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Recent ACDF of C4-5, C5-6

LulurnLLulurn Posts: 3
edited 06/02/2015 - 6:48 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am new to this site. However, I have been following it for about 6 months now and I am comforted to know that I'm not alone in this. I had a DaVinci robot assisted total hysterectomy on January 6, 2015. I am a Registered nurse and had researched all procedures and medications ( this surgery puts you in a trendelenberg position which means the table is tilted so that your feet are much higher than your head to essentially pull organs away from the pelvis area so that the "parts" being removed are accessible and other "parts" don't get nicked). Going into surgery I only had "female" issues below the waste. In fact I worked my usual 12 hour shift 2 days prior with no discomfort. After surgery I progressively developed pain in the neck, shoulders and in between shoulder blades, stiffening spasms in upper arms and tingling, numbness, weakness and pain in both arms and hands. At my 2 week post-op appointment my Gynecologist figured it was due to positioning and to give it time and it should go away. By 2 1/2 weeks the pain was so severe that I eventually was sent to ER where a CT was done. My opinion is that positioning during surgery caused these injuries. Skip ahead 5 months and I am now 6 weeks post-op from anterior cervical decompression with fusion of C4-5, C5-6. The MRI confirmed that I had disc herniation in C4-5, C5-6 and C6-7 although my Physician decided C6-7 was not severe enough to "fix". Since surgery I continue to have excruciating headaches, pain in the neck, shoulders and back. Pain medication and muscle relaxers help with some of the symptoms and I am following all post-op instructions including religiously wearing my soft cervical collar until my physician gives the OK to stop. Within the past week I'm experiencing the pain, tingling and numbness coming back intermittently on my right neck, shoulder, back, arm and hand. I know that the healing process of this surgery is a long one. Still, I expected to make progress by 6 weeks post-op. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

Welcome to Spine-Health

It would be very helpful if you could provide us with more details. So many times we read about members who have different tests and they all come back negative. The more clues and information you provide, the better chances in finding out what is wrong,

Here are some questions that you should answer:

  • - When did this first start?
    - Was it the result of an accident or trauma?
    - What doctors have you seen? (Orthopedic, Neurosurgeon, Spine Specialist, etc)
    - What Conservative treatments have you had? Which ones?
    - What diagnostic tests have you had? And their results (MRI, CTScan, XRay, EMG, etc)
    - What medications are you currently using? (details, dosage, frequency, etc)
    - Has surgery been discussed as an option? (If so, what kind)
    - Is there any nerve pain/damage associated?
    - What is your doctor’s action plan for treating you?

Providing answers to questions like this will give the member community here a better understanding
of your situation and make it easier to respond.

Please take a look at our forum rules: Forum Rules

Please remember that no one at Spine-Health is a formally trained medical professional.
Everything that is posted here is based on personal experiences and perhaps additional research.
As such, no member is permitted to provide

  • - Analysis or interpretation of any diagnostic test (ie MRI, CTscan, Xray, etc)
    - Medical advice of any kind
    - Recommendations in terms of Medications, Treatments, Exercises, etc

What could be good for someone could spell disaster for another.
You should also consult your doctor to better understand your condition and the do’s and don’t’s.

It is very important that new members (or even seasoned members) provide others with details about their condition(s). It is virtually impossible to help another member when all the details we have are
I’ve had this for years, it hurts, I cant move my shoulder – what could this be, what treatment should I get?

Diagnosing spinal problems can be very difficult. In many ways its like a game of clue. Especially, when the diagnostic tests come back negative – no trouble found! Then its up to the patient and the doctor to start digging deeper. The doctor is like a detective. They need clues to help them move along. So, you as the patient need to provide the doctor with all sorts of clues. That is like it is here. Without having information about a condition, its impossible for anyone here to try to help.

Specific comments :

Personal Opinion, not medical advice :

--- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator : 06/02/15 12:51 est


  • In my previous post I mentioned that I had ACDF of C4-5, C5-6. I seemed to be recovering as expected according to my Orthopedic spine surgeon. I have the expected aches and pains that goes along with this surgery, however, the past week I've been experiencing some numbness in bilateral legs which is new. Unfortunately the discomforts prior to surgery have also returned such as pain, numbness, tingling, weakness and spasms in bilateral arms. These symptoms were present prior to surgery and were alleviated after the ACDF on April 22, 2015. They suddenly returned 40 days after surgery. I have followed all post op restrictions and continue to wear my soft cervical collar. I would appreciate any feedback from others who may have experienced these issues post op and what was recommended to alleviate the pain. I have not been cleared to start PT at this point and feel that I am regressing.
  • OI8T12OOI8T12 Posts: 44
    edited 06/06/2015 - 8:40 AM
    Hi, I think you should contact your surgeon asap. I think anytime your pain is relieved by surgery, and then returns weeks later it's probably time to let the doctors know. Good luck.
  • I am now 11 weeks post op from an ACDF of C4-5, C5-6. Originally the numbness and tingling went away immediately after surgery. Unfortunately the same symptoms returned 5 weeks post-op which includes pain and weakness in bilateral shoulders, arms, hands and also neck. My physician reluctantly restarted Ibuprofen 800 8 weeks post op to help with the constant headache. I also take Valium 5-10mg 3x daily for spasms, Norco 7.5 for pain. I have followed up with my Orthopedic surgeon and he stated that I was in the "honeymoon period" while my symptoms were resolved. However he could not give me an acceptable reason for the agonizing pain. He only offered more pain medication. I refused! Obviously I am not against pain management but a strong believer of being pro active in my healthcare decisions. As an RN we are trained to assess pain as the 5th vital sign. I instead made an appointment with a Neurosurgeon for a second opinion. After a post op MRI and CT scan my Neurosurgeon felt that C6-C7 should have in fact been included in the original ACDF and although my Orthopedic surgeon did a fine job "cleaning up" some osteophytes (bone spurs) there were in fact areas that are in need of additional surgery to relieve this ongoing pain. the treatment plan is still in the works, unfortunately my Neurosurgeon is faced with the decision of what approach to take to "fix" me. I know what to expect with an anterior approach but with scar tissue already formed he may recommend a posterior approach. Has anyone been in this situation or had a posterior cervical decompression with fusion? Feeling nervous and frustrated.
  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 556
    I had ACDF C4/5 and all my symptoms never went away. My surgeon refused to refill my meds & just told me to take ibuprofen. I ended up having to find a new surgeon & he discovered that my neck didn't fuse. He also told me I shouldn't be taking ibuprofen. It slows the fusion process. I ended up having to have a posterior fusion surgery. It is definitely a much harder surgery to recover from. You will most definitely need to take pain meds. I had 11 staples in the back of my neck. We had a hard time controlling my pain because I'm unable to take Percocet or OxyContin. I'm only able to take Vicodin & they don't really control my pain. If I was you, I would discuss with your surgeon how he plans on controlling your pain. I'm sorry to scare you, but that was my experience with that kind of surgery.
    Good luck to you & keep us posted.
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