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Just found out I need ACDF with spinal fusion on C4-7 and a little freaked out by it

Hi folks, I'm new here...

I've never had any major surgery done before. My spinal doc has determined that I'll need C4-C7 microdiscectomy with a spinal fusion. I'm really scared and nervous about this. I just started a new job as a contractor, hoping to move into full time in another 3 weeks, but now this has become a factor in all this. I'm starting COBRA next week and the company I'm working for was planning on putting me fulltime by 8/20...the same day of my surgery now.

The doctor said that my current pain (neck pain radiating down my shoulder/forearm/thumb with numbness in my forearm) is the result of the disc between C6-C7 but that the one between C5-C6 is impinging the most on my spinal cord and could result in paralysis if I was involved in a significant accident causing whiplash. So that's scary.

I've been in pain for over a month now, and I know I need to do something. I've set up an appointment to get a 2nd opinion prior to surgery but almost all indicators show that i'll need this (I had this problem in 2006 but was able to manage it through PT at the time...now it's gotten worse).

I had some questions:
1) I'm only 38 years old...how much impact is this going to have on my quality of life if I'm fairly active? (I like going to the gym, riding my motorcycle, walking, etc...)
2) How much impact is this going to have on my being able to work, post-operation? I see a lot of people have been out of work for months after the surgery and I just can't afford that at all.
3) The idea of going into surgery alone is scaring the crap out of me...I get nauseous just thinking about it...since I've never had major surgery before, I just don't know what to expect. I guess I wonder if this is normal?
4) How long will pain last, generally speaking?

Thanks so much for any insight you can provide. I'm sure some of these questions have been answered in the forums, but I wonder how far along this kind of surgery has come and what impact it might have on my recovery, as opposed to earlier methods. Thanks all.


  • Hi,
    I had C4 to C7 (four discs) removed and fused in November last year. I've got titanium plates and screws. I had lost much of my arm strength. Like you, I ride a bike (Kawasaki Concours). I am 60 years old. The hard part is having to wear a neck brace and not being able to drive for supposedly three months. I didn't have much pain afterwards but not being able to drive is a pain. It's now been around 9 months and it keeps getting better. I used to have chronic pain in my neck shoulders...it's gone for good. My neck does make snapping sounds a lot but lately it seems to be doing it less. I can drive my motorcycle no problem and I can't imagine not being able to do anything that I used to do so don't sweat it. Just make sure that you have a really good surgeon who does it a lot.
  • islandstylistiislandstylist Posts: 307
    edited 07/28/2012 - 6:13 AM
    I just had my c6/c7 fusion surgery 11 days ago. My disc was impinging my spinal cord too so I really didnt have a choice. I am your age. I am a real freak when it comes to surgery and it wasn't bad at all.

    You can go look at my posts if you like. My nerve pain is gone allready I just have some pain in my neck that should subside with time. The best advice I could give you is what DanK allready said. Make sure you have an experienced surgeon. Don't hesitate to ask me any questions, I'm happy to answer them.

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

  • Thank you Missy, I'll go check out your posts.
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