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11 Weeks Post c5/c6 ACDF and still some Shoulder Pain- Tad bit concerned..

TrevorTTrevor Posts: 19
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all,

Thanks for all the support from my friends here. I am 11 weeks post ACDF. However, I am still having left shoulder blade pain. Some days is better and some days it's so bad, it remind me of the pain prior to surgery. My surgeon reassured me that it's muscle pain and that it will get better slowly. I tend to agree with him, but it frustrates me that some days it's so bad, I think it's the same pain prior to the surgery. I use two extra strength tylenol OTC in the AM, as the pain is worse then. That helps a bit and then a Vicadin @ night..

A few question:

- Did anyone experience this type of pain and will it get better and when? and is it worse in the AM?

- Taking two tylenol a day? Is this detrimental LONG TERM?

- My doctor wants me to do some PT; electrical stem, massage, and traction. Traction? I was surprise of that. I thought that this is if you have pinch nerve. Surgery was suppose to take care of that. Did PT helped anyone with this issue. I am a bit hesitant to do PT as it made my pain worse prior to surgery!.

- What else can I do to help with the pain?

Overall, I am glad I did the surgery. Just a tad bit frustrated with the shoulder pain. I really wish I can speak to someone who can relate. I will put me at ease. I was wondering if there is any in person support group in NY!. Thanks for all your great support. You are all God Sent!



  • Hi Trevor. You're definitely not alone on this one. Many of us post-op suffer from continued muscle spasms in our shoulder and/or back.

    I also had some pretty bad shoulder pain after my ACDF and it was muscular also, spasms to be exact. What surprises me is that if your doctor thinks these are muscle spasms, why isn't he giving you muscle relaxers? Pain meds and Tylenol aren't going to relieve the muscular spasms you're having if that's what they are, so talk to him about prescribing some. They're a savior for many and most spineys battle muscle spasms for a long time.

    It could be worse in the morning from sleeping soundly and not moving. I still get spasms, so I can't tell you when they get go away, but they definitely do get better. My spasms are probably due to an incomplete fusion at my C6/7 level, so if you're fusing well, then it may be yours will go away eventually.

    Remember, you're still relatively early in your recovery, so try not to get frustrated. See if some muscle relaxers will help.

    The other suggestions your doctor gave can help also, so giving those a try is a good idea.

    Good luck and keep us posted.
  • Good advice above. It takes time. 11 weeks is nothing from what I understand about cervical nerve pain.

    Also, alot depends on how bad the damage was. In my case the damage was severe to both nerves and spinal cord. I was still having a some occasional pain here and there after a year, and I too was concerned, went to doctor a few times, etc. In comparison to my pre-surgery pain though, it was nothing.

    Even today, almost a year and a half later, I can still generate some "discomfort" by sleeping wrong or maintaining bad posture for too long. Nonetheless, I consider my case to be a complete success. Every month it seems I continue to improve more. And like I said, I am almost 18 months post-op!

    I would offer some simple advice that you give some attention to your mattress, pillows, etc. to make sure you are comfortable and properly supported at night. In addition, mind your posture, lifting, etc. Reminds me of when I was young and my parents would say "sit up straight!" Yikes, it was true! Bad posture is a hard habit to break for sure - but if your posture is questionable at least, you will probably notice an improvement in your recovery by addressing it.

    Mostly, dont get frustrated or scared. Just give it time and treat yourself well.

    Hope this helps. This forum really helped me. Great place. Great people.
  • Cath/Centerline.:)

    Thanks for the advice. I need it to reassure myself. I can definetly say I need to work on my posture.It does not help that I sit in front of a computer all day. Also, I took frexeril, muscle relaxer before and it was bad experience, terrible side effects and as such hesitant to try it again. I will give the PT a go and see if that helps. I know that I sleep soundly and i think being in one postion all night does not help. Maybe I need to bring the cat to bed..:) Also, can anyone recommend a good pillow that I can use?

    Thanks again for the advice and encouragement. I cherish them and I welcome more..:)

  • I'm sorry the Flexiril scared you off (I take it and love it), but there are a lot of different muscle relaxers out there like Skelaxin, Robaxin, Valium, etc. Just so you know...

    I have a Tempur-Pedic comfort pillow (called the Symphony pillow) that's made for side and back sleepers. I just love it. Here's a picture. It's kind of expensive (I paid $125), but for me it was worth it with my neck problems.


    A side benefit is that although you should only use one side because of the contours of the four edges, in the middle of the night I can rotate it so that my head is on a different part of the pillow that's cooler. I hate being hot when I sleep.

    Take care and I hope you get some relief.
  • Hi Trevor,
    I'm a couple weeks behind you with the same surgery. Still pain in my shoulders, neck...

    I never thought I'd give up my down pillows, but like Cath111, I use the tempur-pedic.

    Mine looks like this:

    I think I'd be in more pain without this pillow...

    I don't get the traction thing. Unless it's for another disc.

    Good luck to you!
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I did have a little residual pain after my ACDF. When the surgeon was able to pinpoint where it may be coming from he recommended I try an Epidural Steroid Injection. At first I was mad - thinking I had to go through that again. But the surgeon explained that perhaps one of the nerves manipulated in the surgery might still be aggravated. So I agreed, and it actually worked. It worked to calm down the nerve!
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
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