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ACDF Sugery 6-7 with bone graft and plating post op

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I had ACDF surgery at the C6-7 with a bone fusion and plating. I am just a couple days past 4 weeks post op.

I spent 3 days in the hospital with alot of pain and vomiting. The sore throat was really tough in the hospital and the first few days home. Up until about a week and a half ago I could still only do a liquid diet it felt like I was swallowing over a speed bump though there was no actual pain in my throat the. Anything that isn't soft gets stuck for lack of a better explanation and I have to swallow a few times to get it down. I can do only very soft foods but truthfully don't have much of an appetite. Has the throat issue been a problemm for anyone else? I also dropped 15 lbs since surgery.

I did have a fall week three post op which ran my bell pretty good but other than increasing the muscle spasms it didn't do any harm to the fusion.

Also this makes surgery #3 since October 2007. Not on my neck but different surgeries. I'm on a total of 15 surgeries at the age of 47. I've always have bounced back much better from other surgeries with maybe the exception of the tonsillectomy and sinus surgery combo at age 40. I've come home from other surgeries take a couple of days of pain meds and I'm on my way to recoopuration.

This surgery has been more difficult. I don't have the horrid crushing pain in my left arm I did before surgery more of an aching in the bicep area of my arm and at the elbow area and that is better some days than others. I still have no feeling in my thumb, pointer finger or middle finger yet and there are days when my hand just aches. The doctor says that the feeling is the last to come back (if it comes back) and that can take months.

My neurosurgeon prescribed pain meds and a muscle relaxer I was worried about the fact I've had to take them for 4 weeks already (although I was assured at my post op visit that some patients have to take them for up to 8 weeks).

I've had a great deal of issues with muscle spasms both in my neck and esophageal area.I don't take any medication during the day now that I'm allowed to drive as I pick up my daughter from school. However by the time I'm home from getting her from school and from her dance classes in the evening I'm very ready for meds. I talked to my doctor on Friday and they had me stay on top of the muscle relaxers this weekend to try and stay ahead of the spasms and said to rest.

I'm taking it easy and wearing my soft collar which feels like someone is choking me (YUCK). It is also VERY hard for me to have my activities limited but I'm doing only the things allowed because I want this fusion to work. Resting and sitting is not in my nature.

I was wondering if anyone else had these issues I'm having and how they've worked through them. I'm feeling a bit wimpy becuase I'm still having to take meds and haven't bounced back like I have from my previous surgeries.

The other complication to this situation is I have rheumatoid arthritis. I've been off my Enbrel since the end of July in preparation for my surgery. I'm not allowed to take my Enbrel injections or any anti-inflammatories because it can cause problems with my bone fusion per my neurosurgeon. So I'm getting stiffer by the day and the disease also causes chronic fatigue.

I'm interested in hearing if anyone has some tips on getting through this recovery (which feels like it is taking forever)!


  • First of all Welcome to Spine Health. Wow you have been through a lot! I think we use up our body's store of energy and recouperative abilities the more we abuse it with surgery. What I have found is I have to remain determined to bounce back. If I give in and just drag my feet, my body drags me right down with it. I'm 46 and have had 10 spine surgeries and one knee surgery in the last 4 years and I'm sick and tired of this manure!!!

    I have not had a fusion in my neck. I've had a C2 ganglionectomy with C1 laminotomy and also a c-spine spinal cord stimulator. I have lost two muscles on the left side of my neck, causing cervical dystonia on the right as the muscle tries to hold my head up by itself. This has caused all kinds of other isues with muscles and nerves and suffice to say, I am right there with you when it comes to muscle spasms!!! Oh if only the SCS could take care of those too!

    So you are not alone. There are many many members who have gone through the same or similar surgery you have. I'm sure they will jump in here soon.

    I wanted to make sure and welcome you and not let your thread get lost in the haze of a Monday!


  • Im having C5-C6 ACDF, and worried about recovering. I've heard some crazy things about it. But, I will make it. Just nervous about doc. going in thru the front. Can't wait for the relief. Is anyone just having some neck and shoulder pain? I feel like my collar bone is bruised. Please let me know.

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  • My best advice is to take your time with the recovery as the surgery does take a lot out of you. Depending on the level of nerve damage you had before surgery may determine the amount of time it takes for them to rejuvenate. As far as the swallowing issues go i would think at the 8 week mark if they are not gone your surgeon will want a swallow test. The muscle spasm are what kicks most as they just keep firing. What type of muscle relaxer are you taking> Try not to measure your healing on a daily basis but rather by the week. About the most important thing that i think you can do at this point is walk and walk more if you are able. It is not unheard of to have to have a few trigger points following surgery to help reduce the spasms if the do not let up over time. Anyway welcome to spine health and hope things begin to get better.
  • I had my disk go out on a Tuesday. It pretty much came apart. Two trips to Urgent Care / E R and those clowns just sent me home with heavy pain killers. I even had the MRI with and they never looked at it or ordered a new one.

    Emergency appointment with spine doc and then straight to hospital for admission and new MRI. C6-C7 ACDF four days later.

    Glad I absolutely NEEDED it done and I needed it done NOW!

    I am not sure I would have done well thinking about the procedure for two months. Going through the front is freaky. :S
  • Hi,

    Your story sounds like mine except I was needing my disk out now and I got the trips to the ER and no one would do an MRI even though I told them I had issues with discs mushrooming start at C-5 down to C-6 and C-7.

    I was in bewtween Primary care doctors so I was in the ER twice so the same Nurse Practioner both times and she kept saying it was musclar even though I had lost tricep reflex, muscle strength, my fingers went numb and I was in HORRID pain. In four weeks before I FINALLY got to the neurosurgeon the only pain relief I got was on my second trip to the ER when they gave me morphine which last six hours and I was back in pain again.

    The nurse practioner finally looked at the prior MRI's (I asked her the first time she saw me in the ER the visits where four days apart) and said I hadn't lost enough strength to have an MRI. She sent me home both times with pain meds and muscle relaxers which did nothing but make me goofy and in pain. Since they did nothing I stopped taking them I could see no use in taking drugs that weren't working. The onset of pain started July 19th I was in surgery finally by August 20th.

    When the MRI was done it showed I had disc material floating around in my spinal cord area and then disc material flattening the spinal cord and impinging the nerve (golly wonder why I felt like I had a dump truck crushing my arm)!!

    The timing was bad since I was between PCP's and my neurologist was booked out until the day I had my first appointmentw with my PCP. Once I had those appointments things started moving.

    No one should have to go four weeks in pain. I was not happy and would love to see that nurse practioner spend a day in the pain I was in to see what it felt like.

    This was surgery number 15 for me and the first time I've had anything above the neck except to have my tonsils out and sinus sugery done in 2000. I was nervous about them going in at the front of my neck. I have to admit even though I've never had any problems in surgery general anethesia scares me.

    The crushing pain is gone which is great. Now it is the muscle spasms in the neck, arm, and esophageal area that aren't so much fun. Also headaches at the base of my neck. I'm still on muscle relaxers but can only take them at night since I have to drive during the day when I need to pick my daughter up. I can tell you when I'm home I'm VERY ready for my muscle relaxers. I was concerned about taking them for so long but the doctor said it was not uncommon and many patients are on the muscle relaxers for 8 weeks plus.

    I haven't bounced back as fast from this surgery as I have the others which is frustrating as well. I can say though I would rather deal with the post op side effects that that awful pain pre-surgery.

    I wonder if the clowns in my ER are related to the clowns in the ER you went to?!!

    How long were you in the hospital? I was in for four days I had horrible nausea and throat pain. I'm still having swallowing issues they aren't painful but I still have to do soft food because things get stuck and I have to swallow repeatedly to get things down. I have to work to get my pills down and I've never had a problem taking pills (even the big horse pills)!!

    I hope you are doing better and your recovery is going well. One thing I've learned by reading on this site is that the type of surgeries we had do take a while to heal from.

    Write back anytime!

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  • I have ACDF at C5-6 done July 31st. I can understand how you feel, I am a very active person myself. At this point I am not able to drive (will be 8 weeks tomorrow). I see the OR on Friday for my first set of x-rays. I am still on pain meds, much less than at four weeks, but still need them. I also have very bad muscle spasms and have actually increased the valium (for spasms) recently (with dr. OK) I wore a hard collar three weeks and now still wear soft. But over this past weekend I had terrible pain and put he hard brace on to sleep..it did seem to help. I find myself possibly doing too much lately, then pay for it! So I understand how you feel. PM me if you would like to talk. Take care. donna
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