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ACDF C5/6, C6/7 yesterday

OoouchOOoouch Posts: 13
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I had anterior cervical disctectomy with plating and fusion yesterday. Surgery went well and took just over 2 hours and the surgeon told my family I have big discs - whatever that means.

Anyway, I was released today and came home. It is nice to be home. I am stiff in the neck and have A LOT of pain in my throat...swallowing is VERY difficult. I have an Aspen collar to wear when up and about and a soft collar to wear when sleeping. I am taken 5-325 Percocet every 4 hours and it seems to help a bit with pain.

I am assuming all of this is normal for the other post-op ACDFers out there. How long did you have to deal with the extreme throat pain? Also, for lounging around the house and while on the recliner, is it ok to wear my soft collar instead of the Aspen?

Thanks and hope everyone is else doing alright.


  • Howdy Ooouch, and Welcome to Spine-Health!! Congratulations on getting to the 'other side.' :-)

    I've had 2 fusions, and for me, the 'sore throat' really wasn't much of an issue. When I had my C6/7 done, I did have a crappy (cold like sounding) voice for about 3 weeks. For now throat lozenges, ice cream, warm tea etc., those might be of help. I also chewed Dentyne Gum to keep my saliva going and as such, my throat didn't seem to get dry.

    I hope your feeling better soon. Again, welcome to the site!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hope you feel better soon, havent had my surgery yet, good to hear from the folks that have, keep us posted on your progress!! Lela
  • That's the ticket! Your throat is most likely sore from intubation. I was under anesthesia for about 4-1/2 hours, so I was pretty sore when I got home. Ice pops did it for me! (I'm fond of them to this day.)

    I had a hard collar on day and night for 9 weeks. I think it perhaps saved me from some of the postural problems that can happen after surgery -- kept my spine aligned. That said, my posterior neck/upper back muscles were very weak when it was taken off, and I started PT soon after it was removed. I think most of us with neck issues arrive at the surgeon's door with weak posterior muscles and over-tight anterior neck muscls (the SCMs, or sternocleidomastoid muscles - if you lay flat and lift your head slightly, these are the rope-like muscles you feel). It takes a bit of doing to get everything functioning correctly again.

    I'm glad you're feeling well immediately post-op -- but please don't take that to mean you can be careless about your care! Do exactly what you were instructed pre-op; don't lift, pull, push, or any of those movements that can cause you problems until you're healed.

    Most of all, from another ACDF C4-7 spiney, good luck!
  • Hello oooch,
    Having had 2 ACDF surgeries myself my advice would be cepacol throat lozenges and follow your surgeons aftercare instructions to the letter. I wore a hard collar 24/7 for 3 months.My uncle had the exact same surgery with the same surgeon. He ignored all post-op instructions and never did heal properly,and had significant pain and headaches. My 2nd ACDF,I wore a soft collar when I was in a car or on my feet alot...(which was pretty much all day).
    Give it time...and be careful.....let us know how you're doing
  • I thought my pain would be better today but I was wrong. I have managed to go for two walks around the house and the rest of the day I just doze. Not bad though as the 3 weeks prior to surgery, I was averaging 2 hours of sleep a night.

    I have eaten mashed potatoes and stuffing with gravy, a yogurt and popcicles. Taking percocet still as well as a stool softener. Also, ice water and Cepacet lozenges are not far away.

    My husband removed the big sticky pad that covered my incision strip - that was painful. Much of the skin is broken and burns very bad. He then covered it with a gauze pad that the hospital gave us.

    I know it's just a matter of time before I do start to feel better. Tomorrow I can shower, so I am really looking forward to that!

    Has anyone used ice and/or heat post-op at the top of the neck? I feel very stiff and can't wonder if that would help??

    Thanks for letting me share my experience.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    My sore throat pain went away around day 3. Until then I was using cepacol lozenges to help ease the discomfort.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I had the ACDF C5-6, 6-7 last July. My sore throat lasted only a few days, but swallowing difficulties stayed a bit longer, and my voice was pretty much gone for about 2 weeks. My hubby loved that LOL!

    About your collar, I think it's probably figured on a case by case scenario. Before my surgery, the doc said I'd wake up in a collar, and he would decide if I needed a hard or soft when he did the surgery. I woke with none, but he told me I could use a soft collar if I needed to. It helped remind me not to move my head the wrong way, and I only used it for about a week until I got used to being more careful of my neck. Your best bet to get a good answer to that question is to call your surgeon's office.

    I'm glad to hear you're getting some naps in, it helps to catch up on your sleep! Keep us posted on your progress, and welcome to the forums!

  • Welcome to the other side and I'm glad all went well and you're home. That's the best feeling in the world.

    I think it's normal to feel worse before you feel better because the anesthesia they put inside wears off and you start feeling more pain. Just keep up on your meds and remember to follow restriction to the "T" until released. Once boredom sets in, that will be the big tester - it becomes difficult to not do things that you feel like you should be able to do, but you have to resist the urge in order to heal properly.

    Nobody here is qualified to tell you whether you can wear your soft collar instead of the Aspen when you're resting and/or reclining. That's totally up to your surgeon, so be sure to ask him.

    Also, with the swallowing problem, you might want to get some Ensure or something like it so that you can keep up with the proteins and minerals that you need from meals. They're also great when you're just tired and don't feel like eating too much, they can be filling. I found them very valuable after my surgery.

    Oh, and I had a shower chair and my husband gave me my showers for the first few weeks. I felt very uncomfortable washing my hair because I couldn't move my head back to rinse, so he took care of all that for me. I just sat there - and we actually found it to be a good bonding experience. We kind of missed it when I could shower by myself again. :-)

    Take care of yourself and take it easy. Don't forget to have things on hand to keep your mind busy while you keep your body calm like puzzle books, games, movies, etc. I had a Nintendo DS that was my lifesaver - it was so portable and I had a lot of different games I could play while I was reclining.

    Again, congratulations on being home on on your way to healing and recovery. Feel free to PM me if you need anything.

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