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Recovery not going as planned

Not sure where I should post this, but thought this would be a good place. I'm 8 weeks out from a 1 level acdf at c5/6. First few weeks went great, but the past 3 or so have been agony. The nerve pain is back and worse and now I'm getting different pain in my neck area. I've been in contact with my surgeon, he wants me to go to PT but they haven't called yet to set up my first appointment. I'm back to taking pain meds as much as I hate to. I'm also on 800mg Ibuprofen, but it's not touching the pain. I'm calling the surgeon again today, I hate being looked at as a pill seeker, even though I don't think he will, he's been very supportive throughout my recovery. I don't even know what to ask him though, are there better nsaids? Different pain meds? It was so bad last night I resorted to taking an oxy which I have tried to stay away from since week 2. Starting to get really depressed, think I may have to go back out on leave from work even though we really need the money. Sorry this is so long, just needing a place to talk.


  • I know that when I had my ACDF my surgeon told me NOT take NSAIDs. Tylenol extra strength works well and is not an NSAID. NSAIDs can hinder the fusion process if I remember what he said correctly. As to the nerve pain it can get worse before it gets better. Depending on how severe the impengement of your spinal chord was many things can start causing pain. Your spinal chord and other nerves afftected by the issue are "waking up" and can be "angry" after the turmoil and abuse it has gone through. Give it time, it can take months and months or even a year+ for nerve pain to go away. Also, if it is nerve pain specifically that you are having standard pain pills may not be the answer. You should discuss with your surgeon possibly taking a drug specifically geared towards nerve pain like Lyrica or Nuerotin. Best of luck to you in your recovery.

  • I agree with bpreachers that NSAIDs are often banned by surgeons after a fusion surgery.
    For bones to grow and fuse, they need to have inflamation. Non Steroid Anti-inflamatories take away the inflamation so can impede the fusion process.

    Some surgeons do allow their use. My surgeon, after my lumbar fusion did allow them, but I stopped taking them as soon as I could to give myself the best chance of fusion.

    8 weeks out is still early in your recovery. I would let him know that you are still experiencing this amount of pain, and see what he suggests.

    Do let us know how you get on. :-)
  • I was worried about the nsaids, but I'm to the point I'll try anything to get rid of the pain. Since they don't seem to be working, I'll probably stop taking them. Waiting on a call back from the surgeon today. I feel like I whine too much, but this is becoming very frustrating and I'm getting really depressed. So thank you for the advice!
  • It is not whining. Only people that have had these issues can truly understand them. I was told to suck it up for years (military mindset). And I did suck it and and try to ignore it. The pain just got worse and worse and ended up in my having to have 2 spine surgeries to "hopefully" stop the issues. I still have nerve pain daily and it may never go away. Never feel like you are whining, your doctor and those that care for you need to know what is going on so they can understand it better. You are your own best advocate in situations such as these.
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 02/06/2013 - 8:28 AM
    This is the place to come and share how you are 'really' feeling.
    We understand and come here ourselves when feeling low and overwhelmed by what we are going through.

    We understand that sometimes our family and friends get fed up hearing about our pains and especially after surgery, they think we should be 'fixed' and back to normal.
    We understand that sometimes, spinal patients never get back to their old normal, but have to find a new one.
    This can be hard to deal with, and we go through a kind of grieving of the loss of who we used to be.

    You may be one of the good stories where you get back to your life and don't have problems again. :-)
    I really hope that will be the case for you.

    If not, know that there are people here who understand and can listen and encourage and support you.

    Take care, and keep healing :-)
  • jennafjjennaf Posts: 42
    edited 02/06/2013 - 2:09 PM
    I was surprised, got a call from the surgeons office this morning and he wants to see me tomorrow. I was just expecting to continue trying new scripts, but nope, he wants me in his office. Makes me feel a little better, I was letting my mind think bad thoughts...lol. I haven't been dealing with the pain as long as some, only about two years, but I will admit, I thought things would be great right after surgery. Boy was I wrong! I have found this place to be very helpful, informative and supportive even though all I do is mostly lurk. I wish you both the best!
  • Saw the surgeon yesterday and was very pleased that he took the entire visit to actually talk to me, listen to what I had to say and hand me a tissue when I started crying. Took me off the ibuprofen and I'm now using Voltaren gel and lidocaine patches. So far nothing's working, but it's not even been a day yet. There's still hope. Had my first PT appt this morning, and this is going to be a long hard process, and as stumped as she is, she's positive that we'll get this figured out and I'll eventually get better. Looks like it'll be part time work for a while, but at least I have a team that's got my back ;-)
  • Def don't take any nsaids if you have any bone healing! I've had 4 stress fractures and was always told never take them.

    Feel better!!!
  • I haven't commented because I have no experience with neck issues, and just the though of neck surgery makes me cringe. Clearly you have been through a lot, and I'm glad your doctor's visit went well. Hopefully it was encouraging enough that if the new treatment doesn't work you'll feel confident going back and asking for a different plan. (but I'm hoping it works)
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
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