I posted this in the neck pain forum, but have received no replies. Maybe someone who reads the back/neck surgery forum has some experience with this?
I had ACDF at C5/C6 in February 2009. Now, just four months later, I once again have pain/burning in my upper back/right shoulder, and various sharp pains in my hands. My surgeon sent me to a PT for McKenzie "therapy". It involves moving my head straight back while pushing on my chin, and also bend my head backwards. I'm supposed to do 10 or 20 repetitions, ideally every hour. I would like to hear from anyone who has used this treatment method after having ACDF. Did it help you?
A cautionary tale about my physical therapy experience:
I had two young physical therapist working on me. They had both just completed McKenzie training. They both seemed very thoughtful, professional, friendly, and we developed a rapport very quickly. I felt comfortable with them and I cooperated fully. One of the things they asked me to do was sit in a chair and bend as far backwards as I could over the back of the chair. They asked me if I had any pain when I did that. I did not. I have no idea why they had me do that because I have not had any problems with my mid or lower back. The surgeon sent me to PT for a cervical spine problem. The next thing that happened is that one of the therapist placed me in some sort of grip and planted her feet in a certain way (asking her partner if she was doing it right) and then she bent me backwards over the back of the chair. I felt strain, but no sharp pain. That was last Thursday. Now for the first time ever I am experiencing intermittent sharp pains in my feet. I am really worried something in my back was damaged when they did this little exercise.
Thinking back, I ask myself, "Why didn't I just say 'Stop!'?" Why didn't I speak up at that moment? I should have listened to that gut feeling, that little voice that said, "You shouldn't be doing this." and I should have just told them STOP. But I didn't. I guess it was partly because I didn't have time to think about the possible consequences of what they were doing. Another part was that I trusted that they knew what they were doing. Why is it we (some of us) don't always immediately listen to that inner voice, especially when dealing with health professionals? I can't describe to you the regret I feel and the anger I have with myself for not stopping what I inherently knew was not healthy for me. I wish I had spoken up immediately.
I don't know yet that there is any permanent damage, but there mere thought of it scares me and makes me feel sick. I have enough problems with my neck. I don't need more spine problems.
I hope that posting my experience here will remind someone else to listen and act on their "gut feeling" when that inner voice tells them "This isn't right. I shouldn't be doing this."