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Neck and shoulder pain after acdf

rachsandrrachsand Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:02 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi I am after some advice as I don't know anyone that has had this surgery!

I am 12 weeks post acdf surgery on c5 and c6. All was well until last week when I noticed some general neck stiffness when turning my head to either side. Over the past week have been getting increased shoulder pain and a return of tingling of my left hand and loss of grip on my left hand. I'm frequently taking tramadol to ease the pain and I am still on 30mg of amitryptyline at night - my follow up is not for a month - anyone have any ideas? Should I go and see my gp before my follow up appointment ?


  • I had an ACDF on C5/6 in 2009. I had my doctor on speed dial! lol :-) I called if I had any questions/concerns and they were totally fine with that.

    Everyone has a unique body/situation. Something that is normal healing for you may not be for me.

    Just to ease your mind, I would give your doctor a call and voice your concerns.

    Take care!
  • thank you i think i will - im only concerned as after my post op recovery i was amazed i had no pain, no stiffness and no tingling and after suffering with it for nearly 4 years was so relieved it was all over.

    Now the symptoms seem to be creeping back and im wondering now if it has worked after all!

    Did you suffer any post op problems or has your op been a sucess?

    Many Thanks
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  • Hey, have you looked around in the "Back/Neck Surgery" portion of SH?

    If not, you may want to give it a look. There are a ton of others that either have had surgery, or are facing having it soon. You may be able to find a lot of good info in that particular section.

    This site is very helpful. We cannot give you professional medical advice, but we can share our stories and hope to help you through your healing process. :-)
  • Well... When I woke from my surgery ALL of my pre-op pain was gone. I seriously thought it was a joke :-) but it wasn't. I did have aches and pains for quite some time though, but the original arm pain/tingling/weakness/numbness, did not return. I had a lot of nerve and shoulder blade pain.
    Now I am having issues from multiple levels above my fusion, so that's a whole other ballgame.

    Have you had an x-ray to check your fusion? It can take all the up to a year to fuse...

    When you say "loss of grip" are you dropping things, or is it more weakness?

    It NEVER hurts to call your doc. That is what they are there for. Write down all of your pains/issues and what you are doing when it happens, i.e., if you are sitting, laying, doing nothing, etc. That way when the doc calls back, you have it all written down and are ready to rock. It is always a good idea to have a journal after surgery. I have an entire binder that has surgeries, docs, meds (what worked, what didn't), mri's, x-rays, treatments, etc.

    I'll be online for a bit!

  • Thank you - that's a great help - hope ur problems can be resolved soon :-)

    I made an appt for tomorrow - this site is great - it makes me realise im not alone :-)
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  • I did develop some additional neck but more shoulder blade pain and down my right arm after my 4 level ACDF. My surgeon evaluated and he said it was inflammation of the nerves going into the shoulder, which I addressed with anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants.

    Good luck
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • Did anyone find that the collar may have caused some shoulder issues? After not having to wear it anymore they went away?
    ACDF C4-5/5-6 - 04-09-2012
  • Hey Hii friens I am mack white and I am also going through this cronic neck problem.. my Treatment is going on and as per doctor its not serious but i want to thank all of you for such a useful information about ACDF...
  • :''(

    Hi rachsand,

    I saw your post and had to respond ..

    I am 24 weeks post acdf surgery on C4/C5, C5/C6 and C6/C7 ...All was ok until a couple of months ago ...since then I have been getting increased shoulder / neck pain and a return of tingling of my Right hand and loss of grip in my Right hand. I wasnt due to see my NS again till August, 2012 , however, I have asked to see him sooner ( on June 25th ) .

    I will let you know what he says.

    Chin up ( well as much as you can anyway ) ...

  • I wanted to post to give some hope for all you post acdf people out there- because this was the post I wanted to read a year ago. I am 16 months post a C6 C7 discectomy- I had a massive herniation with some spinal cord compression and extensive neurological- motor weakness in my left arm. It has taken a very long time but I am virtually pain free now and the motor weakness has almost completely gone. I had neck and shoulder muscle spasms for well over a year and additionally I had ulnar problems following the operation itself in both my forearms and hands. I spent a lot of time despairing and thinking I would never get better. I read a lot of very gloomy stuff on the internet. But I am much better- the nerves have healed very very slowly. Some days I could not move my head- now my ROM feels pretty normal. I still have a bit of ulnar stuff going on but I know it's getting better. These are the things that helped me: MOVEMENT. I walked and walked. Then I did physio and pilates. I lay on a swiss ball and stretched my arms out, to stretch my thoracic area. Every day for five minutes or so. I lay on my back with my knees up -a lot. I learned to meditate. Jon Kabat Zinn's book "Full catastrophe Living" really helped. I took sertraline (zoloft)...which helped the depression which descended. I felt much better in the new Year- psychologically. I gradually increased my exercise- cycling and swimming- being careful to keep aligned. I had massage every two weeks from a myofascial release therapist. Then I started zumba- which I did gently at first- but it made me feel great from the beginning- in my head and increasingly in my body. I started enjoying being in my body again. I worked really hard at my recovery. Oh I had acupuncture too- five element- not specifically to work on the pain but on my emotions surrounding the pain. I tried to look forward and be positive. I gradually got back to work (I'm a scriptwriter) which took my mind off the pain. I tried to meet the pain with interest, breathe with it, not panic. It has taken a long time like I say- and maybe I would be in the same place now if I hadn't done any of those things- and time was all it needed. BUt I had many moments when I didn't trust that I would get better and I would have welcomed a story of hope. I think I have learned a lot about myself- my tendency to panic, my tendency not to be kind to myself, my tendency to feel like a failure- and I have had to challenge those things and not believe everything I think. I have tried to look at my journey as a breakthrough and not a breakdown, to make friends with my body and what it is trying to tell me. I tried to diet too- and that was tough! but I found upping my protein made me feel better, taking fish oils, not giving myself a hard time about the meds I was taking. Still believing that I was a whole, good person with a future despite my injury. Not getting too caught up in the I will never be the same storyline. We are all different - I am a 43 mother of two, living in the UK- and our journeys will be different, but if I could go back now to the time after my operation I would tell myself: don't be afraid, the body is a miraculous thing and things will get better...rest, trust, move, listen to your body and be kind to yourself...
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