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ACDF Sept 16th 2009

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,670
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I just had surgery on Wed both discs between C4 and C6. I just wanted to post my experience so far so good had a lot of pain the day of surgery but it is getting better rapidly, I was very surprised after reading so many negative experiences but after two days I am able to swallow just fine (a little sore of course)my arms are much better with an occasional spasm in the shoulder area. Neck hurts some but nothing compared to what I had expected. I had a great Surgeon he has done hundreds of these and I really feel I was blessed in that dept. I will post again in a few days but I just wanted some of preop folks it is not the same for everyone you tomay have a good experience

Steve G.


  • not many folks come in right off the bat and report such success. you bring to us a ray of hope. good to meet you and glad youre here to share such joy....pete
  • Steve-- it sounds as if your post op is going great. I had a lumbar fusion this week on Monday. I came home today. I too am having a fairly good experience: little back pain, surgical pain is there but if someone going to cut open your abs and move your organs it should be sore. I feel blessed to have had a great surgical team and recovery in a hospital that has a spine wing. I felt great about the level of experience. I hope you continue to heal well. It's nice to see a positive experience.
  • I had mine two weeks ago and I am improving daily. Just being able to use my left arm again was enough for me. I am glad to hear someone else had a great result. I really believe several think its a quick cure to all pain. Well, it does relieve some pain at first but it takes time for the rest to come along. I am happy and proud of you for posting you good results. Take care and keep us updated.
    I will tell you a week afterwards I started to have spasms in several places but it compares nothing to the pain before and I know those nerves are just healing.

    Again, take care...
  • Day 4 still doing well have a few spasm's in the shoulders every once in a while and the neck still hurts to some degree all the time. It appears the rapid recovery phase is over I'm afraid small gains at this point but still improving daily. The pain is quite bearable now though, and i've even started to cut back on the pain killers somewhat! Going to head up to my cabin tomorrow for some quality R&R I have miles of nice flat walking paths and it seem's thats about all I'm allowed to do for a few weeks so I may as well take in the nice scenery up there tree's are changing color up in northern Minn already.
  • I admit I have had really good luck since my surgery, and if the doc came back in a year and said I had to do it again I would. I felt like I was stoved up from a car accident but the pain and weakness was so much better and now I have no weakness in my left hand. I see each week with new results that are positive. I just wish everyone would have been as lucky as I was with my recovery.
  • It is so good to hear that you are doing so well. I also had surgery in the same area back in March of this year and it does take a few months to get over it, but it does get better.

    God Bless
  • Excellent to hear good news.
  • Well have i got a lot to tell ya :)
    Day 5 headed up to the lake, ate a crispy chicken sandwich for lunch at Mc D's and Pizza for dinner appetite was really good and I was actually feeling fairly well.
    Day six things went down hill in a hurry woke up feeling very light headed and nausiated. for two days I would get up and throw up, take my pain meds lay down again (no food for me thanks) get up an hour later and the cycle started over again. Neck was swollen so my wife took me in to the ER worried sick. They said normal post-op swelling. Went home and called the NS they said it was because they had me on steroids for the swelling for 4 days and when your system is on steroids you quit making them it takes about 3 days for your body to realize it thus the swelling.
    That was also when i was told about the soft diet for a while, chrispy chicken and hard crust pizza are not a good idea. I was lucky nothing got lodged in my swollen esophogus since I was eating like I was completely healed already.
    Day 8 I finally said to heck with the pain meds they were not helping I prefer to deal with the pain rather than stay nausiated and sick constantly.
    Day 9,10,11 slow progress pain wise eating like a horse to make up for lost time.
    Day 12 OUCH! They kept asking me my pain level while I was in the hospital I think worst case the day of the surgery I had said 6 and most of the time 3 or 4. This afternoon I decided to lay down for an hour (recovery right) laying on my right side I reached back over my left shoulder with my left arm to pull the blanket up and it felt like I got hit in the shoulder with a tazer gun 9.9 on the pain scale worst pain I have EVER experienced. Pain subsided after an hour or so felt like I got hit with a lead pipe all the way across the back of both shoulders for the rest of the evening. I took a muscle relaxer and a couple of extra strength tylenol and things seem to have settled down. Guessing I pinched an already irritated nerve man did that smart!
    Throat is a little better neck seems to improve a little each day from what I'm reading here no two of us experience the same recovery but being able to read others personal experiences is way better than getting it from any surgeon or nurse I am very dissapointed in the lack of information I was given on post op care all they told me when I left the hospital was no lifting over 5lbs and no driving. Would have been nice to have been given more on what to expect post-op I would have done things a little differently.

    Starting to realize this aint gonna get better overnight, someone here posted progress is not measured in weeks but months beginning to see that now :) More later thanks for listening.
  • Steve,
    I am not sure if you are in a collar or not. I only have to wear mine while riding in a car. The other night I had some sinus drainage and felt it on the back of my throat. All of a sudden I couldn't breath or swallow. I turned beat red in the face. My husband pulled over and I jumped from the car and pulled the collar from my neck. It relieved the choking. I would not had thought drainage would had choked me that way but I wanted you to be aware. You stated you are also in a part of the country where the leaves are changing and I didn't want you to be surprised if you feel this. Just pull the collar off and it will relieve the pressure.

    Best of luck to ya.
  • Traci, i have the soft collar which i was told was primarily for my comfort I wear it when out walking and when riding in the car only for the most part. Also use it to hold my ice packs in place, I too have experienced the choking feeling learned real quick not to put it on too tight :)
  • Anyone experiencing pain in the shoulders and rotator cup area? I'm pretty sure it's just the nerves recovering from the surgery. I had similar pain before the surgery from the nerves being pinched just wondering how long before that goes away.

    Thanks in advance
  • Hello Convert, I don't have experience with the ACDF Yet. But I have had experience with nerve compression issues in my arms. The answer to your questions is ?????? I was told it depends on how long there was compression and how much damage might have been done. Rule of thumb I have read is nerves heal at a snail's pace of 1mm per day. I have also read that nerves can take a year or more to settle down.

    Now the real ACDF warriors can probably give you a more accurate answer.
  • ...so I'm about 1 month ahead of you. Yeah, I'm positive on the recovery and think it is going faster than expected, but it is basically getting better day-by-day. I learned in the first two-weeks to be patient or I by pushing could cause some pain. I stopped taking pain pills 2 days after surgery and rely on Tylenol and occasionally one oxycodone at night if I had a long day (I've only gone through 6 of the 60 pills they gave me).

    I'm getting better but feel that until I get clearance to stretch, lift and exercise I've basically slowed my improvement considerably - I'm almost at a plateau. My shoulders are stiff, but buzzing in hands and shoulders are gone where a few weeks ago it was still an occasion thing. Only nerve "thing" left is occasional "crawling" and "cold" feeling in mid-upper back between and above shoulder blades - and that is lessening each week.

    I get x-rayed in 3-days to check on fusion and hoping to get clearance to start trying to exercise again. I anticipate that to be a step back in terms of pain / discomfort but ultimately a huge step ahead in getting back to normal. I still think my recovery has been best-case scenario to-date...this is just something that takes time and patience. Good luck!
  • Xray's showed fusion is coming along nicely, and I was ok'd to drive again woo hoo! Neck still aches all the time and still get some pain in the shoulders and arms but that seems to be easing up slowly but surely. I am now allowed to lift 15-20lbs although he still wants me to take it easy. I was told to try to do without my soft collar as much as possible so pretty much only wearing it occasionally to hold an ice pack in place when it really starts to ache. He also prescribed PT for the next 5 weeks 3X a week so now I have to find one up at the lake where I'm taking my recovery period in Park Rapids MN hoping I can find one there with experience in the area of ACDF otherwise it's 60 miles to the next closest town.
  • Hi all, first post but have been lurking around these forums for a couple of months now. Honestly, I was a little reserved about reading these pre-op. I didn't want to go into my surgery with spooky pre-conceived notions about successes or failures. Also, my ACDF surgery is not as common here - YET. Done with cages and infused with BMP vs. bone grafts. BMP is a bone stimulating substance. The pro's to this procedure vs. using human bone is less healing time and less risk of rejection. My neck "should" fuse at 3-4 mo. There are many forums posted about the traditional types of ACDF with bone grafts so of course, healing with bone will be different. Also, I'm a nurse but I'm not an expert in this area -- in fact, I don't practice nursing at all as I've been in the pharmaceutical industry for about 12 years. My medical training and ability to digest the technical aspects kept me confident up until the surgery. Now, however - like mentioned above - everyone's post op experiences are varied and different. We all had different problems going in and we'll all heal differently as noted. I too, wish that I'd received more info from the surgeon about the healing process. Almost a month post op now - I think I've experienced a little of all of your forum posts above. The first week was great -- the little steroid pack made me feel instantly stronger. Alas, that's worn off and I sit day to day (I'm on STD from work until cleared) and take note of my numerous ailments. Nerve healing will be something I'll address with the Dr. tomorrow for my 1 month visit but I'm more likely to be educated on my own by googling. Anyway - I'm glad I have some cohorts to share my experiences with. The shoulder blade just started hurting today after I said to myslef yesterday that I was so relieved it hadn't given me any pain. Slowly, the old pains are returning but I have to remember, I did have a C7 fusion and post op, the surgeon made a note to tell me that my spurs were "impressive" (huh?) Well, rather large and he could see how I was experiencing the pain. Thanks, Doc. . My ultimate measure of failure will be if the R forearm and shoulder blad pain does not go away. That is the reason I had the surgery in the first place ---it makes my job miserable to sit and type. Oh, and the occipital migraines...
    Other than all of that ramble, I'm trying to wean of the pain meds but I'm 41 and it's really hard to sit still and do nothing. I have a 18 year old who lives with me and she helps when she's here. Oh, and my surgeon said no PT until the bone could be seen as fused or "healed" which optimally will happen around 4 mo. I also wore no collar. I have a script if I want to pick it up but he told me my choice. That freaked everyone out for a bit...anyway, off to bed (recliner was a no-go) for a comfortable night's sleep (ha). Will post an update after I see the Dr. tomorrow.
  • Neck pain has subsided, not gone but very tolerable. However the arm and shoulder pain that keeps nagging me is no better. If I put my arms out to the side and try to raise them I can feel it through the bicep and shoulder (rotator cup area). In my 3rd week of PT but they are not doing much other than working on the scar tissue on my neck from the incision and a couple of really weak neck exercises. I did not anticipate the arm and shoulder pain although it sounds like many people experience the same thing just hope mine is normal and there isn't something else wrong in there. I am supposed to go back to work in a couple of weeks (I sit on a computer for the better part of the day) but if I spend more than 10 - 20 mins starting at the monitor I get a serious neck ache so not sure how thats gonna go. Hard to know whats normal here since everyones recovery is so different.
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