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28 year old getting fusion from C5-C7 Really scared

RstubbensRRstubbens Posts: 51
edited 03/08/2015 - 6:13 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi All I am new to this site and would really like some advise. I just found out on Thursday that I am going to be getting a fusion from my C5-C7 with two bone graphs taken from my hip. I am 28 years old and am physically stressing myself out. My surgeon told me I will be in the hospital for 4 days after surgery and will have to wear a hard neck collar 24/7 for 6-8 weeks and then I will slowly be weaned off of it. Has anyone had surgery like this? Is there any advise someone call tell me so I can help prepare myself for this? Is it as bad as I am thinking it is going to be? will it really be a full year recovery?

Thank you in advance for any advice.



  • BlessedMom74BBlessedMom74 Posts: 322
    edited 03/07/2015 - 5:20 AM
    I haven't had surgery, just done a lot of research on it. What I have learned is that if they take the bone from your hip, it makes for a more painful and longer recovery. A lot of doctors use cadaver bone instead. I would ask your surgeon if that is an option. Many people report that they experience more pain from the bone graft than the actual surgery. So if it's possible to avoid added pain, I would look into that. Luckily you are very young, so you will recover faster. Just make sure you follow your surgeons directions. The biggest mistake people make is, once they start feeling better they start to do too much and set themselves back. Just remember, you only get one chance to heal properly, so don't screw it up by doing too much too soon. I'm sure you'll do great. Just make sure you have lots of help so you can take it easy and recover. Good luck to you!
  • Not many surgeons use the hip graft anymore. I'm a bit baffled by your hospital stay too, unless you have other health issues. I had C3-6 fused, with a corpectomy of C5 (so they take the vertebral body out) and I was only there overnight - and had no regrets going home the next day. Pain wise, I don't think the surgery was bad at all as long as they send you home with something decent for a while. The harder part is dealing with the symptoms you had before and very possibly after the surgery.
    Why is surgery recommended for you?

    ACDF w/Corpectomy C3-6 12/8/14 ; Laminectomy C3-6  5/19/2016

  • I was supposed to have just a double disc replacement but after more tests and x-rays the surgeon said all my facet joints are gone as well as both discs. He said they only way to do a disc replacement surgery is to have healthy facet joints. Everything from my C5-7 is gone, it has degenerated to the point of nothing in two years. They are not sure why this has happened since I have never been in any kind of accident or had any head tram. I just woke up one morning unable to move and in a lot of pain and had two MRI's that showed bad herinations. Maybe the surgeries are a little different in Canada? He said they sometimes use cow, or cadaver bones but i am really sensitive to everything so he said my rejection level is high. He said it is more of a quality of life surgery because I went from being really active to now being unable to do anything.
  • I seemed to have sent you via private message (PM). So I hope you got it. I will post here in the future. My bone grafting from the hip was not painful as I was warned it would be. I hope the same for you.
  • BlairBBlair Posts: 2
    edited 03/08/2015 - 6:11 AM
    In the year 2000 I was 39 years old. I was living overseas with my husband and 2 very young children.

    I was riding at a horse show when I fell off the horse head first. Once at the hospital they found two fractures at C-6 & C-7. The doctors considered the cervical spine to be stable and put me in a Philadelphia (Hard) collar neck brace and sent me home. Banking pillows at home to somehow feel comfort and support when resting and sleeping and just mostly taking it easy except trying to figure out how I was going to deal with the seemingly chronic pain radiating down my right forearm into my somewhat numb finger.

    I went back for my check up and the Neurosurgeon said I needed to have emergency surgery the very next morning as the cervical spine was unstable and I would need a discectomy, bone graft from my hip, plating and screwing. He proceeded to explain exactly what he was going to do in a matter of fact manner. The surgery was going to be anterior (front of neck) as he continued to explain......."I muttered under my breath "Holy xxx He said," excuse me"? I said, "sorry, I know this is routine procedure for you, but I'm freaking out as this will be happening to me!"

    My husband drove me home that afternoon and my friends came over and brought me my favorite Chinese Dinner. I was so freaked out that I couldn't eat a bite. I felt like this was my last supper of something. My stomach was in knots and there was nothing I could do but wait. The morning on the way to the hospital I seemed calm, I guess all the stressing the night before was over. I brought my favorite photo of my children with me and checked into the hospital. Surgery took 7 hours for me. My husband was told it would take 4-5. Now HE was freaking out! Once in post op and he saw me wiggle my toes and move my arms he ran to call everyone I was out of surgery and the Dr said it was very successful. When I was awake enough, I noticed the once "chronic" arm pain had disappeared.

    I have lots to share with you regarding the collar, comfort, collar for shower and another for all day/night. I am sure the collars are better now. But invest in fine rolled cotton to have between your neck and the collar so it doesn't rub. We purchased a manual hospital style bed so I would lay very straight as my previous pillow stacking didn't give proper alignment (You want to have this heal well). We also purchased a sturdy Patio style Chaise Lounge for the living/tv room.

    Anyways, I did heal well and still going strong. As long as your confident with your surgeon and try to expect the best. Medical technology is a blessing in many cases and if we need the procedure, we're lucky to be in the day and age when they are very experienced at this. Stock up on movies to watch, up your data plan on your computer, get some books. Enjoy the rest and ALLOW perfect healing to take place.Note what works and what doesn't and one day you will help someone who feels as you do now.

    Hang in there. this moment will not last forever, "it too shall pass" experience all the emotions as an observer, be your own support system. You are in my thoughts and prayers and let me know if there is anything I can help you with.

    All the best, Blair
  • I had acdf on C5/C6 in September. I had a carbon type material cage that they had put in to replace the disc. The doctor made that choice based on my age(36 yrs old). The Doc wanted something long lasting and felt that it was the best choice. I am guessing that they are using your own bone because you are sensitive and didn't want your body to reject it. Who knows? You have every right to be scared. This is a serious surgery. But more often than not, things go well with the surgery. There are no guarantees on whether or not the pain will be gone when you recover from surgery but they wouldn't do surgery unless there is no other option.
    Tracie C
  • Hi RStubbens,

    If you don't mind me asking, which route are they taking (anterior or posterior)?

    I wouldn't worry too much about the length of stay in hospital (it's irrelevant). Some Doctor's are more careful than others.... And it is free here in Canada, so it doesn't matter. As for the bone graft substitutes? Again, every Doctor has their preference.

    The posterior route (from the back) is much more painful as they have to cut through all those muscles to perform the actual procedure. It takes tons of time for those muscles to get back to where they were and I am still dealing with that part of it all 14 months later (the brace makes this even worse).... The anterior route (from the front) also has it's list of cons, but the general consensus is that it is the much less painful one of the two.

    I wouldn't worry yourself too much about this procedure as these Doctors do them all day long.... Unless the earth crumbles underneath them, I'm pretty sure it'll all work out for you :) My advice is to just be strong and stay as optimistic as you possibly can.

    Unfortunately, even if you fuse quickly (as I did within 3 months), the fusion itself will not be solid for an entire year. Others can take up to a full year just to fuse. It's all about the individual as everyone is different. Same process; different results.

    Also, make sure that you have a long list of items as you will need some time to heal. I wish Ihad the link to that thread on what you need after surgery, but I don't. Hopefully someone else can chime in and help us here!

    Here is a spine-health link to help educate you on the bone graft substitutes available. Perhaps if you have a preference, you can ask your Doctor about it:


    If you have any specific questions, fire away. I wish you well on your surgery. Please keep us posted.


    Realize that FEAR is our worst enemy. Get up & get out in that stormy weather of the real world & kick fear in the teeth. Stare at it dead in the eyes & walk right through it into the storm; because once you're wet, you won’t fear the rain anymore
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Usually a 1-2 night hospital stay is planned for if having ACDF. Bone from your hip will cause additional pain so it's worth asking if there are other options for that. I've had 2 ACDF surgeries with bone replacement material instead of bone from my hip.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • Doug Hell said:

    Also, make sure that you have a long list of items as you will need some time to heal. I wish Ihad the link to that thread on what you need after surgery, but I don't. Hopefully someone else can chime in and help us here!
    The list is "stickied" in the surgery section: http://www.spine-health.com/forum/treatment/back-surgery-and-neck-surgery/post-op-must-haves-0

    3/7/2015 C4-7 ACDF
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