I had ACDF in late January 2015 and I am still recovering. I hit the windshield twice in my youth in car accidents, and my neck got worse over the next 15 years. I started having symptoms in the neck as early as 1998, but MRI showed minimal changes, so I went on with my life. Fast forward to 2013 and my neck was much worse. My left arm was getting weaker, etc. I had a nerve conduction which showed severe carpal tunnel in both hands. I had surgery for that in 2013. However, my neck continued to hurt more and more and I couldn't move it without a lot of pain or it wouldn't move certain ways at all. Next MRI showed my left side collapsing, so I opted for surgery. I am only 46 years old.
Recovery was awful (which I know is NOT the same for everyone, thankfully). I got pneumonia in the hospital and my left arm right after surgery was on fire. I followed through with home therapy, then outpatient PT. But at week 13 I was still not able to straighten my left arm and it had tremors (was weak, hurting, etc). I could still feel the nerve pain if touched, in my arm and hand.
I had another nerve conduction which showed there isn't permanent damage, but that the nerve was healing very, very slow and had a long way to go. In addition, my neck still hurts like it did before surgery. The surgeon (who I love!) said, that should get better as the nerve/arm recovers. He said my neck was just worse than they thought-surgery took 4 hours instead of 2 and he had never seen the arm react so poorly after the surgery. He also said my whole neck had severe disc disease and he hopes the other discs hold up.
He assured me it would heal. Back to more intense PT. Has anyone had this outcome and test shown no permanent damage? I hope the test is correct. The neurologist who performed the test, thought for sure it was permanent damage before the test was performed. He said this is typically how permanent damage presents itself.
Finally, I am still on low dose pain meds-I had them switch me to Tylenol 3 which isn't doing much for the pain now that PT is started again. He may move me back to vicodin 5/325. I also take Flexiril at night. I have tried to suck it up so to say , but I can't take NSAIDS (severely allergic) and mornings are the worst time of day! I feel like a druggy when I go into the pharmacy. You would think I was taking morphine and 10 other drugs, they way they lecture me sometimes. I take less than the dose prescribed and I am very careful. What can you do.
Ok, pity party over:-) I have two boys to take care of and I have been out of work. Who knows if they will fire me when this is all done. I had expected to be "better" in like 3 months, since I am fairly young.
ACDF c5-c7 and degenerative disc disease in whole neck