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Pain after ACDF

kimbifflekkimbiffle Posts: 10
edited 08/30/2013 - 6:06 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I had ACDF surgery C3/4 & C4/5 in April. I am still having a lot of pain. Is this normal? All my nerve pain is gone but still have neck pain. Also any ideas on how to help relieve some of the pain? I am prescribed Lortab 7.5 three times a day but usually end up having to take 4 but don't like taking pain meds at all. I am 40 years old with teenage children who are in sports. I cannot do the things I used to be able to do with them. This is getting very depressing for me because I used to be so active and now when I do anything it causes extra pain.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • WonderboytwiceWWonderboytwice Posts: 149
    edited 08/31/2013 - 11:20 AM
    Hello Kimbiffle

    I am still suffering from neck pain having undergone ACDF3/4/5 in September 2010!! Since then in December 2011 I had Posterior CDF5/6/7 which had to be done twice within 3 days as screws became loose. Operation done in 2010 has not fused properly but Surgeons say it would not be in my best interest to have further surgery! How do they intend to get rid of my ever present neck pain? See my Surgeon on 6th September and wonder what his answer will be when I ask why further surgery cannot be done. Also see another Spinal Surgeon on 9th September to obtain his views!

  • I had an ACDF of C3/4 and C4/5 done in November 2012. I do still have most of my nerve pains, which are in both hands and arms and also in both feet and legs. I do also have neck stiffness, noise and pain. I have atributed this to the fact that my whole neck is very degenerated. I am back on my nerve pain tablets and they are helping.

    Have you tried icing or heat to see if that gives you any relief?
    I also find that keeping my neck as mobile as possible helps with stiffness. I do gentle mobilisation while in a warm shower each morning. I also see my physiotherapist each week and he gently works on my trigger points and stiff muscles.

    My surgeon told me that I could continue to improve until about 12 months after my surgery and that by then that would probably be as good as I would get. That does still give you plenty of time for more improvement. I hope that encourages you.

  • Hi all, I'm 33 and 4 weeks ago had a c5/6 ACDF with an ibf cage instead of a bone graft. My radiculopathy went immediately but I still have severe neck and shoulder pain and the nerve pain down my arms is on and off. I'm on panadeine forte, endone and now Valium.
    2 days ago I saw the surgeon and he seemed very surprised I still have pain and told me all his patients are either driving or back at work at 4-6 weeks. He told me my pain is due to stress and muscle tension.
    My Physio, on the other hand seems to think its normal to be in pain still and that I won't be able to drive for another 3 weeks at least and that it will be some time before I can return to my usual full time job.
    After reading everyone's posts on here, it seems normal to be in pain for quite some time so I find what the surgeon said very strange. How long after surgery should I expect the pain to go? I'm literally hunched over from the stiffness? I'm so confused by all the conflicting information. I had the surgery done only 2 weeks after my first appointment with the surgeon so it all happened very quick.
  • kimbifflekkimbiffle Posts: 10
    edited 09/06/2013 - 5:28 AM
    I have also decided to go see another doctor. My neurosurgeon now seems like he doesn't care what i am going through, just wants to get me out of the office as soon as possible. I have contacted a spine center here . I am hoping to see if they can figure out something to do. As it is now I pretty much keep heat on my neck for some relief. I hope they figure out something to give you some relief. My prayers are with you.

    ** EDITED TO REMOVE FACILITY NAME.** Please do not post specific doctor or facility names.

  • You are still in the early days of your recoery.
    My surgeon warned me before my surgery (ACDF of C3/4 and C4/5) that I would have very sore and stiff muscles in the back of my neck and shoulders for some time after my surgery. I have also read of very many members here who have suffered with muscle pain, stiffness and even spasms after neck surgery.

    I do think that some surgeons grossly underestimate how long the recovery from spinal surgery will take.
    My first surgeon told me that it would take 3 months to recover from my lumbar fusion. A spine specialist physiotherapist told me that he would say that but that it would be more likely to take 6 months.

    My neurosurgeon who did my neck fusion was much more realistic.
    He said I would not be able to drive until 6 weeks after my surgery. I actually waited until I was 8 weeks post surgery because reversing and parking were very uncomfortable.
    He told me that I would need 3 months off work.

    Have you tried heat to see if that will relax your stiff muscles? Many people find it does help and I use it myself.

    I hope that by now you are feeling that you are making progress and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Are you back at work yet?
    Take care

  • I had my ACDF at c5/6 and C6/7 in Jan 2011. I tried to go off pain meds after a couple of weeks and was told that I was doing more damage to myself because my muscles would be stressed and cause me more pain and keep me from healing. I followed all doctor's orders but found that the pain was not going away. The surgeon said that the fusion was going well and I should not be experiencing the pain I was reporting. I was referred to a pain management physician and the surgeon no longer saw me until I called him the next year. There was one disc a level above the fusion that was herniated and may later need surgery. He did an additional X-ray, MRI and the only nerve conduction test ever done. After that test it became obvious that there was permanent nerve damage at the root of C6/7. So I am now living the life of a lifetime pain management patient with the diagnosis of failed cervical surgery. I have tried alternative therapies that have helped but nothing will cure me. So take it easy and give yourself time to heal. Good luck.
  • Hi jelly hall, thanks for the response. I am now 7 weeks post op and can now fully move my neck which means I have been able to drive short distances for the past 2 weeks. I am now off endone but am still taking pandadeine forte 3 times a day. Because I am now able to move, and am on a lot less pain killers, I am still in quite a bit of pain but nowhere near what I was in before the op or post op. The pain seems to be severe muscle tension in my shoulders and upper back with pain intermittently down my arms. I still wake up quite stiff but the pain is definitely more manageable now. I go back to work in a little over a week but the Physio has put a return to work plan together for me so it will be a gradual return. Only due to the fact that I'm a sales rep on the road all day.
    I have found that several times driving I have turned my head to fast and felt some pain but it will only get easier. I am feeling a lot more optimistic now but am amazed at how many people don't really seem to understand the op and I almost feel like people think I'm exaggerating or faking the symptoms.
    It's so reassuring to read on here that many people are finding similar recovery times and it's not just me. I think I will have the muscle pain and spasms for a little while longer, especially as I am starting to do more.
    Heat is definitely helpful!
    One other thing I have noticed which I am unsure about is that I've had body aches lately? I'm not sure if this is due to the reduction in painkillers?
  • xtraviraxxtravira Posts: 27
    edited 09/28/2013 - 7:14 AM
    My neck pain finally went away a month ago. But now my hands are feeling numb, so the pain management doctor sent me for an X-ray and ill get an MRI when the insurance approves it. Med, you are expecting so much so soon after surgery. I think if I had rested more, I would have healed faster in the long run. I used my soft neck bace a lot this year at work. Only recently has my neck pain abated.
    Chronic pain since 2007. Have scoliosis. Had ACDF surgery for C5 Dec 2011. Sick of dealing with pain. I just turned 32 and struggle through but work full-time in IT.
  • I am 11 weeks post surgery tomorrow (c5/6 acdf) and I am suffering with bad nerve pain into arm/hand/wrist after returning to work 2 weeks ago. The Physio has told me I must stop work and can't work for a month and I rang the surgeon today to ask if I needed follow up and apparently there is no follow up??? I saw the surgeon only once at 4 weeks post surgery?? Shouldn't I have an X-ray to see if the bone fusion was successful? I find this really strange that there is no follow up?
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Follow up by the surgeon? Maybe shortly after the surgery but after that it's not uncommon for them to cut their ties with you and basically leave you on your own. That same thing happened to me by a previous NS after my cervical fusion. They are there to do their job and that is it. I felt abandoned at first but I thought it out and realize the world doesn't revolve around me so I better just move on. I do know your feeling though.
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