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ACDF Surgery - typical recovery times?

nae919nnae919 Posts: 12
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:56 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have been googling Anterior Cervical Disk Fusion ACDF surgery, recovery times. I see a big variation in information.

How long was it before you were allowed to go back to work or drive? How long before you are allowed back to full activities, including gym workouts?


  • Hi,
    My name is Ellen I had ACDF on 08/08/2011 it was C4 and C5 I went home the same day with no collar. I was told no lifting of any kind till my two week visit. went for visit had incision checked was told I could drive and not to lift anything over ten pounds due to the fact that my arm was still weak I was told two do some arm excersices with 5 lb weights to help with the arm weakness. was released to normal activities at that point again just no lifting over ten pounds till second post op visitI,ll let you no what happens next

    Please remember all surgeons are diffrent so your results may vary from mine best of luck
  • I spent two nights in the hospital after ACDF C6-7. I wore the collar only when my neck felt fatigued. With pain meds, the pain was no big deal. All pain associated with the herniated discs was gone, post surgery.

    I returned to work, driving, after two weeks. I was cleared to go on a ski trip after 4 months, and did so with no problem.

    I'm now 16 months post op. My right tricep is a bit weaker still than the left, but is slowly recovering.

    The operation was no walk in the park, but it wasn't that big a deal, either. Just choose your doctor carefully. If you're on the east coast I highly recommend Lee Riley at Johns Hopkins.

    Good luck
  • Hi there, I just had my surgery Monday. I was told I may be able to drive after my 2 week post op. Everyone heals differently based on age and general health. Being you are someone who works out, that may help with a faster recovery. My job requires 8-10 hour days managing a team at a large business and I have to return at full health.... So my recovery will most likely be 6 weeks or so. However I am young and only 6 days post op and feeling better than I anticipated.
    Good luck! We are here for any questions
  • I'm almost 4 months post 2 level ACDF now. i spent alot of time bugging my doc before surgery about what i could do afterward. i'm still not sure why or how, but i only had to wear the collar for a week post surgery, and i was told i could drive a week after surgery. i tried about 1.5 weeks post-op, and had a bad flare up of pain in my rt. arm (where i had pain prior to surgery) so waited 2 or 2.5 weeks until i tried driving again. it was difficult (and the doc told me not to try manhattan driving or anything major) but local short trips were ok. the hardest thing i found was to turn my head side to side to check mirrors or for changing lanes. (actually 4 months later i still find that to be the most difficult part of driving) the pain in my arm has been gone since i had the surgery, thankfully.

    i was allowed to go back to swimming 3 weeks after surgery. but i was told to stick to breast stroke where i wouldn't be turning my head constantly. swimming didn't cause any pain. i wasn't allowed to go to PT until after my second follow up visit which was about 8 weeks post. i've been in PT 2x per week since, and i go to the gym, and go swimming 3-4 days a week now. i still limit some of the exercises in the gym, just because i don't want to overdo anything, but if its something i do in PT i will do the same thing at the gym.

    i know there was the no lifting heavy items in there someplace, but honestly, i have a 4 year old at home. at some point i was going to have to pick her up. i just can't say for sure how many weeks i waited before i attempted it the 1st time. '

    and as someone else also posted, every surgeon is different. i used a new surgeon for the ACDF. i had someone else do my laminectomies on my lumbar spine, and he would have had me in a collar for 6 weeks. every surgeon is different.

    hope this helps.
    Microdisectomy / hemi-laminectomy 6/2010 and revision 10/2010
    Cervical fusion C4-5 and C5-6 9/2011
    Lumbar Fusion L5-S1 6/2012
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