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ACDF C5/6- No Brace Post-op- Helpful tips?

Scheduled for acdf c5-6 November 19th. Have been researching a lot, but not finding as much about postoperative without a brace, hard or soft. That's probably my biggest concern, it seems a collar would prevent any positions that could hurt, or cause a setback. That, and shampooing my long hair! So, I would love to hear those little tidbits of advice you wish you would have known for your surgery, especially without a brace. Thanks!


  • What has your surgeon said?

    Someone on here - Jellyhall, just had ACDF surgery and is not in a collar either. She had a cage inserted. Are you?

    You may want to look up some of her posts. She seems to be doing fine without.

    I just had an ACDF C3/4 and C4/5 done and I am sitting here in a hard Miami J Collar - which I will be wearing for about 3 months, most likely.

    Maybe you don't need one because it is so low in the neck? Curious.
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • jennafjjennaf Posts: 42
    edited 11/13/2012 - 5:25 AM
    Hi! I'm having a 1 level disc replacement and my surgeon also said he wouldn't require a collar. Like you, I'm a little concerned, but I trust he knows what he's doing. Best of luck and keep us updated on your progress!
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  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,372
    edited 11/13/2012 - 6:17 AM
    As you know, I don't have a collar at all.

    Before my surgery, I thought that my surgeon was very minimilistic. I have no collar, no plate, only titanium cages and no graft. I asked him about it and he said that 10 years ago, he would have used bone from my hip, a plate and I think he said a collar as well. Now he uses these Cespace titanium cages that he explained have teeth that grip into the vertebrae. He prepares the surface of the vertebrae so that they are bleeding, opens the space slightly under tension, places the cages in and the blood and boney whatever (?) comes throught the holes in the cages and will start to fuse through the cages. He said that he gets very good results this way. I trust him so am happy. (I hope that wasn't too much information for you!!)

    I don't feel like I need a brace. I actually feel very good. I have slight movement to turn either way, and much less movement to go up and down. I was worried about sleeping, but am managing very well on my side with a shaped cervical memory foam pillow and I hug a small, very soft, roll pillow that stops my chin from going down. This way, my head stays in alignment with my spine and doesn't move while I am asleep. Also this position is comfortable for my lumbar spine which also has problems and had a fusion surgery 2 and 1/2 years ago.

    As for washing my hair; well it isn't long and I had it cut quite short before my surgery to make it easy to care for.
    My husband helps me, but I think I could manage on my own. While he washes it, I stabilise my head by putting my hand on my forehead and leaning my arm on the wall.
    Something that is helpful is a towelling turban that I can put on without bending my head at all. Then if I am tired out by the shower, I can go and rest until I am ready to dry my hair.

    I wish you luck Shadyryn and do ask if you have any more questions. I am also happy to help if I can :-)
  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 11/13/2012 - 6:30 AM
    ..isn't used for all ACDF surgeries. They looked at it for me, but during the x-ray process, they had me tilt my head back a bit and the alignment of my neck self-corrected. Each of the surgeons I saw said that had my neck not aligned itself properly in that position, they would have inserted a cage. Apparently, the cage was not going to correct the issues with my neck.

    I don't know much more than that other than that, as it applied or didn't apply to me.

    I am so glad that there are so many different options for the wide variety of issues we each seem to have!

    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • What do you have for a graft?
    Bone from your hip? Allograft from someone else? BMP?
    Do you have a plate and screws?

    As you say, each of us has different needs and the surgeons know just what they are doing. We have to trust them.
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  • FrancineSFFFrancineSF Posts: 318
    edited 11/13/2012 - 7:35 AM
    ..a mixture of my bone/disc - that they grind up when it is removed and mix it with cadaver bone. None from my hip. I am glad about that, if this works.

    Titanium plate and screws.
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion
  • So good to hear everyone here. My NS kept assuring me with the titanium plate and screws, nothing would be going anywhere (told me about a past patient that post op was cycling, was thrown over the handlebars, broken jaw, but cervical spine and hardware all intact). It is helpful to hear about the sleeping, and hair washing (I know, it's just hair, but dirty hair and body doesn't feel great!!) Did you ever use just a soft collar when in the car? Surgery Mon 19th, planning on going to Moms on Thanksgiving (in town). Glad to hear from those recovering and good luck to those of us waiting!!
  • I couldn't wash my hair for a week after I got home from the hospital, so that was 10 DAYS of no hair washing! I thought I was going to crawl the walls. No amount of dry shampoo was going to help!

    I did do this, though - I took a damp wash cloth and rubbed it through my hair. It wasn't perfect, but I felt I was doing something, anyway.

    That was the issue with my neck - stability, so I am glad to hear that the plates and screws are durable.

    In my journal on here, I have a lot of things I figured out and I posted them, but the biggest one - especially if you are feeling anxious, is that I downloaded a guided imagery audio from Amazon for $9 and put it on my cell phone. I started listening to it a few days before surgery and I brought my smart phone with me to the hospital and immediately upon being wheeled into my hospital room, I asked for it and my ear buds and started listening to it. It really helped when I woke up at 2 and 3am to ease my mind and for me to fall asleep again. I had never listened to one before and I can say that it was very helpful.

    I am also told that it helps with pain, etc. I personally had no pain whatsoever, not even a sore throat. I have a whisper of a voice right now, but thankfully, I never had pain.

    The guided imagery was useful, as was having music and the ability to text family and friends and play Words with Friends while in the hospital.

    I am sure everything will go well for you!
    10/26/2012 ACDF C3/4 C4/5 surgery
    No pain; no pain meds - thank goodness!
    04/01/2013 - 5 months + 1 week - FUSED
    Doing some physical therapy for even better range of motion

  • I don't even have a collar, and did drive home from the hospital and today went out in the car with hubby. Coming home from hospital, I had a pillow behind my head, but today was only a short journey and just lent my head back against the head rest. I think that a pillow would have been more comfortable but it was only a 5 minute drive.

    I prepared a CD of Christian worship music that really spoke to me and listened to that almost all the time while in hospital and I still listen to it to fall asleep now. I did the same for my lumbar fusion and both times, although I do have pain, I can cope with it.

    You are in the really anxious stage now Shadyrn. Once you are over on this side of surgery the relief that it is done is wonderful. You will soon be over here with us. This is all manageable and if any problems crop up, the medical team will have a solution to it. Try to plan some relaxing things to do and perhaps spoil yourself with a meal out or some sort of treat. If you like to eat steak, I suggest that you have that because it will be a while before you can eat one again.

    Something I did before my lumbar fusion when I was very nervous about it, was I wrote a list of things I was looking forward to being able to do after my surgery. That helped me focus on why I was doing the surgery and it felt great over time as I slowly crossed them all off. Some of them could be crossed off quickly and others took much longer, but slowly, slowly I got my life back again.

    Keep asking any questions you have xx
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