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post ACDF

MepmomMMepmom Posts: 13
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
HI all

I had very successful ACDF surgery to fuse c6/7 back in November. I am currently 3 weeks 2 days post op and still have a bit of tightness in my neck muscles. I am afraid of turning too much and risk things before a fusion properly takes place.

Is this a reasonable worry or will I be ok resuming regular movement? Thanks


  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    Really, you're still very early out from a major spine surgery, so it's no wonder that you have some tightness in your neck muscles as they work to heal as is the rest of your cervical surgery area and nerves.

    Everybody fuses as different rates, but I would be careful with your head movement for a while yet, especially since your fusion was at C6/7. That's the hardest level to fuse because it moves every time you move your head. Although my C4/5 and 5/6 fused in about 8-10 months, it took over a year for my C6/7 to fuse.

    Also please watch your lifting and raising your arms to much over your head during the first few months. You want to give you spine every chance to heal and fuse, and unfortunately it's a long process.

    So, take it easy, relax and let someone else do the heavy stuff. Take care of yourself and you'll be much better for it.

  • do you think I am attempting to drive too soon? I just wonder cause I have come so far and dont want to take any steps backwards

    As for housework and lifting, etc...I wish I had a more supportive husband in that regards but I guess thats for a different forum..LOL
  • also I have noticed a sound similar to crackling in my neck when I move it...its grossing me out

    should I worry?
  • I didn't drive until 4 weeks post ACDF, but I had a hard collar on. The problem with driving is merging into traffic and having to turn your head too much to see oncoming traffic. If it's just to the store or short distances, I doubt it's a problem, but be careful when having to turn your head too much to see oncoming cars.

    As for the cracking, I've had it before and after surgery, so it may be nothing. But I'd mention it to your surgeon at your next post-op appointment. Sometimes a ligament gets caught on the hardware and then pops back into place. I'm sure there are other reasons, but my surgeon has never been concerned about it.

    Sorry your hubby isn't as supportive as you'd like, but a little dust won't kill anyone. If you could get him to at least put things like pans and such within your reach so you don't have to bend and lift, then I think you could cook and things like that. It's also helpful to have a grabber to pick things up off the floor - do you have one of those?
  • no I dont but I might get one. Sadly, I was picking up things off the floor almost as soon as I came home from the Hospital. Im just irritable today cause I dont know what to do about work tomororw and all that. I feel like a wimp, I only had one level done!
  • Here's how I managed driving when I wore the hard collar (7 weeks post-ACDF, 1983). Even though the neurosurgeon allowed me to turn my head "a little", I was afraid to move my neck at all for fear of disrupting the fusion, so whenever I drove I relied heavily on both the rear-view and outside mirrors (plus my peripheral vision), making sure the mirrors were adjusted just so.

    I'm glad you're doing okay.
    >:D< , Ess
  • Also turning my torso (no neck movement) while driving.
  • I guess I am unsure about going back to work tomorrow. Its only been 3.5 weeks and I need to decide which is more important to me: work (its a part time teaching job) or my body.

    I dont know what to do
  • If you have the option to stay out of work longer, do it. If not, then there's no real harm in trying. But honestly, this is a serious surgery whether one-level or three or four. It's still your cervical spine and must be taken care of. Never feel you need to compare yours to others, they're all serious.

    I don't know what your work involves, only you do, so you need to make a decision based on that. I'm a graphic designer and couldn't go back to work for six weeks after my ACDF. On the other hand, I now run a copy center at a mid-sized company which involves lifting paper, bending, etc. after my TLIF and after a year of recovery can do it, although it creates some problems that requires medication. Luckily I can sit or stand when I need to most times.

    Just remember, it's your spine and you must take care of it to prevent further problems. Do what you have to both financially and physically. Sometimes it's a delicate balancing act, but you'll be able to figure it out with trial and error.

  • I decided to take another week. I teach part time and I'd be on my feet a lot. You brought up a good point- its surgery and I need to heal from it. Plain and simple

    Thank you! Xoxo
  • I had the same exact concerns as you. I had a C5/6 on Aug 2 with no neck brace. I was terrified of moving my neck around, even tho the doc said I could move my head very slowly/casually. And because I was so scared to move my head, I didnt move it at all for the first couple weeks. I went in for my 2 week follow up and my entire neck and back were in serious discomfort. One look at me, and the doc knew that my tightness was because I was holding my neck still. Once I started moving around, the pain level reduced greatly. My muscles calmed down and I felt huge relief.

    Your fusion may be much different. Definitely follow the docs orders. I didnt and suffered for it.

    Oh, the crackling... I have that as well. Sometimes a loud popping too. My doc is not concerned at all. Says it is probably tendons.
  • I called my dr and he is giving me a work note till Jan 4th

    He said, you have come this far, lets give it time...everything takes time.

    My boss has been amazing. I am so blessed! The stress relief alone is making me feel better!

    Thank you to this wonderful board! You have made me realize that even though it was only one level fused, it is important to take the time I need to get better....XOXO
  • Thank you all for making me realize I AM important...you guys rock...XOXO
  • I am going to take it easy and just let my body do it's thing....no more negative thoughts....right?
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