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ACDF Surgery c6-c7 for Spondylotic Myelopathy and Radiculopathy

Hello All,

I just had surgery a few days ago and I thought I would post my experience so far for the benefit of anyone else that might be going through a similar situation.

I was diagnosed in August with congenital cervical stenosis with three herniated discs at levels c4-c5, c5-c6, and c6-c7. The c6-c7 level was the worst and was compressing my spinal canal down to an A-P diameter of 6 mm. The compression was causing radicular pain down my arms, wrists and hands, stiffness and pain in my neck and between my shoulder-blades, and feelings of weakness and disjointedness in my legs.

I went and got 3 opinions and all said that I needed immediate ACDF surgery on the c6-c7 level only but would need to monitor the other levels going forward for signs of further degradation.

I got my c6-c7 ACDF surgery done 3 days ago.

- I feel that my legs are my own again. My legs still feel a little weak but I sense them properly and they are not as squirly as they were starting to become.
- The pain in my hands and arms has gone away, but then reappearred - most likely from the swelling. The doctor said this might happen off and on for a few weeks.
- I am in moderate pain especially in the shoulders, back of neck, and between the shoulder-blades. It is hard to change position from vertical to horizontal and back.
- My heartbeat has been elevated to between 100 to 115 bpm consistently since the surgery. Pre-surgery my heatbeat was in the 70 to 85 bpm range. My doctor also said this was normal and that it should go down over the next week or so.
- My throat was initially hurting quite a bit, making it hard to swallow. Today is the first day I've sensed improvement.
- It was very difficult immediately after the surgery to urinate and have a bowel movement. I had to have a one time catheter put in to empty my bladder. Since then both urination and bowels have been slowly coming back to normal. I'm told this happened as a result of the anesthesia and the pain meds that were given to me via I.V.

I will continue to post my progress. Thanks all for your posts, it helped me a lot so I wanted to write my experiences here to hopefully help others as well.

- Diagnosed with Congenital Cervical Stenosis ,degenerative discs c4-c5, c5-c6, c6-c7, spondylotic myelopathy and radiculopathy c6-c7
- ACDF Surgery c6-c7


  • Hello All,

    I wanted to post an update to how I am doing now about 20 days post op on my C6-C7 ACDF:

    - Up through yesterday, I was feeling improvements day by day in my pain, weakness, muscle spasms, dizziness/nausea, etc. The pain between my shoulderblades has reduced significantly and so has the pain radiating down my arms and into my hands. There are some residual paresthesias but they are very transient in nature.

    - Two nights ago around 7:30 pm, however, sort of out of nowhere I started to feel weak and cold/tingly in the legs and somewhat dizzy/nauseous. I didn't strain myself in any way so don't know what could have brought this on. I decided that I should probably call it a night and went to sleep around 9.

    - Yesterday morning I woke up and had a painful kink on the left side of my neck. The pain is located in my left trapezius where the neck first starts to slope into the shoulder, approximately the same horizontal level as my incision site. It is difficult to turn my neck left even a little without getting locked up and feeling acute pain. I put a heat pad on it and also went into some hot spa water to hopefully soothe it. I also put an ice pack on it afterwards. I emailed my doctor's PA to ask what this could possibly be. I'll add the PA's response below

    - As of yesterday, my legs still feel a bit weak and a bit less responsive, though not so cold/tingly at the moment. I went for my morning walk yesterday and my pace was definitely slower than the previous days. Also my hands seem to be somewhat jittery and hard to properly control. Even typing as I am doing now seems a bit slower because of the jitters. The dizzyness/nausea is less but the perceived loss of hand and leg strength/control is somewhat disorienting. I think these symptoms are worrying me the most at the moment.

    - My resting heart rate has progressively reduced to the mid 80's since I last wrote, but yesterday it elevated again to the high 90's/low 100's. I didn't feel any shortness of breath or any palpitations.

    - My triceps have approximately the same amount of shakiness as it did immediately post op (and pre op), with perhaps a slight improvement.

    - I have been walking for about 20 mins x 2 times/day for my daily exercise with pretty good consistency. Yesterday when I went for my morning walk, however, it felt a little awkward as I mentioned in point 3.

    - I did a single level ACDF at C6/C7 but left my other two protruding discs at C4/C5 and C5/C6 alone for now. In my last MRI, the C4/C5 disc was pushing and flattening my spinal cord on the anterior side the doctor said it was ok to leave alone for now since there was CSF still flowing around posterior side of the cord. My question is, could this C4/C5 disc contact with my cord be causing my current leg and arm symptoms mentioned in point 4, or is it most likely the post op swelling from the surgery? I'll post the doctor's response when I get it.

    - PA's response: The PA said that it is difficult to tell whether the symptoms are coming from normal post op swelling or if they are new symptoms that need to be treated. She recommended getting a new cervical MRI. I will post an update after the new MRI and after I meet with the doctor again.
    - Diagnosed with Congenital Cervical Stenosis ,degenerative discs c4-c5, c5-c6, c6-c7, spondylotic myelopathy and radiculopathy c6-c7
    - ACDF Surgery c6-c7
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