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5 days post op ACDF c5/c6

I am a 47 year old f had an ACDF completed on 12/17 on my c5/c6. My surgeon said the surgery went great. I immediately felt relief from the intense arm pain I had felt for the last two years. However, I am having great difficullty swallowing, sleeping, and almost like a crick in my neck on the left hand posterior side. I had an allergic reaction to the steri strips. My head feels super heavy almost like a bobble head doll. Is this all normal? I was not given a brace. I was told I had very few limitations (no lifting over 5 lbs, I can turn but not sharply, etc.) I keep googling trying to find someone who might have a similar experience but all videos seem to show a brace or collar of some sort. I tried searching this forum, but can't even figure that one out. TIA



  • LizLiz Posts: 9,763


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 941
    bkimberly - I've had three ACDFs over the last 11 years and was told to NOT use any brace after any of the surgeries.  From all of your symptoms, all but one sound normal from my experience.  I highly recommend reporting your allergic reaction to the steri strips to your surgeon's office.  I remember with my first ACDF at C6/C7, it felt like my head was "going to roll off my shoulders".  I'd expect that you should have a post-op follow-up office visit in about a week. 
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  • I did report the allergic reaction, he confirmed it was an allergic reaction and had me remove the strips. I have my post op 1/8/19. I had no pain in my arm immediately after the surgery, but today I noticed a little in my right arm. I also have pain a the base of my neck, near my trap on the left side. Please tell me this is all normal and will go away in time. I am having a really hard time swallowing too. I hate to sound like a whiner, but this stinks. I don't sit still well and I feel like I have so much to do, but can't. TIA

  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 941
    bkimberly - All the symptoms you wrote, I also experienced with all three of my ACDFs.  As long as you can eat soft foods and drink liquids without gaging, give yourself time to recover.  With my three ACDFs, the week to 10 day period was always my most difficult time.  After my second ACDF, I had to go back as an in-patient at the hospital, because I couldn't swallow anything.  I was put on prednisone IV and feed/hydrated via IV.    
    Give yourself time to recover.  That is your most important work right now.

  • I had ACDF C4-C7 and the symptoms you mention are an unfortunate part of recovery, It took me around 3-4 weeks to feel what I considered somewhat normal, the swallowing is most likely to the breathing tube and swelling due to surgery, I hope you are using ice packs on your neck, they really help with this. As far as braces go some doctors do and some don't, the only time I had to wear one was in the car. I don't think anyone on this forum thinks you are a whiner, everybody's recovery is different and you really don't know what to expect until you go through with it, I really think if you give it a couple of weeks you will see a big difference, in the meantime try not to concentrate on all the bad stuff, find something, anything to get your mind off of it and yes I know that can be hard. I hope this helps a little bit, remember that ice. Have a great day, feel better soon and have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS 

    Veritas-Health Moderator

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