain. Now I am still using the patch, but also taking 4mg dilaudid for pain 6 hours (when I need it, but don't like taking it to often) and anaflex which is a muscle relaxer every 8 hours. For a stomach problem I have I have marinol in the house, and have taken this too for pain. In the first 2 weeks after surgery I was taking less medication for pain then I am taking now. I am doing some isometric exercises that my surgeon said to do, but he had said no PT till I see him the next time. For the first 2 weeks I was wearing a Philadelphia Trach Collar, which I found very uncomfortable, and now am wearing a soft collar except when in the car when again I put the hard collar on. I am finding that my scalp hurts from the soft collar, and did from the hard collar too....

    Going into this surgery my symptoms actually started with tingling in my rt leg and foot when I looked down. This soon went to my arms with both tingling and pain, with a feeling that my tumb on rt hand was broken. I was told on exam to have weakness in both legs and arms, and wrist and fingers on my rt hand. I have DDD and had large osteophyte, at surgery surgeon said this came off easily and that he found 3 more under the large one that also came off easily. He said the cord opened up immediately and fluid was able to flow normaly. Without the surgery all surgeons told me I would loose use of my arms and legs, I was left with no choice.

    As for my back history, I was in a car accident in 2000, had a lumbar decompression in January 2001 L4-S1 because of nerve root impingement of the S1 nerve root, I woke up incontinent. At the time of surgery I knew I had herniated discs buldges and herniations starting at C2-C7, and 2 herniated discs slightly compressing the cord in the thorastic spine. The guy that hit me was leaving the scene of an armed robbery, I was stopped at a sign, and he went thru the back of my Avalon into my backseat. I also found out during my first mylogram that since birth I have had spina bifida occulta and that I was born missing 2 bones on the lower lumbar discs, and that my entire spinal column is narrow, which the doctors originally thought was the reason so many herniated. All of this is now history.

    Before I had this surgery I went for 4 consultations. 1 other surgeon suggested doing the single level that my surgeon did. 1 other thought I should have 2 levels and one surgeon thought 3 levels. I also have issues with my lumbar spine, and 2 of the surgeons I saw thought after this surgery, that I should have fusion of L2-S1.

    I wish you a fast full recovery!

  • Sleeping has been horrible but it was before the surgery was well. I asked the dr if I should try to use my cervical pillow and he stated no and that might've been due to the extent of damage. (Honestly, that pillow was never comfortable for me anyways!) So check before doing so. My neck was in pretty sad shape and I ignored the pain and numbness until one morning I awoke to not being able to use my left arm at all and a few days later I had surgery. He said yes I had a lot of nerve damage but it went further than that for me. I actually do have spinal cord damage and things are waking up now. I was lucky and didnt have the swallowing issue and my incision was never sore. But the spasms have been unreal at times, forearm spasm and shin spasms are much worse than the normal back and leg spasms I have felt in the past. Feels like the muscle is ripping from the bone. I have regain some control of my bladder and the leg issues have started to subside. I do consider this a success due to I can use my arm again.
    The PM doctor added to my oxy 40mg 3x a day, lortab 10 8x day and celebrex 200 2x day something called Zonegran with is a seizure drug to bring me down at nights to help me sleep. I have to build up to 3 a night and currently just taking one. Last night I actually sleep 4 hours straight, havent done that in a very long time. I hate taking this amount of drugs but my neck pain isnt the only issue I have to deal with and I wouldnt be able to walk without these meds.
    Hope your recovery remains on track and if I ever figure out how to sleep I will share it with EVERYONE.
    Take care.
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