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Recovery After Surgery Questions

GreyEagleGGreyEagle Posts: 350
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:21 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I'm kind of wondering about ppl's experiences with recovery after surgery. Does it take longer if you have C3-C7 discectomy compared to having just one (like C3?) I would imagine it would take longer if you also have a disease like diabetes.

I have type 2 diabetes under good control. It still has system wide effects, but not as bad as if it weren't under control. I'm expecting to have discectomy C3 to C7 and just wondering what estimated recovery times are.

Ken GreyEagle


  • I had c 4/5 and c 5/6 done acdf with plate and my own bone on 7-23-08. Wish I could be more help to you.
  • I had cervical fusion C5-C7 done 2 1/2 yrs ago and then C7-T1 done in April, the recovery time according to the doctors are the same, I was 3 months in the hard collar and another 3 months in a soft collar with both surgeries(I have 2 months left in the soft collar from the second surgery). I seem to be still having pain once in awhile this time, but last time I was only in pain with my hip. The first surgery they used my bone, but the second one they used bank bone. I don't have any other problems, I just heal slow, but I am sure from knowing what my father has gone through that the recovery time with diabetes is probably going to be longer, but who knows, it varies from person to person.
  • I had cervical fusion C5-C7 2 1/2 yrs ago, and now recovering from 2nd surgery of C7-T1, has anyone ever been told not to do certain things? My doc. has told me nothing until I bring it up, I want to exercise or something-gaining weight and not liking it.
  • My doctor told me not to LIFT anything heavier than a gallon of milk until further notice. Granted I am almost at the 2 week post op point now. I do walk some, but here in East Texas we have had nothing but 100+ degree days so needless to say unless I walk first thing in the morning my walking consists of walking in my yard with my puppies. I can't lift, bend, stoop, change positions suddenly, move my head suddenly, etc etc. yeah I am going NUTS and stir crazy now. Oh yeah and absolutely NO driving until further notice. I guess I'll find out more wednesday when I go back to the doctor for me 2 week post op appointment.
  • I wish I had an answer for your question, but I expect that recovery from surgery is different for everyone, and we just have to take it as it comes. A friend of mine who is much younger than me had one level done a year ago and for some unknown reason, she had a much longer and more difficult recovery than me

    I can tell you that recovery from my 2 level, C4-6, wasn't too bad. I had the surgery almost 7 months ago, was in the hospital 24 hours and came home in a soft collar that I wore for about 3 weeks. I took a month off work because I had the leave time, couldn't drive for about 2 weeks, and was fatigued for quite some time. I only took pain medication for a few days and was out walking for about a mile every day within a week of surgery. The most difficult things for me were finding a comfortable position for sleeping and figuring out how to eat without choking. Both are still issues for me at times as is a limited range of motion, but I feel so much better since the surgery that I have absolutely no regrets.

    Best of luck to you.
    ~kathleen (aka msmoto)
  • Thanks everyone for your comments. Yeah, there are going to be variations of recovery times. We are all different. I'll find out what mine is after my surgery. I'll know a week from today just what levels he is going to do. Until then, I just wait and learn from those who have gone thru this and share on these boards.

    Ken GreyEagle
  • Ken with your surgery and please keep us all posted!!! Also remember we are all here for ya!! :)
  • Hey there!!

    I am just making a guess here to your question...but first off I think that is a great question to ask your surgeon becasue the diabetes may mean that things will heal at a different rate or there are some extra things you may need to be made aware of during your recovery.

    I would guess that it would be a great idea to make sure the diabetes is well controlled and monitored and take great care in eating right. I think eating right all the time is the best thing for anyone but taking extra caution to eat less bad food and more healthy things while recovering from a surgery is always better.

    Your having a lot of levels addressed at one time so I feel (just my opinion) that the recovery would be more challenging. I am only saying this. The things they are doing are the same as doing only one level, but being that your having 4 levels done all at one time it will be a larger shock to your body.

    I am praying that surgery will go well for you and the recovery will also not present to much trouble or pain. Four levels is a lot for a body to endure. But the body is an amazing system and can do amazing things.

    Hang in their my friend and keep us posted as to what is going on. I think your surgery date is on the 21st of Aug is that correct? It would be interesting to know what your doctor might say if you did ask him/her if there was anything else you should be made aware of during the recovery process since you are a diabetes patient as well.

    In Spirit
  • Good Luck Grey Eagle, don't worry I am sure all will go well and it will be well worth all the effort of recovery just to be rid of the pain or at least most of it won't it?

    My recovery seems to be a lot longer than most, 3months in a hard collar, then another 3 months in a soft collar. I have been off work since April 8th and they don't want me back until I can lift up to at least 25 lbs. So I am sure I will be off for a lot longer, talk about boredom. I was not able to drive the 1st 3 months because of the hard collar, but at least now I can, my husband has been great at making sure I get out when he gets home from work. We have been married for 2 yrs now and I have had 4 surgeries since we met, 2 of which were fusions - having a good support system makes things a lot easier to handle. Good Luck to all!!!
  • Hi Chrissy and Snuggles!

    Wow! You guys have been thru the 'meat grinder' so to speak! Thanks for sharing! I don't have the exact date of my surgery yet. I see the surgery this coming Monday, Aug 11th.

    First I have to go to the Main Hospital in the City (an hour drive) and get a CAT Scan. The Neuro Surgeon wants the Radiologist to compare the CAT Scan to the MRI's I already had. Then I see him at 2:30 in the afternoon Monday. That is when the surgery date will be set I imagine.

    He talked about another test he does not like to do if at all possible. Its a test where a dye is injected and then a picture taken of the spine. Is that what a discogram is?

    I've had diabetes about 10 years. Every member of my family has or had either type 1 or 2. We are Cherokee background. Mine is under good control. My last A1c was 6.1 (gauges avg blood sugars over a 3 month period). Still, diabetes continues to have negative effects, just not as bad as if under bad control. I've brought this up to him.

    I am expecting Monday he will detail the surgery and what preparations need to be made. My Primary Care Doctor wants ekg and blood tests.

    Anyway, thanks so much for sharing guys! I'll keep ya all updated.

    May the Great Spirit watch over you,

    Ken GreyEagle
    Western Band Cherokee
  • I'll let you know because tomorrow I am having my surgery. I will be in ICU for 24 hours and then up to a regular room for another day or so. I'll be in a hard collar for 3 months and no lifting over 4 pounds or bending or stretching and definitely no driving. The surgeon also has to remove a bone pressing on my spine plus the removal of c-3 to c-7. I heard eating and sleeping is a challenge. I see so many people after surgery on their computers with their collars so I'm thinking once I'm home and settled, I'll be emailing you to let you know how it went! When is your surgery Ken?
  • It's gonna be different for everybody, Ken, and I would guess the more levels, the more challenging or lengthy the recovery.

    Mine's been pretty good overall. I go for my 8 week follow-up on Tuesday next week. I'm still in a hard collar daytime and soft collar for sleeping. I was able to drive at 4 weeks but boy is it a challenge to drive with the hard collar. Very, very hard to turn your whole body just to look to the right or left. Definitely makes you more dependent on your mirrors.

    I still take my Flexeril daily as I've been taking in work at home on my computer for the last 4 weeks and my shoulders will absolutely be in total spasms and hurt like the dickens by the end of the day if I don't. Even with lots of breaks, those muscles just haven't been used a lot and it's another reminder that I'm not fully recoverd and am not a hundred percent yet.

    My NS encouraged walking as much as possible, so I try and walk some every day, either at home or on the treadmill. (with the ugly neck brace, of course)

    I bought a trainer for my bike so I can ride it indoors at home and found some great videos of the Tour de France, so that helps pass the time and am getting some exercise in too. Of course, still in the neck brace.

    I'm looking forward to getting back to "normal" and all my regular activities. Hope to have a report next week of something starting to fuse.

    Overall I'm feeling pretty good and it's so hard to be patient!

    Let us know when you have your surgery date set.

  • Hi I am Cyndi from Gloucester Mass,(yes you read about it all the time lol)
    I am going for my second c 5-6-7 disc surgury, first one was 4 years ago. I had artificial bone and screw and plates put in... I never had to have a collar at all and the recovery was pretty good or so I thought. After 2 years pain came back worse than before.. Thought it was my shoulder at first but found out that I had a small tear but the real problem was again my neck.. Fusion has become unsteady... This time going in having the hardware removed and new bone and cage and some sort of protein stuff... unless they decide to use my hip bone.... (hope not)He is a good surgeon and I have total faith in him and love him for his kind mannerism.... He has told me this time that It will be a worse recovery and I will have to wear the hard collar... that scares me... Im am an active person, working sometime 60 hours aweek as a chef and director of food service and to not be able to move around is my worst fear..... anyways, found this board and hopefully it will help a little with finding friends to talk to...
  • HI Cyndi4ever,
    Why the 2nd surgery? I just had my frist and (June 20) and still having trouble walking. I had the hardware no bone graft. I just don't understand why you needed a 2nd at all much less so soon. Hope everything goes well for the surery.

  • My bone fusion no fused right, I have more pain than ever and the next level is now bulging....My left arm is very weak and extreme pain down the arm and up the neck... I dont think I took it easy enough with the first surgury to be honest,,,,It has been 4 years since the last surgury....
  • I am just frustrated that I seem to be going backward as far as balance in concerned. I don't have much pain, just when I first stand up. I wish the drs. would be tell me what i need to look for as far as when I should know something is going wrong. Instead they give you a name for what is happening and send you on your way. then when you go back they want to know why you haven't let them know what was going on. If you go back too much then you are durg seeking if you don't go back you get worse and may never get better, yet no one tells you what the guidelines are. :( X( ~X(
  • Hi Dixiechick,
    I just went back to my Surgeon after a few years of relief after ACDF Surgery. He got defensive and wanted to know where my scar was. I said right where you cut me, I was angry.
    After we talked a bit more, he said I had to get an MRI.
    I got that and he called me and said I had another disc herniation on the right on another level.
    I don't get why my right arm, shoulder, hand don't have pain but it's still my left arm. The first disc that I had removed was on the left so why is the raliculopathy still there? Doctors, grrrrrrrrrrr. Hope you get better soon, I'm waiting for the axe to fall, kinda down. Thanks X(
  • I've been through a 3 level ACDF twice this year, one regular and the next with partial corpectomies of 4 vertabrae. I didn't wear a collar either time. I've fused beautifully both times without the collar but I imagine with your diabetes the doc will want you to wear one.

    Everyone had different recoveries as you can tell. There are no guidelines, darnnit! It seems as though most who are really bad off before surgery seem to take longer to heal afterwards. Nerve impingement and spinal cord involvement have a lot to do with recovery as well. It's hard not to compare ourselves to others but it's important to try- you don't want to get discouraged if things don't get better right away. When my first surgery didn't go well I actually had to take a break from the boards because I was bringing myself down each time I read about someone doing well. It was like I was a bad student or something LOL. I've since learned that each of us is unique and should see ourselves that way, even when surgery is concerned.

    So, just hang in there and see what your surgeon has planned for you. You have a great attitude and that's half the battle!

    Best wishes for you,


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