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ACDF 2 levels - how long before you could sleep in bed?

Ms PixieMMs Pixie Posts: 154
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:03 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Had my ACDF 2 levels (C5-C7), 3 weeks ago.
4 screws, 2 cages. bonegraft from my hip.
Surgery went without any major hick-ups, but had bad reaction to Anesteshia, so I puked for 2 days and had a huge headache, got dehydrated. Anyways.

My recovery the first 2 weeks was going great, and i was so excited. Slept in a recliner with Aspen collar since the surgery, but couldnt wait to be able to sleep in bed.
After about 2 weeksand I tried to sleep in bed, but would wake up in horrible pain. I still did this for a few days, but it just got worse, to the point 2 days ago when I had such severe pain in my neck and left arm the whole day (the arm I had myelopathy and nerve damage in before surgery), that I broke down completely and thought the surgery has been total failure. I guess you can call it my first major breakdown after surgery, and I just cried all day. I was in severe pain and afraid that this will never get better.

I realized Im not ready to lay down yet, but wonder how long it will take before I can comfortably sleep laying down on my back or side?
I sleep 2-3 hours at a time now, in my recliner, and then I sit in it all day.
Im required by the doc to wear my Aspen collar 24-7 for 8 weeks and Ive done 3 so far.

Is this normal recovery or am I healing slowly? How soon after surgery could you sleep in bed comfortably and not wake up in serious pain?
All the symptoms in my left arm comes back when I lay on my side... Numbness, weakness, tingling. Something's got to be pressing on the nerves... Tissue swelling? Hardware? Muscle spasms? Doc said they cleaned out all the arthritis and bone spurs and disc tissue, so nerves have nice space now.

Please tell me Im being unpatient. But then im reading here on the forum, about all the lucky ones who can sleep in bed and drive and do all kind of things one or two weeks in.

Thanks for listening,
Cause: car accident & genetics
Effect: herniations C4-7, stenosis, osteoarthritis, myelopathy, neuropathy
Non-invasive Treatment: everything under the sun
Invasive Treatment: 2 level ACDF, C5 & C6, May 2012
Moving Forward: SCS


  • One thing they fail to tell you is that surgery is not a quick fix. It takes a long time to get better. You may have permanent nerve damage, but it will get better than it is now... Remember how you said you threw up for 2 days post op? That alone would give you pain and muscle spasms for weeks.

    As for sleeping in the bed... I guess it all depends on the person. I had a 1 level acdf and was able to sleep in my bed, on my side with pillows propped up all around me. I would wake up every 3ish hours and take more meds, then go back to bed.

    It is a sad but true fact.. it takes a long time to heal. The first few months after the surgery was rough for me.

    Best wishes!
    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
  • for the encouragement!
    You touched on a very important thing: "one thing they forget to tell us...".
    For some reason my surgeon make it sound like this surgery is just a walk in the park and a couple of weeks out I should be going back to normal - whatever that is.
    I asked him at 10 days post-op if I could start trying to lie down in bed, and he said "sure you can, you cannot damage anything at this point (hardware and such) by laying down. I am required to sleep in my hard collar though.

    Well, maybe I can but to what cost? Pain the whole day and all the old symptoms coming back.

    I guess im answering my own questions, but I would love others experience of recovery and sleeping. How much longer in the recliner am i looking at? I know its individual, so its kinda stupid question, but whats your take, fellow spineys?
    I have definitely improved since im back to the recliner, and will have to wait it out.

    Patience is a virtue.

    Cause: car accident & genetics
    Effect: herniations C4-7, stenosis, osteoarthritis, myelopathy, neuropathy
    Non-invasive Treatment: everything under the sun
    Invasive Treatment: 2 level ACDF, C5 & C6, May 2012
    Moving Forward: SCS
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  • I've slept in my bed and been in discomfort since I got home. I think a recliner chair would have been helpful because I wake up ever 2-3 hours in some discomfort. Everyone is different and I can see how it would be frustrating but do take your time necessary until you feel it's comfortable to transition from the chair.
    Tons of pillows can help.

    Hopefully it gets better for you soon!

    Cervical Myelopathy
    ACDF C5-C7
    May 23, 2012
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