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Status Post ACDF - Headaches, Neck Pain, Arm Problems

NewNeckTinaNNewNeckTina Posts: 16
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am almost 6 weeks post ACDF C5 - C7 with Allograft, BMG, plates and screws, and am disappointed because at 4 weeks my daily headaches, and right neck pain have returned... sometimes wakes me up at 4am! My left hand still remains with on odd sensation on the palm surface, and seems weaker. My left bicep burns and generally is weaker with use of over 5 minutes (like drying my hair).

On top of it all, my right sacroillac pain and right siatic pain have returned about the same time - and that is status post nerve block done in september.

I saw my surgeon at about the time this was starting and he had graduated me to a soft collar to be worn for another 6 weeks. He is putting in a referral for left hand occupational therapy and low back physical therapy - but does not want me doing anything with the upper body yet.

I am surviving on Vicoden 7.5 every 4 hours when awake, and Robaxin 750mg here and there - but that gives me nightmares even though it helps me sleep. My surgeon wants me to start on Neurotin.... Have any of you tried this for these types of pains??? Did it work? I already take Topomax 50m g twice a day prophalatic for migraines which I have taken for years (this is also used in some people for siezures or other nerve problems.. so I am already taking a nerve drug technically). I feel it is a waste to start another nerve medication.

I still sleep in a recliner because if I sleep in the bed the pain is 20/10 on waking... especially the head/neck.

I am supposed to go back to work 3-1-10... What do you think??? Maybe it is the collar that is making me hurt so much?? Maybe it is the nerves that have some permanet damage and/or some that are regenerating?

Love to hear your thoughts from you neckies and spineys out there.


  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    After 4 cervical surgeries I can tell you it takes time for everything to get back to normal. I would consider taking the neurotin it helps me alot. It takes time to get over the brain fog it can produce.but it does work for me. Has your doc checked to see if all your hardware has remained in place? If not I would request a scan if for anything to ease your mind.I can tell you that I am 6 months post -op from c3 thru c7 fusion and corpectomy and my numbness in my right hand is just now going away. Sorry to hear that you are a neckie and a back spine member, I am also and this and it can be very overbearing at times. How often do you take your muscle relaxer? I have discovered that if I do not take them 3 times a day
    I also deal with the headaches. Finding the right cocktail of meds took me and my doc quite along time but we finally succeeded. Do you see a pain management doctor? If not maybe you should consider.
  • You're still really early out from surgery at six weeks. After my ACDF, it took probably twelve weeks to feel even half-way normal so don't get too discouraged yet.

    Like you, I started having lumbar problems a couple of months after my surgey so we've both gotten hit with a double whammy. I have a hard time believing that the soft collar is causing this problem, but only your doc and confirm or deny that.

    Take care and hang in there. Hopefully the PT will make a big difference and you'll feel once again like you're recovering properly

  • Tina,

    I am 19 weeks post-op tomorrow from ACDF C5-C7 and my neck still troubles me to a very high degree. My back of head, occipitals, scalenes, traps and the joints in my neck hurt.

    For the first four weeks after surgery, I felt a good bit of relief, still had some headaches and was optimistic about my recovery. Then I started physical therapy and handling my infant. Since then I have had 4 flare-ups, each lasting 2 weeks to 4 weeks and in between when the neck calms down I try to get back into physical therapy, then get flared up again. I wore a hard collar for 8 weeks, still wear one when I drive. The current flare-up I am having has lasted the longest. Just had a cervical facet joint block on 1/7/10 which seems to have increased my pain for now. I was told this was to be expected as the steroids take 5-7 days to take affect. But jeez, I did not expect the pain to increase this much. Although as soon as I put ice on it, it calms down a great deal.

    As mentioned in other posts, this fusion thing takes a really long time for the body to adjust to and the nerves to do so as well. I think the reason I am more flared-up as I am moving a lot more and wearing the collar less. I do think the collar in time has a negative effect on what I call the elasticity of the muscles. In other words, it effects our neck's normal capacity to respond to tension and contraction.

    I see my Dr. on Friday of this week, I hope the shot I had does the trick. I am also planning on being very honest with him that 19 weeks out, I expected better results than I am having. I am frustrated because I can't exercise yet. But I'm not giving up hope. I'll keep plugging away until I get my neck fixed like I did my lower back.

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