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after C7 and C6 ACDF surgery healing process

darby1967ddarby1967 Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:01 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am about 48 hours out of ACDF disectomy fusion of c7 and c6. Wondering if the pain I am having in the center of the back between the shoulder blades is normal and from spaziming muscles. Hot showers are helping to relieve it, as well as ice packs. taking pain and muscle relaxers but can not lay down to sleep without getting very stiff. After surgery had immediate relief from the shooting pain down the left arm. But now feel like there is pain again there. Wondering if I could have turned wrong and messed something up in the center of the back of the neck or if this is part of the healing that results from the muscles somewhat being disturbed from the surgery overall. the pain comes and goes and hope that its just par for the course...its different than what I had beofre the surgery so I know the surgery worked, I am thinking its just part of the healing...??? Stretching seems to relieve too. The hip is very tender where they took out bone to replace the disc. Walking is not too bad once I got over the first day. Seems like the heavey pain med from surgery once it faded and the prescribed meds and relaxers are adminisered maybe they are not as strong and thus this is just normal healing/pain associated with the surgery in general? I tend to hold alot of stress along the back shoulder blades too thus thinking this is an exaggerated pain resulting from the surgery? comments? similar experiences?


  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    Yes, muscle spasms in the middle of your back after surgery is very common. The spasms last longer than the surgical pain sometimes. You're only two days out from major cervical surgery, so be patient. Take those meds and be patient - your recovery will take a few months before you feel better.

    Take care and keep us posted.
  • Yes, VERY COMMON! Things will calm down, right now the nerves, muscles and everything is irritated. Just take your pain meds and muscle relaxers and try to relax. If you don't have a lazy boy chair get yourself one (have someone go get it for you of course!! Don't lift anything!) I have a lazyboy chair that was about 250 dollars and it was some of the best money ever spent! I am sitting in it now actually!
    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
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    I have to agree with Cath and Donna---normal! For me, post op muscle spasms were the worst problem. I didn't really have any "surgical" pain from the incision or whatever just from the muscles. Try to walk all you can (carefully of course). I think walking helped ease the spasms more than anything for me. I found that sitting for to long only made it worse.

    Have hope...you'll start feeling better soon. It gets better every day. Remember, you just had major surgery even though the surgeons usually act like you've had a tooth pulled!

  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    Been there done that. The positions we are put in during surgery can aggravate the muscles. Give it some time, you are so new out of recovery, When I woke up from surgery, same as you my arm pain was gone. Fast forward a few days and the pain was back. Per my surgeon there was alot of swelling along with the fact that the nerve is waking back up and it would go away in time. To my relief it did.
    Good luck on your recovery
  • thanks to all your feedback! It really helps today I had a slight meltdown, crying etc...hoping I did not make the wrong decision by having surgery as this muscle discomfort is getting very old. Yes had more relief yesterday and mornings are the worse once I get up and move around it calms down. Ice packs rock. they really help sooth the muscles and give relief. It feels like that back center of my back between the shoulder blades has a weigth on it that is just pulling at it. Can not lie down and get comfortable to sleep...sleeping up is possible. Between the tireness the iritation and the spasms I am not a real treat now. these words above are all so encouraging..rounding out of 72 hours from surgery I have to say its better and thank god for pain pills...Have a great day!
  • I am 4 months out & STILL having pain in my shoulder blades. This is getting OLD. I sure hope others aren't having the same bad luck as I am having.


    ACDF C5-C6 01/2002
    ACDF C6-C7 12/2011
    Prognosis: Permanent nerve damage in hands/arms, all treatment options exhausted-- lifetime CPP
  • Hi,

    I am 2 weeks out from my ACDF on my C6/C7 disc and corpectomy on my C7 vertebrae with a titanium cage. My pain before surgery was greater on the right than left. Now, after surgery, the left arm pain is gone with the exception of the achy feeling on the left side of my upper back and neck. My right arm and shoulder pain is worse after surgery than it was before surgery. I even feel a burning pain in my vertebrae, primarily on the right side. Plus there are areas on my back and neck that are numb, they itch but I have really scratched them up trying to ease the itch, which doesn't work. I am still eating primarily a liquid diet since I am having a hard time swallowing and my voice is very hoarse. I really hope things turn around soon. I've seen some people on this site with really great ACDF experiences while others did not; however, my doctor told me before the surgery that I would probably not get rid of all my problems with surgery.

    Take care,
  • well going into week 3 after my surgery and I still am experiencing pain in the back area. I am contemplating going back to work as they say this surgery you are good to go after a few weeks. I tried to ween off the pain meds, in fact made it today thru the day took half a pill at 6 am, then did not take any the rest of the day until dinner time...all day I did not feel much discomfort and even did some stretching as figuring the stiffness may be from lack of movement since I have been so sedentary. My biggest issue is sleep I can not sleep all the way thru the night. I wake up every couple of hours and the stiffness is worse on the left side. I think I may have strained my left back/arm as my dog pulled my arm while on his leash and hope that the feeling I have is from the strained muscle. I am extremely frustrated and thinking I will never be pain free. Just not sure ...any comments would be appreciated...
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    Sorry you're still having problems but I honestly think it's normal post op healing. The surgery isn't as minor as they make it out to be. It takes a long time to heal--cause it is "major" surgery. I know that I had a lot of muscular pain post op and found the best help was walking. I did more walking in the month post op than I've done ever! lol. It really helped though.

    I don't know about returning to work so soon. What does your surgeon say? When do you see him/her again? Please don't overdo things. Give yourself time to heal.

  • Glad to find these posts. I had surgery 4 weeks ago and am still experiencing pain the area where the fusion took place and the pain radiates down the back of my neck and across my shoulders. Just this week I am now experiencing sore muscles in both arms. Does this seem normal? I have not taken the pain meds for about a week, but just yesterday and the day before I took some. I have to go back to work in two weeks and just typing this post now from the laptop is painful. I have done everything I can to avoid excessive lifting, etc. and I do walk everyday about 1 hour and of course throughout the day at home, etc. Anyone out there who can give me some hope. Thanks so much,
  • Hi there, Darby:

    I am now 3 weeks after my ACDF having muscle strain up and down the left side of my neck and into my trapezius on the left side. For me, I bought a microwaveable heating pad that drapes over my shoulders. That helps a lot.

    I also found, for me, that sleeping sort of sitting up was the best. I took the back cushion from my sofa and put it up against my headboard and put two of my softer pillows vertical up against that - and that has helped immensely.

    I am wearing a Miami J Collar, so it limits my neck tremendously, so that position seems to allow for the best sleep for me.

    When I feel some strain, I close my eyes and do a lot of slow, deep breathing. It helps alleviate the stress and the tightening of the muscles, so perhaps something like that could help.

    While tremendously uncomfortable, it sounds like what you are experiencing is normal.
    Nerves are trying to reconnect and calm down and from what my surgeon said, that all takes time.

    Hang in there! It does get exponentially better -- or I sure hope so! :)
    Hang in there.
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
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