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Ibuprofen and bone fusion

jdomijjdomi Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical

My first post but a long time reader. I am now 5 weeks post op (C4-5, 5-6, 6-7). My neurosurgeon told me not to take Ibuprofen because it interferes with the bone fusion.

I am not in pain any more but due to being a long time in pain and now having to do gentle exercises for my neck while in the hard collar my back and waist ache a bit. I have been taking Acetaminophen for the longest time (Vicodin when it was very severe before the op) but want to get off of it already.

Do you know about the Ibuprofen/bone fusion connection, if any?

Best regards.


  • Yes, a lot of surgeons will tell their patients not to use NSAIDs (Ibuprofen is one of these) for an amount of time after the fusion surgery because they impede bone growth and therefore fusion.

    Some other surgeons don't seem to worry too much. I was given Diclofenac, which is a strong NSAID while in hospital after my fusion. I got off it as soon as I could. When I asked my surgeon about it, he agreed that some surgeon's don't allow its use, but he didn't feel it would be a problem with my fusion. Needless to say, I was slow to fuse, but I was also found to have a very low level of Vitamin D and calcium.

    I would vere on the safe side and try to use other pain killers.

    How is your recovery going from your ACDF? What were your symptoms that led you to surgery. I am trying to avoid surgery, but suspect that I will end up having it!

    Welcome aboard :H

  • I am about 5 weeks post op acdf and was also told not to take ibuprophen. I still take vicodin about 5/7 nights a week. I am not in a lot of pain in my neck, mostly in my muscles in my mid and lower back.
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • My NS told me the reason they do not recomend the NSAIDS is that the swelling that comes with the fusion surgery is what gets the bones to fuse. Take away the swelling and the fusing can slow down or stop. They are ok for discectomy just not fusions.

    Can you take prescription pain meds while you recover as needed? I had plenty of those meds provided to me after my fusions.

    Good luck,


  • JulieA,

    Yes, I can take Tylenol or Vicodin if the pain gets worse. It's just that I have been on them for so long that I wanted to try Ibuprofen.

    I guess I will have to take them until all the pain is gone. It's only been 5 weeks.

  • My surgeon wouldn't allow the use of them following my surgery. While we did have to put me on a steroid pak, he wanted no Ibuprofen following surgery, but of course was okay with a occasional tylenol. Sense I was on percocet he was obviously cautious of the amount of tylenol going in my body.
  • jellyhall,

    Thanks for your reply and the welcome!

    What let to my surgery was like this (sorry it's a bit long but it may help others): I had been suffering from migraines for years and taking medication for it without results. Then, I went to a chiropractor who told me I had a forward curved neck and he could help my migraines with spinal/cervical adjustments because probably the migraines were the result of pinged nerves in the neck. I started the adjustments, and to my surprise, the migraines intensity and frequency went down. However, after a few months of adjustments (and still with the occasional migraine) I started having pain in my neck, right shoulder, and right shoulder blade. Took Vicodin, Tylenol, Advil, etc. Pain kept increasing and traveled to my right arm which started to become weak and numb.

    Went to get 4 opinions from neurosurgeons and an orthopedic and they all recommended surgery due to 3 herniated discs that were compressing the spinal cord very badly. By the way, they all said that you do not want to do neck adjustments if you have herniated discs on your cervical and that those adjustments probably made it all worse (but my chiropractor either didn't see them or saw them and didn't tell me). So, after those recommendations and a lot of reading (including this forum) I went for the 3-level surgery (ACDF) on 28-June. I am lucky because my neurosurgeon is rated as one of the best in the country.

    All pain (including migraine) and numbness is gone but since I started some gentle exercises for the neck I am having a bit of a pain in the left shoulder blade and I am not sure why. In any case, it's nothing big but it's the reason I was trying to confirm the Ibuprofen/bone fusion connection in my original post.

    Speaking and swallowing was difficult the first 2 weeks but it's back to normal now. The almost 3" incision in the front of the neck is healing very well. Still wearing a hard collar that will be changed to a soft collar at the end of August.

    Best regards.
  • I also heard that Ibuprofen inhibits bone fusion about 4 years too late.
    I had ACDF in '06 and now just 6 weeks post op from posterior laminectomy C3-C7.
    I have OA extensively and had been prescribed 800 mg 3x day for pain and swelling.
    The reason for my posterior was due to my bones not fusing from my ACDF 4 years after 2006.
    So it sounds like Ibuprofen may be a culprit!
  • I just had this conversation with my neuro. He said he has no problem with patients taking it. He said orthopedic surgeons have allowed it for years and neuros are just beginning to get on board. Wish as patients we could know for sure.
  • I am on daily NSAID's for arthritis and had two non-healing fractures in other parts of my body. No-one told me not to take NSAID's then. Finally a surgeon told me not to take NSAID's because they inhibit bone fusion. I didn't take them for months and fusion following his re-do was successful.

    When I had my ACDF I was told to discontinue the NSAID's and fusion was successful.
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