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Turning head after ACDF

maggiemaemmaggiemae Posts: 18
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:53 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had C6-7 ACDF a couple of months ago and I still cant turn my head enough to drive safely. I have been in PT for a few weeks now and I do not notice any difference yet. I also can't move my head towards shoulders as well either. I just want to be able to drive and go back to work. I kind of thought I'd be back to work by now. Has anyone else experienced this? Did it eventually improve? What hepled? Has anyone had this never improve?

Thanks for any replies.



  • and still have a NO DRIVING restriction...I get my xray next week and then F/U appt with the Surgeon the following week to see how much bone growth there is...I'm told it is normal to not be able to move your head from L to R...or put it down towards your neck for awhile...I'm told I need time with my therapists so they can "release" the muscles that are in "guard mode" which makes them extremely tight...it's not that I won't be able to...I can't because the muscles are sooooo tight...and if I really try...I give myself a spasm that is by no means worth it!!!! I don't even get to start PT until he sees how much bone growth there is...I hope you the best...I've been hurt since Dec 09...off work since March 10...surgery April 11...and not expected to return to work until late this year Nov/Dec 11...almost 2 whole years off until I am physically ready to go back to work(nursing at a hospital in the Medical-Surgical/ICU/OB units) ICU is where I got hurt...I'm 32 and DON'T want another career...I love what I do and have spent alot of years cross training in the different departments...I'm one of few who are crossed trained to work in ALL main units and would be totally bummed if it were a waste of time:( but have been told to "give it time" de-conditioning takes time to re-condition:):)
  • I would suspect your neck muscles are tight as the above poster has mentioned. I have a total of 4 levels fused, with both anterior and posterior incisions, and I still have some ROM. I no longer do turn my head to look while driving but rather depend on my mirrors. I think of a Tractor trailer driver whom doesn't have the ability to turn their head to drive but rather uses mirrors for their guidance. You might consider putting some additional mirrors on your car for safety it need be. I was driving at a few weeks post op on all my surgeries, but being single and needing to do things it was a must. You can drive through your neighborhood in the day time and practice or just sit in your can and practice. Eventually your therapist should get the muscles back and adjusted to moving again. If your not still using a muscle relaxer you might want to consider it.
  • It is easier being married and having surgery because I have someone who is self employed and can chauffeur me around...so I can see where you had to drive yourself as where I can "obey" if you will the driving restrictions...O:)

    Now the real test will be tomorrow well it is tomorrow here already...just 21 minutes past...lol...so the test will be later today when he has to take me and the daughter to the hair salon to get her hair done...:jawdrop:

    I always leave it up to him...wait or pick me up....but it seems as if we can NEVER get it right no matter when I call to pick me up he either WAITS way to long for me to be done..:W :-W..which he says he doesn't mind...but 11 years...no fooling this chick...lol... and he hates when he finds me walking his way...

    As for the driving Maggiemae...I have faith we will be up and driving soon...it does get old not being able to just "go"...even if I don't want to go anywhere...just the fact of being told NO..[(
  • Maggiemae,

    When my C5/6 was fused, I barely noticed any change in range of motion (ROM), but after my C6/7 joined the party I did have a lot of issues with driving! Like Tamtam, I got very creative with my mirrors! I have lumbar and thoracic issues, and really pissed off those levels as I tended to "pivot" where the mirrors didn't satisfy me, and they screamed at me.

    I've found now that I can tilt them (which shows some of the vehicle) such that my blind spots are almost gone. I don't know, maybe C6/7 has more to do with rotation or something, but I did notice (and still do) ROM change with this level fused. Like Tamtam said too, your neck muscles might be a bit tight further pinching your ROM. Hopefully it will get better soon. Please let us know how it works out.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I hope it is the muscles and pt can work it out. I live on a busy road and it is hard to back out of my driveway on a good day! Hopefully it will feel better soon. I dont like depending on people for rides.

    I was also hurt at work and have to be able to drive at work. I have had lumbar surgery as well and they had allowed me to come back without having to do lifting/transfers and restraints, so hopefully they will let me back this time too. My xray showed that the fusion is starting to grow.

    I will try taking the muscle relaxers again for a couple of days and see if that helps.

    Thanks again, and I will post how its going.

    I hope everyone is having a comfortable weekend.


  • Great to hear that your showing evidence of fusing. Excellent!! My first ACDF we could see fusion beginning at 6 weeks, my next one didn't show even at 6 months!

    Try taking recovery week by week vs day by day. It's a long and slow process, but hopefully you will continue to see improvement. I know on my first one, at around a year, I almost forgot I had surgery it healed so well!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I have started driving, but not on expressways. I try not to have to back up, and take roads where changing lanes can be avoided as much as possible.

    I had PT eval today and I am able to turn my head to the left much better, but there has been no change in turning to the right. I'm getting a bit frustrated and worried that something else could be wrong. I go back to the Doc in a couple of weeks.
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