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4 weeks post 2 level ACDF and having pain with simple daily grooming etc

Cass1270CCass1270 Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My surgery was on 11/9/11. I had a 2 level ACDF at C5-6 and C6-7. I had 70% C5 and C6 left sided nerve compression prior to surgery with constant pain, burning and numbness. I had occassional right sided symptoms as well. I woke up from surgery with no left arm pain symtoms at all but the right side hurt as much as the left side did prior to surgery. My surgeon said the compression was down to 20% post surgery which is apparenly excellant right after surgery. He said there was no right sided compression at all so he was puzzled as to the amount of pain and symptoms I was having. To make a long story short, 9 days post surgery my surgion had to give me a medrol dose pack as I developed occipital neuralgia (severe C2 nerve pain into my scalp on the left). After day 4 on the steroid the nerve pain calmed down but the right arm pain was still the same.

Im now over a month out from surgery and I can take a shower, dry my hair and do put on minimal makeup and Im about spent for the day. If I try to go beyond those "activities" my arms hurt and I get scapular pain. Is this normal 4 weeks post op? ALSO, my plate is crooked and seems to be more than just a little off so Im going to see a specialist about it for his opinion.

I do still feel the right lump in my throat when I swallow which feels strange so Im careful about eating and taking pills. I try not to take too many pain pills or valium but if I dont stay ahead of the pain and spasm Im down and out for the day.

A little reassurance that this is all part of the healing process is all I need to hear. Or if this seems abnormal or uncommon, I would like to hear comments on that as well. Any advice or words of wisdom are appreciated. Im 40 y.o. and feel like Im 30 years older and frail.


  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    ...any wisdom :)

    Only want to encourage you to continue to tell your doctor everything you are experiencing.

    I haven't had surgery, but I've known people who have had those phantom pains..so I don't really understand why a doc would be surprised if his observation of nerves doesn't match the patients experience of pain.

    Who knows what goes on when those nerves get out of whack ...and I imagine it will take time.

    But I sure hope you heal well and feel better soon!
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • By way of comparison, I also had 2 level ACDF at same levels. Had constant pain and burning for about 10 months. No numbness. I woke up from surgery with the pain just as bad as before. The first month was hell. After that pain seemed to lessen, but I’m still taking Gabapentin. daily, 1800 mg. I, too, developed odd pains and feelings in my right arm after surgery, where before there were none. My dr. essentially said nobody understands why the nerves do things like that. Fortunately, my right arm symptoms have all but disappeared, so I bet yours will settle down, too. I also would not worry about the lump in your throat. That should lessen with time. What you should worry about is if you will lose your burning pain in your arm. I’m at five weeks post surgery and I still suffer daily. It’s really maddening. I have no idea if I will improve, or if I’m stuck like this the rest of my life. I wish I could have woken up from surgery with no left arm symptoms.

    By the way, how long did you have your symptoms before your surgery, and did your compression come on gradually, like with DDD, or was it more suddenly through an accident?

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