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Post op recovery ACDF C 5/6 C6/7

asignor908aasignor908 Posts: 339
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello all, now that I am post op and doing a little better I thought I would add a post starting the long journey of recovery. My surgey was suppose to be a 2 1/2 hpur event which turned out to be 5 hours. Once they were in they realized things were much worse then depicted on my MRI. At any rate it's done and I am struggling to get use to recovery mode. I am trying to sleep in a louge chair as my bed is out. Trying to lift your head from the lying down position is quite a task. Coughing is a real bear as well. They used donated bone (thank God)and they said it was lucky I went ahead with this or it most certainly would have caused severe problems for me.

Part of my problem was a short thick neck which made it harder for them I am on percocet for pain and oxcarbazepine for nerve pain. My throat seems to be improving rapidly and I satnd in hot showers at least once a day. I am suppose to walk arounf 10 minutes of every waking hour. In the hospital I had to deal with a nurse practitioner on their staff who seemed more like a drill seargent and kind of chewed me out for asking for pain meds. She stated that in her 11 years this type of surgery rarely requires pain meds which really upset me, but the surgeon pescribed percocet so who knows. For me, all I can say is I need it and espicially since I have severe lower back issues with a lot of associated pain and neuropathy. My left hand has been getting numb as well but thet say it should improve, we'll see.

Well that's my update for now, any advice on this healing process will be appreciated. Please forgive any spell errors
as I am just struggling through.

Thanks again for all the support.


  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I'm glad you're doing okay. I can't believe your nurse told you that! I haven't had the surgery yet but I know of a lot of people who have and most all of them used pain meds afterwards. Why else would the surgeon prescribe them? I'm sorry you had such an unsympathetic nurse. If I could I'd go smack them for you. lol.
    I hope you do well in your recovery and that you feel much better each day. Take it easy and follow Drs orders. Don't be overdoing things because you get bored. Keep us posted on how you're doing.

  • I am coming upon my 1st yr anniversary for my C5-6 ACDF (donar bone too)and I am sorry you had a nurse tell you that. Some people makes me scratch my head and wonder..lol.. I am facing another surgery on my C6-7 soon and my fusion didn't take on my C5-6 so they will go in and redo it all wish it was bad enough the first time that I could have done what you did. I remember the sore throat thing..lol..milkshakes yumm and of course made the hubby yell at kids when I couldn't that was even more fun to watch (kept spirits high) I wish you the best of luck and for a great recovery not speedy let it take its time it's not the amount of time you recover it's about making sure you recover correctly and without anymore issues. (((hugs))) and keep us posted on how your are doing :) Get well soon Lori
  • I had the surgery in 2005, then i had a follow up surgery in 2006 on my rotator cuff in my shoulder. Then I had a head on car crash. After what seemed like decades of physical therapy, I finally got the pain down to just about 1 to 3 on a regular day and no pain meds. I could live with that. I also adapted to not being able to lift my head and completely look up at the sky anymore or turn completely right or left. it was a tradeoff, less mobility in return for less pain on the right side of my body.

    I made adjustments to my living, and told people on several occassions that, "no I can not do whatever it is you want me to do because of my spinal injury." It took about a year for my neck to heal from the acdf surgery. It took another year to get comfortable enough to start exercising, riding bike,lifting weights, etc. But life did return to normal.. until recently.
  • It's very nice to hear from you post-op and that you're doing as well as can be expected.

    I'd like to punch your nurse in the face. If she's never heard of someone needing pain meds after a 2-lvl ACDF, then maybe she's only been a nurse for a week or two. Stupid.

    I'm glad you're taking care of yourself and keeping up with walking and taking your meds. It's imperative to take care of yourself at this point in your recovery and you still have quite a ways to go. But we'll be here for you during the journey and I'm sure you'll have questions along the way which we'll do our best to answer. So many of us have been where you are and can understand the ups and downs of recovery.

    Welcome to the other side and again, it's good to hear from you.

    Please continue to keep us posted.

  • On my second surgery which was a 2 level ACDF cervical I had a nurse that did the same thing. He told me I shouldn't need it. So I called for the charge nurse and got it straightened out. Also, when the surgeon came by the next morning I asked him when he lost his authority to a staff nurse. That doc took that nurse into an adjacent empty room and really let him have it at the top of his lungs. It was great, I could hear everything. Told him to go to med school if he wanted to write orders. Needless to say I didn't have that problem again.
  • 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
  • Howdy Al!!!

    Sounds like you are coming along wonderfully!! :) As to 'how long to fuse', that is a great one! Some start seeing fusion 6 weeks out, others not until the year mark, others, don't fuse. It is mixed on so many factors from diet, activities, health conditions that might affect fusing of bone, habits (smoking, drinking etc.).

    My first fusion (and I smoke) - the 6 week x-rays, you could clearly see fusion starting. My second fusion it wasn't until 6 months that 'clouding' showed on the x-ray to indicate there was fusion started. Mine then cracked, so different story there (G), but usually by a year, for most, fusion is complete, or close. Take care.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Afraid to ask, what happens if it doesn't fuse?
    AL S
  • asignor908 said:
    Afraid to ask, what happens if it doesn't fuse?
    Fair question Al. You are sooooo early in your post op, I wouldn't put the 'cart before the horse' as they say. Obviously as you come out of surgery with hardware in place, it is strong enough to keep you safe short of a megga slam...(I was told a 'regular' car accident will not break the hardware?) I think he means the smack under 20 or 30mph, plus most of our vehicles have air bags...? Guessing there of course.

    As to not fusing (going on my own situation). Most doctors/surgeons give it a year or more depending on if you are symptomatic or not before they start looking at options, and to of considering you having a 'failed fusion'. I am cracked *between* my fusions - in the vertebra itself, but since it is still supported by the hardware, they are waiting a bit more. In 2 days, I am one year post op. If you so a search for "failed fusions" you can get an idea of what folks on here have gone through. I was already told if my 'crack' doesn't self fuse (and I am regrettably fully symptomatic again), a 'revision' surgery will be offered.

    Revision? I was told by my NS, he would go in the front again (anterior), and take the hardware out, replace a new graph in place - after he cleans the old stuff out, add new hardware. After that I was told he would then enter posteriorly to add a cage, rods and more screws to maintain stability. Tamtam just had a revision I believe, and can speak to it from personal experience....I'm just parroting my surgeons info to me.

    Honestly though Al, try not to worry about a "non fusion"...you are too early in your recovery, okay?

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Ok, I'll try not to worry about it, I am also fighting to quit smoking because I was warned that is a big reason for a failed fusion.

    thanks Brenda
    AL S
  • My surgeon didn't "order" me to quit, but he did warn me that it could make the fusion go 'slower' or cause it not to fuse. My system seems to fuse fine, but honestly (based a lot on what I've seen on here), if they have to fuse my lumbar - sniff...I will quit my smokes. Too much weight bearing down there - wanna give it a stronger fight to fuse! :)


    Again...don't worry :) Focus on healing and resting Al.
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • As many of you suggested I called my surgeon, he is on Vacation. His nurse said go to ER where surgery was done, so I had my wife take me. While there they gave me a couple of pain shots. The NS on call game me scripts for muscle relaxer, additional pain med to augment my pain meds, and Ativan 1 mg. Seems to be helping of course nothing totally works.

    thanks for all the help and support
    AL S
  • Glad to hear you went to ER to get some help for you post-op pain. I hope the Ativan can help with the muscle relaxers. Hope you get through this rough time in your early recovery. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • It sure is a tough time in recovery. I now have percocets 5/325- 2 4 x day, oxycodone 5 m\g x 4 a day, muscle relaxer 4 x day, ativan 1mg 3 times a day, and oxycaerbezine 300 mg 3 x day for nueropathy pain. And even after all that I'm a little loopy but still have pain :(. But I an doing better after the ER trip.

    thanks for the support, God Bless

    AL S
  • Thanks to all for writing. As I said before they gave me muscle relaxers, ativan, ocycondone all in addition to the 5/325 percocet which 1 was taking 2 tablets 4 x a day. The percocet had gotten to the point that it felt like it wasn't doing anything. The muscles relaxers make me sleepy but I'm not sure what other benefit if any they offer. The additional pain med and ativan seem to offer some relief. My left arm was relieved from the surgery, but my neck and shoulder pain still continues. My left hand still gets numb on occasion. My incision has no pain to speak of but the neck and shoulder pain is enough.

    I hate to go to the hospital much less go back to the hospital because I can't help but feel they think I am just seeking drugs. The thing that helped the most was the two IV injections they gave me at the hospital. They felt like they went directly to the pain sights and gave me quite a bit of relief. I don't know why they think this operation is virtually pain free because it isn't. Perhaps I'm just a whiner but I can only say what I feel
    AL S
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,858
    Please continue to follow this thread at:


    Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health Administrator 08/18/10
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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