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CharliJCCharliJ Posts: 15
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:03 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I wanted to post to give some hope for all you post acdf people out there- because this was the post I wanted to read a year ago. I am 16 months post a C6 C7 discectomy- I had a massive herniation with some spinal cord compression and extensive neurological- motor weakness in my left arm. It has taken a very long time but I am virtually pain free now and the motor weakness has almost completely gone. I had neck and shoulder muscle spasms for well over a year and additionally I had ulnar problems following the operation itself in both my forearms and hands. I spent a lot of time despairing and thinking I would never get better. I read a lot of very gloomy stuff on the internet. But I am much better- the nerves have healed very very slowly. Some days I could not move my head- now my ROM feels pretty normal. I still have a bit of ulnar stuff going on but I know it's getting better. These are the things that helped me: MOVEMENT. I walked and walked. Then I did physio and pilates. I lay on a swiss ball and stretched my arms out, to stretch my thoracic area. Every day for five minutes or so. I lay on my back with my knees up -a lot. I learned to meditate. Jon Kabat Zinn's book "Full catastrophe Living" really helped. I took sertraline (zoloft)...which helped the depression which descended. I felt much better in the new Year- psychologically. I gradually increased my exercise- cycling and swimming- being careful to keep aligned. I had massage every two weeks from a myofascial release therapist. Then I started zumba- which I did gently at first- but it made me feel great from the beginning- in my head and increasingly in my body. I started enjoying being in my body again. I worked really hard at my recovery. Oh I had acupuncture too- five element- not specifically to work on the pain but on my emotions surrounding the pain. I tried to look forward and be positive. I gradually got back to work (I'm a scriptwriter) which took my mind off the pain. I tried to meet the pain with interest, breathe with it, not panic. It has taken a long time like I say- and maybe I would be in the same place now if I hadn't done any of those things- and time was all it needed. BUt I had many moments when I didn't trust that I would get better and I would have welcomed a story of hope. I think I have learned a lot about myself- my tendency to panic, my tendency not to be kind to myself, my tendency to feel like a failure- and I have had to challenge those things and not believe everything I think. I have tried to look at my journey as a breakthrough and not a breakdown, to make friends with my body and what it is trying to tell me. I tried to diet too- and that was tough! but I found upping my protein made me feel better, taking fish oils, not giving myself a hard time about the meds I was taking. Still believing that I was a whole, good person with a future despite my injury. Not getting too caught up in the I will never be the same storyline. We are all different - I am a 43 mother of two, living in the UK- and our journeys will be different, but if I could go back now to the time after my operation I would tell myself: don't be afraid, the body is a miraculous thing and things will get better...rest, trust, move, listen to your body and be kind to yourself...


  • From one 43 year old mother of two to another: thank you for posting this! I am roughly just under 16 months post-op as well and am still not giving up! My pain has gotten much better and I still feel changes with the kind of pain I get. You are right that the body is a miraculous thing! Thank you for sharing! :)
    2011 ACDF C5-6 for Spondylosis with Myleopathy
    2012 L4-5 herniated disc and hernated disc at C4/5 2013 Taking Amitriptyline for headaches
  • Lili- don't give up. The pain does change. I'm not completely there yet- I still take some medication- but I really try and focus on the 95% of my body that functions beautifully! We can't expect to go through life without pain- childbirth brought me problems with my pelvis and back but that pain changed evolved and went after some years. Put yourself in the camp with the well people! And I really believe a balance of movement and rest is essential for health. Try and stay positive- for your kids too. My Mum has degenerative discs and scoliosis and all I remember her talking about is pain. She is in terrible pain but she has never believed she had any power in her situation- she just waited for pills and doctors to fix her. When my disc slipped I thought- here we go I will be the same as her- but I don't believe that now- and anyway thinking that my future will be like hers isn't helpful to either of us. I try and stay rooted in now- what is the pain/ sensation like now...where am I not in pain now? The mind is a powerful thing!
  • Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. I am a bit over 8 weeks out and find myself worrying about still having some shoulder/shoulder blade issues. Your post was very enlightening! :)
    ACDF C4-5/5-6 - 04-09-2012
  • Hi Karen,
    Your shoulder blade issues may well resolve more quickly. I just wish I had known that it can take two years or so for nerves to heal. I also believe that negative thinking can affect us on a cellular level and that thoughts/ worries aren't facts- so we have to retrain ourselves/ reset our neural pathways with positive thinking- "I am healing, my nerves are recovering, soon I will enjoy vibrant good health again". I know that doing that has made me feel better emotionally and when I am anxious the pain is worse. I started to believe after six months that I was in a chronic pain scenario- a pain that would never go so I've worked hard to get myself out of that rut. I did need the comfort of knowing other people were going through a similar thing but sometimes I had to remove myself from incessant talk of illness, pain and new worrying symptoms. I became convinced I had thoracic outlet syndrome from looking on the internet- but then I said- stop this! your body is unique and is trying hard to find balance. Give it time- that made the pain easier to bear and actually made my recovery speedier I believe. Think positive!
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