Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Neck Pain / Shoulder Pain / Throat Pain / Poor Sleep - Status Post Anterior Cervical Discectomy with

NewNeckTinaNNewNeckTina Posts: 16
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion with Allograft and Protein Goo (cant remember the name) material and plate and screws C5 to C7 on 11-30-09 and am frustrated with recovery already.

1) This sorethroat and feeling of a lump is incredible... how long does it last? I am tired of crushing my pills and having anxiety feeling when I try and rest in certain positions and the salavia pools sometimes - I feel like choking. I was excited to eat eggs and toast this morning for the first time - so slow though!

2) I have had pain inbetween my shoulder blades and and at the base of my neck since the surgery - sometimes the pain shoots down the back alittle - hurts when changing positions and things so I assume it is muscle spsams... hoping it is not the nerves. Anyone else have this type of pain? I am alternating Vicoden and Robaxin.

3). I have tried every position to sleep in my bed and on my couch and cannot sleep more than 40 minutes - awaken in discomfort and/or sweating. I average 4 hours total of sleep by the time I resettle myself. I am ready to go out and buy a recliner at this point. Anyone have suggestions. I have to wear a rigid collar for 6 weeks.

On the bright side, I am no longer having the daily headaches on waking, right neck to right shoulder pain, or weakness and tingling in either arm / hand.

Thank you for any answers,


• Work Comp (Injury 12-6-08) – MRI findings 9-09) C5 – C6 Moderate Osteophyte Complex...40% Central Canal Stenosis > compression of spinal cord and thecal sac with mild signal changes within spinal cord; Minimal bulge at C6 – C7 > Indent of Thecal Sac; Minimal bulge L4 – L5, narrowing of foramin, hypertrophy, ligamentum flavum thickening

** They never looked at my neck since the injury 12-06-08 even though I had several neuro symptoms and headaches until I got to the right docotors on my own**

• Work Comp ( Injury 12-6-08) Lumbar-Sacral Sprain/Strain; (MRI findings 2-09) Mild bilateral neural foraminal stenosis and central spinal canal stenosis at L4 – L5 secondary to ligamentum flavum thickening and facet hypertrophy
• 10-09 – ( right ) Sacroiliac Joint Nerve Block & Cervical Epidural
• Physical Therapy of Lower Back / Sacral Region July 2009, September 2009, October 2009, November 2009
• Physical Therapy of Neck Added Neck September 2009, October 2009, November 2009


  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You'll find a lot of great info on the site and friendly and supportive people on the forums.

    You're still so new out of surgery. I hope you understand that you had major surgery and it's going to take quite a while to recover. And there will probably be some bumps along the way as you have a good day, overdo it and then pay for it. (Oh, by the way, the goo you referred to is probably off-label BMP, bone morphogenic protein.)

    I hate to say this, but it is good news: everything you're experiencing is normal post ACDF. The swallowing should get better over time, usually a few weeks, but it's slower for some and faster for others.

    I had the neck and shoulder pain you describe and my surgeon told me that was normal too. The shoulder pain is usually due to muscle spasms and the neck pain is from the assault on your neck because of surgery. I doubt your pain is from nerves, but be sure to mention it to your surgeon on your next post-op checkup.

    For sleeping, I would indeed suggest a recliner. I slept in mine for two weeks, but some people sleep in it longer.

    I don't understand why you're alternating Robaxin (a muscle relaxant) and Vicodin (pain medicine). You should be able to take them both. One thing that's very important post-op is to stay ahead of the pain - once it get ahead of you it's hard to get it back in control. So I'd suggest taking both of your meds as they're prescribed to help keep your pain to a manageable level.

    Feel free to PM me if you have more questions or want to vent. I've been there, done that as so many other members here.

    Take care,
  • Thank you Cathi111 - your advice and information are well taken. Glad to know I am not that crazy. I over analyze alot, and I do overdo alot - a mom, a wife and an ER Nurse too. ( a fun patient to deal with - LOL)

    My husband just left now to get the recliner I was most comfortable in out of the 30+ we looked at on my only outing out so far. We will need to make room, but will manage.
  • Welcome to SH!!! To echo Cath...

    Swallowing. For my fusion at C5/6 it was a bit sore for about a week, and swallowing "odd" for about a week and a half. For my C6/7 I lost my voice for about 3 weeks, sore for about a week, and swallowing was "odd" for like 3 weeks. I think that was because the level was lower, and maybe more stress on my esophagus in that surgery?

    Pain between the shoulder blades - Normal! I went through that on both surgeries. Cath hit it well. My surgeon also added for me that "my neck was adjusting to the physical changes and as such the muscles too have to adjust" = spasms. You are only a week out, so what you are describing though frustrating I am sure, it is quite normal in the "neckie" surgery that you had time line wise.

    Sleeping, I just saw your post were you are getting a recliner. Good move there. For my C5/6 I lived in my recliner for about 3 or so months. For my C6/7 I could sleep (surprise to me) in my bed quite comfortably! If anything, remember this Tina "Patience is a Virtue"...sound corny, but it is soooo true!

    Keep us posted!!! Again, welcome to the Site!!! We are here to help and support, and many of us based on the specific surgeries (like Cath and I for example), "Been there, wore the shirt".. :-)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I am scheduled to have this neck surgery on 12/17/09. I also am scheduled to fly on 12/24/09. After reading the post surgery comments I now am re considering the flight home. How soon would be comfortable to fly approx 6 - 8 hours?
  • ML,

    I know if it was me...too close to surgery. Each of us are different though. My C5/6 - I think in the collar I could have handled it, but it would have been very uncomfortable. Due to the issues I had with my C6/7 - I still won't fly (3.5 months post op) Each of us are different. Sorry, wish I had better answers for you ML...:-(

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I don't know of any surgeon that would let you fly too close to a surgery? Check first with your MD. Also think about how long the flight would be? Your highest risks after any surgery or within the first week or things like blood clots, deep vein thrombus, pulmonary embolus, etc. with prolonged imbolitiy - are sitting on a long flight.

    For me I was in sequentials (those are leg squeezing devices wrapped around you calfs and pumped with air on and off) for a day - plus antiembolitc stockings for several days. I started walking the second day, and have not stopped since as I now the benefits are great.

    I was told no driving for a month minimum; and travel in a car with others driving for very short distances if absolutley necessary - as the risks are great if you have an accident, hit a bump wrong, etc. that the fusion will not heal or take properly. And of course - do not remove my rigid collar for 6 weeks.
  • I had the exact same surgery on the same date as you! You are welcome to join the recovery buddy crew with me and Lew (had his done the day after 12/1). I still have the huge lump in my throat, pain in my back and shoulders,and extreme pain when coughing. OMG, I sneezed for the first time this am and thought I was going to jump out of my skin.

    A recliner is definitely a good plan. I hated the thought of sleeping in ours, but after one night, I was sold. I don't care how long I have to sleep in it. I'm getting sleep, that's all I care about. Do you have to wear a bone growth stimulator? I have to wear mine 4 hours a day, and I hate that I can't wear my brace with it. I hate my brace - it's hot and unconfortable, but think it's the only thing holding my head on my body.

    we have a december surgery group that you are more than welcome to join. Best of luck,

  • Karen, why can't you wear your brace with your BGS? I was told that I could wear mine with it, it fit fine around it. My brace was a soft collar, and I got that on my own, as my surgeon said it was up to me whether I wore one or not, it was more for my comfort.

    Tina, welcome to the boards! I've found so much here, excellent advice, real people's experiences, and friends that I can chat with when I need to. It's a great place!

    You're so new out of your surgery, at your point I hadn't finished off the hard drugs yet and couldn't hardly string 2 words together :lol:" alt=":lol:" height="20" /> I'm nearly 5 months out, and I'm still having the shoulder pain, lower neck pain, and headaches at the base of my skull just to add to the fun. But trust me, it will get better, it just takes a lot of time and a LOT of patience. I'm glad your hubby got the recliner, I slept in it for 2-3 weeks, I could sleep fine in the bed after the 2nd week, but I had a hard time getting my head up if I wanted to get up by myself.

    ml, I would strongly consider waiting to fly for any amount of time that soon after surgery. For a flight that long, I'd wait at least 3-4 months, as Tina said, blood clots and DVT a big threat at that time. Besides all that, you're just not going to feel like going anywhere at that point, and the pressure from take off on that new surgery? Ouch!

    Good luck to you all, and keep us posted on how you're doing!
  • ml said:
    I am scheduled to have this neck surgery on 12/17/09. I also am scheduled to fly on 12/24/09. After reading the post surgery comments I now am re considering the flight home. How soon would be comfortable to fly approx 6 - 8 hours?

    Let your surgeon help with this decision. We can all make a ton of recommendations and state reasons why or why not, but when it all boils down to it we are all just spine patients ourselves and none of us have first hand knowledge of your particular case and health status. Speak to your surgeon and get his recommendation as well as ask him about his comfort level. Many surgeons will give you a text book reply and if asked, then they will give you an answer based on what they are most comfortable with.

    I have done a ton of flying post op both cervical and lumbar surgeries and I always get the recommendation from my surgeon.

  • Hi Tina,

    Welcome to the site! I, as all of the other members that replied, agree that everyone's recovery from this surgery is as different as we are individuals.

    I had my multiple ACDF,C 4-6 on Nov. 13,09. I don't think that you are over analyzing at all. All of your concerns are relevant to your outcome and recovery.

    Fortunately, the major swallowing and sore throat only lasted for the first 10 days and just disappeared quickly. I also felt like I was choking whenever I layed back too far, like laying in bed and even in the hospital bed, I was only comfortable being upright.
    I never had to sleep in a recliner as alot of others here have. I was able to lean up against a T.V. pillow cushion with the side arms on it and a pillow just above it against my headboard to support my head and neck. My head felt very heavy and I had to use my hands to hold it up whenever I moved around.

    My surgeon didn't require me to wear a collar at all except my pre-op soft collar to wear at my discretion for comfort if I wished. I did wear it for about 5 days, 24/7, even though I slept sitting up and it wasn't very comfortable. I feel lucky because I was able to sleep laying down completely in my bed with my regular pillow after only 5 nights of sleeping upright. The choking feeling wasn't so bad then and kept getting better every day.

    I still have the same pre-existing pain in my neck and shoulder blades that's a "stabbing and burning" sensation that has gotten worse for me post-op. My surgeon told me that it's a possibility that it may be permanent nerve damage as my nerve roots were compressed and clustered up completely with the bone spurs as well as my spinal cord and my spinal canal was narrowing severely. I will not know if it's permanent or not until the 8-12 week post-op as the surgeon says, it's too soon to tell, but whatever is there at that point, I will be left with forever. The positive part for me is that all of my left arm and left side issues are completely gone.

    All of the things you are feeling are considered "normal" post-op pain from having your neck literally spread wide open, muscles and organs being moved and pushed around during the procedure. The only thing one has to worry about is the possible nerve damage. I fear that is what is happening in my case.

    Hope this helps along with all of the others that have replied. It's all part of the recovery and I hope you continue to do well as you progress. Good luck to you and all the "spiney's" out there!

    Multiple ACDF C 4-6 with hardware-11/13/09

    Buldging discs-T 9-10 & T 12-L-1-6/22/06- possibly herniated

    DDD,stenosis,spondylothesis,radiculopathy,osteoarthritis,osteophytes,intrackable pain

    time released narcotic pain meds:2006-present
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Tina - As others have said, everything you are experiencing is normal. Just listen to your body and sleep when you are tired, etc. If your doctor gives you permission see if you can do some incision self massage. You could be developing some adhesions (normal in all surgeries as the body reacts to surgery) and some light massage may release those adhesions and help with the "full throat" feeling.

    ml: Just be sure your surgeon is aware you'll be flying. I had a friend who had extensive spinal surgery for chiari malformation in NY and we live in AZ. She flew home on day 6 post-op. Her doctor is used to people traveling since barely any of his patients live locally. She was given a note from him for the neck brace/hardware (just in case) and some different medications to ease her flight home. Take advantage of the "disabled pre-flight special boarding" so you can get you and your gear situated. If you think you'll need anything special let the flight attendants know. My friend knew she may get a bit nauseous with the stress and pain and she had meds for that but also told the flight attendant right away that she may need sprite or ginger ale at any moment. So even before others were served the staff brought her a can of each to have just in case. If you won't have a brace there are some superior inflatable neck pillows from Eagle River (inflate and deflate like a dream) so pick one of those up ASAP as well. I would also say be prepared to be a bit flexible if you can't fly. She said she might have sent her husband home and stayed a bit longer if she had to. I think she was able to stay at the Ronald McDonald since it wasn't full if she needed to stay on (usually primarily for families of children in the hospital)
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • but for some reason it wouldn't work.

    If you want to join us for chat, we have a wonderful group of supportive regulars. Lew & I are generally there around 8 PMish. I hope you can make it sometime, as it's nice to have someone to compare notes to in real time.

    Karen (aka yasmina)
  • Thank you so much for all your information. I am having an Anterior Cervical Spinal Fusion surgery. I was hoping to be home by Christmas but after reading some of the comments, I don't believe that is going to be possible. Having this surgery out of state is my choice. I chose a better surgeon over the convenience of having the surgery performed in my home town. Am I making the right choice? Not recovering in my own home? Which is more important? recovering? or the surgery itself? Any advise or comments? I still have time. Do I sound scared? Well I am. Nervous about flying scared about the surgery, afraid for my family since I will not be home for the holidays. I am just putting my scared feelings down. Please bear with me. Thank you
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Call your doctor's office and have a conversation with the medical assistant or nurse directly assigned to your doctor. As I mentioned there are people who fly soon after surgery. Yes, it may be uncomfortable but if it's a viable option and the surgeon agrees there would be no reason to expect you'd have to change your plans. Just be open to changing them depending on how you feel on the 23rd.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Well it is day 10, and I am cruising a little better. SLeep in the recliner for a few hours at a time at night. (sent wokers comp the bill with a prescription from my surgeon - hope they reimburse me as I did not plan this at all).

    Sore throat only in AM on waking and gets better. Able to swallow most softer foods, still have occassional lump feeling that does down to the sternum at times. Surgeon says it is spasms, and that part of it can be the nerves from the intubation. Get a little better everyday - today was the first day I did not have to crush a Vicoden, but did the Robaxin and my multivitamin.

    Shoulder and neck pain down a bit - more like tightness / spams and move alittle to the sides of the neck at times. New is the Left Hand numbness / odd feeling I had before surgery is back.. and also I have deep pain in my left inner shoulder like a rotator problem - I don't know if I am over doing, or if it is from the spine? THe arm feels heavy too. The surgeon says we will not know the true amount of permanent nerve damange for 18 months - that is when complete healing takes place. He did mention maybe some form of hand therapy starting in a month. Wish I could take NSAIDs for the left shoulder and arm - killing me today! Scarey.. I hope it is just from doing alot in weird ways because of the collar and pain and being at of shape from being off work for so long?

    Have been doing very light house stuff like wiping counters, etc. Able to take care of myself well (have to as no one around during the day). Using the waterproof cervical collar now, and able to shower, wash and dry my hair - which takes a very long time!

    Hope it is uphill from here.
  • Doing much better! Hate this collar though. Able to shower now with a water proof collar.

    Throat pain is gone and eating a normal diet - just have to loosen the collar to be able to move chin down to swallow.

    THe pain vetwen the shoulder blades and bae of the neck still comes and goes - is more like spamsm andmuch worse in the night and in the morning when I wake up.

    Speaking of sleeping - much better since I bought the recliner.. can sleep 2+ hours at a time now, and easier to fall back to sleep. Am now able to sleep laying a little flater on the couch with only two softer pillows behind me.

    As for prior neuro symptoms.. still get a loss or difference in sensation from left hand (not as sharp, and much lighter but not quite numb) versus right hand in the whole palm of the hand. And my left upper arm sometimes has pain - but I think that is from over use and the odd ways of doing things with the collar on. At least I hope. Wont know full nerve damage for over a year. I did start to get headaches again yesterday - but not as severe, and we are having weather changes in CA, which used to set of my migraines... so could be migraine?

    For those of you reading this about to have surgery - it does get better every day - a slow process. You lose alot of independence for a while though - frustrating for me! I am a Type A personality.. so that part is not working for me. Especially not able to do your laundry, rach things high up in cabinents, and drive and go Christmas shopping - I have done none of it! And try and look pretty or sexy going to your holiday Christmas party - LOL (see my profile picture!) No cocktail dresses - can't get hem over your head.
Sign In or Register to comment.