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Post Op Pain ACDF C 5/6 C6/7-Need quck responses

asignor908aasignor908 Posts: 339
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I need your help and opinions once again. I had my surgery on August 3rd, 2010 and the last 2 days the pain in my neck and shoulders seems to be getting worse. I am taking percocet 5/325 2 tabs 4 times a day and the pain is still there. Before surgery I was taking percocet 1 tab 4 times a day.

They said this was a surgery that shouldn't have much pain so I guess I'm concerned that maybe I'm just being a whimp. I have been doing the dr's orders hot showers, neck excercises, no lifting etc...

I am debating if this is urgent enough to call my NS and ask for help like stronger pain meds. I am looking for advice wether that is a good idea or if I should just try to tough it out. I know you may think it should be an easy decision, but for me it isn't. Please offer any opinions you have. All comments will bre appreciated.

thank you


  • I would call your Surgeon and let him know the pain is unrelenting and if you're having muscle spasms and should be someone on call for you. Sorry you're having so much pain. Just because the NP told you that, everyone has their own pain threshold especially being on meds before it may be hard to get your pain level down. I would call. Prayers for you also. 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

  • Call your surgeon to see what he says.

    Perhaps any anaesthetic he put in during the surgery has gone now, but you should be able to control the pain with the meds.

    Hope that you feel better soon. :-)
  • My best guess here is that I notice you don't say anything about a muscle relaxer. The biggest pain issue I see with ACDF is muscle spasms and they can be relentless. I would call your surgeon and see what they say but I am guessing you need a muscle relaxer to relieve some of that. The positioning during surgery tends to cause huge issues with spasms. Also becareful using those percocet if they have tyelnol in them, you don't won't to go over the daily allowance of tyelnol than in itself could cause far worse issues.
  • I had the exact same surgery in March of '09. Most of the post op pain I experienced were from muscle spasms. Started with Flexeril which did nothing for me but make me sleepy, but then switched to valium which worked great. I was also taking hydrocodone, but I think the valium did the most for pain relief.

  • Al,

    Sorry about your pain level, hope it gets better. I would also call the Dr.

    However, and I may be way off since I had lower spine surgery, but my first month was excruciating. I questioned whether I should have done it. It took 3 months to really start to get relief. I know our surgeries are differnet. I was on the same amount of Percoset with Dilaudid and Valium.

    I hope I am wrong and you find relief soon. Nobody deserves the pain level I had that first month.

    Cerviacal surgeries may be less painful, I don't know. I do remember when I was talking to my PA about one for me, he did say they are not as bad and shorter recoveries, since not as much weight is being beared by the upper spine as the lower.

  • Thank you all for your replies, sorry I didn't respond sooner but I've been hurting as you know. I don't know the reason for all this, perhaps the muscles is the answer. They were in there quite abit longer then expected. The surgery was suppose to be a little over 2 hours ended up being 5 hours so I'm sure that has something to do with it. I've been doing everything they told me to do but I've just been miserable. I will call the surgeon on Monday to see what he can offer and I will ask about the muscle relaxers.

    Thanks for all the help I just hope this gets better soon or I will wish that I didn't do it.
    AL S
  • When I had my 2 level ACDF in 08, the surgery site didn't hurt much at all. (Other than the swollen throat issues) However, my neck and shoulder muscles provided more than enough aggravation with knots and spasms. My surgeon acted as if he couldn't understand this. So I called my PC and he prescribed Flexeril and upped my dosage of Oxycodone. Although it didn't get rid of it, it helped. In addition to calling and insisting you hurt, try hot packs on the muscles for a few minutes at the time around your neck and shoulders. So sorry you're going through this, but hang in. Each day will have you just a bit better.
  • Hoping that after your call to your surgeon today, you will start to get some relief!

    In addition to something to help with muscle spasms, are you taking anything for nerve pain? Narcotics won't help for nerve pain, but, Neurontin and Lyrica will.

    In the hopsital they mistakenly stopped my neurotin and a couple weeks ago, there was an error and my neurotin was stopped again. The nerve pain is horrible. Just feels like a hot stabbing knife!

    Hang in there, try to just get through the day/night in 4 hours blocks. Take your meds, try to eat a little, sleep a little, walk a little and then it will be time for more meds! I know sometimes those last 30-60 minutes while you are waiting for the time to go by or for the meds to kick in, can be aweful.

    I used music and family members to help me get thru that time!

    Wishing you the very best! Hang in there! Let us know what the doc says!
  • I always used music to take my mind off of things too. Either Andrea Bocelli or Molly Hatchet; which one depended on my mood at the time!
  • My iPod saved my sanity. Loaded it with a huge variety and just hit "shuffle". I'd wake up with it still playing, grateful that another few hours had passed by pain free because I was asleep. Well not really pain free but free from the torment of the conscious pain.

  • You hit it, it's not the surgery site, it's the neck and shoulders. I called surgeon he said perc is all he gives for this. One size fits all approach. I guess I could call my PM doc.

    AL S
  • Well now I know how to express it better, it is the neck and shoulders not the surgery site. Surgeon says percs is it, so I better get the mp3 player out and look for better days.

    thanks to ALL for the advice, I'm working on it.
    AL S
  • What about muscle relaxers? Did you ask him about that? My surgeon is offers muscle relaxants very freely as muscle spasms are a big problem post-op. There are a wide variety of them available.

    If you forgot to ask, call him again. If not, try your PCP. My PCP is a painmedophobe, but gave me muscle relaxers any time I needed them. I'm really hoping that those will help you.

    I've been there, done that, so see what you can do.

  • I had the exact same surgery and had 3 levels done in February last year..

    The pain and swelling afterwards takes a fair while to settle as your constantly using your voice/throat and that causes it to hurt more..I found having an icepack on it for most of the day helped with the swelling too..

    PLEASE RING YOUR DR and explain whats goig on..
  • I have to call him back about muscle relaxers which I will do on Tuesday. I feel a little discouraged because they act like I have alot of pain meds for this type surgery, of course I still have my lower back problems and leg pain, plus neuropathy. I just am depressed at this point. They make me feel like some kind of drug addict. I find it depressing to feel like some kind of loser because you're in pain. I will call again and see what happens.

    AL S

  • I am so sorry that they are making you feel bad about needing to have your pain well controlled.

    Don't be hard on yourself (even if they are!).
    You are recovering from a big assault on your body, and it didn't like it, and is telling you so.

    You are definately not unusual in needing to control the pain! :(

    I hope that you move on to a more comfortable place in your recovery very soon. :D

  • I fully agree with Jellyhall...I speak alot to the Nurses who look after me after each Nerve burn etc and they stated that most of the Drs dishing us the medications get a papercut and they complain of pain and they have also said that Chronic Pain is real disease and the hardest to treat as each person has different levels of tolerance and any pain that lasts longer than a week, SHOULD ALWAYS be checked by a GOOD DR!!!!

    I truly belive that unless you go thru the pain like most of us on this site, you should never judge anyone for what they take as all our needs vary..

    A very close friend of mine was suffereing from Chronic Pain from Degenerative Disc Disease and fought to have his morphine increased from 100 mgs a day to 125-150 mgs as he was around 130kgs and the Dr gave him Xanax to help with anxiety he said, and then sent him on his way..One week later he passed away from the interaction of the Xanax and large amounts of Morphine he was on because the Dr just couldnt be bothered to deal with the Australian Government paperwork to have his Morphone increased instead he just gave the Xanax.. His wife fought the Government system for the whole week, which turned out to be his last..One hospital saying he was "A Mental Health Issue" due to the Xanax so they wouldnt admit him and suggested the mental Health area, where she was again told they wouldnt admit him as he was "Drug Dependant"..

    He has been gone 2 years yesterday and he should still be with us...RIP Robbie


    I in no way have any medical degree, just personal experiences to hopefully help others like us..
  • 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
  • Hi Al, I had fusion c4/5 and c5/6 done in June. Dont feel like a drug addict please, I still have pain and my pain doc gave me enough to last into mid August. I feel for you, I remember those days well, ugh its horrible the first week out but I remember taking my oxycodone faithfully. Like Cath said its the muscle spasms that were so bad. First I tried soma, which seemed to help a lot and the ice was best friend until I could do heat 3 weeks after the fusion. Now I take valium for the spasms, and lyrica has been in that mix for me as well. The nerve pain in my thumb is bad. My pm doc said two years possibly for that to heal. Hang in there sounds like you are doing okay, good luck on the healing! Lela in rainy Florida!!
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I went back to my PM doctor about 2 weeks after discharged from my hospital (and I notified my surgeon about this). With the PM doctor I got more relief as he added a strong muscle relaxer and we went back to a good combination of long acting meds, break through meds, and muscle relaxers.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • 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
  • Hi Al, I have been reading this post today and can't believe I didn't find it a few days ago. I too had my ACDF of C6-C7 on July 29th and on about post op day 12, my pain picked up significantly. Before that, I had been feeling typical post op discomfort and fatigue, but my arm pain, strength and neck pain seemed improved. As you said, it is not at the incision, [which usually only feels tight at times]. The pain is mainly down the back of my neck and down into the shoulder blades. I also get an intense pain in the back of my neck if my neck moves too quickly. I actually started a post here because it was so severe and kept me up for two nights straight. I did nothing but moan and almost hyperventilate for two days. I felt so completely overwhelmed by it and the nights were horrible. I too was advised by many experienced supportive members here to contact my NS, whom I still plan to call on Monday to notify (was unable to reach them Friday and I live an hour away). I do have a script for Ativan (which I had run out of and had to wait for Insurance) and as soon as I got that, I did feel quite a bit better. I since have gotten back to walking at least 1mile per day and try as hard as I can to do whatever it takes to keep my stress/tension down. The more tense I get, the worse the pain can escalate. I'm also trying to see my neck as strong and supported and try to look at the pain in a different sense. Honestly, at this point, I feel like I am really just trying to learn how to cope with this all the time. I just want you to know that I too had some extremely bad days and have also had issues with 3 different docs about pain meds before surgery (long story), for which I am now somewhat intimidated to have to ask. It is surely a stigma, but we all know that is what it sometimes takes to have quality of life! I also struggle with the thought of ever getting back to the hectic life I led before all of this. I cannot even fathom it right now. It is a big surgery regardless of what some docs say and I'm sure it will take time. Best wishes to you that you are feeling better soon. Update how you have been feeling when you have a chance.
  • Hello Liz, thanks for writing. As I said 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. I hope your recovery goes well. Please keep me posted.

    AL S
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