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ACDF still having a lot of pain 7 weeks post-op!

MelWMMelW Posts: 427
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:30 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am new here but have been reading posts since about a month before I actually had surgery on March 9, 2009. I am 29, married with two kids. I will try to make a long story short. I fell back in August 08 and that is when all my pain really kicked in. I was sent to an orthopedic because I was having a lot of pain in my arm/shoulder and they thought I could have injured my rotator cuff, pain meds and PT for a few months were prescribed. When the pain would not go away and kept getting worse I was referred to an arthritis specialist, who was awesome because he instantly knew it was my neck I was finally referred to an NS, thank goodness. I was told I had severly herniated C5&6, which the NS said was not from falling, that just made it worse, he said it was degenerative. I was miserable, I had intense pain in my shoulder and arm and my fingers would get really numb and tingly to where I could hardly hold things. Anyway needless to say I had ACDF 3/9/09 and my arm pain and numbness were totally gone the moment I woke from surgery. But now I am having a lot of pain post-op. I do not in any way regret having it done, I just wish I knew why I am in pain. I have a horrible burning pain on the right side all the way up my neck and on the top of my shoulder (not sure what muscle that is) and have been having a lot of pain in between my shoulder blades and in the middle of my back, which I did not have before the surgery. I just started back to work on 4/13/09, I have a desk job, and by the end of the day I am absolutely miserable from pain. The NS had me on Percocet for the first few weeks and now just has me on Norco, which is pretty much doing nothing. I am normally a pretty active person and this is driving me crazy because I can not hardly do anything anymore, either because of the pain or because I just get worn out quickly. I coach my sons soccer team and by the time practice is over I just want to pass out. Is this normal 7 weeks post op? I know it is a long healing process and I keep telling myself that but I am just getting frustrated! I am waiting for a retun call back from the NS to see if I need to come back in or what to do. My husband is very supportive but he does not understand the pain I am going through so it is hard to try and talk to him about it when he has not gone through it.

Also this site has been very helpful so thanks to all who post!


  • Dear, I know exactly how you feel. It's been two years for me and I just continue to get worse. But your just seven weeks post-op, it takes a long time for those nerves to heal. Have you tried Lidacane patches for the burning between your shoulders? It did seem to help me. No one can understand what it's like unless they have been thru it. My husband trys to understand and I don't know what I would do without him, but he really don't have a clue. Good luck.
  • I had my surgery March 3rd. I still have unbearable neck pain and the pain meds are not even touching the pain. I actually am back into pain management and I'm getting an ESI on 3 levels tomorrow. The pain is so bad I'm only getting 2-3 hours of sleep a night and I even take tylenol pm before I go to bed. I haven't been able to be as active as you. I need ice on the back of my neck 24 hours a day.

    Good luck and I hope the neurosurgeon calls you back soon.
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  • for your posts. And am sorry to hear you are still in pain too. After reading a lot of the posts on this webiste it makes me think this is not going to end for a long time (if ever). I am hoping for the best but I am also not going to think it is all just going to get better either. Not to mention my dads side of the family has a nice long list of back/neck problems, he has had 3 or 4 surgeries on his neck already one of which was the same I just had. Then they had to go back in and remove 3 vertebre. He has had back/neck problems for as long as I can remember.

    I have not tried the Lidacane patches. I will have to look into that. I take my painkillers but they really just barely take the edge off and I have used ice and heat, which I can't quite tell which seems to help better.

    Luckily I really like my NS and he really seems on top of things so hopefully he will be able to help me with this and try to figure something out to help manage the pain. I think he does not want to "jump the gun" and he is assuming this is all the healing process but in the mean time I can barely work and every day sitting at this desk I am miserable and count down the minutes until I can leave.

    I wouldn't change anything I did for the world, I just can't wait to find out what is going on and why I am hurting!

  • I'm six months out from surgery and continue to have the same pain you describe. My surgeon said that the pains in the back are muscle spasms and I continue to take flexiril for them. The ache in the neck he said is normal, although I don't know why it happens, and I continue to take hydrocodone for it.

    These pains continue on and I don't know if PT would've helped had I been able to continue going (I got laid off and no insurance for PT). My surgeon continues to refill my scripts so I have to assume that having these pains are not uncommon.

    I hope you get to feeling better. Seven weeks is really still early into recovery. You mention taking norco, but do you take any muscle relaxers?

    Take care and keep us posted.
  • I know it is too early to even tell but I am wooried because I seemed to be on a fast road to recovery until we had a cookout and one of the little kids that was at my house fell and being a mom I ran over and picked him up. He weights at least 35-40lbs. And ever since I have been in some major pain and it has gotten nothing but worse since I started back to work.

    And no I am not taking any muscle relaxers. Right now the only thing he has me on is the Norco, which is like eating a Tic Tac :), I usually have a pretty high pain tolerance so it is freaking me out that the Norco does not seem to help. And I do not want to be on painkillers for ever but I can not afford to not work and my job is pretty demanding so I have to have something to help with this pain.

    I am sorry to hear about your job loss. It seems to be going around, which scares me too. I can not imagine. I get nervous about even asking to leave early because we have had to let go at least 30 people since January. Companies are not even thinking twice about letting people go nowadays.
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  • Oh, I didn't know you lifted something (well, someone) heavy. That's a huge no-no. But I understand that instincts just kick in and for that one minute you forget about your neck. Been there, done that.

    I'm anxious to hear what your NS says. I hope you get a call-back soon.

    You might want to mention the muscle spasms that you're having in your back and perhaps he'll give you a script for muscle relaxers - I don't think I could live without them. And I understand how the pain really kicks in with a desk job. Mine did too when I went back to work. That should get better in time, but a long time. LOL

    It's ok about my job - it's a long story, but I believe things happen for a reason and I understand why this happened. It was really a blessing in disguise so no problema.

    Take care of yourself and be sure to update us when you hear from your NS. Feel free to PM me if you want to vent.
  • Hello
    I had my second surgery on March 9th as you did. My first surgery in March of 2007 I had ACDF of my C5-7. I continued with pain throughout and just had my C4-5 fused because it was failing. Both fusions had instrumentation with them. to date I am still in a lot of pain with no guarantees it will get better. I have just started Physical therapy which would be a very good idea for you if you haven't tried it yet. Part of the treatment is massage with ultrasound and then some heat and stem. Before leaving I always get an ice pack.
    Have you been on any muscle relaxers? It would be a very good idea for you and you may want to consider going to a doctor that specializes in pain management
    As far as the Norco it is the same as Vicadin and you may need the 10/325 dose but the PM doctor would be able to help you with that.
    Best of luck to you and hope you feel better
  • I see Cath already gave you some good advice. Sorry
  • Still no call back from the NS. He has been in surgery the last couple of days though. I am anxious to hear from him as well, before I lose my mind!

    I talked to my dad a few times about the pain and he has told me PT as well. I think I am going to ask when the doc calls me back.

    Luckily my NS has a pain management doc in his office so that may be the next step.

    I have to say it is quite a relief to be able to talk to people that have been through this, someone that can relate.

    I had thought I researched this to the fullest extent before I had it done but apparently there is no guarantee on how things will turn out. My arm/shoulder are in better shape so I can't complain too much. Not having the use of your arm is scary and very frustrating to say the least.

    thank you all again for your replies, they are very helpful :)

  • Well the nurse just called me back and I missed the call because I did not see my phone ring (I have to keep it on vibrate at work).

    She said she talked to the doc and because I am only 5 weeks out, which technically I am about 7 not sure if that makes any difference at all, he wants to wait a week beofre he does anything and if I am still having the same pain next week he will try some injections.

    Not sure whether I should call back and remind them I am 7 weeks or not.... Either way is not much of a difference.

    I will probably call them back just for my piece of mind. Not to mention I need to see if they will revise my work release. On Monday I called in because I was in so much pain and when I came back to work on Tuesday my work told me that because the doc released me with no restrictions that any time I miss will be counted against my attendance because he did release me without restrictions. What is an average time to take off after a procedure like this? I was off 5 weeks but started working from home off and on after two weeks.

    Ahhhhh! What a frustrating mess.
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