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ACDF and healing

sandycreechssandycreech Posts: 112
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:56 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I'm new here - Married female, 47 - living near Orlando, FL. I had a 3 level ACDF on August 29th, 2011. History - major car accident 1990 hit from behind, my trunk on the ground and front of his monster truck touching my back seat. Did years of chiro and learned to live with neck pain, always cracking neck. 4 mo ago I woke up feeling i had a knife in my left shoulder blade and no feeling at all in left hand. very scary! did all the docs, PT, meds, sterioids (ugh), and 3 epidurals. Epidurals helped some with the arm but pain started coming right back 3 wks after last epidural. Saw 3 dif docs, all recommended C4-C7 fusion with plate. I was scared to death! Doc asked me just before surgery we don't have to do this, and i told him i made it this far, I need to have it done. So far I am glad I did.

I'm 1 week post op. First night was terrible, pain bad, shaking uncontrollably. Finally got pain meds increased along with muscle relaxer (had lump size of orange on back of my neck). I've been sleeping 15-20 hrs a day. Crazy pain pills but they help for sure. I think I am very lucky. I had terrible burning throat first 3 days. Then I had the lump feeling and kept swallowing for 3 days after that. Here I am day 8 and that feeling is gone. I truly feel blessed. My incision hurt real bad for awhile, not it hurts some, but the tape covering it hurts the worse. My back does hurt, I feel like I'm carrying extra 10 lbs between shoulder blades, my head is super heavy to hold. Do have hard neck brace to wear when not in bed that helps. Arm pain is gone! Overall I feel very lucky to feel this good just 8 days after. I go see neurosurgeon for wound check this Thursday. I'd love to hear from anyone who just had ACDF or has it coming to compare notes..


  • I also had acdf, a little over 2 months ago. I am doing much better as well. You are still fresh out of surgery, you seem to be doing very well! Just keep taking the pain meds and relaxing!
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. Too bad you didn't find us until after your surgery, as the members of the forum are very knowledgeable and supportive. There's also great information throughout Spine-Health and you may have done some research here before your surgery. In any case, it's nice to have you join us.

    I loath to say this as it's seems so cliche', but my experience was exactly like yours. Same stabbing in the back that sent me to the doc, same surgery, same levels, same pain, same age. Mine also happened from a car accident, but 30 years ago and my spine had started collapsing from that point until it got too much for my body to handle. That's when it all started - 30 years later.

    I'm glad that you're having success with your surgery. Waking up with the arm symptoms gone is such a wonderful feeling and makes you think that you can get through it now, feeling some immediate success.

    As you start feeling better, increase your walking (it's the best spiney exercise), continue to take your meds to stay ahead of the pain and also continue to follow your restrictions. Generally as we begin to feel better, we think we can do more but it usually sets us back a day or two and renders us completely useless. That's when the boredom sets in and you think you're really ready to do more, but don't.

    The best suggestion is to measure your recovery in weeks, not days, as healing is a long road and you've just had major spine surgery - and only one week out. That's very early in your recovery.

    I'm wishing that the fusion takes and you're fused in a year. The C6/7 is the most difficult to fuse because it moves most when we move our head. My C4-6 fused rather quickly, but C6/7 took just over a year.

    Hang in there and I hope that the hard brace isn't too hard to deal with. I personally found mine comforting and got used to it rather quickly.

    Anyway, again welcome to Spine-Health and here's to healing quickly. Feel free to PM me if there's anything I can help you with or if you just need to talk.

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  • Glad you were able to locate this site. I found it very helpful. Hope you do also.
  • Hi all, I am new hear, I am nervous. I woke up on 8/20 with extreme neck pain and the next 2 days later went to chiro not normal chiro was able to move neck but pain increased. I called PCP and she suggested a Orthopedic doctor I called her reference and they did MRI and found C6-C7 herniated disc. I am so happy I found this site. I needed answers and found them here. I am scared but a lady I spoke with had her's done 25 years ago and she said it was the best thing yet. I had major surgery for a tumor on my ovaries July 6/2011 and still recovering from that because they had to cut me open now I have this surgery this morning. Any encouragement or suggestions are greatly appreciated.
  • I hope you are doing well after your surgery. I know that I freaked out the day before my surgery. It was the best thing that I ever did. Please keep us posted on how you are doing. On 12/9/2010 I had ACDF on C5-6 C6-7. The recovery was longer than I expected but it takes time to heal. Remember to follow the surgeon's instructions and listen to your body. Take it easy and let others help you.
    Take Care and be well.
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  • Hi Frenchfri, I had surgery yesterday, I feel so much better. I can't wait till I heal all the way. I can't believe I worried so much. This is the best thing I could have ever done. Just a little pain from my hip and neck but I am so happy that I did this.

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