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Positive outcomes from ACDF? Any Athletes out there?

KenAZKKenAZ Posts: 12
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am scheduled to have a multi level ACDF (C5-C6-C7) on Dec. 15th.

I don't expect any 'symptom' relief (my symptoms vary and are usually end of day neck/upper back/shoulder pain, as well as some numbness in fingers on occasion)... my surgery is being recommended for spinal cord compression and severe stenosis (causing the compression)...

Who has had a positive outcome from their surgery? Looking for some good input, after reading alot of 'pain' stories. I am fairly well tired of pain.

I am a former athlete -- did triathlons for a number of years, and actually enjoy physical therapy -- so PT will be a huge part of my recovery (once Surgeon says OK). My plan is to get back to cycling, and possibly back to triathlon. I haven't run in forever... whatever I choose to do, I want to be sure going into surgery that this is the right thing to do and I can be active again.



  • Hi Ken!
    Keep in mind that on message boards you will generally only see those that are still having problems. The ones who are better are out there doing other things!

    Pin down your surgeon beforehand about every aspect that you want to know about. I had a L4-S1 fusion that allowed me to resume pretty much everything with no further issue (knock on wood after 15 years). I then had a C5/6 fusion in 07 and the surgeon (different one) said I'd be back in 3 months. It wasn't until AFTER surgery that he cautioned me not to step off a curb too hard for 18 mos to 2 years. I was in such good shape, he said I could do my own PT. I'm now having issues at other levels due primarily to RA, I think.

    I was a sprinter and marathon runner, now a small horse farm operator, so I know how important this is. Just pin him down on everything you can think of beforehand. Some don't like lists, but I'd write everything down to ask before the big day.

    Best of luck!

    Farmgirl (from Scottsdale/PV originally)
  • I had a 1 level acdf in June and I consider it to be successful. I do still have mid and upper back pain/spasms but nothing near the pain I had pre surgery. It is not fused yet.
    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 fused L1-S1 and consider all my fusions successful. I was an athlete most of my life. I swim, run and cycle. I qualified for and placed 2nd in my age group at the World Championships in Kona (pre-surgery).

    I am still very active. I find swimming very helpful for my back. I was able to ride my bike altho it took 3 years of rehab to get back on my triathlon bike. Having the lower spine fused really affects my flexibility. I also got the ok to run again after my 2nd fusion.

    I have developed SI joint issues. I have a block of bone sitting on or rather bolted to my pelvis and SI. Sometimes fusions cause problems above or below. My original injury (getting knocked unconscious by a snowboarder) first affected my SI joint. Then my spine slowly deteriorated and now it has come full circle.

    PT and continued strengthening plays a major role in recovery. I was in good shape so had an easier recovery than most. I am not saying the recovery is easy. It is a long slow process. Be prepared. Walking is what you do for a long time. Be patient, listen to your doc and PT. It may take time to get back to things and running is always questionable after a fusion but there are things you will be able to do. I try to focus on what I CAN do not what I can't do but i really miss running!!

    Good luck and let us know how it goes.

    L4/L5 laminectomy, L4/L5 360 fusion with instrumentation, L1 to L5 fusion, L5/S1 fusion w/ disc replacement, left and right SI joints fused.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    hey Ken,
    Like it's been said before, "attitude is everything." You may have to adapt, adjust, and compensate to the new you after all is said and done. But with proper care, exercise, and therapy you will be surprised what you can do.
    I am 4 years post-op of a major overhaul of C3 thru C6 and I have come back and exceeded my expectations in transforming my physical well being.
    Take care & be positive.
  • Hi!

    I am an athlete. I had a multilevel acdf c4-c7 surgery on nov 2, 2015. Although I was in a lot of pain prior to surgery, I never realized I was so hurt and thus didn't stop physical activity until 3 weeks pre-op. I can say I was in pretty good shape walking into surgery. I spent two nights at the hospital and had an awesome recovery. I am a university professor and went back to driving and lecturing two weeks post surgery, with ok from my doctor. By the same time I started slowly exercising at home on a modified stationary bike (5min, 10min, etc..), and then about 2 weeks ago I began to do some modified workouts at home, also pacing myself, just every two days, and very slow intensity. Physical therapy wasn't great for me. By now, 2 months post-op I am sup surfing again, also carefully and for short bouts of time... and on Dec 31st I was able to paddle our 9-mile traditional new year's eve route in our beautiful caribbean open ocean, also slowly but surely. There is a LOT of resting in between the hard work.

    I think it is all in your attitude and determination and way of life. A positive outlook... a positive outcome!

    And also, expectations. Our body behaves differently once it has a titanium plate and 8 screws holding tight 4 vertebrae, but still, you learn. It is imperative to be compassionate with yourself but make no room for pity or negative thoughts/people. Pain, just as fear, is temporary and you will forget about it. It is important to move but still rest when your body needs to.

    My physical therapist told me on the day I met her that "now I may not be able to do all the activities I used to do". So I changed physical therapists. :D

    I am sharing because I know my case is not necessarily norm, but still...

    Best wishes to all,

  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
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  • and encouraged Jules. Thanks for posting . I recently had a 4-7 acdf surgery 12/17/15 and am feeling pretty good. If I may ask I'm curious about how your fusing . Rob
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