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Good recovery from acdf c 5-7

racerxrracerx Posts: 1
edited 03/06/2015 - 6:05 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am 6 days post op.
I am posting this because when I was doing my research for ACDF, most of what I found was negative.
I am a 49 year old male who is in decent shape. For several months I was experiencing neck pain that radiated to my tricep and forearm. I received an injection and that helped my pain, but it is a temporary fix. When they went in to take out my disk between c5 -c6 there was only 2mm left. The Dr jacked both my c5-c6 and c6-c7 back to 8mm.
I had a complication after surgery due to blood clots. I have been on Coumadin for 8 years. They kept me for a couple extra days for precaution. I had the surgery Friday 2-27-15 at 4:pm. I left the hospital Monday afternoon.
I came into my office half days Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I plan on working a half day today. I have been off pain killers for 36 hours and now just on Tylenol.
The biggest difference I have found among spine surgeons is the use of the collars. My doctor wants me in a hard collar for 6 weeks. I have friends who have had this surgery and their doctor said 2 weeks. I have read some doctors don't want you in one at all. I have a friend who is a spine surgeon and he recommends a week or two.
Here are some recommendations.
Have a positive attitude.
Get some straws, makes it easier for drinking at first.
Take stool softener after surgery.
Take small bites and have water ready to wash food down.
Try and get back to normal life as soon as you can.
Hope this helps.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • It does help! I am scheduled for a four level ACDF in less than two weeks and it is hard
    to find many positive outcomes. Thanks for sharing yours. I think my only caution would be that it is early and there may still be tough days ahead. Best wishes for continued healing!
  • Thank you for posting such a positive post. I am having fusion done from C5-C7 with two bone graphs taken from my right hip. Did you have a graph taken? As said above it is so hard to find a positive post on here. I am trying to look at this surgery as a new beginning, second chance, and new chapter in my life. It is a way to improve my quality of life. I know it will not be a perfect outcome but anything will be an improvement from where I am today.
    Would you mind sharing you biggest challenges after being home? Any tips on sleeping, getting through the day or activities you have started being able to do? I was a workout queen before this and I am really looking forward to getting back to the gym and rebuilding my strength.

    Thanks again for the post :)
  • I am 42 years old, and almost 12 weeks post op for ACDF C5-7. My doc replaced mine with cadaver bone. I noticed that my symptoms were gone as soon as I woke up from surgery.
    I was out Christmas shopping 6 days after surgery!! I was in a hard collar for 4 weeks after surgery, and was driving and back at work full time 5 1/2 weeks after surgery. I have not had any physical therapy.
    I definitely agree with having bendy straws on hand! I only ate yogurt, pudding, and smoothies for the first couple of days, then started working in the solid foods. I also got a cheap shower chair and that made me feel so much safer while taking a shower those first couple of weeks!
    I slept in the recliner for about 5 weeks. I only took pain meds at night, to help me sleep better. The muscles in my neck did hurt quite a bit, but once I was out of the collar, and could move my head around, the muscles started loosening up and it got so much better! I
    I still get a little achy at the base of the back of my neck, but that's only after a very long, active day - and it is happening less and less. I have started walking on the treadmill, trying to get back into some sort of workout routine ( I did work out 6 days a week, quite vigorously) but I am trying to take it very slow until my Doc says I am fused and can get back into more active workouts. I am so pleased that I had the surgery. I was so scared before because of all of the horror stories I read online, but for me it was not bad at all.
  • I am one week post-op and feel pretty good. I'm in a hard collar and of course its not the most comfortable thing, but you gotta do what the doc says. My biggest concern is that the tingling/pins and needless feeling in my left index finger has not abated. I don't really have strength issues like many of the posters; it's the tingling. I can't play guitar because I don't dare press down on the string with my index finger due to the instant pain. I'm concerned that the nerve damage is not going to I improve. It's only been a week and my wife tells me to chill out and be patient, but I'm worried. I'd appreciate any input from those dealing with a similar issue with nerve healing/damage.
  • I fainted one morning, did a face plant into my hardwood floor, and ended up with a central spinal cord injury that resulted in total paralysis from the neck down exactly two months ago today. Luckily, the total body paralysis only lasted about 30 minutes and I was able to get enough motion back to call for help. I had a 4-6 fusion with PEEK spacers and plate and since then I've had a pretty remarkable recovery! Before the surgery, I had unbearable pain that radiated down both arms and some other worrying problems. The surgery took away much of this pain instantly and what was left has steadily improved in recent weeks as I've gone back to walking 3 miles a day and faithfully doing my PT exercises (I think that exercise has really helped speed my recovery). You are only one week in, give it time ;) I found these forums pretty scary one week in but think that most people who are feeling better don't bother to post. I am so grateful for this surgery. It saved my life.
  • I need to have fusion on C3-4 C4-5 C5-6 and C6-7. I am scared to have it done due to not finding any positive outcomes.
    My hands get numb, my reflexes are over active, spinal cord is being pinched. It's been over a year of trying everything to make it better but time to realize it isn't. Thank you for sharing your story.
  • Racerx those are some great suggestions about things you need after surgery. I am just having a 1 level ACDF with removal of a bunch of disc material pressing on my c7 nerve root. No collar for me. I guess my Neuro guy figures with the metal hardware on the inside no collar needed. Very interesting how varied the Docs are with collars. I am a PT and those hard collars can be very uncomfortable for patients. Especially if they are not on correctly. They have to be pretty snug. O guess I better get lots of things to make smoothies and eat soup. Is it hard to eat hot things when your throat is raw?
  • ciaobarbaracciaobarbara Posts: 5
    edited 07/13/2015 - 8:42 AM
    I am 5 days post op - ACDF C5-C6.
    My symptoms prior to the surgery were lots of upper back muscle spasm and numbness in my left arm/weakness. My surgery was more severe than what the MRI showed. The nerves where completely crushed and the surgery took an hour longer. I discovered that I was morphine naïve and had some negative side effects after the surgery. So we switched medications to find something that worked for me. This took about a full day. The pain was substantial after surgery...but for me what worked was vicodin and muscle relaxers. Today was the first day I could shower and I'm up and about but still a bit drowsy from the medications. Take them and time them because in the middle of the night if you miss your dose, you will wake up in pain. I will be in a soft collar for 2 weeks and can not drive until it's off.

    Also about 6 hours after the surgery my hands started tingling. Then my left arm...these were the nerves trying to reactivate...it was like the 4th of july fireworks. My throat was quite sore but by far the upper neck and headaches were the worst part of the last 5 days. Also...take stool softeners ASAP because with the surgery - it will be difficult to go to the bathroom.

    I did receive my own bone inside the titanium plate that was slid through the vertebrae's. It's better to receive your own bone because it's still live and can aid in the fusing faster than a cadaver bone. The bone was taken from my neck and not my hip. Much nicer this way.

    I'm sure each day will get better and better.

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  • I had 3 disks and they say I'll be in hard collar 2 months. At the end of 3 weeks 100% on, they said now take it of 50%, like when you're lying flat in bed. It been 4 week now and I'm getting depressed
    David at Goldenear
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,427
    edited 11/23/2015 - 11:19 PM
    Welcome to Spine-Health
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