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Exercise, weight training post ACDF

Dear All,

I’m new to the forum and just wanted to try and establish what I can and cannot do in terms of exercise post ACDF.

Let me begin by providing a little background. In June 2012 I was training in the gym lifting relatively heavy weights. I was in the process of doing some military presses, which to be honest I was struggling with when after two or three reps it felt as if something in the rear of my left shoulder, for want of a better word ‘went’. There was a bit of pain but nothing too excessive initially but I immediately stopped because something felt wrong. I ended the session and throughout the day my shoulder and neck became progressively stiffer and sore. I initially thought that I had pulled a muscle trying too hard and in doing so pulled my neck hence the stiffness which I believed would wear off slowly. Unfortunately I was wrong. My neck became extremely painful over the proceeding days to the point that when I was laying down and wanted to move I had to physically place my hand underneath my head and lift to support it for any movement caused pain. I had pulsating pain in my left deltoid and arm that increased in intensity to the point that I had to physically support my left arm with my right in order to take some of the weight off it as this was causing pain. Fortunately there was some improvement after about 4 weeks but I was still experiencing fluctuating levels of pain, nipping in the neck, in the left deltoid and down through my arm including frequent involuntary twitches, spasms and pins and needles. At week 3 I sought advice from a minor injuries centre and then my local GP (doctor) at week 5 neither was able to diagnose or offer relief from my symptoms

By August 2012 I was still concerned by the lack of progress in my recovery so I visited my doctor again to discuss physical therapy. I was assigned to the local health centre physiotherapists but the sessions were far too short and made my symptoms worse. I was referred to a senior physio who examined me and then scheduled me for a MRI scan. This took place in mid-December 2012. I was then referred to see a neurosurgeon to discuss the results and possible action. This took place in mid-March 2013 but to cut a long story short whilst several discs weren’t great I had two disc levels that required attention, C5-C6 and C6-C7. I had some spinal cord restriction and nerve entrapment. This was resulting in the symptoms I’ve previously outlined as well as muscle wastage within my left rear deltoid, tricep and forearm. I also had weakness in grip and ability to lift objects with my left arm (but only in a particular range of motion and using a specific grip). There were also pins and needles in the fingers of left hand.

The proposed solution was to perform a 2 level ACDF (C5-C6 and C6-C7). This was undertaken on the 16th August 2013. No hardware or collar was required. Peek spacer implants were used to retain the new set height between the vertebra and I was back at work (desk job) after 5.5 weeks. I have seen my neurosurgeon briefly 4 weeks after surgery but no x-rays were done at that point. He was happy to discharge me and said that I could do normal activities again but just go easy. If it hurts then stop. Unfortunately this is all too vague for me and I wanted to avoid doing any further damage to my neck but also return to training when I could. Up until now (3.5 months) I have only been doing walking which I try to do an average of 2 hours/day but this is usually piece meal throughout the working week (mon-fri) as it is difficult to find time.

I did intend to return to the gym at the 3 month mark but I’m now waiting until the end of January to allow additional fusion time. I have begun to also do some very limited resistant band exercises over the last couple of weeks to try and slowly test how everything feels and begin to rebuild if possible my left rear deltoid. My problem is that I have a lack of direction in terms of what I can and cannot do by my neurosurgeon. Several attempts have been made to try and extract the additional detail from him via his secretary but this has proven fruitless. I have been doing research on the internet for returning to the gym post ACDF and there is a wealth of conflicting advice. Some say squats are fine some say squats should be avoid at all costs. The same is true for other exercises so now I’m more confused than ever. I need to know what exercises I am permitted to do and which ones should be avoided. Also if certain exercises should be avoided are there any safer alternatives? As my injury occurred in the gym I’m just wanting to be careful when I return whilst being the best I can. I apologise for the ridiculously long post but is anyone able to help me in establishing what can, should be and what shouldn’t be done within the gym post ACDF? Any help is greatly appreciated.

Cheers, Adam


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 10,065
    edited 11/26/2013 - 5:43 AM
    to sum it up in a few words. It depends on what your doctor approves for you. They are the only ones that can provide you with the correct advice. Getting anything here from another member, may be a guideline, but do not take it as formal medical and sound advice. What is good for one person may spell disaster for another.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks, appreciate that it should be the doctors that say what I can and can't do but that is my problem. They are being distinctly vague. That is why I am trying to get some indication from those who have undergone the same procedure as me to what they were able to do and what if anything they would do differently. I suppose the difficult thing is simply that everyone is indeed different and so as you say what might be right for one wouldn't be right for someone else. However, where exercise is concerned there must some givens that apply to the vast majority ACDF-ers but any input from others would be appreciated.

    Cheers, Adam
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 10,065
    They are the ones that need to tell you what your limits are. When they are being too vague, they are not doing their job. Many times, doctors can be vague or not provide you with all the details you need. Here is where you need to really pin them down.

    Now, that does not mean coming after them with a sawed off shotgun and demanding everything. But in a tactful way present it to the doctor so that they will give you the details. Its there job to do that. If they do not give you enough details, then they could potentially just be setting you up for a problem.

    Physical Therapists are also a good source in terms of what can and can not be done after spinal surgery. I had two ACDF and my therapists told me exactly what my boundaries were. But that also worked, because I had been seeing this therapist for years and she knew my body better than I did.

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks Dilauro, but gaining access to the surgeon is next to impossible. Believe me I've tried. The problem is exasperated by the way the British NHS engage with private healthcare firms. The organisation that the surgeon works for were given my operation by the NHS as the waiting times and list for my operation were becoming ridiculously large.That is why I think in part they did the operation, quickly checked (well saw me at 4 weeks) and said see ya later not our problem anymore. And so we are where we are. Over the past 3 weeks I've tried several times to get any response at all from the surgeon's secretary but I feel as if my enquiries are being totally ignored. I don't have a relationship with any physiotherapist for like I said in the original post the physios who worked on me prior to the operation were community physios and only performed a limited number of sessions over several weeks (which made the situation worse). My GP was considerably out of his depth in dealing with anything to do with my neck (and to some degree also made matters worse). So whilst I'll continue to chase the surgeon (with shot gun if necessary :-) I was also looking for some indication from others on the forum as well.

    Thanks, Adam
  • told me this is not the time to think "no pain, no gain". If anything hurts, don't do it. After my fusion was fused~6 mos, they cleared me for anything I felt comfortable with, but be careful with heavy lifting. I had a 5yo 38lb child, and I could not lift him :( But I didn't train as a weightlifter either. I hope you find an exercise program that you are comfortable with and will be able to lift weights soon, but start off slow.
  • Thanks Necksoup, slow and steady is definately going to be my mantra. I suppose I just want to know training, albeit modified slightly is indeed possible and that I will be able to improve. Have you or anyone else found your strength has returned and whether you were able to increase it post surgery?

    Cheers, Adam
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 10,065
    I apologize.

    Didn't realize you were from England and have a different method of health system. Yes, I know from talking to many from England, it is very difficult to get the answers that I suggested you should go after.

    After my ACDF's, I spent most of the time with lower body exercise, even with some weights. Upper body, I was very cautious and did more with therobands and other resistance type of exercises.

    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • greggvaggreggva Posts: 99
    edited 11/27/2013 - 8:52 AM
    Adam - very much interested in your progress. You might check this other thread:

    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • AdamGAAdamG Posts: 12
    edited 11/29/2013 - 7:58 AM
    Thanks for the replies so far, they seem to support my current cautious approach although generally I'd like to know if anyone was able to return to their pre-op (before anything went wrong) levels of fitness and strength etc. There are a lot of conflicting views out there so it is confusing. Realise that everyone's limits differ and of course these may potentially alter following an operation such as ACDF but what is possible? Are there common factors, apart from slow and steady that should be followed? Please understand I want to push myself whilst being both realistic and safe. I undertook the operation to try and improve my life not overly restrict it (if possible). I was doing that more or less before the operation.

    There are examples out there where people have been able to maintain high levels of participation and competition following ACDF (after a period of recovery and rehabilitation of course) i.e. Peyton Manning. I've also discovered this motivational video on YouTube which if you haven't seen it is well worth watching;

    Edited to remove link-

    Personally I'm not ready to give up trying to improve myself physically. I truely believe that I haven't yet reached my full potential and regardless of whether my goals need to be revised I would be extremely disappointed and genuinely upset if my current situation were not to improve. Especially if all I was able to do is just slow the onslaught of further problems. Don't mean this to sound so self centred but it is the way I feel at the moment. Any comments or advice from others appreciated.

    Cheers, Adam

    Post edited to remove link . Please review the forum rules regarding posting outside links.
    Moderator- Sandi
  • Apologies all for posting an outside link. The purpose of the link itself was simply to highlight that gains can (at least for some) be achieved post ACDF. The guy in the video was a school teacher but also the college strength coach. He also power lifted until he suffered a herniated disc. He underwent ACDF and after recovery began returning to his sport and is now surpassing his previous personal bests. It was also interesting to note that he was also 65 and improving all the time. I felt that this was all worth mentioning since it not only said you can improve after ACDF but also as you got older as well so served as a double whammy in my book. I hope this brief explanation imparts what the link was trying to achieve.

    Cheers, Adam
  • greggvaggreggva Posts: 99
    edited 12/03/2013 - 9:26 AM
    Adam - appreciate the thought for the video. Google "Mayfield clinic Gary" for another great story!

    I too am concerned about the ability to return to full potential after the surgery. I used to exercise 5-6 days a week running/swimming/biking/lifting and am now only allowed recumbent stationary biking - yuk! From all the threads I have read, it seems to echo your mantra of slow and steady. The key appears to be good fusion of the vertebrae prior to significant increases in exercise levels and minimizing vibration/shock that could compromise the fusion.

    You would think that it would depend on the type of exercise and the level of surgery you have (C,T,L,S). Take running. Seems like that would cause compression of the whole spine less maybe the coccyx. Compare that with weight lifting in a sitting position which should largely compress the thoracic level on down. But your exercise, of overhead presses showed up in your cervical region as did mine from doing bent over rows & heavy bag punching. Perhaps a kinesiologist could explain it better and give more accurate expectations.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • Well sort of. The neurosurgeon called my home yesterday whilst I was at work and the answer machine said that he wanted to help address the questions that I might have. As I wasn't there his secretary then sent me an email at work to tell me that he'd tried to contact me and requested another contact number. I immediately replied to supply both my work and mobile number so hopefully I might get some answers although I'm a little skeptical at how specific any responses will be without the benefit of a scan to assess the progress of fusion. I'm also concerned that I'll be contacted when I cant really speak at work. But at least this is a bit of good news as I'd given up hope getting any sort of response after 5 weeks of chasing. Fundamentally I'm looking for some reassurance that by the end of January (at which point I'll be just over 5 months) I should be able to go back to the gym with no restrictions (albeit starting off slow and steady). If there are certain exercises or movements that I should avoid then I need to know this before I go back.

    At the moment I have mild twitching in my deltoid which also has a dull achey feeling (sort of like bruise or as if someone has given my shoulder a light punch). I have clicking in my shoulders (primarily the left) and I have the occasional click in my neck (again primarily on the left hand side) when I stretch it. When my left arm is bent at the elbow and I move it close to my body I a pins and needles feeling in my little finger and into my palm directly under my little finger. To be fair these are all relatively niggling pains and residual problems but they are enough to concern me prior to returning to the gym. I just want to make sure I'll be ok.

    Cheers, Adam
  • According to the neurosurgeon he says as long as I don't lift heavy initially in other words start fairly light and work my way up to heavier weights then I should be fine. I chatted to him about the aches and pains that I've been experiencing and he said that all of this was normal. I asked if there were any restrictions in regards to the types of movements I was permitted to do and he said no, I only had to be careful about the amount of weight used initially I needed to increase slowly and steadily. He believes that I should have fused sufficiently to cope with everything now but also not to forget that I am still healing and the fusion does need to strengthen further so the mantra of 'Slow and Steady' is indeed the underlying factor. I'm so pleased to have this reassurance and I'm looking forward to returning to the Gym in mid to late January without restriction of at least the types of exercises I'm permitted to do. I'm starting back then to give the fusion a little more time and partly because I'm going to have a blow out over Christmas. I don't want to start something for a week and then stop for the holidays. Better to start after that especially as the extra time wont do the fusion any harm. I'll try to keep you updated on how things go (fingers crossed!).

    Cheers, Adam
  • Hey Adam! Rob here from Chicago avid weight trainer for over 25 ... I started having neck issues a couple yrs ago but earlier this year had severe weakness in left arm / hand with spasms in left hand along with cold circulation in left hand. After seeing 2 nuero surgeons it was decided I would have a 360 cervical fusion ACDF C6/7-C7T1.. Then I would be turned over and have a posterior fusion from C3-T1 with rods and screws .. Hoping to free up the stenosis and remove the spurs and allow my spinal canal to be decompressed. I had this surgery on nov 11th which took over 7 hrs.. I'm doing really good had my 1 month post op exam with X-ray and all looks good. I have a weight restriction of 5 lbs and not sure when that will be lifted. I am walking over an hour on my treadmill but not being able to train is really depressing. I won't even think about lifting even light weight until I see him again in march. Just wanted to let u know another weight trainer is here hoping he both can get back to what we love very soon...please keep me updated on your progress .. I do know I read not to lift anything over head presses ect for a while .....start with flys , lateral raises and curls when you do get back in the gym ... Rob P
    Cervical 360 ACDF C6/7-C7T1 Posterior fusion with hardware C3-T1 11/11/13
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    So here I am working out like I'm obsessed before my cervical fusion in about 3 months trying to build my core strength to the max so I can help speed my recovery. I know after that surgery I'm going to be out of commission for a long time. After my first cervical fusion in 2007 my neurosurgeon warned me of possibly herniating the remaining cervical discs lifting too heavy especially overhead. I just dread the thought of starting all over from square one after all the work I've put into my core.
    Good luck fellas, take your time, and you'll get there.
  • rpay10rrpay10 Posts: 33
    edited 12/14/2013 - 2:56 AM
    Ranger i was still training up to the day before my surgery. I was only doing machine weights at that point, and only a few times a week, but I did not miss a cardio session for at least 6 weeks before my surgery. As you know, this helped so much with my recovery so far. just keep strong both mentally and physically your an old pro at this :)
    Cervical 360 ACDF C6/7-C7T1 Posterior fusion with hardware C3-T1 11/11/13
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    You got that right, especially the old part ;-) lol
    For me it's like a ritual, I amp up my workouts, more cardio, more reps with less weight a few months before my procedures.
    The night before I rest then I'm wide awake early in the morning, find a gym nearby, and hit it till I'm exhausted. When I go into surgery I am so tired, relaxed, and feel so good it's like euphoric.
    Glad to hear it's working for you, hope you can get back after it soon!
    Take care and be safe!
  • I only missed three days of some sort of work out - day of surgery (couldn't have any water that day), recovery day in hospital, that the following day. I started walking two miles the next day and have been doing three miles a day since. I had my 10 day post op follow up with the NS yesterday and he cleared me to do the stationary bike and even LIGHTLY JOG on the treadmill. I did a stationary bike routine this morning and sweated myself into puddles. Felt great!

    Bottom line for me is that it seems your recovery is very much linked to your condition going into the procedure. Unfortunately, I put about 10 pounds on prior to surgery as I love to eat and cardio is great but strength training burns those calories long after you stopped the workout. I was cleared for zero weight lifting.

    Great to hear you are both recovering well. My goal is to be able to do a sprint tri this spring. Think getting cleared for the running will take the longest.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • Hi Adam G- I'm not "one of the guys" but had the ACDF and am back at the gym finally after two years post-ACDF. Walking was permitted right away, and was a great healer. Don't be in too much of a hurry. I did several forms of stretching, but was advised to avoid arm-over-arm, shoulder straining workouts. Thus swimming was ruled out. I also could not get clearance from my DOCs... any of them. Fear of liability I suspect. So, I took the risk on myself after 2 years and found a well-recommended physical trainer who had training and much experience working with post-injury/ post surgery clients. I would not sign any contract that wouldn't release me if there were problems related to my neck ( I still have some paralysis issues left-over from hitting a bus and damaging my cervical spine). So far, so good. It's going very well for me. Stop immediately anything that causes pain or numbness. The adage "no pain- no gain" will never again apply. And good luck.
  • Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for all of the responses it's comforting and reassuring that there are others out there pursuing the same goals. Well so what's been happening. After speaking with the neurosurgeon he reassured me that everything should be fine as long as I took it nice and slowly. I didn't have any restrictions on the moves I was permitted to do but intended to start light and see how the exercise feels. So I rejoined my local gym on the 6th January and have been going 3 times a week. Later today will be my 3rd full week. I've been doing light weights and have been slowly adjusting the weights at the end of a weekly round of sessions just to be sure how I react. I intend to use this first month just to get myself used to going to the gym again and lifting weights and to ensure my body is ready. The 2nd month I then intend to do like a beginners type session and by the 3rd month be into doing 'proper training' (for want of a better word) although being careful of the weights used.

    I think it's important not to be in a rush to regain previous levels achieved I mean if I look at it from a timeline point of view even though I too was going training (if you can call it that) prior to surgery I wasn't able to do what I wanted. I couldn't train at all for two months after the incident that triggered the injury. Then when I did come back there was very little weights initially it was lots of stretching etc. When weights were introduced they were very light. So realistically since the injury occurred to starting back this year the time lapse is at least one and half years. So getting the mind set that your a beginner again is the correct approach I think. I need to be comparing myself from day 1 now not previous highs. Especially as I don't want to put additional pressure to reach a particular point. I just need to keep going with the attitude 'I want to improve'. I already feel like I am and mentally it does feel good to be back in the gym. Whilst I may be further back than before my operation in terms of exercises etc I was doing I do feel that I am now moving forward positively rather than effectively just killing time before my operation (if that makes sense). Anyhow I intend to re-establish my cycling to and from work in about a couple of months which should add some much needed cardio to my exercise regime. The problem at the moment is that I'm scared of there being ice on the roads and I don't want to be falling off my bike and doing damage to the fusion sites at this stage. If I give it a couple of months and then play it by ear as it is dependent upon the weather. So that's about it for the moment. I'll try to keep you updated as things progress and if you could all do the same that would be great.

    Cheers, Adam
  • Just curious if you are doing any swimming or running. I read that you were thinking about getting back on your bike but agree that you should wait until there isn't any ice around. I fell a few weeks ago out for a walk and really had a scare. That could be much, much worse on a bike.

    Are you planning on doing any overhead exercises? My concern with some of this is that it generally feels good when I do it but then the following day the pain may or may not be there. And not just the soreness pain, but the I herniated something type of pain.

    I am just a little timid on getting the advice of which exercise from a NS. I would think a physical therapist or a kinesiologist might be the better bet. My c6-7 and c5-6 are not bad enough for surgery but show some issues. I worry that the c7-t1 fusion will transmit the load to the other weakened spots and set me back to square one again.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • I had intended to do some swimming initially but never really got around to it although it is something I do hope to find time for. It was one of the earlier things that was recommended and positively mentioned by my neurosurgeon. Running is also a possibility but I do have some issues with my left ankle that I broke a few years back and my right knee plays up a little. Currently I'm a bit too heavy to go actively running, not because I cant it's just I don't want to aggravate those problems. Once I've manged to lose a bit of weight and the weather gets better then I might do some, but to be honest I don't really find running that enjoyable so it maybe that I'd do some sort of outdoor circuit type training by throwing in some body weight exercises and less distance.

    In respect of overhead exercises I do intend to do them. The exercise that triggered the injury was a particularly heavy standing military press. However, I have incorporated a couple of sets of these within my workouts over the past three weeks and so far so good. Obviously I was extremely nervous about introducing the exercise but will monitor it closely. Initially I started with the empty bar and did 2 sets of 10 reps. I am now doing 12-15 reps with 5kg/side. I'm being careful and listening to my body. The 1st set is comfortable but the last few of the 2nd set are more difficult. For the first month I'm keeping the weights low and the rep ranges high. But if I've learnt anything from this experience it's that everyone is different and reacts differently with certain movements and exercises. Whilst I don't have any restrictions on the movements that I'm allowed to do (within reason obviously) I may come across an exercise that really just doesn't agree with me and causes pain or simply just aggravates too much. I think then you have to look for an alternative to that exercise.

    In relation to getting advice from a neurosurgeon there's both advantages and disadvantages. Personally as the neurosurgeon has physically seen the damaged area and tried to fix it, if they then say that you should avoid a, b and c type movements then that's what I would do. Mine said that I had no restrictions in the movements that I was allowed to do but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't seek additional advice from other professionals as well if you have access to them. But again the most important advice is to listen to your own body as it will tell you whether something is right or wrong. Obviously you need to distinguish between the feelings of difficulty and soreness an exercise might cause (which would be normal after a long lay off or return from injury) to the pain of aggravation etc. Exercise form is extremely important, not only to get the most from an exercise but also to avoid further injury.

    One thing that my neurosurgeon told me before my operation was that as the fusion sites (on my cervical spine) were fairly low they didn't account for the majority of the movement in my neck. This means that the assumed transferred wear on to the adjoining sites (not yet proven by the way) would be limited. If other sites were to fail then chances are they probably would have done anyway under normal wear and tear. Again don't get me wrong this doesn't mean not to be careful it just means you shouldn't be scared to try as long as you take things slowly. Your fusion site is below mine and so if you've fused should be stable.

    Cheers, Adam
  • Hi everyone,

    Not updated in a while so thought I'd let you all know how things are going. The weight training gym sessions are going well. I took the position of treating myself as a beginner and working my way up from there. It does feel a little frustrating at times but I know I'll be better for this approach in the long run. I'm still weaker in certain aspects in my left rear delt and lat where I had muscle wastage and I'm not sure whether that will eventually sort it self out but at least I'm training and there's no pain - so that by itself is just great. Last Friday was my first day on the bike again and whilst a bit nerve racking riding in traffic again it was good to be back out there. It felt like I was finally getting back to everything I was doing beforehand. I probably could have cycled well before now but I have been a bit uneasy about considering cycling when there is ice around. I'm a little frightened about falling off the bike and doing some harm to the fusion site. But I suppose 7 month on I should be pretty solid now. Everything feels alright although I do have aches sometimes and a little creaking and occasional cracking sounds in my neck (but the neurosurgeon told me this was normal). It doesn't hurt which is the main thing. So I'm back doing the things I was before the operation and things are so far so good. I'll keep you posted as things progress.

    Take care everyone.

    Cheers, Adam
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    edited 03/12/2014 - 12:53 AM
    Hey Adam,
    Sounds like you are doing well and using the sensible approach to getting back up to speed athletically. It's so easy to push your limits, I am as guilty as anyone but patience is the virtue here, something I have finally learned after many years. Take care and keep us all posted on your positive road to recovery.
  • Adam,

    Great to hear you are progressing well. I am trailing you by 4 months with my single level so appreciate the updates. Just curious if your pain was completely gone after surgery and never returned with exercise/chores. I seem to have some pain that will come and go in my neck and that sometimes translates into little tingles in my hands. I have not been doing any upper body exercise but I do things like change the car's oil and later/next day I may have these pains. Just wondering if you had anything similar.
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • AdamGAAdamG Posts: 12
    edited 04/21/2014 - 9:51 AM
    Hi Everyone,

    Again been a while since I updated and I can report that things on the whole have been very good. Over the past few weeks I have had some residual aches and funny feeling in my neck (left side) and within my rear delts area. I do feel a little uneasy about this sometimes given the nature of my injury but everything appears to be fine. I am presuming this is just a combination having a desk job where I am sat a computer all day (in addition to that I'm also doing additional study - also primarily at a computer for work exams in July and August). Sat at a desk all day can place a lot of stress on the area but that cant be helped. My training is also developing and as my left side is still playing catch up it is having to work harder than my stronger right side which does compound the aches a little. However, I must stress that there is no pain, more aches and a little discomfort sometimes. I do get cracking in the neck when I stretch it (as you would expect given the positioning it is held in all day at the desk etc) but as I previously mentioned the neurosurgeon has told me this is completely normal. I'm trying hard not to over-do things within my training but I also want to be pushing myself as well. I don't want to be holding myself back from improving and recovering for fear of doing something. As I restarted training as if I was a beginner again the sessions I'm doing are progressive in nature (I just have to be mindful that my left side requires additional time to recover and it may not do so completely but I seem to be coping). I have only had to modify a couple of exercises slightly and change one, Chins as I wasn't physically able to cope with them. I only had to do sets of six but couldn't mange 1 set of negatives (where I was lowering myself controlled from a pulled up starting position off a bench). These were just too hard and I was over-exerting myself which I need to avoid. So as an alternative I am doing close grip lat-pulldowns until the left side recovers enough - fingers crossed).

    I know I'm just over 8 months into my recovery now but I still get some residual tingling off and on within my little finger and sometimes in my ring finger (left hand - dependent the position of my arm and the bend at the elbow). As I mentioned above my neck does ache a bit - but I expect that to some degree. I have noticed that when I do squeeze the neck muscles with my hands the left side (where I had the problems) feels slightly different to the right and do get tingles (not pins and needles) between my shoulder blades. Vary rarely when I've turned my head a certain way at a particular angle I have felt a prodding niggle that makes you stop and worry a little but its difficult to replicate and doesn't usually happen in the same place. So whilst un-nerving I've put this down to being normal. Although I will temper this by saying that all of these things do serve a gentle reminders. The bike commuting is fine (except for still being very difficult on the way home - mainly uphill). That's about it for now. I'll keep updating periodically but if anyone has any questions please post and I'll do my best to help.

    Cheers, Adam
  • greggvaggreggva Posts: 99
    edited 04/22/2014 - 1:56 PM

    You are a few months ahead of me and seem to be tracking similarly. There was a point for me also with certain neck positions that caused some tingles in my pinky and ring finger as well as my forearm and wrist. This happened when I would try and hold something under my chin like when folding laundry. This sensation slowly went away. I am left with considerable numbness in my pinky and some in my ring finger. I think that it is getting a little better but so slowly that it is hard to tell.

    For exercises, my NS told me that part of the reason I herniated was from doing asymmetrical exercises with considerable force/weight. Single arm punches to a heavy bag, dumbell lat row (lawnmower), etc. I am staying away from those for the foreseeable future.

    Hope you continue well with your recovery!
    C7-T1 ACDF 12Dec2013
  • I respectfully disagree. Not all doctors prescribe the right exercises or diagnoses. I tore 3 labrums in the ball of my shoulder and separated my AC joint from my collarbone and was told I did damage to my rotator cuff and was told I would need surgery. I never got the surgery and did self rehab and worked with my powerlifting coach and with the exercises we did and stretches my shoulder was back to normal strength and abilities in about 6 months. Now it's stronger then ever and I am able to hit weights I didn't think I was going to be able to come close to since I didn't get the surgery. It all depends on the person how bad the damage is and how hard you work at getting it back to normal strength.
  • scared girlsscared girl Posts: 4
    edited 11/23/2015 - 10:05 PM
    Hi all. I am new to this forum and so very glad to find it. I had a double acdf C4 thru C6 October 7th. I have suffered with Degenerative Disc Disease, sciatica, bulged and herniated discs for 8 years. This year has been the worst, hence my decision, and after speaking with my neurosurgeon, to have surgery. I have 2 titanium discs implanted, as well as cadaver bones and a 3 X 2 plate with 6 screws. After my 3rd MRI surgeon said if I didn't go in for surgery immediately, I could paralyze myself. So...as I stated, I had surgery October 7th. The original pain is gone, however the right side of my neck (which is where most of my pain was originally coming from due to my pinched nerves) as well as my shoulders are absolutely killing me. My surgeon [edit] feels I "shouldn't still be in pain 6 weeks post op" well I am, and u know what? He's not willing to do a thing for me and has pushed me off to a pain specialist. I just found this out last Thursday.
    I apologize for such a long post and will get to my question, which is....how long did it take anyone here to not feel like your shoulder blades, middle of your back and neck are going to pop out of your skin? I have not made an appointment with a pain specialist yet because I am waiting on my surgeon's office to send me a referral. I MUST be at work next week, are there any exercises or stretches I can do to alleviate and or strengthen my neck muscles with injuring myself. My surgeon and his office are very vague, even if we try to demand answers. All that [edit] gave me for psin relief is Norco's x4 a day, 10mg valium and Gabapentin for nerve pain. Has anyone here felt worse after there surgery such as I am feeling? My pain level is at a solid 8, everyday, all day. I need help people out there. Any ideas you may have are more than welcome.
    So sorry for the novel guys!
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,940
    edited 11/23/2015 - 9:26 PM

    Welcome to Spine-Health
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    Spine-Health Moderator
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