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Physical therapy after ACDF

I am approximately a month into my recovery from ACDF surgery at C5/C6. I was told that the surgery was to take care of the spinal cord compression and the nerve root compression and hopefully the pain would follow. I had no expectations that the pain would be gone just that it would be lessened. I was fine with that. I am hoping that the surgeon will continue to help me reduce the pain. For those of you that have had ACDF in the past or are still recovering, when did they order physical therapy for you? I just want to improve my quality of life. I don't want to be dependent on pain relievers all the time.
Tracie C


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,865
    I had Physical therapy 3 weeks post surgery and had scheduled PT for 3 weeks, 2x week
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I've already gone to PT for 3 weeks and my muscles are very angry. I take one step forward and then have a set back. My arms and shoulder strength is not getting better fast enough for me. My neck is as stiff or stiffer than I was before the surgery. When I try to turn my neck without turning my whole body, I have gotten physically ill and nauseous. I am now doing band exercises and after the first session at home, the PT said my muscles were "angry". Can anyone tell me what to expect next, and is it going to get and better???
  • I have a lot of stiffness in the neck and arms also. Nerve damage really takes a toll on our bodies. Initially this will be a very tough journey. I really hope that towards the end of the therapy to learn what I can do to try to prevent or shorten the flare ups in my neck and shoulders that I get. Physical therapy on other body part issues in the past has always been somewhat of a punishing experience at the start. Do they have you doing exercises at home yet?
    Tracie C
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hi Tracie,
    I've had two cervical fusions, one in 2007 that was a 360 of C4 thru C7 and no PT was required. I am 6 months post-op of a posterior fusion of C2 thru T3 and did not require PT and am doing well in my recovery. Although I've had a wrist fusion and a laminectomy of L4 thru L6 and PT was required.
  • Hi There,
    I'm 4 weeks post op for a 3 level ACDF C4-7 and the Dr. told me he wouldn't discuss PT with me until my 6 week appt. They said the neck wasn't stable enough yet. I did, however, insist on some exercises for my left arm, which had nerve damage due to the surgery itself, and they gave me a sheet of paper with 4 exercises on them. I'm SO ready for PT!
  • I started PT at six weeks. In hindsight... I think I should have waited longer. My neck wasn't strong enough to do what the therapist wanted me to do. I had numerous setbacks. I am five months post op, and stopped PT on September 25th. I feel much better. I'm still walking and doing the excercises. Acupunture has been a lifesaver!
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