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Checking in after 3 level ACDF on Monday

sunshinebry2000ssunshinebry2000 Posts: 81
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
This is going to be short but wanted to let you know. So I woke up to very little pain in my arms and I was elated he said that the herniated disc was really a really huge impingment on my spinal cord. I do need to tell you that my neck and shoulders hurt so bad I can hardly stand it. They sent me home with percocet, Dilaudid and flexeril and I cannot find relief. It is day 3 so I will be patient but I was not expecting this much pain. I can harley move and it fells like there is knives on fire coming out the back of my neck. Ill keep the faith, I just wanted to let you know. I just need to heal. Ill write more in a couple days when I should feel better. Im still really thrilled about my arm though!!
Kimberly Martin


  • So pleased to hear that the pain in your arms is almost gone, but sorry to hear how much pain your neck is feeling.

    My neurosurgeon (I haven't had cervical surgery yet) has warned me that I will have severe pain in my neck and shoulders after surgery.

    I do hope that you will feel better very soon and that your healing will get under way.

    Take good care.
  • Thanks for posting about your recovery!
    Hang tight, the severe pain will pass with further healing. Your tissue has been poked, cut, stretched and bent out of shape, and your body is probably thinking what the heck??? Each day it will heal a bit more, and close up and calm down.

    Your surgeon was wise to warn you about the pain. My ACDF 2 level is in 2 weeks and according to my surgeon, it will be a walk in the park and just minor discomfort. I wish, but know better than that.

    Wish you all the best with healing and progress, lovely that the arm is better!

    Best of luck,
    Cause: car accident & genetics
    Effect: herniations C4-7, stenosis, osteoarthritis, myelopathy, neuropathy
    Non-invasive Treatment: everything under the sun
    Invasive Treatment: 2 level ACDF, C5 & C6, May 2012
    Moving Forward: SCS
  • Yes Hang Tight. I had a 3 level surgery and I also had very bad pain in my neck and shoulders. It takes time to settle down. We are all thinking of you! Rest and be patient (I know it's hard). ;)
    ACDF C4-C7 5/13/2010. Synthetic Bone Graft Failed Fusion.
    PCF C4-C7 8/13/13. Rods and Screws Fused in 3 Months with Autograft.
    C6-C7 Spineous process Surgically Shaved Off 3/11/14.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    Im glad the pain in your arm is almost gone and hopefully with time it will all go away. My Drs suggestions to me was to walk. Walk as much as possible. I know you do not feel like it but it will help with the pain in the shoulders and the neck. It will help keep those muscles from tightening up. If you were anything like me during my recovery you will find that each day gets a little easier. Welcome to the other side.
  • I just wanted to say congratulations on your surgery!

    I am sorry you are in pain and pray with each passing day things improve. I wish you a speedy recovery hon.

    Missy, 1 level ACDF C6/C7 Monday July 16th 2012.

  • Welcome to the other side. I think the pain in your neck and shoulders is common after a 3-lvl ACDF - I had one and had the same problems. A good muscle relaxant and pain meds are crucial in the first month or two. If flexiril isn't working for you, see if you can temporarily get something stronger like valium or soma. Muscle spasms are all too common after this surgery.

    Hang in there and know it will get better with time. As I've said a gazillion times, measure your recovery in weeks, not days. This is a long recovery and you're still very early out from a major surgery and assault to your neck area.

    Take care and please continue to keep us posted.
  • The pain in the neck and shoulders is VERY common after ACDF, don't worry! Sitting in a recliner helped me a lot with that pain. Also make sure to take your meds regularly so the pain does not build as much.
    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
  • So glad you are in recovery stage. It takes the nerves especially a good while to settle down, remember they were being bent out of shape(literally) for a long time before surgery.

    Stand with the best posture you can and walk, it does help as others have mentioned. I used to hunch my shoulders because of the pain, but using good posture helps keep the rest of the spine in good alignment and will pay off as things heal.

    Give yourself time, take your meds before the pain is too bad, they will work better. It's hard to play catch up. Give yourself time to heal.

    Thinking of you,


  • Wow there was several hours I thought Im not going to make it, the pain was so severe I was sure madness would come before relief! Now at day 5 I am able to complete thoughts and I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, I am still in pain but I can tell it is less and I am sure everyday will get better. I was so emotional after the surgery,I could barely hold it together but I am feeling so much better. I still have alot of weakness in my right arm, the doc said that the nerve was impinged for so long that it may take a while to come back I will start PT in 2 weeks. I am happy I made this decision even though I second guessed my self quite a bit. I can now say that I think it will be ok. I got a bone stimulator yesterday and she said to use it as much as i want, so I have been using it for several hours, i am also finding some relief from ice packs. The meds are helping me sleep. So I will keep you posted thanks for the well wishes. i am really glad you are here and I am glad I am now part of the positive outcome stories that I can help someone with.
    Kimberly Martin
  • I'm so glad you felt well enough to keep us up on how you are doing.

    We are all rooting for a complete recovery and for the pain to lessen as each day passes.

  • Glad to hear you're making progress. I've been looking for your posts to see your progress since I'll be doing 3 level in a few weeks.
    - Vin

    3 level ACDF, c3/4, c5/6/7 in May 2012
  • I hope your pain decreases over time and remember we are all here for you. C5-6 ACDF scheduled for July 10, 2012. God Bless, Joe
    ACDF C5-6 July 10, 2012 with plate and screws.
  • Thanks so much for the well wishes they have helped me more than you know.well i need to tell you i have had some good days and some really bad days, if not for the good days I would have gone mad. I think it is hard when you are alone and have the hours of a vampire, i sleep all day and up all night trying to sleep and sleep comes at 5am and then I am up again the next night doing the same thing it is a vicsious circle!I went post op appt on Friday and the x-ray looks good they said there is some bone growth and I am begining to fuse. I am starting PT next week and am looking forward to getting back the right arm muscle because it is still very weak. I am feeling much better I think it is my mind that has betrayed me more than by body, the MEDS are working now and I am feeling stronger mentally everyday. Although I complain to anyone who will listen this was the right decision for me and I am glad i did it! I see an active future and that makes me smile!!!O VinG I wish you luck on your surgery! It does get better.Promise
    Kimberly Martin
  • I am so glad to hear the good news from your post-op appt. <:P I hope as time goes by, the ups and downs will even out for a smoother recovery for you.

    Keep us posted,

  • days of rest and although it can be an up and down with pain, muscle spasms and body healing from this major c-spine surgery, you can see each week levels out to progress and more relief on the horizon.

    I had 3 level ACDF and remember the first 3-4 wks were worse than I thought, but I had no idea of any surgery let alone major spine surgery and found out it was normal.

    I loved getting better sleep into the 4th week and being able to walk more than in the house, my whole spine hurt.

    And better yet as inflammation eases down from the interventional trauma of the surgery 6-8 wks felt sooo much better and felt like I was truly healing.

    Pace yourself, and see the ups and downs do progress to more ups than downs, but it takes a while and that's normal recovery :)

    Keeping you in heart-thoughts/prayers for you recovery to continue and baby steps turn to big steps and your spine is fusing and stabilizing well !

    Stay in touch each step of the way, you see we are here for you and the worst is behind you,
  • So i am doing pretty well, i am still on pain meds but I am finding that I take them as needed rather than every four hours to stay on top of it. What has concerned me is, my neck still has steri-strips over my incision,at mt post-op appt the doctor said they should start to come off on their own but if they dont, wait till the ends fray and help peel them off but do not force them and do not rip off a formed scab underneath. Well my have held fast they are not coming off on their own and I can see the scab underneath ( sorry if that is a little graphic)I tried to pull off one that was lifted a little and it would not budge and my skin is still numb right there not numb like no feeling more like numb when you go to dentist..I am concerned because I am pretty sure my incision needs air to heel and the scab cannot fall off with this tape on it. has anyone had this trouble or any thoughts on how I can help this along. If I just scream in pain and rip them off my skin and scab will come with. any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks
    Kimberly Martin
  • Have you tried letting the water run over the incision area while showering? The water will eventually go under the steri strips and they should release. At least that worked for me. Where you are only 2.5 weeks post op, I wouldn't worry too much. Are you using neosporin or anything on the parts not covered by the steri strips? Vitamin E? Those kinds of things may help the strips to loosen too.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Totally agree with Cindy. My steri-strips seemed to stay on forever! I worked on them after a nice warm shower and they came right off! :)

    Best of luck to you. You sound like you have a very positive attitude, which will help you through your recovery.Keep us posted.
  • thanks for the responses, I feel like such an idiot asking you all for pointers about steri strips, but I actually like the idea of oil. I have some facial olive oil that I could put on to loosen them. Water does not work when take a shower I let water run over them and pull on them after, they still wont budge. I have a call in to MD for an ok to pull scab with strip when I force them off, he is in surgery today so not sure when I will hear back. I did get confirmation from his office that they have had patients with steri strips still on past the 4 week mark so I am not as worried. I just really want to heal and do the right thing. I saw that video that someone posted with that girl after her surgery and her incision looked all healed at 10 days post op and that is what worried me, good video though, wish I had seen it before surgery would have took alot of my worry away.So thanks for the advice I will keep you posted.
    Kimberly Martin
  • SO the MD said leave the steri strips in place and let them fall off on their own and not too worry..Creating drama where there is none, I can walk away from that. thanks everyone..starting PT ill keep you posted on my recovery..blessings
    Kimberly Martin
  • hope you have a really good day today sunshinebry
  • Hi Sunshinery,

    Just wanted to stop by and let you know it does get better with time. I had a 4 level fusion on 12/19/11 and know exactly what you're going through as most of us do. The arm and shoulder pain take time to heal and I've still got some on a daily basis but it is getting better.

    Good luck and take it slow that really is the best medicine at your point in recovery.
  • EvaEEva Posts: 18
    edited 12/27/2012 - 12:23 PM
    I was very careful with my steri strips and when I went to the doctor, he removed them...as gentle as he could but, it still brought tears to my eyes. Yes, I am a baby when it comes to pain.
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