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My son had an ACDF at c6c7 with instrumentation, decompression and fusion last week. He was in the hospital for close to a week and in ICU or 2 nights before he was stable. He is now at home 1 week post surgery and is in lots of neck, throat and shoulder pain. It appears he is getting no relief from he underlying lower back and leg pain. He is very depressed, not eating and refusing to take any meds or come out of his room or bed. he thinks the whole surgery was a failure and his life is relegated to agony and no hope. Two questions: (1) can anyone speak to the issue of depression after ACDF surgery upon release from the hospital, and (2) how long before the operative pain in the neck and throat subside or at least is noticeably better and tolerable? As for the shoulder and upper left chest pain, the doctors think it was from positioning on the OR table.


  • PaulPPaul Posts: 730
    edited 04/17/2013 - 7:54 PM
    My surgery (L5-S1) was very different, but I did have depression afterwards. I was bedridden in a ton of pain and convinced it was a failure. The body, soul, heart, and mind definitely react to surgery. On top of that, the medicines (or lack of) also change body chemistry. A person is used to being active and participating in life. Suddenly, they are trapped in a painful body and in a room with 4 walls and ceiling.

    In my 4 weeks of post-op agony, despair, and seemingly hopelessness, I had the worst thoughts in my head. When I say "the worst thoughts," I mean I wanted to do something to myself that would take me out of this world. Yeah, that. My case had a resolution and it turned around pretty quickly. I was lucky.

    I can definitely empathize with what he is going through. I was alone pretty much and got no sunlight or fresh air. If he had a support system under him to help lift his spirits, perhaps it might help; perhaps he might push back out of emotions. Every case is different so it's difficult to say what would be best. Patience is a cliche but really, it is necessary. Easy to say but tuff to live thru. I remember living one hour at a time, then one day at a time, then one week at a time and so on. Also, I learned to relish the small victories. There were times when taking even one step for me was a big victory. Then two, then three, etc etc. I learned to smile with each small incremental victory because to us back pain people, the little things can be big!

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    That unforunately in some cases - spinal surgery CAN be a life changing event. Depression is one of many potential outcomes from this type of surgery. What I found to be most helpful was the support of family and friends.

    They played an all important component of helping to keep me somewhat sane. Offering to buy me ice cream, take out dinners or lunch, and/or getting up and out for walks as tolerated were initially very important medicine. The time that family and friends directly spent with me was critical to keep me from spinning completely out of control in the weeks - months directly following my surgeries.

    Participation in this forum was an important involvement for me also.

    I hope for a good recovery for your loved one,

    Spine-health Moderator
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