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9 Days Post Op ACDF

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:39 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I'm new here, just found this sight yesterday.

I had ACDF of C5C6C7 with spur removal on 12 Nov. My neck never did hurt and my symptoms came out of nowhere at the end of August. By mid Sept the pain and tingling in my right shoulder and arm were so severe that I was unable to sleep at night so I finally went to see my family doc. She referred me to an ortho who immediatly told me nothing was wrong with my shoulder and referred me to a spine specialist.

Long story short, MRI revealed minor herniation at C5-C6, but "complete rupture" at C6-C7 with spur piercing the nerve and pressing into my spinal cord. Again, my neck has never really bothered me, nor did I have issues with headaches. I am an athletic 45 yr old woman who has always led an active and healthy lifestyle, with the exception of smoking. (it's my one vice)

Anyway, I was seen by EDITED D.O in Ft Worth, Tx on Oct 14th. and his words to me were, "you are a classic case for ACDF, but surgery is your choice". Since I am intollerant to any pain meds stronger than ibuprophin, I was literally suicidal due to the pain and lack of sleep. I was willing to do anything so I asked for the surgery.

Dr K told me the ACDF was considered "painless". He also told me that I could expect continued deteriation of my right arm because of the severity of the condition without the surgery. He went into great detail about the procedure; told me everything to expect post op, so forth.

He made me ask for the surgery 3 times before he would finally agree to do it. My husband has had back issues all his life, plus we have a close friend who is a chiropracter so we had done lots of research before going to see Dr K. I knew when I walked in the door surgery was my best option, I just needed to know if he was the right Dr to do it.

I had to wait a month before the ACDF and everything Dr K told me would happen, happened. By the day of my surgery, I could barely raise my arm and could no longer lift my coffee cup. It was horrible!

The surgery was exactly as he decribed. When I woke up, the pain was gone from my shoulder. I did have some minor pain around my shoulder blade and he told me before the surgery that I would because of the position I would be placed in during to operation.

9 days and so far, so good. I've read all the post here, and other blog sites and am now starting to get a little scared. I have had little to no pain, other than my throat being a bit sore. Occasional tingling in my right arm that Dr K said I would have until the fusion heals is present but tolerable.

What he did not tell me, but I have read here is the inability to sleep. I have not taken any post op pain meds; nothing, nada, not even an aspirin. So why am I awake half the night? I am able to find positions to sleep which work with the miami j brace, and am able to fall asleep rather quickly, but after about 3 hours, I am up. Not because of pain, but because I just cannot sleep.

Because I am a smoker, I am supposed to get the growth stimulator and expect it to be delivered this afternoon. I go for my first post op cu on Monday and am hoping they will let me out of my brace.

But now, after reading all the post here I am beginning to wonder if I am having some sort of delayed reaction and the pain just hasn't got here yet. Dr K told me I would not have pain problems and so far I have not. (Okay, that first sneeze was a killer) Am I to expect no pain like my Dr promissed or will it get worse? Another thing I have noticed is a change in my taste buds. Certain foods like potatoes, coffee, red meat and chicken do not taste the same. Everything is bland to me. I've gone from being an avid Dt Dr Pepper drinker, to having lemon water in my hand all day long. I stay thirsty and the lemon water is the only thing that really taste good to me.

Is this normal????

Post Edited by Authority Member haglandc to remove name of Medical Professional


  • Very similar story to yours.

    Just past two month post-op anniversary. I have had no significant pain post op. Sneezes not included. They can sting.

    I had some sleeping issues the first few weeks. Not sure what the casue was. Perhaps body adjusting to new pain levels, brain digesting this experience, who knows. My personal beleif is a detox from five months of heavy pain pills that knocked me out at night.

    Havent noticed any change in taste. If you have cut down on smoking, that could be a side effect.

    All in all it sounds like things are going great for you. Congrats on overcoming a very tough challenge.
  • Howdy RGeer,

    I've had 2 ACDF's and due to inflammation, both had partial Corpectomies. That is were they take some or all of the vertebral body out. Partial for me. At any rate, like you on both, I could get comfy and sleep, but only got around 2-3 hours and awoke in pain or discomfort. I had the Aspen Collar. Basically I was told this would pass as my body (neck and muscles) were adjusting to a major restrictive change. The problems for the most part DID change and go away. :-) Remember, now you aren't moving in that part of your neck...the other areas of your neck have to adjust - unfortunately that is a lot of stress for them.

    Taste changes.. hummm, no didn't have that if I remember right - even asked my hubby if I fussed about things tasting bland or different. He says I didn't too. Did you change your smoking level habits? That WILL do it, but ummm usually (cutting down) things taste better!! It's probably nothing there. Keep us posted on how you are doing. *hug*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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  • Mine did change. I use to love lemonade popsicles and now I can't stand them. Other foods taste different but not bad. I've adjusted now and I'm okay with it.

    I didn't do well with the anesthesia so I was a mess for a bit. I'm really small and don't drink or take meds so my body is sensitive.

    I too am an athlete so it was tough for me to be so limited on lifting and such. My neck does feel weird due to the lack of muscle and if I move wrong it bites but I'm not in constant pain just an annoying feeling. I'm getting strong now and have no weight limits so my neck is getting stronger which helps with the weird feeling and the biting.

    Sounds like you have a good surgeon and are having a great recovery. That's wonderful!
  • I appreciate your comments and it is a comfort to know what I am experiencing is "normal".

    I did not take any meds prior to the surgery except for a very low dose of xanax. Doc prescribed that because he felt the pain and lack of sleep had caused my stress level to soar, which literally was causing suicidal thoughts. It did help me sleep at night so I guess it worked but I'm no longer taking that med either. I did take a few laxitives the first cuple of days after the surgery at the Dr's suggestion because of the meds they gave me at the hospital.

    Managed to sleep 6 hours last night and I'm wondering if the sleeplessness may be caused from lack of activity? I live on a small farm and am not allowed to do my usual chores because of the lifting involved. I just sit around all day and HATE it, but yesterday I found ways to be active without breaking too many of the rules.

    As for the smoking. I wish I could just be a non-smoker but it isn't that easy. Prior to surgery, I had cut down to less than half a pack a day, with full intentions of totally stopping after the surgery. Boredom is NOT a good thing when you are a smoker!!! I'm gonna have to find something constructive to occupy my time because I am up to a pack and a half a day, which is more than I smoked before I decided to quit! I just can't stand not being active or allowed to do much. If it were not for the fact that it has been raining the last 3 days, I doubt the boredom would be as bad though. Plus I am married to the ultimate Mr Mom, who has managed to keep up with most all of the chores so I won't have anything to do all day. It doesn't help that he watches over me like a hawk which makes me nervous. Yes, I know he does it out of love, but I'm not used to being treated like I am totally helpless.

    He's taking me to see the The Blind Side today; perhaps getting out of the house for a while will help some.

    One thing I have noticed is that I have been craving eggs. Perhaps my body is screaming for protien because that is the one food that taste really good to me right now, not too mention they are easy to swallow :-)!

    Thanks again for all the responses.
  • It is quite possible that your body is craving protein. I had a nutritionist at the request of my neurosurgeon adjust my diet to aid in healing from surgery. I wound up drinking at least one if not 2 protein drinks a day and also watched what and when I ate.

    There are ways to combat the boredom if you can think creatively. Can you do any walking around your home inside and out? I came up with ways to do some of the household chores that would violate the bending, lifting and twisting restrictions. Things like putting the laundry hamper on o chair so I could grab a couple of items at a time and place them in the washer. It took several trips to fill it, but that helped occupy my time. So I learned how to at least get the clothes washed before my husband came home and all he had to do was put them in the dryer for me. All kinds of household chores can be done if you really want to try. I know my husband appreciated the help, even if it was just something so simple.

    Good luck with the healing.

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  • I had my second ACDF July 2008. My major preop pain was in my arm and I had loss of strength and numbness like you did. Postoperatively I used extra strength Tylenol and only because the Aspen collar bothered me more than anything else. My pain was gone right after surgery and the numbess disappeared in a few weeks. My biggest issue was a paralyzed vocal cord which I have written about before. Pain-wise I did pretty much like you are doing. Hang in there! Everyone has their own unique recovery.
  • Hi RGreer,

    My story is very similar to yours. This is my first post on this site. Yes, I am a new spiney. I am only 12 days post-op anterior discectomy and fusion at C6/C7.

    I am also very active, and even have the same vice as you... yep, I can completely relate to the smoking and how hard it is to quit when you're confined to the house and limited in what you're allowed to do. I'd almost quit before surgery, but I am smoking more than 5-6 daily now. As for the boredom, it's making me nuts. Not to mention the collar. I am in a soft collar, 24 hours a day, for a minimum of three weeks.

    My surgery went very well, and I had no complications at all. In fact, I was very surprised at how well everything went. I came home the next day, and have taken no pain meds since I was discharged from the hospital. The numbness in my right arm and hand, as well as all the pain in my shoulder, are gone. My only discomfort has been pain between my shoulder blades and some mild pain when swallowing for a few days. I also have some spasm-type pains in my neck now, but I think that's only due to the fact that my neck range of motion is limited with the collar. I have an intense urge to move my head, but I know I can't if I want to heal properly.

    I am struggling with some mild depression related to feeling very inadequate in all things right now. I am the one in my family who handles everything, and I mean everything. It's been very hard on me to be confined to my home (unless someone else drives me)... not be able to cook and clean the way I am used to... and I can even say I miss work (I am an RN).

    My neck/spine problems only revealed themselves in early October (two months ago) and I had my surgery less than two months later. Needless to say the conservative measures did not work with me.

    One of my friends (who is also a nurse) recommended this site, and I am so glad she did. It's provided a wealth of info and some needed support. Spine issues can only be fully understood by other spineys, so I am glad to be among friends here.

    Blessings to all,

    Karen in Kentucky
  • My story is a bit different in that I did and still do have quite a bit of pain. I'm learning to deal with it and learning what I can and cannot do.

    However...my taste buds have changed. Thanksgiving dinner didn't taste right to me. Sweet things are ok, but I don't usually eat sweets. Salty foods however are super bland. On top of that, I am typically a low carb eater and being unable to swallow for weeks had me eating yogurt, jello, ice cream, pudding. And so somehow...without even eating 3 meals a day I have put on about 10 pounds. Whoa....doesn't that stink. I'm going to my general doc on Monday to check my throat and rear taste buds which are responsible for salty stuff. My throat still hurts now more than ever.

    I'm glad for your great experience. That's a blessing for sure!
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