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Need Pep Talk 5-1/2 Months Post-ACDF

Will someone please send me some words of encouragement? It's been 5-1/2 months since my C5/C6 ACDF. I've been in physical therapy since July. My PT guy has been pushing me hard to regain arm strength. I feel awful. My surgeon said up to 18 months for full nerve regeneration, so I know I could have a lot of progress yet to come, but I am scared. I still have swollen tendons in my hands because the nerve(s) is/are irritated. Plus I'm going through some trials in my personal/family life. Add it all up and I'm a mess. I'm depressed and I don't know what to do or what to expect. I feel alone. I am already thinking of making an appointment to talk to a therapist, so please don't post any nasty comments in that regard. I know it would probably help a little, but there's also the issue that only those of us who have been through spinal surgery really understand. Please...words of encouragement???


  • I want to remind you of how brave you are. You are making progress everyday, because each day that passes, your body heals. So even if you don't feel like it, you are doing your Physical Therapy, you are strong.
    Just think of what you've already been through!!

    I didn't have the same type of surgery but I can relate.. All I can think of now is how much better I get each day. Am I back to 100%? not by a long shot, but can see I am making a little progress every day. I was mad frightened of the surgery, and was so afraid that I would be unlucky as I have been in other areas of my life.

    But just take a deep breath and look at the progress.you have made. I can't wait to see where I will be at 5 months postop! Your physical therapist can see your determination, but you are the one in control, I know that some times the medical experts think they know it all, but. If you don't feel ready to push your self tell the PT this. You are the customer, regardless of not having the education or knowledge. I have seen some of the posters here on this forum with more than my own doctor's staff.

    It's been 5 1/2 months, but do you remember how you felt 6 months ago before surgery?
    Did the surgery help your pain? At least you are doing it!!

    I don't know about your personal issue, to help you but i feel like right now, we need to care for ourselves first and foremost, because if we don't make a complete recovery than it will effect everything physically and mentally. I tell people around me not to add drama, and try not to add stress. You need to be your own best friend right now and HEAL.
    Try to spin a positive out of everything negative. We all have our pain and yet, there are always someone out there, who has it so much worse.
    Healing Hugs,
    8/21/2014 Laminectomy, double discectomy w/multiple hardware, & multi level fusion, L4,L5,S1 (PLIF)
  • Surgery is something that we remember for quite awhile. It changes a lot about how you do things now compared to before. I don't know about you but I kept hearing from people that after surgery, you will feel great, brand new and all of that. I honestly didn't believe that for a second. But eventually it will improve. I think psychologically we want to feel great afterwards and when it doesn't live up to our expectations, its hard because we feel let down. Why are we not healing as fast as they say we will? And when we add in the rest of our life craziness into the mix, its a hard pill to swallow. Give yourself a break. You want to get well and you are doing all the right things from what you are telling us.
    I am 2 weeks post op from ACDFI at my C5/C6 also with a lot of nerve issues myself from it taking so long to get someone to take my pain seriously. I had spinal cord compression and part of the disc pushing on the nerve roots. Things were progressively getting worse before surgery. I feel like I know where you are coming from. My doctor told me before my surgery that the spinal cord compression issue needed to be resolved first and foremost and the surgery wasn't to relieve the pain but it should come hand in hand. He also told me I should feel like brand new. Good thing I didn't believe him. I felt like I got ran over by a train. lol.
    I hope you have improvement. But don't forget to take care of your mental wellbeing as well. It sounds like you are working on that.
    Tracie C
  • @Jules27 Sorry to hear things are not going well for you. Maybe the PT is pushing you too hard. I'm no expert but before my surgery, PT made me worse and even after ACDF 6 weeks ago, I find just walking too long or sitting too long sets me back. I still have more pain that I did before the surgery... a nagging pain that is worse when I simply prop up my head with a pillow. Lying on my side is best. To complicate matters, it seems everyone around us expects us to be well at that six week point. After all, we've had all this time off from work and our incision is barely visibile. But, only we know how it really is. The doctors tell us 4-6 weeks and we'll be back at work. We assume that means we should feel pretty good by then. Then it doesn't happen and we're depressed and wondering if we ever should have gone down this road. The way I view it is as long as the bones aren't fused, it won't feel normal. If you break your arm, it would be immobilized in a cast. In our case, things are still moving but they are no longer attached like they had been. It's like we're walking around with a broken neck, save for a plate to hold it all together. I think it affects the nerves in the area and only contributes to the arm pain. I'm hoping with time you and all the rest of us will feel better. I think once everything is fused, you'll feel better. I hope you get some relief soon.
  • RonJ2470RRonJ2470 Posts: 13
    edited 09/25/2014 - 7:10 AM
    Hey Jules,
    My best advice is to stay positive, and remember you are going to have a lot of bad days(painful), which can be expected. My surgery was 9/8/2014, I had lumbar laminectomies L4, L5, S1 L4 Gill procedure, L4-L5 Fusion with autograft and allograft. The pain at times can take a toll, but I remind myself this is going to take time to heal and I have to stay strong, I know it is easy to say but there are a lot of us out there with this issue and we have to be brave. Don't feel bad when you get emotional upset, just remember you have inner strength that will prevail. I always come back to this forum for support when I am in extreme pain and look for encouragement from others who had this procedure. My recovery is a long way down the road, and I have had more bad days than good(still waiting)days. Take care
    Ronald J. Geron
  • I came across your post because I am 12 weeks post ACDF of C 4/5 and have been having severe pain in my hands, and sometimes feet. My hands swell and my knuckles feel like I have arthritis, and tendons on top of my hands hurt. I can barely make a fist. Sometimes it affects my feet and when I wake up and walk to the bathroom, I can barely put weight on them. My feet and ankles are very painful and feel swollen.
    This started a few weeks ago and has progressively gotten worse. I have no idea what is causing it. I didn't have is before surgery. Did you ever find the cause of yours and did it stop?
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