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ACDF C-56 C6-7 on 12/9/10 Concerns Need Help

frenchfriffrenchfri Posts: 325
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi, Just found this site. Looks like a great source of information. Wish I knew about this prior to and right after surgery. I had ACDF of C5-6 C6-7 with titanium plate and screws. Dr. used a cage with bone fragments and bone protein not my own hip bone, just fragments from cleaning up the area. I had excessive swelling and was in the hospital for almost 6 days before they started steroids and I felt better. The first week home was brutal, but now at 5 weeks post op I am doing pretty good. Only wore a hard collar for a few days in the hospital and then they switched me to a soft collar. Was told that it wasn't necessary at my 3 week check up. I still wear it when I am in discomfort, pain or in a car. Swallowing is still an issue. I use applesauce or alot of water to get certain foods down. Still can't eat bagels, sandwiches, burgers or red meat. Just started eating chicken. Anyone else have these issues. At times my thumbs go numb and I get tingling (faint) on my left arm. Is there a reason to be concerned or is it part of the healing process. I still have limited rotation / flexibility in my neck. How long does it take to come back? My surgeon doesn't believe in PT for fear of moving the hardware. I would like to drive and go back to work. I am a teacher and I have some concerns with the amount of time I will need to look down and getting bumped by the kids (4th grade). I still get some muscle spasms and knots in my shoulder along with discomfort and pain in my lower neck area. How long does this last. Just started not getting tired and sore from showering. YEAH! Any thoughts from people who have been through this process. Need advice from people who have been there and experienced what I am dealing with. Thanks for all of your advice and help.


  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I have had the same surgery and you are very early in the healing process. It is called patience. lol. I can tell you from my own experiences and remember these are my experiences. I also had the tingling along with my arms going numb. My surgeon told me these nerves were asleep from being compressed and to give it time. Everyone heals at a different rate. Nerves heal at a very low speed. My surgeon personally wanted me off work for 12 weeks even though I had a desk job. His words were " sitting at a desk all day is hard on the spine". My surgeon along with yours is not big on PT. Just to be sure there is nothing going on I would call my surgeons office and speak to a medical assistant to see if you should be seen.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    I had a 3-lvl ACDF in Oct. 2008 at C4/5, 5/6 & 6/7. I can't help you with the tingling and would call my doctor about that. But I can tell you that the pain in the shoulders and base of the neck is common after ACDF surgery. I had those pains and my doctor said it was normal and would go away with time, it's different for each patient.

    My ROM wasn't to bad, but PT really helped improve it. I'm having problems above my fusion site now so my ROM is back down, but I'm sorry your surgeon doesn't believe in PT - it really did help with the movement.

    You're right about being concerned about keeping your head down too much. I've found that keeping my head in any one position other than forward for any length of time is painful, even now.

    Don't hesitate to call your doctor with your concerns, that's what they're there for.

    Take care and please keep us posted.

  • Just want to say thank you for responding I go back to my surgeon on Wednesday. I have been keeping a list of questions for him. I am hoping to go back to work on Thursday. That will be a total of 6 weeks post surgery. Hope it all works out. I am curious if he takes an xray again like he did at 3 weeks. I want to see if some fusion is starting to take place. I am also still taking stool softeners. How long does it take for the system to get back to normal. I have not take any narcotics on a regular basis for 4 weeks, only an occasional muscle relaxer.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    You shouldn't be worried about neck flexibility yet and shouldn't be testing it too much. I was in an Aspen Collar for 6 weeks and then slowly let my neck mobility return. You do loose a little bit of range of motion (everyone has different results). My doctor said PT was not needed unless I found at 3-4 months I had issues to be addressed.

    Some have the swallowing issue though I did not. The second night in the hospital I was still using cepacol lozenges but ate a small steak.

    Perhaps ask the doctor what you can do for the swallowing issue. There are different treatments if you are having trouble swallowing in terms of you have impaired swallowing ability VS "lump in the throat" feeling after surgery. I massaged my incision and neck area a bit to try and work tissues around to avoid scar tissue. However everyone is different, some develop more scar tissue more easily, I do not so it wasn't a sustained problem.

    I was out of work 7 weeks from my insurance job, but teaching I would think would require maybe up to 3 months. You have to be looking up, down, left, right all the time. I could avoid that if needed and my employer accommodated my need to not travel, not drive to customers, etc until about three months after I went back to work.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I am just getting frustrated at home. I miss the constant adult interaction. There are still a few people who text often, but it is not the same. I thought that I would have had more visitors and phone calls than I have so that is disappointing. I understand that with the holidays, weather, families, work and house that people get involved in their own and don't realize how lonely I am. This has taught me that if anyone else at work is in the same situation I will be more more attentive. I still have trouble swallowing bread products, bagels or a sandwich, burger or meat. Actually haven't tried them in a week or so. But I still use applesauce or lots of water for other foods. Not sure if it a feeling of a lump or actual swallowing at this point. I also feel pretty good but not sure how much is too much. Looking forward to going to surgeon on Wednesday and then maybe to work on Thursday. Still sleep better on the recliner than on the bed which is another issue. Thanks for your comments
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Some people do find they are very lonely at home. I'm a bit different in that I prefer no visitors while recovering and mapped out what I must watch on TV to keep me sane.

    Post op disappointment, sadness, depression, and anxiety are not uncommon. Do you live alone? I have my hubby but he knows when I'm lonely as I barrage him with talking when he gets home from work. I've been out of work since 4/2009. Found a few people in my area with spine problems so now we meet for lunch every few weeks.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I have a 17 year old son who is a senior in HS and a husband. My son is helpful, but he has his own social life. He was helpful and caring in the beginning. Now because it has been so long since I first started feeling bad and then the surgery, he is not there for me. We had marital problems before and this has just made it worse. I have worked full time teaching since 10/84 and even many summers. Only other time I was out of work was when I was on bedrest with my son for 3 months (April, May and June of 1993). I went right back to work in September as a teacher. I was ready to go. Sorry that you have been out of work for so long. Glad to hear that your hubby has been there for you.
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