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One Year After ACDF: Does Frequency of Flare-Ups Matter?

Jules27JJules27 Posts: 64
edited 04/29/2015 - 11:10 AM in Recovering from Surgery
It's been one year this month since my ACDF C5/C6. My surgeon's nurse told me flare-ups would be completely normal for 18 months or more post-op. The rehab doctor also told me it would be normal to have sore muscles as I begin to return to activities I haven't done in a while. Chances are I still have some nerve regeneration going on, as the "one-inch-a-month" rule would not have it reaching my forearms yet. I've had two great EMGs and MRIs since my surgery.

In recent weeks, I've developed a clumsy streak and managed to slightly injure myself or "overdo it" pretty much every day. (In other words, I have new flare-ups happen before the last flare-up(s) can fully resolve.) This leaves me wondering if the frequency of such incidents puts my recovery in jeopardy or if it's merely causing me more discomfort, longer flare-ups, etc. Many times, it's something simple, like tripping on a throw rug or dog crate and flailing my upper body as a result. Other times, it's something more traumatic or physically taxing, like day after day of grueling rehearsal time on my classical guitar (in preparation for a big performance) or directing my handbell ensemble (which involves a huge amount of upper body movement). I try to be careful, but something always seems to happen.

Is this a normal part of the recovery process and harmless (perhaps even beneficial as I am rebuilding strength) in the long run? I'm not even sure if "flare-ups" is the right word to use, as many of these may not even qualify as flare-ups. They may be just the result of exercising muscles that haven't been used much for a while.



  • I wish I was able to personally comment on this but I'm only 2 weeks post opp. However I have a strange feeling I might end up with this issue as a result of waiting way to long to do the surgery. How long did you have issues before you had the ACDF?
  • SukhreSSukhre San Diego, CAPosts: 181
    I have a friend who felt horrible until the 3rd year. Now he is doing ok.
    MRI shows C4-C7 severe steonosis. Pain in hand.
  • BrauchtworstBBrauchtworst Posts: 38
    edited 07/11/2015 - 11:11 AM
    I have the same issues. I have a few good days and get so excited that I lift something wrong, or too heavy, or just do too much and then my muscles hurt again. It's like they never quite get normal! I am 1 year and two months post surgery. I am always getting over a flare or starting one. My muscles also hurt. My arms feel weak some days and other days, I feel fairly good. If I lift both arms above my head at the same time (as if I am reaching for a star), I will get bad nerve pain for a day. I have to be careful all the time. My doctor said it is probably from stretching the nerves which shrunk in my fetal position!!!! During pain, we all sort of ball up and everything shortens. I hope we will have our muscles again pretty soon. Your information was exactly what I needed to hear. We must be in the same boat.
  • I, too, still have pain but some days are better than others. I feel good when I'm not at work ( weekends, vacations) but as soon as I sit down at work the pain starts to creep in. I am a news anchor and must sit ram rod straight for two hours. I've tried every pillow and wedge possible; lowering or raising my chair doesn't help either. I was doing well about month five
    after c5-6 ACDF, but then made the mistake of having a massage. Lying face down for 30 minutes put a lot of strain on my neck. I have had pain ever since but my mri/x rays show no problem. Very frustrating.
  • Happy 1 Year Anniversary to this thread. I hadn't been on this site for a number of months because I had been feeling all in all pretty good since surgery. However the past couple months my left shoulder and biceps have been giving me trouble. Can't sleep on my left side at all.....too painful. Can't sleep on my stomach with my left arm folded up under my pillow. At one point my physical therapist told me I had a "frozen shoulder" because of how limited the movement was. Can't reach behind my back. Just discouraged because I am so active and didn't expect to be talking about pain one year out. Not sure what to do about it if anything. Or is this just the way it is. Made me feel a little better seeing others are having similar struggles. I wonder if I held off on the surgery for too long and too much damage had already been done but this is different pain from what i had pre-op. Some days are definitely better than others. Today, for no reason I can figure, is just a bad one. Sitting here with a heating pad and feeling sorry for myself.............hoping tomorrow is a better day. Haven't seen my neurosurgeon since the 6 month mark so thinking I will call for a follow up. Would appreciate any other suggestions. Hang in there everyone!
    C5/6, 6/7 acdf Jan 2015
  • Do you all still get prickly tingling feelings over back, arms or/and stomach? I am 12 weeks out no pain just those feelings. Scaring me.
  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,368
    And everything will change
    what hurts now - may not in the future.
    What doesn't hurt now - may hurt in the future.
    We are all so very different - and in many ways the same -
    I only hope for your sake - like me your not so lame.

    Spine-Health Moderator
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