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ACDF Surgery C5- C6 and C6-C7

Hello.......first post on this forum. I had ACDF surgery Dec 10th, 2013, about 3 month ago due to severe spinal stenosis and bone spurs. I was first diagnosed with this problem 6 years ago by a neurosurgeon after an MRI and opted not to do the surgery after reading the horror stories and many posts on various forums including this one. Also, everyone told me "don't do it, neck surgery is risky and try therapy, chiropractors, etc. My shoulder and arm pain went away and only flared up occasionally that was controllable with Advil/Aleve. Last November I woke up with a pain in my right shoulder blade, took an Advil and went outside and did yard work, tree trimming, etc. The next morning I couldn't use or move 4 fingers on my right hand.

Needless to say I freaked out and went to the doctor, had another MRI and was told I needed the surgery ASAP then got a second opinion. So despite all the negative posts and horror stories, I had the surgery by a qualified neurosurgeon at 11am, Dec. 10th, was home by 9pm and maybe took pain meds for 2 days then switched to Tylenol. I had slight neck/throat discomfort for a few days, was walking around and driving within a week going out to dinner. I have had more pain and issues with a root canal.

Moral of this long story (sorry), I am typing this with my index finger since my fingers have not recovered yet. My advice to anyone putting this surgery off......DON'T. I am going to therapy 3 times a week and praying I can get full use of my hand back.

Thanks for reading.



  • I hope this did the trick for you. What type of surgery did you have done?

    As to horror stories, I know 4 people who have had spine surgery and only one had a good outcome. My wife's brother in law had minimally invasive lumbar surgery and he is better. My cousin had ACDF and is worse. Two friends had lumbar diskectomies with instrumentation ie screws, plates, rods, cages and they are ready suffering the agonies of the damned.
  • I never put surgery off , I had it straight away each time . I had C/3 to C/7 done over 6 years and I still lose the use of my 3 fingers on each hand my right shoulder , 60% mobility and control over my bladder . So some times I think it dose not mater weather you wait or not. It sounds like you recovery is going well up walking driving no pain in the first week and I hope you get the full use back in your fingers. Good Luck and takecare
  • tina, you lost control of you bladder from C7 area herniation? I have bladder issues after neck injury but not diagnosis of anything impinging cord. Hoping not related.
    Herniated T6-7, multiple herniations in cervical, tears in T5-T8. Stenois at levels and smorls nodes from thoracic thru lumbar
  • Tired of the painTTired of the pain Posts: 197
    edited 04/22/2014 - 4:11 PM
    I will always recommend this surgery for those who have tried conservative therapy already and need this as a last resort. I have seen several friends who were not as far gone as I come out with great outcomes and I was so happy. Perhaps someday I will have my happy ending
  • Had my surgery due to severe cervical arthritic stenosis and spinal cord inpingement. 3 months collar 24/7 and then had to wean out of it. Done by a neurosurgeon . 2 months of intense physical therapy and I'm stillon meds but not over more then norco I also have L5/S1issues and Ia. Seeing chiropractor for that. Neck surgery has nothing to do with bladder. I also had numerous opinions. Chiropractor care seems to be helping. For lumbar but they are not allowed to touch my neck. I' feeling way better now but have other issues not dealing with spine. I am also wearing a bone stimulator for 9 months. I believe that there's a lot of us with successful stories and they have just moved on.
  • I am 2 weeks post op and feel pretty good except for the stiffness in the back of the neck and shoulder blade area.My NS says there is no reason for me to wear a collar even though I told him I have a very active 3 year old son.I have a follow up tomorrow and I was hoping to hear that some of my restrictions would be lifted but from what I've been reading that is not going to happen.I had acdf c5 c6 c6 c7 with titanium plates.I have to comply with his orders (lift nothing heavier than a gallon of milk)The surgery was a total success so far all my pre op pain is completely gone shoulder/arm pain pins and needles in my thumb,thats all gone.But I was just wondering are these restrictions gospel etched in stone ? is there any wiggle room like maybe taking out a bag of trash that weighs 20lbs or is that really going to screw me up?.
  • Each surgeon is different on whether or not you have a collar but the weight restriction is pretty standard. I had 3 level C4-7 and wore an Aspen collar for 3 months. I had a half gallon restriction for 6 weeks and gallon restriction from 6 to 12 weeks. The surgeon explained that even though you have a plate and screws your joints still move. lifting more than your limit can cause excessive movement which can inhibit fusion.
    There are many people on here who "overdid" and suffered because of it. This is your time to call on the help of friends and family and let them take the trash out for you.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • I am still very careful and certainly can tell I have metal in my neck. Dr. told me 18 months to fuse. Take it easy Connor106 .
  • Thank you for your post Ted. I am 37 years old and was diagnosed with a disc protrusion at C5-C6 which is resulting in "moderate spinal stenosis, mild cord impingement and mild cord edema". I also have a disc protrusion at C6-C7 causing "severe lateral recess stenosis" which is pinching the nerve root. It is this problem that was causing me such horrible pain down the left side of my arm and upper left back and chest. I say "was" because I am now taking Lyrica which has stopped the pain, which is great...but I am well aware that this is simply a bandaid and is not a solution to the problem.

    The Neurosurgeon I saw was wonderful. We talked for well over an hour and he did not pressure me at all, but simply informed me of the situation. His concern is the cord impingement in the C6-C7 area. His opinion is that this will not heal itself but it may stall out for a while and not get worse. As I am currently comfortable "pain-wise" thanks to the Lyrica, he was happy not to push for me to make a decision....but he did say that with the C5-C6 disc and the cord impingement, I am at more of a risk of suffering a severe spinal cord injury if I were to fall or get rear-ended by a car, etc.

    So I need to make a decision....of course I've almost fallen two dozen times now...and my sister had to slam on her brakes the other day when I was in the passenger seat and my neck actually made a cracking sound...ugh! It terrified me!

    The surgeon would want to do a two level ACDF.

    TED - did they harvest bone from your hip? Do you have the plate and screws in there? Did they use the artificial spacers? I'd love to hear more details if you don't mind!

    I'm so glad to hear that you had the same surgery and are doing well! That's wonderful and thank your for sharing. I have been putting off making a second appointment with the surgeon so I can ask him more questions, but I think I should call and set things up so we can get this done and over with and get on the road to mending! :o)

    Canadian Sheltie Agility Freak!

    PROPOSED double ACDF surgery on C5/C6/C7.
    Upper disc herniated and currently pressing on spinal cord.
    Lower disc bulging and pressing on nerve root.
  • I had bone spurs touching my spinal cord YEARS ago.

    My most recent GP said to me if your MRI shows bone spurs touching your spinal cord the neuros will probably want to do surgery. I said---um they were touching it 4 years ago. Why didn't they do something then?

    Sigh. I had ACDF C5, C6 and C7. He said that C4 looks like it will go too and that will probably need to be done in a few years. I will make sure to monitor everything and not let it go but this experience has made me terrified of doing this again.

    Try to keep smiling and doing but oh sooooo tired of intense pain battle---tired. I hurt and know it doesn't define me but it sure does change things.
  • I had surgical spine surgery 4/2013 and when I got out of surgery I could NOT lift my right arm at all. Therapy has helped but my arm is no where the same as it was. In October 2014 I found out my plate was cracked in my cervical spine between c5 and c6. Now I'm being told that I have to have addition surgery going in the back this time to fix my cervical spine. Took a swollow test and was informed that the reason I'm now chocking when I eat or drink is from the cracked plate. The new surgeon has informed me that the ENT that he has spoke with does not want to take out the old cracked plate, but, he still wants to do the surgery from the back. I need input on this situation. Please advise......
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