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Neck brace issues - losing my mind

BuelaBBuela Posts: 67
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:59 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I am 12 days since my 2-level ACDF.

My doc wants me in this neck brace for a full month, which is another 19 days (until my follow-up appointment) and right at this moment I can't imagine how I'm going to make it.

I can't sleep well at all.

My lower and mid back are hurting.

When I take the brace off to shower, it feels like my neck muscles are feeling very weak.

I don't know what to to do except bitch and whine, because I'm too scared with what might happen to not comply.

I know that some of you aren't supposed to wear your brace except when you're going out, and yet others are supposed to wear your brace for 3 months. I would go out of my mind insane if I had another 2.5 months of this ahead of me.

Those who have been here, how in heavens name did you manage?



  • I know it's rough - I had to wear one for 6 weeks after an ACDF in '83 - but it might help to take it one day at a time. Love 'n >:D< >:D< >:D< , Ess
  • I'm most concerned about how weak my neck muscles are becoming. Any advice?
  • A lot of postop ACDF SH Forum members have posted that their doctors started, or will start, them on PT, which could be at least partly intended to restore neck muscle strength, so you should come out okay. Ask your doctor about that, and I would hope he/she'd agree that you'd benefit from it. Love 'n >:D< >:D< >:D<
  • acupressure is one of the best treatment for all types of pains like back pain, neck pain. There are many people had try this and they got a best results and relief from pain.
  • I had surgery last Thursday (my second c1/c2 fusion) and am on day 6 of 43 that I have to wear my Miami J collar. I wear it at all times, except in the shower when I have a similar, more water friendly version. Having been through this once before, the difference was that last time I only had to wear my soft collar for 4 weeks. I also started PT at 15 days post-op. I think this lack of stability and movement didn't allow the bone to fuse properly. So, here I am again, 9 months later with 25 staples in my neck/hip.....and I am happily wearing my collar at all times. This is my last chance to be pain-free, so I am willing to go through 6 weeks (or more) or inconvenience if I in turn receive my life back :)
    April 2011 C1-C2 Fusion (Brooks wiring)
    January 2012 C1-C2 Revision Fusion (Harms Technique)
    2010 - current: Trigger Point Injections, Epidural Injections, Bilateral C2-C3 Radiofrequency Ablations
  • I actually grew to find my hard collar comforting, not in the physical sense, but mentally. It really made my neck feel supported and helped me hold me head up (my head felt so heavy).

    You might get used to it. Make sure you have clean pads for any time you'd like something that smells fresh and cools you down (it gets hot under there, doesn't it?).

    As for muscle atrophy, I didn't have any problems after mine came off a month later.

    Anyway, I'm sorry you're having such a difficult time with the collar, but hope you get used to it. It really is important for stability and fusion.

  • Thanks, all. I'm hanging in there - I have my moments where I'm ok with it and moments where I want to rip it off (but don't).

    Two more weeks.... just two more weeks.......
  • and i have to wear mine for 3 months. I took it off for about a hour today while in my recliner while I was still and it felt good. The thing is itchy, uncomfortable and sweaty even though I change the pads every day. But I plan on wearing it all the time because I'm not taking any chances of my neck not fusing properly.
  • I am wearing the brace to try it out and I am less than happy. The foam is so hot. Did anyone do anything that worked to make it cooler? I was think about buying satin or something silky to lay inside it. Thoughts? I have to wear mine for six weeks
  • Pamela9PPamela9 WashingtonPosts: 42
    Tomorrow marks 4 weeks since my 4 level ACDF. Another 2 weeks to go until Xray and NS post op, and hopefully collar off. I too at first freaked out over wearing it. Now it is like a security blanket. That said; it does get hot and I am so grateful to have had my surgery in September, not summer.

    I have ice packs of varying sizes, including 2 small narrow ones that have cloth covers. I put these small ice packs under my collar, either in front or back. Bliss! For sleeping I use a large ice pack and sleep with it between me and the pillow pile. There is no way I could have made it this far without the ice packs.

    Satin would be hot. After trying different things like scarves, I found the best thing was just the foam pads which I switch out daily. Sometimes more than once.
  • I just got rid of my brace. In fact Saturday night was my last night wearing it. It drove me crazy also. Every thing you are feeling is normal. My doctor had me weaning off of the brace for approximately 2weeks. Your neck will feel weak at first. I hated that feeling but it got easier. Just follow doc's orders. The time wearing the brace will end. Just to let you know, it is hard sleeping without it now.
    Tracie C
  • I know it is pain and suffering in itself but you must do EXACTLY what your Doctor says. I did so for 3 long months and I could not take it off at all! Not even in the shower. Why? In order for other things to heal. Yes, I suppose u can look at it as counter productive, but there is a reason for the brace, even if it means creating weakness within those neck muscles. A good PT regime after the fact will strengthen them up later. My advice? Deal with it a day at a time. It's when you worry about tomorrow and weeks ahead that things become unamanageable.
    Realize that FEAR is our worst enemy. Get up & get out in that stormy weather of the real world & kick fear in the teeth. Stare at it dead in the eyes & walk right through it into the storm; because once you're wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore
  • cool than silks or satins.........one that you can change out and replace as needed.
  • patrain17ppatrain17 Ottawa area, CanadaPosts: 103
    A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. I had an occipitocervical fusion following a two step decompression (resection of odontoideum to relieve pressure on brainstem) and wore the neck brace 24/7 for 14 weeks. I can't say it was easy, but for my own good, I just had to do it. After taking it off, I had to wear a soft collar for two more weeks. If your surgeon says you have to do it, just do it. It's for your own good. You just need a little patience and courage. I hope you're doing well!
  • I had a fusion at c5/6 and my doc never had me have a brace period. I actually felt very uncomfortable with this, in particular the 1 hour drive home (after not being outside for sometime) , omg it was torture. That was 2009 and I still get shivers thinking about it
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