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10 weeks post op C4-7 acdf and feeling great

It is 10 weeks today since my surgery, a 3 level acdf with instrumentation, no hard or soft collar used other than a soft collar riding in the car for my own peace of mind. Seriously, other than when there is a significant weather change, I cannot even tell I had surgery. I have great range of motion, can do anything except lift more than 15 pounds (doctor'a restriction) and I try not to read too long with my head bent down (again the doctor's restriction). I was released from PT over a week ago and continue my exercises at home. My energy level is back to normal. I sleep very well on a contoured pillow, on my back or side. It was around week 8 that I really started feeling like myself again. I have not needed a heating pad or ice pack since then, except during a weather change, which I expect may continue my entire life.

I know we don't always hear the good outcomes of these surgeries and I wanted to share my own good experience. My next xray and check up with the surgeon is on the 23rd of this month. I hope my good progress continues!


  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    It's so good to hear you are doing so well!

    I wish you all the best with continued good progress!
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • I wish you continued successful healing! I too had a C4-C7 acdf 6 months ago, but was in a hard collar 24/7 for several months, while I was picking my surgeon, several surgeons were concerned about paralysis and recommended the hard collar before the surgery to protect me, then I wore it 24/7 for 2 months after surgery, recovery has been slow to help me feel like myself. I think the collar vs. no collar makes all the difference. I went to the best surgeon in my area according to everyone I have met. I'm north of Philadelphia, PA. I'm curious where your from?
  • I am from south central PA and my surgeon is considered the best in my area! But I grew up in King of Prussia! My surgeon evaluates the need for a collar on am individual basis. He tries not to use it because he says the neck muscles get too weak. I was gently flexing my neck in different directions within 2 weeks of surgery. I do understand your having a collar before surgery and I wish I had had one to get through my last month's of work. I had a desk job and sat at a desk all day and my arms and hands would go numb and I would get headaches. I would do "self traction" throughout the day to alleviate it like my PT therapist would do and it helped a lot. It alleviated stress off my compressed spinal cord. Why do you feel your recovery is slow?
  • That is funny that you are in PA too! I'm 20 minutes from King of Prussia! I ended up going into Philadelphia for my surgery. I consulted 6 surgeons and they all told me recovery would be with a hard collar for a prolonged amount of time which I dreaded because I know it weakens the neck.
    I think my recovery is slow because I wasn't able to move for months. It just recently stopped hurting to bend over and feel the weight of my own head on my neck. I was surprised one day when I leaned over to make the bed and didn't feel the pain in my neck from that. I'm 41 which is still young for this surgery I think, not overweight. I don't smoke. They were not afraid of non fusion, but I have had an xray before every follow up visit to check on the hardware. I have heard you loose muscle strength in 3 days of inactivity, so months in a hard collar could really put you back I think. My surgeon told me it won't come back overnight and it is normal to take time. Wish I had no collar like you though! :)
  • Truth be told, I woke up from surgery expecting to have to wear a hard collar even though my surgeon doedn't use then often. I wonder if there are certain conditions or situations where it would be necessary?? However, if you have plate and screws, I would wonder why the collar was necessary. I am glad you are no longer feeling the weight of your head on your neck. I had that feeling the first 2 weeks after surgery and it was very disconcerting. Just washing my hair in the shower was pretty traumatic because of how my neck felt when my arms were bent up to scrub in the shampoo. So unstable and weak. I hope to never feel that again.

    I really hope your healing continues. Are you still doing your PT exercises at home?? Do you work and have you returned to work? Thankfully I could retire at 55 and not return to my desk job, which would have been very bad for my spine/neck. My husband is older and retired almost 2 years ago so we had planned for me to retire even before I found out about needing surgery.
  • Did either of you ladies still have intermittent tingling on upper back,a little numbness and funny skin sensations at 5 weeks?
    I am 5 weeks post op and today am having this. No pain. And I am doing more.
  • I think our doctors just had varying opinions on the hard collar. I had disc herniations since I was 21 that had progressively become worse until three of them were pressing so bad on my spinal cord that if I was bumped hard enough I could have became paralyzed. I couldn't work at the point at my job, as it was very physical, lifting, with a lot of looking up which is bad for the neck. I left the job altogether and am currently looking into one that would be healthier for me. I'm still doing PT 3x a week. I didn't start PT until about the 4 month mark as I had terrible unexplained thoracic pain after someone bumped me pretty hard. My surgeon didn't want to explore this pain as he felt it was a different matter than from my surgery and my primary was afraid to offend him by ordering a mri. I treated it myself with a soft wrap brace that I used around my ribs for months along with my pain medicine.Also, for some reason I have become very sick and had to stop and start PT back up a bit. I had a bad virus, the flu, pneumonia, pneumonia that moved to the other lung too and put me in the hospital on iv antibiotics. I never had pneumonia in my life. It has been a tough year but I'm coming along. Thank you for the well wishes.

    Lvn86, actually right after the surgery I felt pretty great. I think it was the pain relief combined with the Medrol dose pack (prednisone) that can make you feel no pain as it eliminates inflammation. I did always have a bit of dullness on my left pinky side of my left arm that I think is slowly getting better. I didn't get tingling again until I tried to behave more like my old self after my hard collar was off. The tingling in my arms actually seems to be increasing now and I'm not sure why. Especially my left arm, where all the compression was.
    My doctor told me the fusion surgery did not guarantee any pain relief and I may still have my symptoms, but I would probably have relief and much less symptoms. So it is not unusual to still have issues, The doctor told me it takes time for the nerves to plump back up again, it could take as long as 2 years to see yourself continue to improve. I hope so. I wish you the best on your healing journey!
  • I too had to have this or I would of been paralized. It was squishing my spinal cord. The tingling and numbness is better. Just seems to have reared its ugly head today, but I am doing more. I have to wear the hard collar sleeping and when I leave the house. I also had lower lumbar surgery last year. I know what you mean about the steroids. I came home on steroids finished them up in 3 days and felt like a new person for the first 2 weeks. Then the arthritis pain in my knees and the stiffness came back. I was lucky because I never had to take pain meds at all after my surgery. I didn't have pain I had numbness, tingling, and pins and needles all over my body before the operation. I live a few hours north of you in upstate NY. These old symptoms are scaring me.
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 729
    I also suffered from arthritis in my knees for years. Several months after my second lower lumbar fusion surgery (January 2015) when I was struggling to recover from the surgery my arthritis became MUCH worse (why I don't know) and in addition to my knees the joints in my toes and wrists became very swollen and painful. It was really horrible and on top of my struggles with my back surgery recovery it all became almost impossible to cope. My orthopedic surgeon just blew it off but I managed to see an arthritis specialist and he correctly diagnosed me with Psoriatic Arthritis. He started me on weekly injections of Etanercept and very quickly the swelling and joint pain was reduced to almost zero. It has been the best thing I've done in years for my arthritis pain.
    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
  • I am glad you are doing better. I see the an arthritis dr. On dec 21. Did you have sore too? Is psoriasis arthritis have sores? I don't have sores. Nothing is swollen. Very sad when you hope dr finds something so you can figure out how to elevate the pain.
  • hvillshhvills Suzhou, ChinaPosts: 729
    I have a few spots of sores on my skin but not much. According to what my doctor said it is possible to have Psoriatic Arthritis without having Psoriasis. Before your visit with the arthritis doctor I would suggest you read up a bit on arthritis if you haven't already done so. For me I like to use Wikipedia... just enter Psoriatic Arthritis and in just a few minutes you can learn a lot. The Etanercept is actually one of several drugs in a new class of Biological Response Modifiers that is really changing the treatment of all kinds of arthritis not just Psoriatic Arthritis. Good luck with your visit on the 21st... and I hope you get some relief.
    Harry - 63 year old male...
    PLIF L4-L5-S1 due to disc degeneration... May 23, 2013
    PLIF L5-S1 due to failed fusion and broken screw... Jan 19, 2015
    Microdiscectomy, decompression L3-L4 due to herniated disc... Jan 19, 2015
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