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Anterior Cervical Disc Fusion C4/C5

I am having this surgery on 04/16/2013 and I was just wondering what I should expect after the surgery. I know everyone heels differnetly. Appox time I should be able to go back to work? What kind of pain should I expect? I am just really nervous.
Any suggestion would help.


  • I can only speak from my experience. I had an ACDF at c4/5 C5/6. I was up snd walking within 8 hours of the surgery, home within 12 hours, able to eat normal food within 3 days, and done using my cane within 2 weeks (surgical complication resulted in a parially numb foot). The Navy required me to take 4 weeks off work but I think many seem to return much earlier than that.
  • I am the flip side of the coin. I had 4 levels fused on January 3rd. I was under anesthesia for 3 hours. I remember almost nothing from the rest of that day. I was in the hospital for 4 days and now 3 months later, I still have swallowing issues.
    I still have pain but in a different place and the last day or so, it finally seems to be getting better.
    I did have an infection which required another 2 days in the hospital and a clean out of the wound. That was less than an hour under and nowhere near as bad. I had to be on intravenous antibiotics for 2 weeks and orally another 2.
    I think the infection set my healing and swallowing back and hopefully now I am on my way.

    How many levels are they fusing? What type of job do you have?

    If you haven't read it yet, there is a wonder "sticky" about must haves before surgery. Check the list and see which apply.

    Good luck!


    4 level ACDF completed on January 3rd.
    I developed an infection which required reopening the wound on January17th
    Looking forward to life without as much pain!
  • I thank both of you so much for answering. I am only 1 level I believe. I am an office manager. So I sit most of the day.
    Where can I find the "sticky"?
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 04/03/2013 - 3:55 PM
    ...and I have my "journal" on here somewhere. I documented as much as I could.

    1) Are you alone or do you have family and/or friends around?
    2) Will you be wearing a collar after surgery?
    3) What did your surgeon tell you about going back to work?

    3) The "sticky" list of Must Haves - go to the Home Page of this Forum and there are some posts that are so helpful to people that they are "stuck" at the top of the list. Read the list and you will find it.

    I had a two level fusions - ACDF C3/4 and C4/5.

    One thing I did before and right after surgery is that I started listening to "guided imagery audio recordings on "Preparing for Surgery" - which has sections for pre surgery and healing after surgery recordings.
    Guided imagery has helped a lot of people manage their anxiety and studies seem to show that people who listen to guided imagery (unless of course they go into it saying it will never work) - reduces pain. I personally was never much into the 'woo-woo' factor of things - but I will say that I was definitely "open" to the idea of it working.
    I put the recordings on my smartphone and it was the first thing I asked for when they wheeled me into my hospital room. I listened to them over and over again and especially during those anxious moments.

    Let me say this: I was never in pain after surgery - not in the hospital (where I had them take me off of the morphine because it was making me nauseous) and not when I got home. None. It blew my mind. Now, was it the guided imagery. I will never know.

    If you are interested, PM me. I will let you know what I downloaded from Amazon for about $10!

    I did have trouble swallowing, as most seem to have after surgery. Smooth foods. applesauce, cream of wheat, scrambled eggs. SMALL bites. SMALL sips of water or suck on chips of ice. Be mindful and concentrate when you are swallowing. NO CRACKERS or dry foods, unless you are feeling like they will go down easily. You'll know. Funny enough - a few weeks after surgery, I wanted a steak - a filet mignon was calling to me - and let me tell you - it went down SOOOO easily! I laughed.

    A few days before my surgery, I was speaking to someone from the hospital - she told me two things to make sure I did before surgery:

    1) DRINK WATER - Up until that last moment that you are allowed to consume food or beverages - Drink WATER - as much as you can. I had until midnight, and I drank and drank throughout the day and all evening until I couldn't. Not tea. Not coffee - those are dehydrating.

    Surgery is dehydrating and especially with neck surgery, you may not want to drink all that much after surgery. I didn't. She said that you don't want to be dehydrated from surgery AND because you cannot drink much after.

    2) BE WELL RESTED BEFORE SURGERY - be well rested when you go in for surgery. Many people are exhausted when they go into surgery and they think that they will be "asleep" (getting good restful sleep) during surgery. Surgery is exhausting. If you have to recover from being exhausted BEFORE surgery, you are not going to have the reserves to help yourself heal faster after surgery.

    If you don't have anyone around, if you don't already get home delivery of groceries - set that up on your computer before surgery. I live alone and home delivery groceries was a lifesaver. I didn't have to burden my friends for those mundane tasks.and saved their generosity of time for things I really needed (a ride to my surgeon's office for post-op visits).

    I will say this - don't rush yourself to heal. You get one shot to get this right. Surrender to the healing and let your body let you know when you are ready. I know many and some on here that think they are feeling good enough to go to work sooner than they really know they should - and end up being completely exhausted, wishing they had not. Pace yourself, if you are in the position to do so.

    Sorry if this is sounding like a lecture - I don't mean it to come out that way.

    THe biggest challenges I had after surgery was that I lost my voice - completely - nothing - nada! That happens to some. For some reason, mine was longer than most. But, with email and texting, I just went with the flow. It is back and back to normal. :)

    OK - sorry for going on a long while here, but I hope it's helpful.

    Let us know what happens and good luck to you!

    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
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