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I had a cervical fusion c3, c4, c5, five days ago. I feel like the c collar they gave me is actually making my neck more stiff and hurting my shoulders. Should I take this off a couple times a day for an hour or so?? What has worked for you?

When will I be able to turn my neck, I feel like I need to stretch my neck muscles a little.

How is everyone sleeping??

Any advice or any stories that may help me I would really appriciate it!!!

I don't have my post op for another week.




  • Hi I had a C3/C4 C4/C5 fusion in May 2007 i did not wear a coller but they kept me in the hosptail bed for 5 day not even to get up for the toilet then they let me home on the 8 day the recovery at home was 8 weeks i did not were a coller but i was told to be carefull in every thing i do, i was showen how i should move my neck and to do that about 3 times a day. Then in November 2007 i had a fusion C5/C6 this was not a new problem we new about this in May . I was only in hosptial 3 days this time recovery 6 weeks i did not wear a collar, then in 2012 I had C5/C6 done recovery the same no coller. I understand what u are going through and how uncomfortable you must feel like you got a stiff neck all the time even thoe i did not wear a coller i could turn my neck about two weeks after not fully things take time recovery is different for every body. I would wait untill next week for your post op and wait for there addvice. I have about 90% in my neck and i had the hole neck done i can move it from side to side i can put it forward the only thing i cant do is put my head back. You should have a lot lot more movement then me, Rachel i hope your recovery goes well and you get all the movement back in you neck take care.
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 04/10/2013 - 10:45 PM
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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • I had cervical surgery C3/4 and C4/5 in October 2012, so about 6 months ago, now. Dang. Time flies.

    I wore a cervical collar for 3 months.
    Yes, my neck felt stiff.
    I wouldn't dream of taking off the collar without your surgeon's permission, ESPECIALLY when you are in a moving around state. The risk is tripping and jerking your neck. Your neck is trying to fuse, so you don't want to mess that up, I am certain.

    This is what I did to alleviate some of the stiffness.

    Before doing the below, if you have a microwaveable heating pad that curves around your neck, nuke it and place it around the back of your neck for several minutes. It will help loosen up that area.

    My microwaveable heating pad got A LOT Of use during those first free months.

    1) I sat in my recliner and unvelcroed the front of the collar, leaving the back in place and I massaged the sides of my neck, keeping my neck very still and straight.

    2) If you have someone around, let them massage the muscles of the back of your neck and shoulders WITH the collar on. They can get their fingers slightly up into the collar - enough to massage. And have them go down into your shoulders and even into your upper back. It's all connected. I had no one here, so I did that myself.

    3) In the shower - let the hot water hit the back of your neck. Are you allowed to take showers yet and get your neck wet? When did your surgeon tell you you can shower without the collar? I wore my collar during showers for the first 3 weeks (it was supposed to be 6 weeks), but I cheated (and told my surgeon). They are very worried about people slipping and falling which I completely understand. But, I held onto the shower door with one hand and didn't move around and if I did, it was VERY SLOWLY.

    Alll of these helped me A LOT and my surgeon was thrilled to hear that while I complied with the "leave the collar on" rules, I figured out how to deal with the stiffness.

    At about 1 month into wearing the collar, I would open the collar - ONLY if I was sitting with my head resting against the back of the recliner and the back of the sofa. I needed air in there! :)

    VERY slowly, I would turn my head to the left and the right. VERY slowly and then back to center again.
    As soon as I needed to get up and move, I would Velcro the collar again.

    SLEEPING: For the first month or so, I moved between my recliner and the sofa. When on the sofa, I took one of the back cushions and propped it against the arm of the sofa and placed my two soft bed pillows against that. Yes, I was sleeping semi-sitting up, and that was fine. I slept.

    Then, I moved the sofa cushion to my bed, propping the sofa cushion against my headboard with my two soft bed pillows against that. I slept sitting up for close to 2.5 months and I have to say, I slept VERY well. I generally sleep on my back anyway, so I was fine.

    GUIDED IMAGERY: If you have not heard of guided imagery before, I can say that listening to guided imagery audio recordings I downloaded from Amazon onto my smartphone each night when I was going to sleep REALLY REALLY helped me get to sleep. Even when I thought I couldn't sleep, it helped a lot. I downloaded one called "Preparing for Surgery" from Amazon for about $10. It has a section on "preparing" and "healing well after surgery". I listened to the "Healing Well After Surgery" each evening or anytime I went to bed.

    I wouldn't have believed it could have helped until I tried it. I listened to that audio while in the hospital and every single day when I got home for about 3 months. Studies appear to show that guided imagery helps reduce pain and promote success in what you are trying to achieve. There are all sorts of guided imagery audios for a variety of issues.

    And yes - I can move my neck. I would say I only lost a very little range of motion on the left side and a negligible amount on my right side. I move around and no one would ever know I even have had cervical surgery. My surgeon even got the location of the scar on the front of my throat perfect in the one existing crease in my neck.

    They really don't create the various protocol to be sadistic. The body needs to heal.
    Comply with what your surgeon expects. If your surgeon didn't tell you some things, ask and get clarification.

    I figure, you get one shot at getting this right. Why would anyone want to do something to potentially mess that up?

    I hope this helps.

    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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