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No regrets but I dont feel that surgery has helped any

I had acdf surgery Sept 9th to remove a disc that was herniated and compressing on my spinal cord and had myelopathy that was progressing. I dealt with pain for about 3 yrs before this on and off until the last year which was almost constant. I was constantly having issues at my job that caused me to not be able to perform certain duties and call in sick because I couldn't perform the job at all some days. I had 2 friends that went through acdf surgeries before I went out and they came back pretty much brand new not having any further issues(or that's what they told me anyways). They expect that when I come back that I will be able to do everything like nothing ever happened. I am still in pain every day, I still have limitations to what I can do and still having flare ups, toes going numb as well as my fingers when trying to write or holding the phone. I am going through physical therapy to help these issues and told the doctor. I cant afford to be off any longer from work. I have to go back to work.
I don't regret surgery because it had to be done. I just don't think that the surgery has done enough to help me at this point. I feel a lot of pressure to move on like everything is just fine and everything is fixed. Anyone else feel like this? How are you dealing with it?
Tracie C


  • @rtconant1 sorry to hear you are not feeling well. I had ACDF on levels c5-6 August 12th and was still having a lot of pain until about week 14. I was feeling pretty good last week, needing only a few Advil here and there. Then, Friday, I made the mistake of carrying a heavy box from my children's school a good block or so to my car. I could tell it was a huge mistake when I sat down in my car and my arm pain came back. Today, the day after, I had so much pain I my neck I took a Vicodin, which I haven't taken in about two weeks. I'm hoping it is only a temporary setback. It was a reminder that even on days we're feeling good we have limitations. At least that's how it's been with my recovery. At my last doctors visit at 13 weeks post op, my doctor told me I'm starting to fuse but I'm a slow healer and need to keep with low impact activities only. He also said it could take a year until I'm fully healed. I'm 48 and went into the surgery in excellent health minus my neck pain and radiculopathy. I hope that you start to feel better, like I did, as the weeks go on. It doesn't help when everyone around us expects us to be normal by now, right?! :)
  • I hope you feel better soon and you didn't do too much damage.
    Tracie C
  • I to had a ACDF in summer 2011, C5/6. At that time I was 56. Up until my first symptom I was very healthy. Surgery went well and I returned to work without any restrictions or medications. However I was told all cervical levels were in bad condition. My first symptom was in 2010. Radiculitis down my right leg, then a feeling like I was sitting on a rocks. And a feeling of bruising in my low sides of buttocks. Eventually my toes started to pinch. I was told in 2010 I needed bilateral l5-s1 fusion with cages, plates and screws. Yes, my finger pain came as I waited to schedule this PLIF. So my neck had to be done first. A year later in 2012 the lumbar surgery was done and I was stabilized. But as that healed pain started in ankles down to toes, then up into my calves. Then what I call low back pain under the area of my incison. I half been in chronic pain since. Could not return to my career of 35 years. Now on SS disability. Have a lot of problems standing or sitting for more than 15 minutes or so. Using Lyrics and Cymbalta and a Fentanyl patch. hydrocodone for break through pain. Fusion was accomplished, nerves however were damaged. I believe the Infuse worked, but at a cost. So I'm retired I say. See my GP, a Shrink, a Pain doc, and Neurologist. People ask if I shouldn't of had the back surgery. I had to, like others I had no choice. It hurt, I was at a point where I could hardly perform my job. You hope and prey! So no regrets. If you can handle a narcotic and still work go for it. This forum has given me strength and knowledge
  • Tracie,

    I'm sorry you're struggling with so much still. I'm sort of there with you. I think there is a decent chance that I will have some permanent nerve damage in my left foot/lower leg. So far, at 10 weeks out from TLIF, I have no change in the mobility of my left foot/calf. I still can't raise up on my toes or push off of the at all, despite nearly 2 months of PT. I know I may just need time (I'm sure of it, in fact) but you are absolutely spot on correct with all the other people in our lives who just don't understand how difficult this recovery is. In my case, I walk with a cane. That serves as a reminder that I'm still not healed, but I can't tell you how many people (mainly in my church, great people with great intentions) who ask me every week if I'm all better yet or if this fixed me. I can't answer that. And I can't make people understand even when I tell them every single week that my recovery will likely be measured in months or years, not days.

    Hang in there and know that you are not alone.
    Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
    L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
    Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
  • I am fortunate to have a great neuro spine doctor. Even his assistant is great. I just had my 12 week appointment yesterday. I asked him about me going back to work and he wanted to know if I am ready. Regardless if I'm ready or not, I cant afford to be off anymore. Despite all of the pain that I have, I have to go back. I think its going to kick my butt since I have to return to my job of working 12 + hours a day. I cant go back on restrictions because they don't allow it. I don't think my neuro surgeon thought initially that I wasn't going to have improvements in pain because most people bounce bag and improve. They have decided to raise my dose of gabapentin to 2 pills in the morning, 1 in the afternoon, 2 at night. I was also referred to a regular neurologist to find out what else is going on to cause the pain. They may adjust the meds or send me to a physiatrist eventually. All I know is I cant take narcotics when I am working. I don't like how I feel on them anyways.
    Coltsfan78- totally agree with people on the outside not understanding. Besides the scar on my neck that blends in with the creases in my neck, it doesn't appear to be anything wrong with me unless someone looks closely but most people don't. I hope you have improvments and things get better. I know it takes time and we need to be patient but I am at the end of my rope. Good Luck
    Tracie C
  • Are you worried about your health? Is stress and anxiety leaving you sleep deprived? Tense muscles causing you pain? Are you basically just sick and tired of feeling sick and tired? Stop and take a moment to relax. It may be easier said than done, but that's where Magneceutical Health™ comes in. Magneceutical Health™ www.magneceutical.com is a company in the Complementary and Alternative Medicine market that is dedicated to helping people improve their health and wellness by enhancing relaxation through the use of natural and holistic magnetic fields.
    Magneceutical Health™ is a company in the Complementary and Alternative Medicine market that is dedicated to helping people improve their health and wellness by enhancing relaxation through the use of natural and holistic magnetic fields.
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