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Recovery questions after acdf surgery



  • Thanks Bubblegum and Tammy........regarding the tens unit, I have been wearing it about an hour, off thirty minutes, back on but seems like I am really starting to depend on it for some relief. Sometimes it irritates me and I leave it off a few hours at time. It really depends on what kind of day I am having.

    I am taking pain meds and muscle relaxers. I just came from PT and feel as though my shoulder is going to explode. The pain feels so "deep" and it's like it makes my right arm very weak at times. My massage therapist really gave me a work-over today but after a couple of hours, reality sets in and I am right back on my heating pad or ice pack. My arm feels like sometimes it weighs 20 pounds.

    For ten months, I lived with my right shoulder all drawn up because of the pain...PT told me today that I was just one of those patients that would take longer to recover. I am just really down and out over the whole situation.

    I guarantee you my neurosurgeon, whom I see in the morning, will come in the room, tell me I look good and let me go. I don't think I am ready to be let go and PT says they are going to suggest that I continue coming 3x a week......my shoulder pain is preventing me from doing things I should be able to do and my surgeon won't understand. He would have sent me back to work last month had I had better ROM, that was the only reason he left me off work another month. Bubblegum, you have a good idea, I think I will discuss maybe going back part-time or maybe even requesting he keep me off another month. PT says we are going to start doing some more "aggressive" treatments involving weights. I don't know if this is wise or not because of the pain I have and the pain I know it will cause.

    Tammy, yes, I have considered an MRI but my surgeon will tell me it is not necessary. He tells me this shoulder pain is normal for awhile......I may have to demand an MRI because I want to know why I am having this huge problem that does not seem to be going away.

    Thank you guys SO MUCH for responding to my post...I am worried and need to get my ducks in a row before my follow up appt. in the morning. I want to get better and not re-injure and or cause more pain.

    If you have any other ideas please let me know and I will keep you posted.

  • You have some really good advice........I am trying to just deal with it, day by day by day....very frustrating. Torn between going back to work or taking another month off. I can barely get thru a day at home just doing things in general without a heating pad or ice pack. Hopefully after seeing my neurosurgeon for another follow-up tomorrow I will be better informed of the problems I am having.
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  • Surprised by hearing all the bad or drawn out experiences most everyone have been posting. I had C6-C7 with hardware on April 18th, 2009 and went back to work June 1 with no restrictions as a paramedic. Only took meds 5 days. Driving first week after surgery. Tilling garden, mowing, riding 4 wheeler, heavy lifting of patients with no problems.

    Kinda scary hearing all the lengthy recoveries and long term restrictions. Maybe I was just really lucky. Another paramedic I work with had C5-C7 about 4 weeks ago and she is going back to work in about week and a half with no restrictions also.
  • wow flightmedic99 that is good news...
  • I went back to work 11 days post op, 8-9 hours days since the first day back (I'm now at 3 weeks post op).

    I'm fortunate to be able to work from home at my desk job, but even so it's been rough at times. I've been struggling the past few days, so I will be taking it easy this weekend.

    Just started driving a few days ago, but I don't have all of my ROM back yet, so I'm being very cautious...

    Overall, I feel lucky that things have gone relatively well so far, but I know it will take more time and patience for everything to heal...

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  • Hi amy, Can you have your doctor prescribe aqua therapy? Thats the pt i had after my fusion and it was gentle and I healed normally with restrictions for 9 months. Comparing to previous surgeries I think I healed faster being in aqua therapy instead of lifting weights etc. It was probably too soon for pt for you because we are all so different. Even regular swimming this summer would be a good idea for you, When you are in the water your pain eases up. Get the water up past the painful area and move the limbs attached to that area. Thats all the exercise i can do, I have a fragile spine. I really think that pt hurt you. Your body needs time to heal and its probably all inflammed inside from not being healed before pt. Maybe some anti inflammatories after your fusion heals would help you too.
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • Having very much the same experience as flightmedic .. 10 days post-op and I am feeling really well. Had little to no pain and was able to eat, drink, talk and walk a couple hours post-op...... is it that we are just lucky, had a good surgeon or a combination of both.

    I wish everyone luck and a speedy recovery.
  • I had a 2 level acdf right before Thanksgiving, finally got to sleep in my bed vs the recliner. Today I have a strange pain in my arm, which started today, it feels as if I'm stretching the muscle. Pain includes the thumb knuckle, like I hit my thumb. Is that normal? I'm taking muscle relaxers and pain meds as needed and wearing a Maimi J neck brace.

    Also, I am scheduled to fly 2 months post surgery, do you all think that trip will have to be canceled?
  • I consider myself a fairly tough old bugger, my work is extreme...long hours, lot's of lifting and carrying heavy stuff. We work up high, sometimes 60 feet over a stage or set, and in confined spaces sometimes, we are often in boom lifts etc etc.The work is most often really physical.

    That said, this C4/5-C5/6 cervical fusion recovery is really kicking my tukus.Since day one post op I can't hardly swallow and my pain levels are up there. I am at 4 weeks or so and absolutely cannot see myself being written back to work before at least 3-6 months at this rate.

    I drove my car after the 4th day and I can do most things in the house, like laundry, cooking dinners and cleaning dishes etc etc.

    There are a lot of related issues though. The ACTUAL incision etc ...no pain. Neck, well increased pain since I hurt myself a few days ago, don't know how. No obvious trauma. But the swallowing etc and then he has put me on a steroid to help bone growth...it makes me extremely dizzy, nauseous and I get radical headaches from it. The opiates constipate the heck out of me. No way I could deal with this at my job.

    I suppose if I had a desk job I could physically go give it a go. I wish I had an office/desk job. But no way I could physically handle what we do at my work. I would booger myself up before a day was out.

    I think you should just go with the flow....... just concentrate on getting through each day and doing what you can to stay active and perhaps even go for walks and do stuff that will help keep you as fit as possible, eat right etc etc. Don't stress too hard on having to get back to work or whatever.....just let yourself heal. The rest should take care of itself accordingly. Your body will let you know when you are ready to attempt whatever work it is you do.
  • I am 23 days post of of a 3 level C5-7 still feeling a little slow, can take shower fold clothes but tire very easily. I left my home for the first time on Friday and that was to ride to McDonalds with my husband (20days) other than just walking about 1/2 mile to 1 mile a day around my neighborhood. I have NO more pain in my arm BUT I am still having pain in my right shoulder. It is still painful to hold my head up for long periods of time about 1 hr and I am ready to lay down with my heating pad or ice pack. I see my dr on the 8th of Dec for my FIRST post op appt and am VERY curious to see what he thinks of my recovery. I am off all pain meds but still taking muscle relaxer (robaxin) which does nothing (I feel anyway). I dont see going back to work anytime soon...well not till I can turn my head and feel like I can hold it up LOL!!! I sure did not expect this after surgery I dont know what I thought but it wasnt this. It can become very depressing at first but things seem to be improving. I really just want to get to the dr so I can see what my next move is. Any comments will help !!!!!

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