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Three Weeks Post Op ACDF- Need Some Advice.Thanks!

TrevorTTrevor Posts: 19
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi Everyone.

I had ACDF c5-c6 three weeks ago. I am feeling better and slowly getting more mobile. The pain prior to the surgery is gone. However, I still have this nagging shoulder blade and neck pain that comes and goes. The percoset helps but don't want to get hooked. Somtime, the pain on the left shoulder makes me want to think it's the pain prior to the surgery and I get anxious. Anyone knows how long will that pain last? The doc think it will take 4-6 week to go away. I find as some had nicelly suggested, warm compress helps. Also, my doc told me that 4 weeks should be ok to go back to work. I told my job that I will be back then. They would have give me more time. Now I feel that i need a few weeks more. Don't know how to approach them for the extra weeks. Any suggestions? My commute is ~ 2 1/2 driving, NYC traffic - I am concerned that if I go back early, I may have a setback. Thanks everyone for your support and feel free to PM me.

God Bless,


  • I had the pain that you're talking about in both my left shoulder/back area and the pain in the back of my neck. My surgeon also said it was common and that it would go away. I still get those pains in the back of my neck like I have right now and sometimes the muscle spasms as well. My surgeon and I believe that my continued pain is caused by non-fusion at the C6/7 level. Do you have any muscle relaxers? The pain in your shoulder/back area are probably muscle spasms so muscle relaxers would help that area while the pain medication helps the neck pain. I take flexiril, but some people find it knocks them out. If you're really concerned about the percosets, you might want to ask your doctor to prescribe you something not quite as heavy duty, such as vicodin/hydrocodone.

    As for work, I agree that four weeks is really early. I didn't go back until eight weeks and then only part time. I'd suggest talking to your surgeon and telling him you don't think you're ready to go back to work and ask him to extend his work restriction. Then you can tell your work that your surgeon has extended it and you're not allowed to return until then. My surgeon told me it was my decision when I felt I was ready to go back to work and they'd lift the work restriction whenever I told them to.

    I hope your recovery is going well, other than the pain you're experiencing. I'm hoping it ends up a complete success story for you.

    Take care.
  • Thanks Cath for your reply. As an update the neck pain is almost gone. The shoulder pain is still there and you are right that it's muscle spasm. I fins that heat helps. I am ale to increase my mobility and I notice as I walk for more than 15 mins the shoulder gets a bit worse. I agree that I am going back to work a bit early. I am going to ask to work alternate day and see if that helps. The doc did change my meds to Vicodin and it's not effective as Perocet. I thought it was suppose to make me sleepy, but it does not.

    I am so glad I have no swallowing issue. That was a major concern for me. In totality I am glad I had the surgery and optimistic of the outome. Will keep posting on my progress. Stay in touch.

    God Bless,

  • Hi! I am a fellow spiney as well as a NYC driver, so I understand that 2.5 hours in NY is unlike 2.5 hours anywhere else. Our potholes are enough to make a healthy neck ache, but our healing necks need better roads!

    I have to agree with Cath that 4 weeks is too soon to return to work. I just started driving 3 weeks ago - and my surgery was over 3 months ago. One thing my doctor told me was not to fight the pain trying to be medication free. The pain will make me tense up which in turn would just aggravate nerve endings which would start the whole pain cycle again. And believe me, its a nasty cycle.

    I am just now ending my need for Vicoden and my dr has placed me on Tramadol - which is not nearly as effective. However, unless you've had previous issues with medications, I wouldn't worry about becoming addicted. There's an excellent article in this forum about addiction that might be good for you to read. The whole deal is that if you're taking medication for pain, then you won't be prone to abuse it. And honestly....what can you possibly get from Vicoden or Percocet that makes it worth abusing? I've had both Percocet and Vicoden. And because you have pain - the medication is a necessity. As you heal, you'll need less and less medication.

    Those muscle spasms will pass (thank God they do!). Walking made my spasms worse too. This will pass. Won't it be great when there's no more snow or ice on the ground to pose a trip hazard for us spineys and neckies?

    from one NY neckie to another
  • Thanks Yvonne for the post. It's so great to meet a fellow NY Neckie who understands the NYC drivin and potholes...:) I appreciate the feeback on the pain medication. I totally agree with you and I do now understand your take on the addiction. The pain medication do releive the pain and I am not hesitant to take it when the pain comes on. The good news is that the pain is slowly going away. Next week is the big week when I return to work. If I find that I can't endure it, I am going to adjust my schedule accordingly. Will keep everyome posted on how that goes..

    God Bless,

  • If I may, addiction most times is not a 'choice'....it should be better described as a chemical dependance, and again one cannot choose to be not chemically dependant. From experience, i was taking prescribed morphine cr (controlled release). I 'chose' not to take them anymore because I didn't like the agitated feeling I got....well...my body didn't give a hoot about my choice, and went into intense withdrawal anyway. My point being, I believe we are all chemically (and medically) dependant on these pain killers, and any Dr will wean you off them slowly, not cold turkey that was my crazy idea;) I take perc to offset a two level fusion in my neck, and will continue knowing full well I will be chemically dependant. When no longer required, I will stop them under direct supervision of those much smarter than my rash binary decisions;)

    Take care and be well. Pain doesn't have to be tolerated if there if something there to alleviate in my opinion!

    I can't even imagine potholes...that would be terrible!!!

  • Peter...thanks for your post -even though this wasn't "my topic". Well said....because it is true. We are dependent on the meds to alleviate the pain! I'm super against pain! ha ha.

    I just had the scariest medication experience ever in these last few days. I was driving home from the dr and had to slam on the brakes, which of course caused my head to bounce around. I came home and took 1 Flexeril and 1 Tramadol. The dr had just given me some samples of Cymbalta because my insurance wouldn't approve it. Within 2 hours, I was sick as could be - chills, goosebumps, tummy trouble, then at night alternating between chills and sweating. This morning, almost 2 days later I'm starting to feel a bit better. Seratonin syndrome!!!! Who'd have thought Cymbalta mixed with Tramadol would do this? Then I thought...I've been on some medication or other since November - of course, one more medication would take me over the edge. It was scary as heck and I almost called a cab to the ER. Thank God today is a better day. My chills are diminishing and I'm drinking tea and water.

    All this to say - yup. We are indeed dependent and I agree....WE choose and with a dr's direction use wisdom to be free, when we're finally able.

    Yay for meds! The last 4 months would've literally have been a pain without them!

  • Hi Trevor,

    I think you will find that those are mostly muscle spasms. You might want to talk to your doctor about getting some message therapy to help them along with a muscle relaxer. As far as being dependent on pain meds, I have been on and off them many times for surgery and had no problem tapering them off to stop using them. Matter of fact I am not sure how it worked really I just decided I didn't need them any longer. Typically after surgery your watching the clock for the nest dose then before you know it you realize ooops missed that dose when you feel the pain. Just by the nature of how it works, I think you get off them slowly till the point you say I don't need these any longer. My former employer didn't allow the use of them, even though they were prescribed. So going back to work on meds was not a option. It sounds as though your recovery is going really well. Hopefully going back to work won't be to difficult on you, but I am sure you will have some increased pain and some general exhaustion from it. Keep us posted and I hope all goes well with your return to work next week. Take care.
  • I'm so glad to hear that your symptoms are subsiding. Muscle spasms are a big part of what a spiney goes through. Those poor things have to work very hard to compensate for what some part of the spine can't do and it totally ticks them off and then they scream at us.

    I remember that my very first significant symptom of my cervical problems was major pain in my upper back. I thought that I'd pulled a muscle or something, but on the second day, I had to call my primary doc because it was so bad. I had already had a physical scheduled a week later, but the pain was so bad I couldn't even wait a week to see the doc. And was really amazed me was that between the time the muscle spasms started and the time I had surgery was only six months. I tried PT prescribed by my primery doc and when that didn't work, she sent me for an MRI and after seeing the results, said I need to find a spine surgeon. At my very first meeting with the spine surgeon, he told me I had to have surgery and there was no point in trying anything because it was really a bad situation with my cervical spine. You could've knocked me over with a feather.

    This spiney stuff can be so odd and that's what makes being a member here and talking with other members so important. There's always someone who has been there done that and it can be very comforting. I'm glad you found us and look forward to reading your updates. I'm especially interested to see how you do at work.

  • Hi Yvonne,
    I am so sorry for my randomness and incoherenciedness (i make up my own words as I need em;)
    If you check out the post time, you'll find I was at my exhaustion point, as well as waiting for much needed pain meds to kick in!!! I sometimes just randomly jump on a soap box and start a speach of complete non-sense;)
    Take it easy,

  • =))

    Peter....not at all incoherent. It was well said. If you read my post...I too was past the making sense zone. It made sense to me at the time....LOL. :))(

    Nonetheless...it was all true. ha! I'm super aching right now and its only 7:21pm. I think I'm about 3 months further into recovery and I still have days that are like "WHAT THE HECK"!!!!

    I got superdumb after taking the Cymbalta and out of fear stopped all my meds. So of course...last night I learned that Tramadol needs to be weaned from. The worst lesson I'll never forget...that's for sure.

    Be well Peter and Trevor. Trevor, I'm eager to know how it is going back to work for you. I'm amazed at how differently we all heal.

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