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c4 c5 single level ACDF scheduled for thursday

Hello everyone I am new to this forum I was introduced to it by a friend of mine. Here is my situation, I was rear ended last year and have been having neck, shoulder, arm pains and finger tingling. I have seen 3 neurosurgeons and an othropedic surgeon within the past year. All of which have said that I have a severe herniation between my c4c5 disc and bone spur formation which will require surgery. I have gone throught 3 epidural shots, PT and massage therapy not have helped. I spoke to 3 chiropractors and 2 out of the 3 said they wont touch me because they dont want to furthur risk injury. The 3rd said he would try using the traction to decompress the disc and try to suck the herniation back into the disc using a vaccum like pressure from the traction machine. I really didnot follow what he was talking about. When I asked him about the bone spurs and how he would help with that issue, he said when he gets the fluids back in the disc the bone spurs will go away like a bad callus. I am in limbo right now and nervous about the surgery. My surgeon also said that future adjacent surgeries maybe required. Has anyone gone through with a single level ACDF and had to go in for others?



  • Hi Bernie. I have never heard of the bone spurs being abosrbed back into your system. Fom all of what I have been told, once they are formed, they have to be shaved off if you want to get rid of them. I had a 5 level ACDF last week. It is a lot more painful than I had thought, but the recovery pain I have now is very different than the pain I had before. My surgeon was going to do 4 levels, but he said one was very very near time for surgery. When I asked him hoow long it would be before he would have to add the other he said 3-5 years. So we made the decision to add it in this time and get it over with. My experience (I have a previous TLIF-2011) is that I need to have the next level added to the fusion within two years. so I got 3 years before the level above went.
    I dont know if this helps you, but good luck. This is a great place to come to find out that what you are experiencing is normal, there are others of us out here that have been there!
    Best of luck!
  • Bernie N.BBernie N. Posts: 73
    edited 03/11/2014 - 4:01 PM
    Pascoflguy and Liz. Thank you for your inputs. I read all the forums you sent liz and that helped out alot. I was researching what the chiropractor said and I cant seem to find any scientific backing that supports his case. I will give updates after the surgery
  • Tired of the painTTired of the pain Posts: 197
    edited 03/11/2014 - 5:05 PM
    I had a multi level ACDF 3 years ago and in spite of my name, I would recommend it to anyone who has symptoms and the recommendation of a neurosurgeon. I have seen with my own eyes several people do absolutely great with the single and multiple level ACDF. My problem was I already had permanent nerve damage because I tried so many alternatives that it was too late for me.
  • Thank you for the words of encouragement. I'm assuming you are no longer in pain. My PC doctor today said to not worry because the surgical team has had a great track record for the past 10 years.
  • No I am still in pain but it is about nerve damage plus I still have a herniated disk that they left in there, so I still struggle. That being said I would still have the surgery because I can use my arms. I am not paralyzed which was a real possibility before the surgery.
  • They left a herniated disc in after your ACDF or is it a new herniatied disc? Im glad you had the surgery before having to go through paralysis. I would consider that a successful surgery.
  • What are theother levels surrounding the one you are haveing done like? Is there any damage yet? Are there any herniations right above or below the site you are having done?
  • All discs above and below are within normal ranges and no herniations. NS said it will be between 10-15 years depending on daily activity and wear and tear on the adjacent discs. I'm going to try and live life normally but with a cautious mindset that I may herniate other adjacent discs in the future.
  • There is no way for your body to reabsorb a bonespur, it's made of bone and as I understand it it's your bodies way of trying to fix instability.
    Hopefully your surgeon told you there is no guarantee of being pain free. While we all hope to get pain relief from surgery that isn't the reason to do surgery. Surgery is done to stabilize the spine and stop or slow down degeneration.
    I am 7 weeks out of a 3 level fusion with the understanding that down the road there may be more surgeries above or below due to added stress. I was loosing the use of my left arm so I had to have surgery. I have already regained a lot of strength in my left arm and no longer have numbness and tingling. I do still have significant pain and muscle spasms in my upper back, hopefully those will calm down eventually.
    Good luck on your surgery.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • Lol, i almost choked on my milk reading your subject line. I do agree with you on the body trying to fix itself by growing bone spurs. Im glad that the numbness and tingling has gone away. From what my NS says I will experience some of the same symptoms but gradually go away in time because we are fixing the problem now rather than later. Thank you for your input and please continue to give us updates on your recovery as I will do on my.
  • I had ACDF on levels c4-5 and c5-6 with bone spurs also. The dr actually used the bone spurs to fill in the bone needed in my two herniated disks. Nothing was ever mentioned about them going away on their own! I had a successful surgery, its bbeen 5 months and back to work so I am having pain again constant headaches and now they say I suffer from Occipital Neuralgia. So it is better to do it now than wait too long. May pain may get better or may not but like others maybe I prevented paralysis. I go for two nerve blocks on this Monday.

  • Tired of the painTTired of the pain Posts: 197
    edited 03/12/2014 - 2:35 PM
    Yes they left c4/5 in already herniated. Surgeon said it would have to be fused on day nut not yet.
  • From what I get, you really shouldnt be worried about the surrounding levels. If they are solid, no herniations, spurs, etc...then they are going to fix the area that there is a porblem with. If there is some weakness the it will be from the area that they are fixing.
  • 8 hour post OP update. Feeling great no numbness in my arms or tingling. NS found also found a fracture right under my c4 vertebra he fixd it. No problems swallowing and eating. My wife went to get me some pho right now. Just a little sore at the incission. Unbelievablyno problems with hoarse voice. Hope you all doing well.

  • You are still under influence of anesthesia. I am glad you are feeling well and hope it continues to get better
  • 12 hoirs and 50min since surgery feeling great. The anesthesia is wearing out and im starting to feel the hard to swallow effect and the after affects of tue breathing tube down my esophagus. The incision is starting to get irritated. Currently on percocet and flexeril and possibly norco if the percocet doesnt work anymore. Nurse said changing up the medication will hel with the pain.
  • Almost 24 hours since my surgery and I feel great. I walked around the surgical center for about a 5 min. without any problem. Talking and eating fine. I ate some soup crackers toast and hot tea. I wish i can post photos here but i cant seem to figure that oout. If someone knows how to post photos please let me know how to and i will post some.
  • Been home for 48 hours now and still feel great pain level is down to 1 now. The medication they gave me has been working without any problems. I am eating pretty much anything i want without having problems swallowing. Will update again on my 72 hour mark. Hope all is well.
  • Been 72 hours since my surgery and i feel great. The numbing and tingling are completely gone. The only thing im feeling is the incision and slight muscle stiffness around my neck. Im eating food that I enjoy without any problems. Vocals are normal with the occassional horaseness but goes away after a few minutes. Walking about 10 minutes without issues and sleeping great at night. My alarm goes off every 4 hours so i can take percocet and every 8 hours for flexeril.
  • That everything is going so well. This is why I recommend the surgery to friends. Even though my situation did not work out well, I know lots who have been successful.
  • So far so good. I hope to feel better everyday. Today has been kind of stressfull. Neck and shoulders feel alittle sore for some reason.
  • Can cause that kind of stress. I found that I had intentions of reading during my recovery, but trying to look down at a book was not comfortable at all. Even trying to read on an iPad was difficult. Think about any particular postures that might be impacting you.
  • That is a possibility. I will try and not look down at my note pad and pbone. Instead I will bring them to eye level.
  • Try not to hold your phone or book in the same position to overcome looking down, that's just as bad. Try to find a way to prop it up. I had this problem with my laptop and my iPad ( I am a technology specialist for work). I had to prop my laptop up on top of a bunch of books on a table rather than to put it on my lap.
  • I have a lot of muscle spasms in my back still, and attribute most of it to working at a computer. I try and walk around during the day and have to take the muscle relaxers at night. Im in my second full week back at work and doing okay. Have 1 more month of wearing the collar, at least I hope it's only one more month.

    Tired of the pain - I'm surprised your surgeon didn't do all the levels at once. Mine told me that to prevent a later surgery it was best to do 3 levels since the one in between the worst two was already compromised.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • He did the two worst which were next two each other. Didn't think the one on top was that bad yet. He told me that the one above would take some of the stress and eventually need to be fused as would the level below. The more levels they do the less range of motion you have. The pain I have is from the lowest one that was fused. The nerve coming from C6/7 was damaged at the root causing most of the pain, burning, tingling, aching and numbness in my arm and hand
  • Hi all,

    I have hit a wall today. Pain level went to the extreme 8 today especially this morning. I over slept without taking my pain meds at the specific time and boy did I pay for it today. I had severe neck spasms along with sharp pains going down both arms for about 30 min straight until the medication kicked in. Thank god for flexeril and percocet or I would have had to endure the pain all on itself.

    While it is true that the more they fuse the less the ROM. But what are you sacrificing for the ROM a possible permanent disability of the nerve, damage to spinal cord or god forbid paralysis. I would rather loose the ROM over all the other risks.
  • Day 6 after a scary day 5 today seems to be better. Except for the chicken bone i accidently swallowed and got stuck in my esophagus. I finally squeezed it down with a banana and my head turned to the right. I guess i will have to find oit later today if the bone made its way down or if its still lodged in my throat. Todays pain level is about a 2 because of the hoarse voice box and chicken bone issue. I also noticed that when I sneeze or cough my left arm starts to feel tingling and numb for a few seconds and then goes away. No other issue to report.
  • I was lucky in I haven't had any tingling since the surgery. I still have significant bouts of muscle spasms, only slightly eased by flexeril/amirx (extended release flexeril I take at night).
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
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