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How long did you wear hard brace and how did you feel after discontinuing it's use?

I had my C4/5/6 ACDF on April 22nd, 10 weeks ago and was told I would wear an Aspen hard brace for 90 days. At my 8 wk follow-up appt, my surgeon told me that I could start sleeping without the hard brace if it didn't cause me pain. I tried that for three days and was experiencing a LOT of pain, so I starting wearing the brace 24x7 again after calling the surgeon's office.

Before I took the brace off, my shoulders and arms weren't hurting following the surgery, but the pain hasn't gone away after having the brace off for three nights. It's been excruciating some days and better on others; but never pain free.

I haven't driven since the surgery. My commute is 30 minutes in interstate traffic. I should be returning to work in a couple weeks without a brace and I must say I am terrified of the pain I will be in.

I am seeking others experience with how long they used a hard brace and how they felt after discontinuing it's use.

Any advice is welcome. Thx


  • When I saw the title I thought I could be of help, unfortunately I can't. I'm lucky in the fact to have never had any cervical issues. I might suggest (and again, no experience here, only been braced thoracic and lumbar) but could you possibly go to bed without the brace and set an alarm and put it on during the middle of the night? Then slowly increase the time at night you don't wear the brace? Or the opposite, wear the brace to sleep and set an alarm for like 4:00am or something to take it off and push back the time? That would be my suggestion.... but hopefully some people with real experience can chime in with what helped them.
    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.
  • bpreachersbbpreachers Posts: 147
    edited 07/02/2013 - 10:33 AM
    I was in a minerva brace (thoracic and cervical brace). What happens, and what is likely causing the pain you are experiencing, is that your muscles in your neck have become severely weekend due to wearing the brace constantly. I do not sugest moving straight into sleeping without it but maybe try not wearing it a few hours a day and continue extending that time out slowly. If you are in physical therapy and they have given you any ROM workouts to do I would work on those during the hours you aren't wearing your brace. Your neck has gotten used to not having to support itself which is where your problem is coming from so you have to gradually get it back used to need to support itself. Granted it is on a much more severe scale but, think of the ladies that wear those high levels of brass rings around their neck. Those that have left that culture and removed them require time to effectively transition to not having it because their neck has been artificially supported for years. The strength will come back with time you just have to get to work on it soon. Eventually you should be fine sleeping without it but like the saying goes "dont run before you walk." You could also look into getting a comforatble cervical pillow (they sell them at places like amazon and bed bath and beyond for a reasonable price - please note I am in no way affiliated with amazon or bed bath and beyond so that was not a sales pitch). This could help to stabalize your neck while sleeping and possibly decrease your pain you are experiencing while asleep.
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