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ACDF C5-C7 surgery questions

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I am very glad to have found this board. I hope it will help me with my decision to have or not have a ACDF C5-C7 Suegery.

I am a 40 year old male. I am a engineering manager so I work long hours at a computer sitting in my office. I lead a very active life style. I exercise five days a week lifting weights and doing cardio. I love outdoor activities. That may be to much info but I feel like it is important to know. I love my life style and really do not want to have to alter it any. With that said I will see what the people that have gone thru this can tell me.

Over the last ten years I have had different degress of neck pain and stiffness. It would range from stiff neck to a stabbing in my neck sending pain and stiffness into my trap muscles. It would come and go and last one to two weeks. when it was bad I would lose range of motion left to right and looking up. I would use message therapy and chirpractors to work this out. I was told by both that it was probable stress. Since a lot of people carry their stress in their trap muscle area. Over the years this pain and stiffness would happen closer together and more severe. Over the last six months I had three real bad events. each one worse than the other and longer in time. The last two times I was in so much pain I could not function. I also started having numbness in my right arm. I went to see a NS and after a MRI and a CT with spinal dye I found out that I had a disk rupture at C7 and a large bone spur at C6.

The fix is an ACDF with fusion C5-C7. I have the surgery scheduled for November 20th. To say the least I am scared to death. I hope their are some people out there who have had this surgery. How active of a life style did you have after the surgery? How was your range of motion after you healed? Do you regret having the surgery? I will tell you that after four weeks of pain and numbness in my arm I am doing better. I was treated with steriods, anti inflamation drugs, muscle relaxers and pain meds. At this time I am pain free, I still get numbness in my arm at times during the day. My my thumb and two fingers tingle all the time. If I try running or anything jarring my arm starts to go numb.

At this time I am looking at this surgery as a way to stabalize a problem before it gets worse.

Am I doing the right thing.......your thoughts and comments please.


  • Welcome to spine health you found the right place. We are able to give you all the personal experience in the world but no medical advice.

    I copied the bottom of your post so I could answer some questions for ya:

    The fix is an ACDF with fusion C5-C7. I have the surgery scheduled for November 20th. To say the least I am scared to death. I hope their are some people out there who have had this surgery. How active of a life style did you have after the surgery?

    ANSWER: I had a very active lifestyle after fusion. That was in 04. After that I took my basic firefighter course. I have complete movement in my neck.

    How was your range of motion after you healed?
    ANSWER: Complete range of motion it took almost 9 months for this with physical therapy etc.

    Do you regret having the surgery?
    AMSWER: NO I would have it again if need be.

    I did not wait to have this surgery. I had the numbness and tingling and did not want it to get worse. So I did not let them do injections and such. The dr was pretty straight out with me and told me they would only mask the problem in the long run and I would need more.

    So in the end its your decsion. You already have a date for your surgery.
    Only pain in the tush abou this surgery afterwards is the burning from the muscles and not being able to swallow great for a few weeks. Your usually on a liquid/soft diet for a little bit as your throat will be very sore. (not everyone this happens to) but a majority. My hospital stay was 36 hrs, most are 24 depending on whats being done and how you react afterwards.
    Of course personally I would wait till after Thanksgiving cause no way am I giving up that food ;) =)) =)) =)) But that is just me. Wanted to put some dry humor into this post #o

    Good luck you will do just fine. Seems like your doing this in time.
    Anything else you need ask away!!!

  • I am in a similar situation as SCUBAMIKE.

    I am very active - high impact aerobics, weight lifting and horseback riding. For the past 5 years, I have had intermittent neck pain. Recent MRI revealed C-5 - C6 and C-6--C-7 herniation with DDD.

    The latest pain flair-up is not going away - Now I am on anti-inflammatories, pain meds and muscle relaxers. I am still exercising but the pain is still there.
    I want to coninue with my exercising but am scared I will not be able to do all of it after surgery.

    Has anybody been able to do high impact exercising after cervical fusion?

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  • bbradley,

    Is your surgery scheduled? I did ask my NS about lifting weights and my passion SCUBA diving. He told me all my cardio work would be ok, I would have to cut back on the amount of the weights I lift. SCUBA diving should be just fine.

    You are probable like me, you want to hear from some people that lead a life style similar to what we do and went thru the same surgery and were able to return to the same life style.
  • Exactly right SCUBAMIKE - I want to continue my lifestyle without pain.

    I have not scheduled surgery. My orthopedist said I am not ready for surgery yet but when the pain gets so bad I can't stand it - then we will do surgery.

    Currently, if I curtail my activities - the pain is manageable- sometimes non-existent. But I do not want to stop the type of exercising I do. For example - I do not mind lightening up on my weights - but I do not want to stop lifting weights. I do however want to continue with the high impact aerobics.

    I am really curious -- if the people who run and jump before ACDF could run and jump the same intensity after surgery.

  • bbradley,

    right now I have recovered to the point of no pain and very little numbness in my fingers. My big worry is that the next time the pain comes it will do permanat damage to the nerves at C5-C6 or C6-C7. At that point I may never be able to recover and resume a normal activity.

    I am curious if anyone has done the surgery to prevent any further damage or do most people wait until they are at a point were they are left with no other choice?
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  • Mike,

    What does your NS say about the stability of your spine?

    I tell you what, if my spine were stable and the pain was gone, I'd not have surgery. If the pain were to return and the risk of permanent nerve damage or instability arose, then of course I'd go for surgery.

  • I found this message board shorty before my surgery and found the answers to the questions I had..but having the surgery was never a question for me. One thing I have learned from reading messages posted on here is that these problems are not something that just goes away. They get worse. So what are your options. Having the surgery and being sidelined a few weeks and then going on with your life...or not having the surgery now and being sidelined a few days or weeks at a time whenever you have a flare up until eventually it gets so bad the flare ups never go away. Then you'll have to have the surgery and you risk a longer recovery time with more complications. That's just my out take on it. I wish I had done my surgery years ago. Now I have nerve damage in my hands and feet and most of my right arm. I'm not saying you should have the surgery...thats something only you can decide...but talk to your dr. Find out what can happen if you don't have it vs. what will have to happen if you have it done. Chances are...you'll lose less time out of your life having it done now. I had mine done last wednesday and right now my biggest problem is a little gagging problem caused by a swollen esophagus but even that is going away. I feel better than I have in years and even though I am a little anxious to "get back out there"...I know the recovery time is going to take me being patient for a few more weeks.
  • Everyone thanks so much for all the advice and information on your experiences. At this time I have my surgery scheduled for November 20th. I am pain free at this moment, what bothers me a bunch is I can put my right arm a sleep just by looking up and to the right. I still have numbness at times without doing anything at all. My thoughts at this time is have the surgery and prevent any further damage. From what I have learned from this site I think I should be able to recover quickly if all goes well. Before I found this site I had to big fears. One was I would have to stop my active life style after I had this surgery (for me that is working out and my lifes passion SCUBA) The other fear is after the surgery I would be real prone to other cervical problems.

    I look forward to any other comments or experience anyone can add to this post.

    Thank you everyone

    If I could offer any advise it would be this- Follow All your Dr's orders! It's easy to want to get back to life after surgery but you have to follow the timetable that he sets for you in order for you to heal properly. When we active folks are told we can't do something, it's almost like a dare to us....and you know what I mean LOL! You really are going to have to limit your activity to walking and very light weights until cleared to do more. The reasoning behind the limits are valid, even if they seem silly at the time.

    You have the benefit of a healthy body to begin with and there is little reason that you won't recover, IMO, to go on to do whatever you want to after surgery after you heal. Good luck to you on whatever you deciede to do and keep us posted.


  • Mike,

    All I can say, is that someone who has nitrogen for blood, will find a way to feed the addiction no matter how many and what kind of spine surgeries they have!

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