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ACDF C 5/6 C 6/7 August 3rd-support please

asignor908aasignor908 Posts: 339
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Long story short I am having ACDF c 5/6 c 6/7 on Aug 3rd due to my spinal cord being compromised and impinged. In one area there is no spinal fluid any more and the NS told me that I needed this surgery or I run the risk of paralysis. I also have chronic pain issues in lower back due to three discs which also need surgery, but they both said this was more important due to the risks of permanent damage. They will be taking bone from the hip. I am quite nervous and I have chronic pain and nueropathy. I was told I could probably go home same day but I requested at least 1 night stay at the hospital and if I don't feel ready I will ask for two. He said fine on the first day already.I am just concerned about what life will be like after this and worry about the fushion working right. I keep telling my self there really is no choice due to the risks involve with doing nothing. I am 53 and I can'r bellieve how bad my back is. I hope I will at least have good pain meds while I am recovering as I don't need more long term pain issues. Anyone who can speak to any of these concerns I would appreciate it because as for now I am fairly nervous about it all. Your comments will all be appreciated greatly.


  • I hope your surgery goes well on the 3rd of next month. The very little I know of cervical issues is what your neurosurgeon has told you in that you could risk paralysis if you don't have the surgery.

    Major surgery like you need is a risk, but I have a friend who has benefited greatly from a two level cervical fusion. I have lumbar issues and my fusion is successful - I have my life back again. Prior to surgery last year, my neurosurgeon "read the riot act" to me and I was prepared to go ahead with the surgery because I couldn't live with the pain.

    Seems strange that your surgeon said you could go home the same day. Like you said, if you're not ready to go home, ask for extra time to rest. For my one level lumbar, I was in the hospital for 5 days and a similar time when I had the laminectomy/discectomy the previous year. Perhaps they do things differently here in Australia.

    We all worry as to whether we'll fuse and I was happy when my surgeon said I had a good solid fusion at 6 months post-op. I followed the no bending-lifting-twisting rules and rested and walked as much as I could. I also had help in the home from friends, family and a domestic service. Good nutrition is essential too. I found recovery to be a stressful time and boring and sometimes you think when will this ever end. I think for most of us, we get a good reduction in the pain. My surgeon aims for 80% - 90% pain reduction. We'll never be 100% and will always need to remember good back mechanics for the rest of our lives.

    In regard to pain meds - here in Australia, it's the anaesthetist who prescribed the meds for hospital and home, and thereafter we have to see our GP, which I think would be your primary care doctor. Whoever prescribes for you in the hospital, I would suggest that you discuss your meds with him/her prior to your surgery. It's essential for your recovery that you receive good pain control.

    Take care


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • I only stayed overnight after my cervical fusion, but a nerve that was compressed was screaming and I had to be readmitted for 2 more days for pain control. After that resolved, I needed some help at home for about 2 weeks. All in all, total recovery time was about 2 months. At 3 months, I felt great. Two and a half years later, everything is great with my neck. There are many times I forget it was done. I've only lost a mild amount of range of motion.

    Best of luck to you,

  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    You and I sound alike as far as our issues with lower and cervical spine. I can tell you of my experience and remember everyone is different. I had c3 thru c6 fused and when I woke up the crushing pain was GONE. I still had surgical pain which was very well controlled with pain meds. I spent one night in the hospital then was sent home. I was ready to go home and felt I did not need another night in the hospital. One thing I found I could not live without during my recovery was straws. Personally my hip was more sore then my neck. Good luck and keep us posted on your recovery. Feel free to Pm me anytime if you have any questions
  • I too have same situation. Had my cervical surgery 3/08. Am still dealing with the lumbar situation.
    I stayed overnite two nights. The neurosurgeon was good about keeping the pain under control as they want you to heal and get plenty of rest. They used cadaver bone on me and I wish they would have used my own as I hear you have a much better outcome.
    Due to having both cervical and lumbar issues as you know you will be dealing with something for some time to come. I wish you the best of luck and please feel free to PM me at any time. Will be thinking of you and remember to follow all restrictions-very important. Also as Trish pointed out speaking to whomever will be prescribing your meds prior to your surgery might be a good idea. Let them know your fears. I pray this surgery takes care of a good portion of your pain issues.
  • I have walked in your shoes, Al. I also had a sudden onset of cervical spine problems. My first symptoms began in May of 08, tried PT until finally an MRI was prescribed and my PCP told me I needed to find a surgeon. Luckily, I had a friend who worked with someone who had a multi-level cervical fusion and raved about his surgeon, so I went to him.

    I was told on my first visit with him that I needed surgery for the same reasons you state that you need surgery, it wasn't a matter of if, but when so I scheduled it right away. Mine was a 3-lvl at C4-7.

    It's true that the cervical problems are usually more emergent than the lumbar problems due to the risk of paralysis. The cord at the cervical level controls more functionality than at the lumbar level, so I understand why your surgeon wants to fix your cervical problems first.

    I stayed in the hospital one night and I was very ready to go home the next day. In fact, for the first two days I felt fine and my husband even told me on my first night home that he wished I'd act like I just had surgery. I was wearing an aspen brace and it was quite clear how serious the surgery was, but I felt good. However, two days later I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. I'm told that this is due to the anesthetic they put in the surgical area that stays with you for a couple of days and once it wears off, the pain comes full on.

    With that said, however, I found that the recovery really wasn't too bad, relatively speaking. I've now fused at all three levels - that's always the biggest concern, so I understand yours - but now have issues above my fusion that we're not going to deal with now for various reasons, one being that I'm only having pain in my neck, no other radicular symptoms. The C6/7 is the most difficult to fuse due to the constant movement at that level, but mine finally fused after over a year.

    You should get some good pain and muscle relaxants for your home recovery and it's best to take them on schedule for at least the first week or two. It's important to stay ahead of the pain because once it gets too bad, it's hard to get under control. Only start tapering down when you're ready and are feeling better.

    Walking as soon as possible is important after you get home is imperative as well. Small walks around the house first and then longer as you are able, continuing to increase as time goes by.

    I've had both lumbar and cervical fusion and even though my cervical was 3-lvl and my lumbar was 1-lvl, the lumbar recovery was far worse than the cervical recovery.

    Oh, and one more thing - if you're getting really nervous, you can ask your surgeon to prescribe you some medication to help keep you calm until the big day, like Xanax. I was prescribed these before both surgeries. I can tell you that many here will tell you that the anticipation is oftentimes worse than the surgery itself. I found that to be the case with both of my surgeries.

    Hope some of this helps. Are you going to be wearing a brace?

    Take care and if I can help you in any way, don't hesitate to PM me.

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I had a C5-C7 ACDF in 2006 and stayed two nights. One night was required by my doctor and I asked for night two. My insurance had pre approved 1-2 nights. Anything beyond that and they ask the doctor for his reasoning. So he was fine approving the second night.

    ACDF is a relatively easy surgery to go through. However, the hip incision and site of bone removal is likely to be painful. I had that for my first back surgery and it was not comfortable at all. I'd think your neck will feel better but the hip quite painful. In my ACDF the surgeon did not use any of my own bone, he used hardware and donor bone to do the fusion. I had an Aspen collar which was not comfortable but I'm so glad I had it.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Thanks for all the info and support, I will have hardware but know collar from what I understand. I hope I can stay for two days on good pain meds, the hip will hurt from what everyone has said.

    Thanks again and I will report back post op
    AL S
  • All the best for your operation and keep us updated on your progress...

    Take care and may all go well for you

  • Hoping that your surgery goes well without any complications and that your recovery will be quick and smooth.

    Soon you will be over on this side of surgery. Then 'all' you need to do is heal.

    We will be here, waiting to hear how you are, when you are able to post. :-)
  • Is tomorrow still the big day? Sending you positive thoughts and feelings. Wishing you well, and a speedy recovery! Hang in there!! See ya on the other side!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    Just wanted to wish you good luck with your surgery tomorrow. Hope you have a speedy and painfree recovery.

    Take care,
  • Well didn't sleep much last night in anticipation for the surgery in about 4 hours. I just wanted to thank each of you again for all of your generous support, it helps tremedously to know that there are people who understand how you feel and what you are going through. Plus my lower back pain is pretty bad right night but I can't take any pain meds per their instructions so I hope when I get there they will have mercy and give me something. Doc says i will need lower back surgery after this gets done, oh boy.

    I truly appreciate all of your prayers and words of comfort. I will post as soon as i can with post op updates.

    Thanks again
    AL S

  • If I am correct, you will be having your surgery right now!

    I am praying for you, your family and your surgical team. I am hoping that all goes to the surgeon's plans and that you wake up with very good pain control and aware that your symptoms are much improved.

    Will be here waiting to hear how you are after surgery, once you are comfortable enough to post. :-)

  • I'm hoping all goes well and as expected. I look forward to your post "on the other side" to let us know how you're doing.

    My thoughts are with you today.

  • Al,

    Good luck, I assume by now you are at the hospital and they have proceeded getting you ready for the surgery. It is always easier to say once your on the other side you will be fine, but when it is your body and your emotions going through it much harder to do. Whatever you do let the nurses do their job and don't feel as if you are bothering them to ask for anything. Above all else when you arrive home ask all the questions you need but when in doubt don't hesitate to call your surgeon for clarification. Good luck this Am and we will be waiting to hear your adventure. Take care.
  • Hi all I am home from my surgery. First off they did not use a graf from my hip (thank God). The two and a half hour surgery became a 5 hour surgery. They said my neck was short and thick adding a degree of difficulty. Also the discs and the spinal cord was much worse then they originally thought. I am very uncomfortable and on pain meds so forgive any errors.
    This so far has been tough on me although a nurse practiotionar said people don't even usually need pain meds, well that settles it I'm just a big whimp.

    Thanks for all your prayers and support, it meant alot to me. I will post more later when I'm not so tored and loopy. Feel free to send any questions you may have.
    AL S

  • It sounds like it is just as well that you went ahead with the surgery, as the discs and cord were worse than they had thought.

    The worst, as far as the anxiety is concerned, is over. Now your body needs to heal and recovery from the trauma of the surgery. Be kind to it!

    I hope that you will start to see (feel) an improvement in your symptoms very soon and that the pain from the surgery will also diminish quite quickly.

    Welcome to this side of your surgery. :H Now follow the rules and be patient with yourself.

    PS I think that a lot of patients DO need pain medication!!!
  • So glad the surgery is over and you are home now. As someone stated above get plenty of rest and follow all your post-op rules. And my all means, maybe I am a wimp but I think anyone who can go through that surgery without pain meds must be made of steel. Or the nurse who said that obviously never had this surgery before. True everyone has different pain thresholds but speaking for myself I most certainly required the meds.
    My thoughts and prayers will be with you as you recover.
  • It's been a week since my ACDF, seems like it should be a month but I am getting better without additional medications except for 2 percs every 4 hours instead of 1 every 4 which was my norm before surgery. I also take oxcarbazepine 300 mg 3 x day for nerve pain which I did before surgery. I can report that my throat feels much better, can est soft food now. My neck is less painful which helps alot with sleeping. Shoulders, arms, upper spine still hurt quite a bit but are much improved. Still no bending or picking up anything heavier than a milk jug. How long does it take for the bones to fuse? Just curious, thanks for all your help.
    AL S
  • Al,

    You're sounding better already!! On both of my fusions, I was on the meds for about 2 weeks, then I slowly weened off of them, as my pain wasn't that bad compared to pre-op. On my second week, I went through like 3 days of major 'downer' for mood. I don't know if that was my body reacting to the final dump of all the meds the Anesthesiologist puts in you or what, but thought I would mention this should you experience it.

    The 'down' feeling was kind of like when it rains for a week, and you just feel "tired, quiet, no energy, bummed" kind of feeling. Hopefully you won't get that little side affect. The good part? It only lasted a few days. You have a good attitude, and it shows. I hope you continue to improve - the hard part is done, right? :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Al,

    On my 2 level ACDF, I needed more meds than they said was "usual" also. I had more hurt from neck and shoulder muscles than the site itself. The good news is, each week will bring at the end of it a new fort of "phew" reaction, where you'll realize you feel better even though you don't remember getting there. Like in this most recent 4 level posterior cervical I had, the first week (after day 3) I had to take a shower on a shower seat and could barely do it. By the week of end two, I was standing up in the shower and holding a handle and actually enjoying it. Just set your mind to the fact that your only job for the next few weeks is healing; that's what you do for a living.
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