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3 wks. post op, update

notsonnotso Posts: 56
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:01 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi...Today I'm 3 wks. post op my C5-C7 ACDF...At this point my symptoms before my surgery are all gone other than a little pain in both feet, last week I was worried because I had a few days of numbness/tingling in my right toes. Had my 2 wk. post op check Friday and the doctor said because of the trauma to the nerves around the spinal cord because of the surgery things can become inflammed and I might have some episodes of numbness/tingling off and on. My swallowing pain is minimal now and I can eat regular foods again. The lump under my incision which the doctor said is a 'seroma' is getting smaller every day, I still put ice on it (doctor's orders) and it isn't as tender, it takes time to absorb the fluids (probably from a small bleeder) back into the body. I'm trying to do at least a half mile on the treadmill walking and I'm still having neck, upper back, and shoulder muscle pain which I'm still using ice to relieve, the walking helps my muscle pain. Every day the muscle pain is less unless I overdo, then ouch!
I'm still using Percocet and muscle relaxers, the doctor encouraged me to try Valium for break through muscle spasms which has also helped. I'm sleeping in my regular bed so no more recliner for the last week, and I'm still wearing my soft collar off and on throughout the day and while sleeping.
I felt better after my 2 wk. check and I asked lots of questions that have cropped up, like my range of motion limitations. I've been a little paranoid about how sturdy my hardware in my neck is and my doctor reassured me that it would take a lot to break it and it's pretty sturdy. That said I'm still very careful not to turn my head too far or lift more than instructed and to get plenty of rest. This was a scary surgery for me as I know it is for many others so just wanted to post, just in case any info or experience I'm having can help anyone else. Best wishes,


  • I am so pleased to hear how you are doing.
    It sounds like you are on your way to a good recovery.

    I am facing having a similar surgery, but higher up and am trying to prepare myself mentally for it. Reading others's stories is very helpful to get some idea of what to expect.

    Did you get tingling and numbness in your toes before surgery? I ask because I do get that, but can't be sure which level is causing it. I had it before my lumbar fusion 2 years ago. It went for quite a while after this surgery, but is back again.
    Even climbing the stairs or standing for too long will bring it on. Sometimes when out walking I get a very sharp stabbing/electric shock pain in my toes which is followed by a burning that lasts a few seconds. Could this be from my neck?

    Thank you for coming and sharing how you are doing.
    I wish you a complete recovery and hope that you will be able to get back to living a full life.

  • Great update, glad to hear that you are doing well. I am 5 weeks post op, but lumbar adr.

    Good to hear that your swallowing pain is minimal and you are able to eat regular

    I understand your fears about bending, twisting, lifting. I am very paranoid about that as well, and think that some of my muscle spasms are from my guarding.

    Hope your recovery continues to go so well!

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Jellyhall, Yes the numbness/tingling, pain, burning, pins/needles not only was in my toes and feet but it went up my legs too, also had it in my arms, hands, fingers and sometimes pins/needles all over my body and my skin would start burning on my thighs. My neuro said the foot and leg symptoms were from my neck as my back MRI didn't indicate those kind of symptoms. He told me several times that you can have symptoms anywhere from the neck down with cervical myelopathy and that he had many patients with symptoms like mine. Thanks for your nice thoughts and I'm taking one day at a time and so far I'm glad I had the surgery..time will tell. If you have any more questions as to my situation and recovery so far, feel free to contact me.
  • I think probably some of my muscle spasms might have also been caused by some guarding, I was trying to be so careful thinking that I want my fusion to be successful and I really worried about messing up my hardware...Last week I heard and felt some occasional clicking in my neck and got a little freaked out, I thought it was my hardware and that I had done something to it. My doc reassured me that it was my vertebrae making the noise, I can't remember what he said it was but that it was normal to have happen..the sounds have since disappeared. The reassurance I got at my two wk. visit really helped me to relax even tho I'm still very careful. I've had several major surgeries in my life and this has by far been the most nervewracking I guess because of the nature of it. I start physical therapy in a few weeks so that will be interesting! And a little scary...Hope you continue with a good recovery with your back. :)
  • Hi Meg,
    Yes, I get the tingling and numbness in my hands and arms too. I also get a burning / aching pain on the top of my thighs and seem to be starting to get sciatica type pain in my right buttock and back of thigh down to just above my knee, and in the outer calf of my left leg. I do wonder if this could possibly be from my neck. Did you get any pain like that?

    I also get a feeling that I have been splashed with cold water - this is mostly on my legs, but also my arms and abdomen. Oh and a buzzing / vibrating in my right leg that feels like I have a mobile phone on vibrate inside my leg!

    It will be interested to see what I am left with after my neck surgery.

    Keep healing!
  • Jellyhall, I never knew what every day would bring with this whole thing..sometimes I would get knife-like stabbing pains that would be sudden and that could be anywhere on my body in addition to my other symptoms described above. They wouldn't last long but were a shock when they happened. I'm hopeful that all of my symptoms are gone forever...my feet still hurt a little especially when I walk a lot and they also tingle slightly but hopefully with time that too will go away. According to my neuro almost any symptoms can happen from the neck down with cervical myelopathy depending on where the pressure on the spinal cord is and what nerves are affected. I have also noticed a change in my bladder habits, and have read that pressure on the spinal cord will commonly cause urgency with urination, (probably TMI, sorry) but I think it's interesting that that has gone away too. I am in no way thinking that I'm totally fixed, time will tell, I'm just hopeful that as I heal (which I know will take months from reading everyone's posts) I will continue to be free of the awful symptoms that literally started so suddenly last October. At 57 I have loved my slow/jog form of exercise, am a little uneasy about returning to it in the future, and will be happy to just adopt a fast walking regimen if I have to. I don't think my jogging caused my cervical myelopathy, neither does my neuro, just aging and osteoarthritis, but I do think doing a strenous long run several times a week exacerbated my condition that I didn't even know I had. I'm going on and on, sorry, as I said this condition has been very stressful mentally/emotionally I think due to the scariness of it all. I just say to myself that things could be worse...there are worse things that one can have happen to them and many worse medical conditions. During this recovery time I have way too much time to think about all of this stuff! I hope you can resolve your symptoms soon,

  • Something else that I get is spasticity. That is stiffening spasms in my feet and legs as I wake in the morning and start to move. Sometimes it is around my abdomen too causing my back to arch right up off the bed. I also get this stiffening if I stand up after sitting for a long time. Did you get anything like this? I am very interested to know if this is likely to go after surgery, or if I will be left with it. I have heard that it is due to spinal cord damage, which is why I wonder if I will be left with it.

    Yes, those stabbing pains which occur almost anywhere on my body, making me jump in pain. They are very short lived and sometimes make my legs or arms jump.

    It is so encouraging to read that you are so much better. My neurosurgeon has told me that the surgery is done to halt the progression of my symptoms and damage to the cord. He said that about 70% will get some relief, but couldn't say how much relief or how long it would take to improve. Weighing this up with all the risks that he told us of and then the risk of an accident or even a fall possibly causing paralysis or weak legs and arms, makes the decision for surgery very hard. He said that he is almost certain that I will need to have surgery at some point, it is up to me to decide. I have to weigh up all the pros and cons. It is mind blowing and rather worrying. I am trying to wait until my next appointment with a different neurosurgeon in April. They have been watching me every 6 months for the last year, so will have a better idea of how quickly things are progressing. Emotionally, I don't feel ready for surgery. I can hardly believe that I am here again. It is two years since my lumbar fusion. 3 years ago, I was adamant that there was no way that I was going to have spinal surgery!

    I also know that there are many people far worse off than me and am thankful that I got into my 50s before reaching the point where my life is affected by all of this. I work in a school, and we have a little girl of 9 who has juvenile arthritus and it makes me so sad for her. At least I have been able to live a very active life while I was young.

    Take care Meg,

  • Jellyhall, Yes I did have several episodes of the stretching type spasms you have had...hard to describe isn't it, but half asleep when starting to wake up I felt a stretching sensation that developed into all I can say was an uncontrolled spasm like total body stretch and it did cause my back to arch uncontrollably...you are the only other person on this site who has described this symptom. It was very upsetting and definitely woke me up all the way, it happened several times. All I can say is you have to have faith in your doctors, get 2nd and maybe 3rd opinions. My doctors too, both 1st opinion and 2nd opinion warned me of the dangers of what could happen if I were to be in a car accident or have a bad fall since I had absolutely no cushion around my spinal cord. And they said I had no other option but to have the fusion and that I would just progress and get worse possibly leaving me with permanent damage. I was already having the heavy leg walking through mud feeling that they told me would get worse, they said stumbling and falling would be next. So my fears of having the surgery were outweighed by what they were telling me I could expect if I didn't have it. So far all of my symptoms are gone except for some pain in my feet when I do too much. At three weeks post op I'll take that. Everyone is different. I wish you the best with your decision, it isn't an aasy one to decide to have this surgery.

  • I get them every morning to some degree or other. It is so worrying because it is definately not normal and you can't control it. Sometimes it leads to very painful cramping.

    What did your doctors say about this spasming? Has yours gone now?

    It is so encouraging to hear that your symptoms are gone. Hopefully your pain in your feet will follow them!

    They did ask me if I have falls and stumbling. I haven't fallen but I do trip up on nothing sometimes - not very often though.

    I do find that going upstairs or walking up an incline (even a very slight one) my legs feel so tired. It seems like such hard work.

    Meg, I really do wish you well in your recovery. It sounds like you are on your way to a great solution to your problems.

    Take care and follow all post-surgical instructions. Do you walk each day?

    >:D< >:D< >:D<

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