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30 years old looking at Level 3 (c4-c7) ACDF.

My name is Jake and I just met with my Neurosurgeon this past Monday (3-31-14) and he recommended a Level 3 ACDF. I have herniations at all levels with spinal cord compression. The pain is in my right arm, specifically my shoulder and hand. I only first noticed symptoms this past December/January. I have surgery scheduled for April 18. At this point I am going ahead with surgery since most articles I have read suggest that my younger age and short length of symptoms should elicit a higher chance of surgical success.

That being said, I am curious if anyone has any suggestions or helpful tips to aid with recovery. I am a very active and focused person. I am a farmer and am used to being extremely physically active and want to not only get back on my feet as soon as possible (harvest this fall will be here before you know it), but I want to ensure the best possible outcome for the long term. I have two small children, and would love to have more, and i want to be able to pick them up and rough house with them for many years.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my post. This has all come on very suddenly and I am doing all I can to get as much information as possible.


  • Hi jake, my name is Caly and I am 54 and just had a 2level acdf surgery on 4/2/14 ( c4-c6). Like you I am a very active person and have done physical work all my life. I currently work in Produce in a grocery store and spend most days lifting 20 to 40 lbs all day. My disc problems started in Jan and I had neck shoulder and right arm pain to a point where I could not lift at all. For me it was do the surgery or lose my job.
    Like you I am nervous about my recovery time, but my NS said I should have complete fusion in 6 to 8 weeks and should then be able to return to doing what I did before. To be honest because of my age I am not so sure that will happen, but even so I could no longer stand the pain and decided surgery was my best option regardless. With your younger age I suspect things will go even better for you.
    I am now 3 days post op and while I tire really quickly and am having some muscle spasms in my shoulders and back, the pain is much less than I expected. My biggest issues are difficulty and pain when swallowing. I recommend you have the surgery because if the discs continue to press on the nerves the pain could become permanent even if you have the surgery later in life. Best of luck to you! Caly
    Caly 8-)
  • Thank you Caly! Glad to hear your recovery seems to be going smoothly. The more research I have done the better I feel about long term recovery. I think the fact that we are people who live active lifestyles will power us through!
  • SupergluedSSuperglued Posts: 9
    edited 04/08/2014 - 1:55 PM
    Hi there Wengnut,

    I had a posterior fusion when I was 11….skull to c3. I mean, I can't go play football or hockey….but aside from that I have made a full recovery. Just a month or two after surgery, I was swimming (with a halo on). The more active you can be (within the limits they give you) the better off you will be!!

    About two weeks ago I had to have a revision surgery. They had to remove some of the wires they originally used as the wires had moved and were causing me pain and numbness. I expect to make a full recovery this time around too (this surgery was minimal compared to the original one…but when you mess with my neck, it makes me nervous). I have neck pain and spasms from the surgery, and my neck is itchy as hell from the incision but no other symptoms…

    I believe that the earlier you get treatment, the better off your results will be. I think (based on what I have read here and elsewhere) that it takes time to get back the strength and functionality you may have lost….more time than I think some of us (me) budget for…but that is what my husband is here for….to remind me that I can't do it all right away. :-)

    Keep walking as soon as you get the OK from the doc after surgery..that will be the first thing you'll be able to do…they won't let me lift anything heavier than 10 lbs until I see the doc again (a one month post op) but with a little ingenuity and some friends and family to help, it hasn't caused me much issue.

    Read the Post Op Must Have's post, thats really helpful so that you have everything you need after surgery and make sure to get things done pre-op that you might want to have out of the way. There were things that were on there that I didn't even realize would be good to have! I would add one thing to that list….esp for neck patients….memory foam pillow! its been a blessing to have that only because it doesn't irritate my incision (which is on the back of my neck) like regular pillows do.

    I wish you the best of luck!!!

    ~ Glued
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