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ACDF C5-7 on 4/8

jenb13jjenb13 Posts: 27
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello everyone!

I am home after my ADCF on C5-6 and C6-7. My surgery took about 4 hours and I spent 1 night in the ICU. My doctor is telling me that i have to wear my hard neck brace for 6 weeks straight. I have read on here that some doctors want you to wear the brace all the time and some do not. I think it makes sense to only wear the brace when you are in danger of falling or having an accident so it makes me wonder if I will do damage if I do not wear it all the time. I know that I should listen to my doctor but when doctors suggest different options for the same situation it makes me wonder? Anyone have an answer, or even what your doctors said to do and if your recovery was quick or slow?



  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I know the cervical brace is not comfortable but it's crucial to wear it 24/7. While the neck brace protect you in the case of some kind of accident that is not it's primary function.

    The primary function of the neck brace is to keep everything in your cervical spine in proper alignment which aids healing. When you are resting/sleeping your neck may roll to the side, angle left or right, back and forth, etc. You may think it would not, due to pain, but it may be more comfortable in your sleep to roll to the side and you don't even know it. This will cause discomfort when you wake up (muscle spasms or muscle tightening) but even more important, if you sleep like that for 6-8 hours that is 6-8 hours a day that your neck is not in correct anatomical alignment.

    When I got closer to the end of my brace period there were a few occasions when I removed it (eating spaghetti at a friend's home) but it went right back on after the meal. And my surgoen gave me permission to do this as a form of gradual weaning from the brace.

    There are some doctors that don't use neck brace collars but you will see some of those patients who choose to purchase a soft collar at the pharmacy. Many have said they do this for comfort and for keeping the neck in the right alignment when sleeping. And collars are more common in 2 level fusions such as you had. Sometimes with a 1 level fusion the surgeon may not prescribe a collar.

    I purchased some good travel pillows for the neck so I never end up with my neck in the wrong position if I fall asleep during a car or plane trip.


    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • This is a subject that comes up quit often. I think it is important to keep in mind that while the procedure for most neck issues is ACDF the reason for the surgery could be quit different. For example one person may have a herniated disc and it is on a nerve while someone else may have retrolisthesis. It is also important that not all hardware is created equal. Depending on the bone structure and what they find during surgery and what they had to do in fromantomies one may need a brace and one not. I had the Miami J on my last surgery and wore it for 12 weeks. It actually was a break to have it on. Going from my bobble head to being straight gave me a chance to strengthen my posture over all. After my 12 weeks I still went another three months sleeping in it. Maybe you will get a break, and at your first follow-up, things will look so well they let you off for good behavior, Jk.

    I am glad to hear you out of surgery and all is well. I would certainly without a doubt follow all the surgeon's rules, you don't want a redo. Before you know this will all be behind you and you be out enjoying life again. Take care and keep us posted on your recovery.
  • Tamtam is right, there are a lot of reasons for an ACDF patient to wear the brace.

    I just wanted to add that although at first it was a bit uncomfortable, I got to a point pretty quickly where I was glad I had to wear it because I felt protected and supported. Like tamtam said, it was a great feeling to having support after feeling like a bobble-head for so long.

    Plus, you'll get lots of doors opened for you, groceries unloaded, etc. Nobody can resist helping someone in a hard neck brace. Once you get to the soft brace stage (if you do) people will start looking at you like you're just trying to sue someone. LOL

    I do think that there's a chance you'll be changed to a soft brace before the 12 weeks are up. Sometimes if a doc sees that you're progressing really well, they'll wean you off the hard brace early like my surgeon did.

    I'm glad your on the other side of surgery now and on to recovery. Be sure to follow docs orders. It's really important and you don't want to undermine anything that you've already been through.

    Take care and congratulations.
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