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Anyone out there with Successful ACDF Fusion and Former or Current Smoker?

painfree at lastppainfree at last Posts: 239
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I am a former smoker, had 2 level ACDF Surgery on 12/6 and am a little anxious about having a successful 2 level fusion. I was a previous smoker and had a few small relapses post surgery - few drags here and there but smoke-free. Now have Non-Nicotine cigs for those urgent cravings but committed to being permanently smoke-free not just because of this surgery but also for my own health. I wear a bone stimulator for 10 hours per day per my Neurosurgeon. I am by nature an extremely impatient person. I know that being a former smoker inhibits my fusion success rate and I also know there are non-smokers who have failed fusions. I would love to hear from anyone who was a former or current smoker and also had a successful fusion ... Thanks



  • I am not going to tell you it is ok to smoke, but, saying that, I did smoke a few months after I had my 2 level PLIF. I started fusing at 5 months, and had a sucessful fusion. I was lucky and am not taking chances this time.
    I dont know how it will effect you, but try not to at all. You dont want to go through it again or keep worrying about it. Take care,,,Hugs, Robin
  • I smoked on the way to the hospital for my 2 level cervical fusion, and smoked after. Having said that I was very lucky, my neck fused right away. I finally quit before my first lumbar surgery 2 years ago and it was the best thing I ever did. I hope you are sucessfull in quitting.

  • Mary,

    My first fusion started showing at the 6 week mark, and showed mostly fused at the 6 month, full at a year. My second fusion even at the 5 month mark, did NOT show fusion starting, I then too found that my C6 vertebra (the bone) cracked under the bottom screw to top it off! A year later, the crack is still there, should know in March on the fusion part...sigh. Yeah, sniff, still smoke.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I just needed to hear there are positive stories for former and current smokers. I did stop day of my surgery - made it 20 days and then started up with just a few drags per day. I now joined a SmokeFree Forum on becoming an ex-smoker and created a plan to finally quit. I knew in my head once they told me I was fusing OK I would probably take that as a green light to smoke and I do not want to anymore. The forum I joined is great - it tells you quitting cold turkey never works. This plan helps you to understand the triggers that cause you to smoke and during the 1st few weeks to skip certain triggers. I have already done that due to this surgery so now when I have the urge that I cannot overcome with distraction I smoke one of the nicotine free cigs - they are not that great so it is funny I am starting to not even want them. They are designed to drop the addiction since no nicotine so we shall see. Sorry to ramble - the worrying about the fusion was causing me added stress and I just needed to hear there are people out there that fused and were smokers. Thanks Again! My 3 month appt is in early March so the waiting game makes it soo much worse!

  • JUst back from my 2.5...really 2.75 post op. FWIW, You know I smoked for close to 35 years, I stopped the day before surgery.....well, I'm fusing...Neuro actually felt like I had fused. I doubt that I'm totally fused at just under 3 months, but there are clear signs. The radiologist notes are as follows:There has been previous anterior cervical fusion...blah blah blah there appears to be good hardware and bony alignment. He goes on to note that he sees mild degenerative change at c4-5 with anterior osteopyte formation. :jawdrop: WTF...I will never have another neck surgery if I can help it.
    All in all i'm happy with the fact that i'm fusing.
    I have 6 PT visits prescribed to work my ROM and also work my weak tricep. I actally had to lay down to show the neuro where the weakness isnt seemingly improving very much.

    How are you and Blu getting along? Are you still taking a drag here and there. Give me the scoop girly!
  • Me and Blu - not the same as you! They are OK but they seem to make me just want the real thing so I bought those non-nicotne cigs that are designed to help you smoke them while trying to quit. Not the greatest taste but work better for me than blu .. I joined a forum to become an ex and created a plan to learn the triggers on when I reach for a smoke and practice now with my non-nicotine ones and to skip some of those times and decide on what things I will do during each trigger to replace the cig completely. You can make it as many weeks as you want but you have to pick a day to be smoke free and that is what I want - don't want to use things like blu - want to be rid of it completely. But anywho at least the ones I have now have no nicotine so it should not hurt the fusion.
    Yippee for you - showing fusing signs at 3 months what a relief - I am hoping for the same .. I showed bone growth at 1 month... this is the biggest stress of this surgery is th fusion I think for both smoker and those that never smoked because there are plenty out there that have not fused and never smoked! Also I am not good with the waiting game.
    I have 8 weeks of PT prescribed 3X per week - and can I say OUCH!
    Glad to hear from you and so glad to hear about your fusion! Tell your PT person about the degenerative stuff at C4-C5 and they may be able to give you times to keep it in place .. that is what my guy is doing because my NS said all of my disks were crappy .. C5 - C7 were just the worst - Hello! I would swear it is sitting over a computer for 20 years and I have the absolute worst posture!
    Talk to you soon Girl!
  • That Blu didnt cut the mustard. I feel bad now...that you spent the money. Soooorrrry.

    What website/forum is this stop smoking site. Send me a private p.m and send the link. Good for you to find whatever resources you can. I still have moments of craving a real cig...but it quickly goes away. My Hubby said "It's so nice to kiss you w/o having even a hint of cigs" He never ever complained either...he bought them for me. Anyhoo...stay the course Painfree. Glad you've got signs of fusion too. You'd asked in another post about the xrays really being able to detect the bone growth. To repeat what I wrote...there would be darkness in the disk areas if there was no fusion going on. If I can just have the 3 issues going on with me eliminated....I'd be a happy happy camper. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Have a kick@$$ day!
  • I have smoked too many years with little success at quitting. I was told I had to quit! (yeah, I know!) even as an accompolished athlete, I smoked! I use the Nicorette gum 50% of the time in place of a cig., however, I still puff away about 1/2 pack a day. I wonder if the gum is as bad as cigs, since the gume does put nicotine into your system. I am comitted to quitting for good, but would love to know what website you are all talking about that would be supportive. Everyone I know smokes, which makes it harder. I have to stop finding excuses, but no one said quitting is easy. I want to be completely smoke-free by March 20 (my BD)any suggestions??? Also, thanks all of you who have talked about the length of time it takes for the bone to regenerate. I'm 8 weeks out and two areas seem to be regenerating and, two not so good. Add'l I just had to dental inplants with very LITTLE bone to support the implants. I had to have a bone graft and the dentist told me NOT to smoke. He gave me less than a 50% chance of the inplants working. I wonder, too if the bone stimulator I wear (30 mins a day) will help my dental (bone inplant) grow/heal? Anyone know? The dentist had "no clue"....hmmm.....
  • sent you a PM in your inbox ...
    Welcome to Spine Health - this forum is a great resource for you as you recover from Spine surgery - lots of folks in the same or similar situation - I have found!
    what kind of surgery did you have that you are 8 weeks post-op?

    My DR advised me nicotine prevents Bone Growth and that I had to quit cold turkey with no nicotine replacement so the gum might be doing more harm than good - not sure! I know not easy - I made it 20 days post op and then broke down. Currently I still smoke about 5 cigs per day and plan on continuing to cut it down to then be smoke-free completely! Not easy as just the recovery of surgery is stressful enough!

    I am not sure about the dental implant - did you already have the implant done? If not maybe they could do a dental bridge or something... Also would the DR recommend wearing your Bone Stim for more than 30 minutes - not sure what kind you have? The kind I have I have to wear for 8 - 10 hours per day!
    Take care and let us know if you need anything! Keep us posted on how you are doing!

  • Oh boy, guess I have to give up the gum as well--makes sense,nicotine is, nicotine no matter how we get it. My bone stimulator is the 30 minute one, and it seems like if they had given me a choice I would have opted for the one you wear many hours. I will start using mine more than 30 minutes, can't imagine that would harm me.
    The dental implants were just done last week. I had put this off due to my neck fusion. I can't have a bridge, as it's the last two teeth and, I don't want a removable appliance. Yet, there is NO guarantee this implant will take. They can't tell for fIVE months and, no refunds (expensive!!)
    the neck surgery was: fusion of #4,5,6,&7 !!! I do have the titanium plate with screws, etc. My healing has gone fairly well, but the pain on one side is something I never had prior to this surgery. Also, my shoulders hurt, kind of like in the area of the rotator cuff and, I have heard this from others who had this surgery. Doc refuses to acknowledge this! I had back surgery years ago: laminectomy,discectomy and fromonatomy (can't remember the exact discs), but have since severely herinated L2-3 and have been told I need a spinal fusion,etc. I can't deal with this right now. I need to know why my neck is "healing fine" but have great pain when I try to turn to my left, this is new! I don't wish this on anyone, but it is great to have this forum to know I am not nuts! (or alone)
  • Don't stress about the pain - I have been told it is all part of the healing process with this and it looks like you had a 3 level ACDF which is pretty significant! Mine was 2-level C5/C6 & C6/C7. Prior to my surgery I had severe debilitating pain on right side - shoulder and arm with major muscle weakness and no feeling in fingers.
    All of my pain now is on left side which at first was alarming - I go to physical therapy 3x per week and was advised that my pain is muscle related as well as the healing. I find mainly at night the back of my neck aches and almost seems hot inside like swollen and shoulders are sore/ spasms .. When I started PT the pain in left shoulder and sometimes down arm began but it does subside if I rest and take a muscle relaxer so I guess that means it is OK. I am no expert just sharing my own experience!

    My bone stim is the kind that you put 2 electrode pads on each side of your neck and they are attached to wires under my clothes with a small unit that clips on my pants - can't feel it and not bothersome really.

    Sorry about the implant thing - I know how expensive dental work is .. my 4 year old son has to have major dental work done in a hospital and my husband and I are trying to figure out how much we will have to pay .. UGH! Hope the implant takes and you don't continue to have that added stress!

    Did your DR give you a script for Physical Therapy - I know some do and some don't. Mine did and I am so thankful as my PT guy is great and giving me all kinds of tips on the best posture and things to do going forward to try to prevent any further neck issues!

    I will say that if your pain is strong enough and constant don't mess around with it - if your DR won't do anything maybe see another DR or check with your primary DR .. in reading others on this forum it seems some Dr's (not saying yours is like this) don't really want to hear about the pain after the surgery... the doctor who did my surgery was a Neurosurgeon and she has a PA who I can talk to at anytime and she has changed my meds when needed etc ... I can tell you that I had bad muscle spasms a few weeks after my surgery that kept me up at night and the muscle relaxers they prescribed did nothing so they gave me valium which helped me relax and sleep and that I think allowed my neck and shoulders to relax more and my spasms decreased - still get them but not as bad! I have pain everyday but it is always at end of the day which I think is just my neck and shoulders telling me they have had enough and time to rest.

    Anyway I do hope you continue to heal and your pain subsides - let me know if anything else I can do! Take Care!

  • I had my last smoke the day before surgery. So far, its been almost 4 weeks and I seem to be holding strong. I've had some time where I think about one and would like one, but being that I dont have any handy and no cash since I'm not working (hubby would never stop and buy any for me) I can't cave to the thoughts. the thought of non-fusion scared me. Although, my doctor never said anything about quitting smoking to me, and its even noted in my chart that I'm a smoker. I thought it was strange he never said anything to me.

    Also, on the bone stim note, my stimulator is 30 min every day. It only turns on for 30 min, and will only turn on once every 24 hours.
  • I quit about 3 weeks before my surgery. I was on Chantix, but it raised my blood pressure so high that I had to go on blood pressure medication before the surgery. I decided to go off the Chantix in conjunction with the surgery.

    I haven't had a single cigarette since the day I quit, but it was a heck of a lot easier on the Chantix than it was off of it. Now that it has been nearly 3 months of the cigs, very few cravings anymore.

    Because of my smoking history (20+ years), doctor still put me on a bone stimulator. Mine is the same kind as tracibenn's.
  • Hi Guys

    I had my 7 week check up today. I am recovering from a 3 level (c4-c7) acdfp. As a nicotine user that has done tons of research, I was afraid there was no way I had any fusion. First let me say that I highly recommend getting off all nicotine if at all possible. My surgery came up quickly so I did not have time to quit. I am a heavy "dipper".. ie.. skoal user.
    Well after using an Orthofix bone growth stimulator for 6 weeks at 4 hours a day, I found out today that I am 80 to 90% fused on all three levels. SO, if you have a multilevel acdf or are a nicotine user, I would insist on a BGS. I have another x-ray and followup in 6 more weeks. I think the doctor wants to verify 100% fusion.
    As of today, I am weening off the hard collar, off the BGS, am now able to lift 20 lbs, ( my grand daughter weighs 17) and make a planned trip to Disney world with the grand kids...
    Please post any questions, you may have. To sum it up so far, I would do it again, but not be happy about it. 7 weeks sleeping in a recliner, hard collar 24/7 and averaging 5 hours of sleep a night. Lets just say, I am exhausted..
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