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Cervical Rods and Recovery

Looking for someone who had cervical rods inserted to better understand the recovery process.....

I had anterior cervical surgery 11/12/13 for removal of failed hardware and failed graft C6-7. New hard ware was inserted. They also did a posterior laminectomy C3-C6 with insertion of rods on C3-7 to stabilize my spine and correct 2 collapsing vertebrae.

I developed complications and went back to surgery for posterior evacuation of a blood clot and clean out of an infection (coag negative staff). Went home with a PICC line for 6 weeks of IV antibiotic therapy which is now completed.

My neck is very stiff and my head is heavy. Although I have no acute pain and only occasional numbness in hands, I find it difficult to stay up more than 3 hours without resting my head and taking the weight off my shoulders. I have discomfort when bending over/down and when lifting more than 8-10 lbs although 15 is the limit. I am walking every day and start physical therapy next week.

I am wondering if anyone can share their recovery experience so I can set my expectations. I am supposed to go back to my full time job in 2 weeks and am starting to worry I will not be able to.



  • 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
  • Kare4you
    I have had six or seven spine surgeries. The laminectomys and hardware placed at C5/6/7 for me was the hardest and longest surgery to recover from. The cutting of muscles to get in there is what I think causes the problems. Much pain has the muscle heels and grows.
    Your head feels heavy because your neck and core muscles are weak and your head is heavy thus being hard to hold up. What did help me was a arthritis pool class twice a week. It was six months before I even started getting better and could hold my head up without thinking about it.
    Good luck and build the core muscles up Just my opinion.
  • Thank you Rickilalas,
    It sounds like you went through much more than I and have some sound experience to share. I thought I was loosing my mind when I experience/d the difficulty of holding my head up. I do wish you all the best.

    If you have any other key points that you would care to pass on I am all ears and eyes. DOs and DONTs. Anything.
  • RickilalasRRickilalas Posts: 559
    edited 01/18/2014 - 8:10 PM
    All I can suggest for you is get with a good PT and get a program going to build the strength up in your neck. You have a lot more hardware over a longer area then I do. Getting the strength back isn't always easy because use of the muscles is limited. It takes time.
    I had another lumbar surgery and went in for PT on the lumbar and the therapists could see my neck was weak. She worked on my neck and had me do the lumbar at home because of insurance limits. Do anything you can without much pain when working your neck discomfort is ok but pain means slow down. I ended up in a arthritis pool class twice a week and I still go more then two years straight now. The hot pool water gave me more help in getting range of motion and strength. It takes time. If no pool with water 90 degrees plus is available try it in a very warm and long shower and just do some simple exercises that a PT has shown you how to do. You might be able to find some online even. Just be carefully and remember your rods limit motion don't force anything.
    It does sound crazy but I was holding my head up at times with both hands and didn't realize it. Today it's pretty good and much better. I do need support after a long time, but I can do a few normal things now and not look like a idiot LOL
    A friend who is having this issue right now told me our heads weigh about ten to thirteen pounds. Just think if your were healthy before surgery and placed a ten pound bag of sugar on your head and had to carry it all day. It would be a strain and that is what your kind of doing now.
    I will answer anything I can for you. You can post here or send a PM

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