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Newbie Single Level ACDF Post-Op with a "Is this normal?" question ;)

carleyscccarleysc Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi everyone! I am new to this forum and looking for some support/guidance as I begin the road to recovery from my single-level ACDF at c6-c7 on Monday 8/8. So far, the only major complaints I can offer are the ones I expected: sleeping (yeah right...what sleep?), and swallowing. And the muscle spasms in my neck and between my shoulders...grrr. Otherwise, things have been going well. One thing that has all but disappeared is the intense left arm pain. It has improved tremendously. But, I'm noticing some intermittent radiculopathy in my left AND right arms. These pains come and go and are not nearly as intense as they were pre-op. But they were never in my right arm, so feeling these pains there are freaking me out a little. Before I call my surgeon in a panic, is this just part of the nerve healing after having been severely compressed for nearly two months, then jostled around during surgery? Not looking for medical advice, of course, just other experiences in those first few weeks post-op.

Thanks much.



  • First let me say welcome to spine-health, have a look around as there are many here whom have had ACDF, including myself. My experience post-op tells me they mess with a lot of stuff getting to the disc, so it is possible to have some new pains post-op that you didn't have prior to surgery. Also understand that with the fusion and hardware in place, your neck structurally is going to function different. The good news is your extreme pain is gone. Also understand that nerves heal much slower than the surgery itself. So don't be surprised by these pains at all. But for some reason if you feel extreme pain in one or the other arm then it is time to call the surgeon. As far as the muscle spasms, hopefully they gave you a good muscle relaxer? If not I would be asking for one, as it will help with spasms and give your neck more time to heal. But all in all sounds as though your doing as expected. Now that surgery is over you need to begin walking, if you haven't already. It is so important to keep your core muscle up. You can google walking programs and find plenty, personally I like 10,000 steps.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. keep us posted on how your doing.
  • HI!

    It all sounds normal to me... I had would get the same pain in my right side that I would (pre op) get in my left side right before I would have a bad pain flare! I think it has to do with the nerves being inflamed during surgery.

    Are you taking your pain meds as directed? I was able to sleep but would wake up about every 3.5-4 hours for meds.

    You can always call your doc and ask if you feel something is not normal.

    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
  • I am glad you're doing well. I echo that your feelings are quite normal - I've had similar feelings. It's great that you have decreased your pain.
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • Thanks so much for all your input. Well it is a relief to know that these symptoms are normal. I had expected to feel some residual symptoms in my left, but when they started happening intermittently in my right...that threw me for a loop. Reading this forum has also given me greater insight from others who have had similar procedures and have experienced symptoms in their opposite arm. Today I only had pain when I was up and about for too long. I'm getting better each day, and I'm relying less and less on the pain medication, which is awesome. I can get by with Tylenol during the day for the past couple days, which is great. But I know there will be days, as the healing continues, that I may need to turn to the pain meds. I have Oxycodone 5/325 and Hydrocodone 10/325. I find the Percs seem to work better than the Norco. The muscle relaxer my surgeon prescribed was Valium 5mg. It does what it needs to do...without making me feel all benzo'ed out. I should add that I'm a substance abuse counselor at a Methadone clinic, which accounts mostly for my reticence to rely on pain meds and benzodiazepines like Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, etc. Thanks again for all your input, and I look forward to learning more as this recovery process continues!
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