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Newbie here - Having ACDF on 8/26...Freaking out

paganredhead23ppaganredhead23 Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi all:

I am new to this forum. I am having an ACDF on C5 and C6 this Friday. I am really starting to freak out after reading some of the posts here and hearing stories of friends of friend who have had this surgery.

I have been struggling with neck, shoulder, arm and hand pain for the past 10 years. Have had PT, accupuncture, chiropractly, massage, etc. I know the surgery is necessary at this point because there is nerve damage in both arms (hopefully not permanent).

I have a demanding job and am a caretaker for my mother and the thought of a long recovery is what is really worrying me. I cannot afford to financially (my savings this year was drained due to other pressing needs) or otherwise be out of work for too long. I know everyone is different with respect to recovery, etc. I spoke to someone today who said they were out of work 7 weeks! I am hoping to only be out 2!

Any wisdom, encouragement, jokes, etc. would be appreciated.

thanks much!


  • First off, Welcome aboard! There are tons of us here for support.

    I had my ACDF C5 to C7 done in April this year. So far, so good. Arm pain is gone, and I almost feel young again with respect to my neck. Until I do something stupid :)

    I would not even consider going back after 2 weeks. Chances are your doc would not even clear you to drive by then. Not to mention allowing you to remove the hard brace, lift things, etc.

    Another thing to consider is you have just lost some of the mobility in your neck. You will need to learn to function with your decreased neck movement.

    Depending on your job, and Dr. I would say 4 to 6 weeks out would be the average. I was out for 3 months due to my job. My agency would not let me return to duty until I was released on full duty status.

    You are going to have major surgery, so take the time to let your body heal. If you try and rush your recovery you can cause more problems, as many of our fellow spineys can attest to.

    Best of luck with your surgery, and keep us posted on your progress.

    View my history for all the gory details.
  • Thanks for your reply. Doc already told me I can't drive for 6 weeks probably. I am making my peace with that although I am pretty unhappy about it. Plus he wants me in the collar for probably the same amount of time.

    I have tried to stay off the internet but now that the surgery is imminent I can't help it and of course the people who have not done well are the ones that I am focused on.

    I am in a metro area so thankfully I can get to work by train. I sit at a desk all day so I am hoping that will make it a bit easier. My job is thankfully not demanding physically but I have a lot of high level responsibilites and there is no one else at my small organization that is trained to do my job. I can work from home as well but it is not ideal. I have limited mobility in my neck now pre-op :) I can live with mobility issues (I think) if the pain and nerve stuff is gone.
  • Your doc sounds like mine :) It is normal to be scared and/or apprehensive before surgery. I look at it as a chance to eliminate or reduce the pain and nerve related problems.

    So far, I am 50/50 with surgery. Thus far a successful ACDF; but continued problems with the back after surgery.

    One bit of advise on your computer set-up at work. Leaning over in your chair looking down at the monitor will cause unnecessary pain. But you probably already discovered this :)

    If you can, make sure your monitor and keyboard are at a level which does not cause undue stress on your new fusion and back. A supportive chair also helps a bunch. There are links on this site that can help you with that.

    I can not speak for how the train will affect your new fusion; but living 5 miles from the nearest paved road I can tell you this. Having to drive over ruts, ripples, rocks etc in my pick-up will cause pain at times. It was the worst the first 6 weeks after surgery.

    On the bright side, I get to go 4-wheeling at least twice a day. :-C

    View my history for all the gory details.
  • Hi and welcome!

    I had an acdf on c4-5 June 23rd, 2011. I am doing so much better. I am currently about 9 weeks post op and I am going back to work tomorrow. I still have pain but nothing near what I had pre surgery. I would say at this point my pain is 80% reduced.

    I found that pre surgery pain and anxiety was so much worse than the actual recovery. Just TRY to relax. Try to do things you like to do. Take yourself and a loved one out for a nice dinner. Do something fun.

    Are you having hardware? Are they taking bone from you or putting in cages?

    Honestly 2 weeks is probably not enough time. I could drive short distances after two weeks but would tire very very easily. My doctors office said 4-6 weeks is norm for returning to work.
    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
  • Hi:

    I am having cadaver or synthetic bone (the doc said "depends on what is available) and they are securing them with plates.
  • Cadaver bone, plates & screws for me. One thing my doc set me up with was a bone growth stimulator. At my 3 month check-up using it 2 - 4 hours her day I already had bone growth between the vertebrae.

    Is your doc setting you up with a bone growth stim?
    View my history for all the gory details.
  • HI

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. AS far as your return to work two weeks post op, I have seen members here do it. Like you they didn't have physically demanding jobs and sense you have the whole driving thing figured out, you might just make it. But you should also plan for the 4-6 weeks just in case your not up to it. Sometimes members will do a gradual return to work so it is not so hard. So maybe the first day back you could do 4 hours and then return home, and do some work from home.

    The one thing that is key, as the following day of your surgery to start a walking program. With a aggressive return to work date, you will need to push harder on the walking to get your strength back up. You might feel good post surgery, but find you tire easy, so the importance of keeping the core strength up. Also don't let yourself be in un-necessary pain, take the meds, as it will delay your healing.

    Good luck and keep us posted on how you do, good stories are good to have on the boards.
  • Thanks to all for the support! I will be able to do a modified schedule if need be. Thanks for the tip on the walking program. If you have a recommended schedule please share it! No bone growth stimulator.
  • According to your original post, your surgery is tomorrow. Good luck to you. Let us know how you are :)
  • Today is the day! Maybe its already over with! Let us know how it goes.
    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

  • Well, you should be on this side of surgery now.

    Hope that your pain is being well controlled and that you are having less of the pre-surgery symptoms.

    Let us know, once you are able to post, how you are getting on.


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