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ACDF Candidate Seeking Advice

edited 12/09/2013 - 11:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I'm new to this forum and have been coming rapidly up to speed on issues relating to spinal conditions since I was diagnosed with spinal stenosis in late October of this year. I've had symptoms of pain and numbness radiating down into my right arm for approximately 12 months. The MRI I had in October revealed the following:

"Advanced multi-level degenerative changes of the cervical spine which are most pronounced at C5-C6 where there is disc osteophyte complex causing flattening of the cervical cord with abnormal T2 hyperintensity within the right half of the spinal cord with severe bilateral neuroforamial narrowing. There is additionally moderate neural foraminal narrowing."

I've had early symptoms (no numbness, tingling, just a pain in the right shoulder) since the late 90's. Docs would prescribe ibuprofin and send me home. This led me into yoga, massage, acupuncture in a big way to help manage the pain.

I'm now speaking with a spinal surgeon at UCSF and am considering the ACDF surgery. I'm concerned by the recovery time (I work for an employer, and it will be difficult for me to take more than a few weeks to recover). I'm fortunate to have what is largely a work-at-home desk job that does not involve heavy physical labor. That said, it is intense in hours, expectations, etc. I'm also concerned at the loss of flexibility I might experience.

However, I'm more concerned by the advancing symptoms. My right hand has become progressively number over the last month. I've tried Presnidone, massage, acupuncture, etc., and nothing is providing lasting relief.

Any advice you could offer to someone being presented with the option of ACDF? Any alternatives I should inquire into?

Thank you in advance.


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,832
    To get started, please read Your First time at Spine-Health

    Here is some detailed information regarding ACDF surgeries ACDF Surgery

    I have had 2 ACDFs done. ( C4/C5, C5/C6 ) Not to bore you, but I also had 4 Lumbar surgeries. But overall , I feel that the ACDF surgeries were the easiest in terms of

    • - Eliminating the original pain
      - Quickest and easiest recovery period
      - Did not have much long lasting impacts/restrictions
    My surgeries were done in 1996 and 2000. Back then, the standard was for patients to wear hard cervical collars.
    I had to wear a Philadelphia Hard cervical collar for 6 weeks, 24x7. It wasn't the much comfortable to say the least.
    But reading many threads here, there seems to be a move away from hard collars and many also do not even have soft collars.

    The biggest restriction I have had done to those surgeries (because if the span of the disc's involved, a titanium plate was screwed into place to provide additional stability. was range of motion left/right and up/down. For driving, that caused some problems. I have an oversize rear view mirror, plus additional blind spot mirrors on by side mirrors., Still, when I need to enter, pull into, switch lanes, that require me to look and check left, I have problems! I need to unbuckle my seat belt and just about swivel in my seat so I can see around. I've sort of given up on that method and now rely on the sound test.
    If no one beeps at me, when I making those moves, its ok... For now, that goodness I can hear!

    I was a programmer and had to travel about 65 miles each way and work about 8 to 10 hours a day. That did put a strain on my condition. I was also very fortunate to work for a large company who handled all of this without any problems.

    It is very important that this get corrected (ACDF). Once you start to get increased numbness, the source of that needs to be addressed. But, that really needs to be handled between you and your doctor(s),

    My first lumbar surgery was in 1978 and I still have some ongoing problems with that. My neck is stable and I am basically free of cervical pain. I am bothered only when I do something that I should not be doing.

    There are many others out here who have had ACDFs. Hopefully, they will join in to share their experiences,

    Good Luck As long as you have faith in your doctor , that helps so much.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • davrunnerddavrunner Posts: 478
    edited 12/10/2013 - 6:43 AM
    I used cervical traction at home to delay surgery for the past year. My surgeon is concerned with the levels above and below where I need fusion c4-c7 and hoped that with traction I could put off the surgery for 5 years or more to increase the odds that I won't need another surgery before I die. Well the traction helped for about a year and 1/2 but stopped helping about 6 months ago and surgery is scheduled for Jan 20.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • I have a Saunders cervical traction device at home which I used in conjunction with Presnidone. Both were prescribed by a somewhat legendary SF-based Orthopedic M.D. The device helped reduce the numbness in my arm and hand significantly when I first started using it. Not sure what I could attribute to the steroid, and what to the traction device. However, the symptoms have now become persistent.

    Traction has a modest, but temporary, impact. Wish I'd discovered it years ago...I really had no knowledge of how my vertebrae were causing the pain I was feeling in my upper back. The pain sent me towards becoming a somewhat accomplished yogi...I'm able to do some remarkable things with my body...Sadly, I lack the ability to break down the bone spurs that are now impinging on my nerve roots...If only :-)
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