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2 Level ACDF @ 2 months post-op

AaronCAAaronC Posts: 41
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Today is exactly 2-months since my 2-level ACDF. Can't beleive how time flies. Also can't beleive how good I am feeling.

My surgery was due to 2 herniated discs. Not sure exactly how they hernaited. Have heard from different docs different guesses (sports injuries, DDD, genetic, born that way, etc.) Who knows and it doesnt really matter. Either way was not expecting this at 36.

Started feeling significant pain 6 months pre-op (left arm, shoulder and back). Toughed it out for the first 90 days until I was taking 15-20 ibuprofens/day. Moved to diclofenac and was eventually chewing vicodan like candy. The pain was at times overwhelming and consumed my life.

Fast forward two months to today. I feel fantastic. I have no pain and very little side effects. Only side effect I am aware of is an on again/off again headache behind my left eye. Not a major migrane, more of a nusiance.

My scar is healing up well. I am not as self conscious about it as I was earlier. I guess time takes care of that.

Physically I am taking spinning classes, lifting weights (nothing overhead), and using an ellyptical without any issue. I am not doing any impact athletics (jogging, jumping, etc.).

I also am finding that I am no longer obsessed with my spine. For eight months it consumed my every thought. I thought my life as I knew it was over. I am glad that it's not the case.

I am tired of talking about it to co-workers and acquantences. I am not an "open" person and talking about such a personal issue makes me uncomfortable. I understand they mean well. However I am trying to move on and discussing it with people who arent close to me makes me feel weak/unmanly. I wish I had a more mature reaction but it is what it is.

I had a lot of fear pre-surgery. The level of pain I was having gave me no option but acdf. There was not a lot of good/positive info on the web. Mostly horror stories. That made my fear even greater.

I am very glad to be posting my results on this board. I found the posters here to be a big help and it was nice to know others were struggling with the same issues I was (even though i would not wish these issues on anyone).

Best of luck to all. I hope each of you continues to heal. And to those with upcoming surguries, keep your spirits up as best as possible. Although not guaranteed, good outcomes can be had.


  • Thanks for sharing. I understand about being happy not to think of your spine. That is how I felt briefly this last spring after I was mostly healed from the PLIF before the neck went bad.

  • Although I am older (47) I was surprised and shocked to find this out about myself, I had the same surgery as you about 1 month earlier. I didn't take that much ibuprofen however, but suffered severe pain for about 2 months pre-surgery. My colleagues were curious, and I answered all of their questions, we joked post surgery about some of the things I found bizarre about the whole process -- it helped me have a support system with friends and family who understood what I was experiencing -- I've worked with some of my colleagues for almost 10 years. Maybe similar to you, the more I read about it, the more nervous I got. At a certain point my insatiable curiosity was not a positive thing and neither was the internet. I stopped reading everything about it about 3 -4 weeks prior and about 2 months post. I know this is hard to believe posting on this site. Good for you on the exercise. I've done the low impact walking routine and increased my distance every day to 4.5 miles a day. Some days less, I listen to how I feel. Scars are nothing, compared to alternatives. I don't want to advertise brands on this site so I will just say I am using a silicone gel for scar reduction -- available in your local pharmacy. It seems to help.
  • Aaron,

    I am so happy for you that you are healing well and the pain is in the "rear view mirror" as they say!! I wish you a full recovery!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • You sound like you're doing great! Do you have weight restrictions? Your neck must be really strong again to take spinning classes. We have a spin bike but leaning forward is uncomfortable for me. I'm working on a treadclimber.

    Is your ROM pretty good? I understand 2 levels leaves you with far more range then my 3 level. I'm struggling a bit with ROM but am getting strong again myself. I'm at 3 months and have no weight restrictions. I have the full green light other than extreme turning of my head and high impact exercise.
  • I dont have any weight restriction. Just nothing over head. That being said, I am not going very heavy on the weights yet. More Reps with less weight.

    I was worried about the spinning but even after the first time my neck didn't bother me. Seems like it would hurt but I have found its the best cardio I can do at this stage with no negative side effects.

    My ROM is very good looking up and looking left. I have a slight loss of ROM looking downward. I also have a little ROM loss looking all the way right but I feel as though this is improving slowly.
  • I'm such a believer in "motion heals". I know for the first 6 weeks care is needed but since we have the plate and screws life opens up for us a lot earlier than when the hard collar was used.

    My PT has me getting on all fours and leaning back while doing lat pulls as well as doing wall push ups. All approved by my surgeon. My neck is quickly getting stronger and with that the pain is lessening. It did smart when I started but my neck was crazy weak. The forward lean while you spin is probably strengthening your neck. I'm sure you keep good form. I don't think your body will let you slump.

    Keep up the good work and please keep posting. I think It's helpful for others to see that hard work pays off. Taking it slow and easy but getting it going is so helpful for recovery. As my doctor and PT say. I have to be stronger than before the surgery which will be challenging because I was in peak shape. Mine is a sport injury. I was a crazy athlete LOL
  • Nice to see you posting again - welcome back. Congratulations on being a success story. I understand about being obsessed with your spine - unfortunately, I still am. But I'm so happy for you to be able to get back to a normal life. It's so important to let other members here know that it really does happen, not every surgery is a horror story.

    Take care and I hope everything continues to go well with you.

  • Hello everyone! I see most of you are further out than I am. I had C5-6 fused in 12/08 and then Nov 4th of this year had to go back in and fuse all 3, C4-5, 5-6, 6-7.

    As of today I am 3 weeks out. I have not had much feedback from people on post operative pain, etc. My doctor is great but there was not much information other than not to lift anything over 8lbs., etc.

    I am feeling better and slowly getting off the meds - finally! What a great feeling! My only problem is some residual tightness in my traps and right shoulder. However, the biggest problem is I have a small lump behind my scar - still a little tender and I have a difficult time swallowing. I have to take my medications in applesauce or jello! I feel like an old person :)

    Anyway, has anyone else had swallowing issues and how long did it last?

    3 Level Fusion on 11/4/09
  • But to answer your questions 3 or 4 days my throat was sore, but you had one level higher than i did (I had c5-c7 on Aug 20)
    No blood thinning medications, no aspirin or anti-inflammatories (that is pretty much everything except Tylenol). No bending, twisting, or lifting anything heavier than a gallon of milk. No dressing is needed on the incision, but no bathing or soaking with it -- like going in a hot tub or taking a bath. No driving for 4 weeks.
    You might want to call your dr about the puffiness around the incision, and if your throat doesn't feel better in a week.
    My Dr. had required I be off all muscle relaxants 2 weeks prior to surgery and not use any afterwards. You can stay on Tylenol -- I take Tylenol arthritis. Other than that I was off all pain killers in 1-2 weeks (I didn't like the way they made me feel anyways).
    Try yogurt (if you like it) there are almost a thousand varieties. Try cottage cheese (again if you like it) Try soup and put it it a blender (but I know cold feels better).
    I know you will feel drastically better in 1-2 weeks, hang in there.
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