I had my ACDF for C4-5 & C5-6 on 12/3/12, so I'm just over 3 weeks post op now. It was such a painful thing to go through...I woke up crying in the recovery room. I spent a good 10 days medicated around the clock, & I still need a narcotic pretty much daily at this point. Not happy about that. :-( And I feel like a drug seeker if I need to ask for more pain meds. My arm pain & headaches are gone, but neck pain remains & it seems to move more down my back to one side a bit more and more. Honestly, it feels to me like it's related to poor posture because of post op muscular weakness.
I wore a hard collar for several days, but found it very difficult to tolerate, so weaned myself off by about 7 days post op. I think that any more time in that torture device might have created permanent injury, if it hasn't already.
I saw my surgeon for my first post op visit at 2 weeks. I brought to his attention what feels like a LOT of scar tissue directly under my incision. It's so hard under there, felt like a deck of cards. My surgeon reminded me that he encountered existing scar from a previous thyroid operation 9 years ago. Makes sense. He was ready to send me off with a follow-up appointment at 7 weeks post op when I asked for a script for PT. He said he usually doesn't do PT so soon, but I told him I'm afraid of things freezing up in my neck. I mean...it already feels that way, particularly from how my head would sit nestled inside the hard collar. So I've had 4 PT visits so far. Not much improvement seen from that yet, but I know I must learn to be a more patient patient, so to speak.
My biggest concern is 2 tendons (I think they are tendons, anyway, though I suppose they could be ligaments), 1 that originates on the edge of the left side of my jaw near my left ear and another that originates halfway between that edge and my chin. Both go (somewhere) down my neck and I think they are now frozen, in a non-extended state, to the scar tissue in my neck, due to being immobile in the (expletive) hard collar. I can barely extend my neck backward if I keep my mouth closed. If I open my mouth, lowering my jaw, I get much greater extension.
With mouth closed and extending my neck, I can physically palpate the tendons from jawline to incision line, stretched tight, unable to budge further. Note: there is no problem on the right side of my jaw, and the incision exists more to the left side than the right.
I read in another post about post op depression. I'm relieved I'm not alone in that. I'm also concerned that I return to work tomorrow, a desk job with mostly sitting. I tire so easily now doing almost nothing, I don't know how I'll make it through the day. I feel like a wimp. And a big baby.
Somebody please tell me this is all normal & to be expected. My gut tells me no, though. I'm beginning to become afraid that I'll need some kind of additional surgical procedure to release this scar tissue.
Edited to add: I also have complete numbness of my skin from my jawline to the incision line on the left side. It hasn't improved at all in 3 weeks & I'm beginning to think it might be permanent?
status post ADCF C4-5 & C5-6 12/3/12
ACDF C4-5, C5-6 on 12/3/12
Bone growth stimulator 4 hrs/day
Follow up 1/21/12 - growing bone, still in pain though. Working desk job but still not cleared for volunteer EMS :-(