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4 weeks Post Op

AnnieDrewsAAnnieDrews Posts: 6
edited 02/04/2014 - 5:53 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello to everyone. I posted an intro in the appropriate area last week. More details about my history can be found here:

4 weeks ago today, I had a cervical fusion (bone grafts at 4 levels and posterior fusion from C2 through T3. My surgeon reiterated at my first post op visit that this was done to stop progression of my symptoms. I had expected the issues with my arms would improve, but so far.....not all that much. He told me I could start weaning out of my collar tomorrow and return to work when I feel like it.

I am still having severe pain in my right upper back into my shoulder and arm. I am also still having numbness in my left hand, which is positional. I am VERY concerned these will be permanent issues and I honestly don't know if I will be able to work with them. I realize it has only been 4 weeks, but we had discussed me going back to work at 6 weeks post op.

I work in a physician's office doing CT scans and I am the only person there who does that job. I have someone filling in currently, but don't want to stay off too long and risk losing my job. They have assured my position there is secure.

I am unable to locate instructions on how to load images. I have AP and lateral films at my first post op visit I would like to post.

Anyone have a similar surgery and can tell me how long until they returned to work. Or if you had any permanent pain or disability after recovery. Thank you.


  • taun. pttaun. p Posts: 4
    edited 02/05/2014 - 3:32 AM
    On Dec. 16, only a few weeks before your surgery, I had ACDF surgery and the numbness in my hands, pain in my neck, back and I even had pain in my right foot all gone when I woke up from surgery. I experience occasional pain in my upper back and neck after surgery which turned out to be due to muscle spasms. A muscle relaxant is very helpful in relieving the spasms and in turn the pain. I am finding that the spasms have greatly decreased over the last 2 weeks. It's possible you are having spasms and if you relieve them you will find the numbness in your hand may go away too. I sometimes wake up with numbness in my hands but it gets better after getting up. I had my 6 week follow-up and I was given permission to start weaning myself off of the neck brace and I will get stiffness or mild pain/spasm but once I put my brace on or lay down I feel better. I hope this is helpful and that your issues will be resolved soon but remember your neck muscles are still weak so any movements using the muscles in your shoulders and neck may cause you pain until they are built back up.
    Taun p.
  • taun.p I had my surgery 3 weeks ago & my experience seems to be the same as yours. In 2 weeks I get xrays and see the doctor. Depending on the results of the xrays (bones fusing) I might be weaned to a soft collar. Looking forward to any decreased time with the hard collar.
    Did or will you be going for any PT'?
    ACDF Surgery January 16
    C 4/5 & 5/6
  • AnnieDrewsAAnnieDrews Posts: 6
    edited 02/05/2014 - 8:52 AM
    Thank you for your responses. I have been on Robaxin every 6 hrs for muscle spasms since coming home from the hospital. I had also been given Valium, but only 10 tablets, for breakthrough spasms when I came home. They would not refill them when the 10 tabs ran out.

    Interestingly, a soft collar was not given as an option, but I plan to call the doc's office and see if it is something I could try. At least if just for my own peace-of-mind. I long to sleep without a collar, but am scared to try it.

    Also, I will not be doing any PT as far as I know. I had C5-6 & C6-7 anterior fusion back in 1999 and did not have any therapy then, either.
  • I had an Occuput.-C2 fusion and it has been 3 months post op and I still have symptoms. For me they have gotten worse instead of getting better but my neurosurgeon says that most people will get everything to go back to normal. Then again I am a rare case but nonetheless 3 months down the road the only change is it is getting worse!!! It is frustrating but just have faith that it will get better. For me, I had a severe bruise on my spinal cord and my neurosurgeon was surprise that I wasn't paralyzed. If you had a contusion or bruise on your spinal cord then it will probably take time. I would be happy to help you through this. I actually had my surgery cut into 2 parts. My first surgery was done January 24,2013 on C1-C2 and the second one was occiput- C2.
  • Thanks, Hunter, for your note. I am having faith that all will be well in the long run. It's just hard to imagine possibly returning to work in 2 short weeks.
  • Erlbo no my surgeon hasn't mentioned PT to me. I didn't have any weakness before surgery but I was experiencing numbness in my fingertips on my right hand and dropping things. Whenever I laughed coughed or reached forward I would get numbness & tingling down both arms and hands. My disc were herniated on 3 levels C3-C6 and bone spurs bruising my spine. So a vertebrae also had to be removed. As I mentioned in previous post most of my symptoms were alleviated by surgery. I too thought my first follow-up was to check for bone grownth/fusion but the PA said they wanted to check and make sure all hardware was still where they put it. My next follow-up is in two months then they will be looking for bone growth/fusion.
    AnnieDrews my surgeon encouraged me to sleep without my brace and I too was afraid. In the hospital I did it the first two days no problem (I had respiratory complication in hosp 3 days) because didn't have to sleep flat. At home it was a problem. I puchased a flip pillow and that was a tremendous help. It allowed me to sleep on an incline with the larger side and took short naps on the smaller neckroll side. By the 3rd week I was able to sleep flat in bed with the neckroll side and a sheet folded up over it. The pillow is quite soft so the rolled up sheet made it firm enough to support my neck. My surgeon also told me to take the brace off when I ate a meal and showered. So my muscles are probably not as weak as they might have been had I not removedmy brace for sleep and those other short intervals. If you want to return to work soon, not using you brace when you sleep may be a big help. I'm on week 7 and weaning off using the brace but Thurs kept it off most of day and now I am having some pain & soreness in back of head and neck. Iguess I need to wean a little slower.:-) I would also recommend you read some of the after surgery post to get a better idea of the time involved in recovery. But there are a lot of factors that need to be considered like what type of movements you will be doing. Maybe you can return with a reduced work-load or schedule. I understand your predicament. I injured my lower back in 1997 and faced a similar situation. Dealing with properly healing and job security is very distressing.
    Taun p.
  • Thank you, Taun P. I'll look around for a flip pillow. I tried laying down last night and after 5-10 min. was having pain. I am able to keep my collar off for longer stretches each day, so I suppose it will just take a while. I am going to call my doctor's office tomorrow and ask about getting a prescription for Ambien. I had it while in the hospital and think it might help now. I am not getting good rest at all and if I am going to go back to work soon, I need to get some rest.
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