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Single level ACDF

jmalaysiajjmalaysia Posts: 35
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:00 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a single level ACDF Feb 10th, 2012 (2 days ago). I'm a 47 year old male in pretty good health. They used a Stalif C implant with hip bone marrow. I went into surgery about 8am and by 11am I felt well enough to go home. I was required to stay overnight in case of complications, which was fine by me. I had a morphine pump available but never used it. Honestly, pulling the tape off my IV hurt worse than anything else.

I do have a hydrocodone prescription, which I am taking at night to make sure I get a good nights sleep. Im not required to wear a collar so I'm sleeping in a recliner to help me stay on my back. I typically flip from side to side in bed so I don't want to risk that!

My problems started 6 years ago. I woke up with a "crick" in my neck that got progressively worse through the day. It wound up feeling like someone was trying to saw my shoulder off with a piece of twine. Probably the worst pain I have ever felt! Then suddenly it stopped hurting completely and my arm went numb. I could hardly lift it at all. I went to the ER (worried about a heart attack!) and also made an appt to see an orthopedist, which was 3 weeks later. By then my arm was working fairly well but was still weak. He diagnosed it as a sprain and sent me on my way. Since it didn't hurt I just got used to it being weak. At the time I thought I had torn a muscle.

A few months ago I woke up in the middle of the night and had the same "sawing" pain in my shoulder. Not quite as bad as the first time, but still very bad. The shoulder pain went away but I had constant neck pain after that so I decided to get it checked out.

I got a shoulder and c-spine mri. My shoulder was perfect. My c-spine was not! I had a severe left side C5/C6 herniation. I had fusion surgery about 10 days later.

Surgery was a little over 48 hours ago. My neck pain is completely gone. I have slight pain swallowing at the incision area. It's too early to tell if I'll get my arm strength back but I feel really optomistic about it.


  • Hi Jamyl :wave: & welcome to SH :)

    You sound very upbeat for having had surgery only 48 hrs ago. That is wonder about your pain being gone :D

    Please keep us updated as you can.

    The more you read & post here the more people you will get to know ;)

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • I wanted to post because there just aren't a lot of success stories posted. I understand that when things go wrong people like to vent so I expect to see more "bad" than "good" on a site like this.

    I forgot to mention that the hip marrow incision is tiny and painless.

    I got to take a shower today! It was difficult but well worth it... I'm grouchy without a shower!
  • I am happy for you and hope you continue to do so well. My ome level ACDF at C5/6 was Jan 31 and I do consider it a success. I believe all pre surgery pain is gone. A little hard to tell because I do have pain across upper back, like before surgery, but it is definitely different. I showered, washed hair, easily put a shirt over head with no problems from the day I got home. I was very tired the first week but was walking outside beginning the day I got home. I feel better every day but know I am not ready to drive or go back to work yet. I think one more week of staying home then I will work 4 hrs per day from home. I have a great boss who will allow me to do that. I have a 1 hr commute each way so feel like that would be rough.

    I think recovery is largely based on the shape you are in prior to surgery. I am a 47 year old female and was very active prior to surgery. I did not let the pain stop me from going to yoga, going to the gym three days per week, and walking every day at my lunch break. Also, eating a healthy diet with no processed foods and a lot of whole grains, fruits and veggies helps. Good luck and please let us know how you continue to progress. I agree it is nice for people to read some good.

    One more note, I have a friend who had a two level done one year ago and he is doing great!
  • It's been 3 days since surgery now. I feel really good. I sneezed yesterday, which is something I've been dreading, but my head didn't fall off and roll around the room like I feared! I'm still holding my head still but now it feels like I could move it if I wanted to. I'm in no rush though. I scheduled my follow-up today. It's not until Feb 24th. I would have liked to go in a little sooner than that.
    I haven't had any neck or arm pain or numbness since surgery. Swallowing is much easier today also.
  • Thanks for posting your story! It's really good to see successful surgery stories. My pain is mostly arthritis and, so far, no issues that would require surgery. I dread the day that my doctor says "it's time to consider" surgery! So seeing success stories are really uplifting.
  • I'm still feeling really good. I'm still sleeping in a recliner but it's really comfortable so that's not a big deal at all. I feel like I could sleep in my bed now but I'm going to wait a few more days before I do. I can easily tell that I've gotten strength back in my triceps. It feels strange to be able to flex a muscle that has been useless for so long! I don't know about my biceps yet and I'm not about to pick anything up to test it. Things are going great!
  • This forum is great for sharing experiences - good, not so good, and otherwise. It's really great hearing your success story. Please keep us posted on your progress.
  • jmal - I just got done posting to a member who had your same surgery and slept in the bed on 3rd night as they Dr told them to! She is hurting like a bugger now and was not before.
    We need to listen to our bodies :)

    I am happy everyone who posted int this thread is doing so well - gives others like me HOPE. :D

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • By the way, the day I was in the hospital I drank at least a gallon of water and ate everything that was put in front of me. The first meal was liquid but after that I had regular meals. I also ate quite a few snacks between meals. Since I've been home I've been drinking nothing but apple juice. I also started taking zinc about a week before surgery and am still taking it. I don't know if any of this helped my recovery be so painless so far, but I thought I would mention it.

    I'll still be in the recliner another couple of days. Unless I have a setback I'll go back to work Monday, which will be 10 days after surgery. I feel ready to go back now but I don't want to rush it. I don't have to do any lifting at work and it is getting mighty boring at home!
  • I can't remember the last time I felt this rested! I'm trying to get 10+ hours of sleep every day. I'm used to working around 50 hours a week so all this reat is doing me a world of good. My neck feels less restricted every day, but I'm still making a conscious effort to move it as little as possible. The incision area is still a little tight but doesn't hurt anymore. I've gone walking a couple of times but rain has prevented it the other days. Still no neck/shoulder pain or arm numbness.
  • Jmal, can't believe how good you are doing. I am a little jealous although I am really doing well. Two weeks was a huge turning point. The muscle spasms across top of back are gone and that was pretty much the only pain I was having after surgery. I moved to bed around day 10. I am still taking it easy but am driving, running short errands, and doing some light housework. I see doc on Feb 21 to get released for work. I am going to work 4 hrs per day next week and make sure that is ok. I am at a computer all day for work so am not sure how the neck will like it. Also, I commute an hour each way. I live in No Cal and we have been sunny and in the 60s so I am walking every day. Will go to the gym and walk on treadmill if rain starts. I am ready to go back to full time life. I don't watch much tv and love to read, but even that is getting to me. I hope you continue to do so well.

  • I was expecting to take longer for recovery. As for work, I'm only 3 miles away and can come back home if it's too much. It's great that you are doing well also!
  • I was expecting to take longer for recovery. As for work, I'm only 3 miles away and can come back home if it's too much. It's great that you are doing well also!
  • jmalaysia,

    You have done really well with your recovery. Excellent!

    I must warn you not to over do it though. It is very common once we start to feel better, that we do too much and hurt ourselves and live to regret it. Returning to work only 10 days after surgery, is very early. Do be careful. You don't want to muck up the surgeon's careful work.

    Keep up the good healing.
  • I'm back at work today, 10 days after surgery. Last night was also my first night in bed instead of the recliner. No problems with that.
  • I am happy for you. Is your body sending any messages saying take it a little easy? Just wondering. I am scheduled for my surgery on March7th. He wanted to do it sooner but my blood is to thin. I have had to stop all supplements including zinc also no migrane meds eeeeeeeeeee.
  • I felt a little draggy at work but I think that was just from being off for a week. I feel really good tonight. I'm glad my surgery happened as quick as it did so the anticipation didn't drive me nuts. I think it was a little over a week from the time I decided to have surgery until it was done. That didn't give me a whole lot of time to second guess my decision. It definitely was a good decision. I don't even think about arm/neck pain anymore and my arm is getting stronger every day. They didn't tell me to stop taking supplements until my pre-op, which was only 3 days before surgery. Good luck to you! Maybe you'll even get some migraine relief!
  • Glad you worked pain free! How long were you in pain prior to surgery? Wondering if that has something to do with your quick recovery. I had been suffering for 12 years prior to making the decision to have surgery. I am at 3 weeks today. I did waaaaaay too much yesterday and really paid for it last night. I went to lunch, went to the gym and did 30 min of cardio without moving arms, then went to Costco, didn't lift anything, though, then cooked dinner. I had a rough night with muscle spasms and still feel pulling/tightness this morning so will take it a little easy today. See the dr for f/u too. Glad you are doing so well!
  • My first pain (shoulder) was 6 years ago. It was intense but only lasted a day. I thought it was a muscle problem. My arm was weak after that but I got used to it. A few months ago I had the same intense shoulder pain but this time it didn't go away and my arm went numb very often. The pain moved from the top of my shoulder to my neck and back of my shoulder. That's what finally sent me to the doc.
  • I had my first post-op check up today, 2 weeks after surgery. They did an x-ray to make sure everything is in the correct place. It all looks good. I have a bone growth stimulator now that I have to wear 4 hours a day until further notice. I don't have a follow up for a month so that means I will be wearing it at least a month. I finally got the steri-strips off my incision. It is pretty much completely healed and doesn't look like it will even be noticeable.
  • It's been 4 weeks since surgery now. Everything is still going great! It's hard to find 4 hours every day to wear my bone growth stimulator but that is just a minor inconvenience. I am pain free and have none of the weakness, pain, or numbness I had prior to surgery. My next follow up is in 2 weeks.
  • It's been 4 weeks since surgery now. Everything is still going great! It's hard to find 4 hours every day to wear my bone growth stimulator but that is just a minor inconvenience. I am pain free and have none of the weakness, pain, or numbness I had prior to surgery. My next follow up is in 2 weeks.
  • I was doing some house painting today and was shocked to find the paint brush in my left hand. I haven't used my left hand for anything that required any degree of precision for 6 years! It was a little awkward but it's nice to have two useful arms again! It's been 5 weeks since surgery and I'm very encouraged that my left arm will return to normal over time.

  • It sounds like you are doing amazingly well.

    Do be careful that you don't over do it and cause your pain to increase again.

    How encouraging to find that you can use your left hand again.

    Keep healing and follow all the rules!
  • I had check-up today, 6 weeks after surgery. Everything was still in place. No problems. I asked what my limitations were and got told "don't do anything like mow the yard." Interesting he answered with that because that was exactly why I was asking! He said I'll be free to do anything after my NEXT appointment, which is 6 weeks from now. Any volunteers to take care of my lawn? I feel like I could do anything but I guess I'll slow down for a while. Grrrrr
  • Jmal,
    Sounds like everything went great. I had same issues, shoulder pain and numbness. Went to doc on Monday-xray, Thurs-MRI, Neuro called same day, Friday pre-op, fusion next Wed, crazy. No pain at all after surgery, finger is still numb. My insurance wouldn't pay for a bone growth stimulator and they want $2k for one, so I'm going without I guess. Enjoyed reading your post and hope it stays going well.
  • I got full release for activity today! I'm showing good bone growth and everything is still in place. It's been 3 months since surgery. I go back one more time in 3 more months to confirm that fusion is complete.
  • wonderful news!!!!!!! I am thrilled for you!!!!!! :D
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • jmalaysiajjmalaysia Posts: 35
    edited 02/02/2013 - 7:41 AM
    My surgery will be one year ago next week. I thought I would give another update. Nothing has really changed since my last post. I am still free of any arm or neck pain, and my left arm is still working pretty good. It's not as good as new by any means, but I can do anything I want with it. It's the same size and shape as my right arm. I have good strength in it and no longer have to worry about using "my good arm."
    Lots of people on here ask if you lose range of motion... well yes, sort of. I can tell there is something "foreign" in my neck and I doubt that feeling will ever go away. I can move my head up, down, and side to side as far as I ever could but I can tell I'm kind of "at my limit" if that makes any sense.
    After a year, I rate my surgery as a complete success. I am much, much better off than before surgery. A year ago I was sitting in this same spot with pretty bad neck pain and a weak, numb left arm. Those problems are long gone!
  • it is great to hear from you and especially as you have good news to share with us.

    It is lovely to hear of an ACDF patient who has got good relief and feeling so much better a year down the line.

    Can I ask, did you have immediate relief from your symptoms, or did it take time for things to improve?

    You have said that you had a numb left arm and neck pain, but was that before or after your surgery?

    I have had a 2 level ACDF 12 weeks ago and still have most of my symptoms. I am hoping they will go with time and my surgeon says there is still time for improvement.

    Thank you for coming to share your good story of recovery. I hope that you will continue to enjoy being free from your symptoms. :-)
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