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PLEASE HELP: Physical therapy after ACDF?

Physical therapy was mentioned before I went home from the hospital. But since I was discharged from the hospital the morning after the surgery, I never saw anyone about physical therapy?

Wondering if there is some PT or exercises I should be doing that would help with the severe muscle spasms I've been having from my left arm pit up to above my left ear.


  • No, no, no. Don't do anything. Like Donna posted on your Muscle Spasm post, ask for a higher dosage of the muscle relaxants. This is the time to take it easy. At your follow-up appointment, they'll talk to you about PT then, but for now you're too early out. You can try massages, assuming this is a certified therapist who knows about massages so soon after surgery, but other than that, just try to relax.

    Part of the problem might be tensing up due to no keeping up on your pain medications. Be sure to take all the medicines as prescribed (and yes, set the alarm in the middle of the night if need be) to stay on top of the pain and call your surgeon about the spasms. They can up your dose or get you on a stronger one.

    Hang in there - it will get better, but you're very soon out of surgery and definitely too soon for PT. You need to get that bone fused.

  • see if you can massage the area....
    I spent some time massaging the base of my neck and down the side of my neck - BUT, I kept my neck VERY VERY still.
    It seemed to help a lot.

    And, ice -- ice packs helped mine when my neck or shoulder blades got too tight from non-movement.

    If you have someone there who can gently do the massaging for you WITHOUT moving your neck, terrific.

    Of course, this is just my opinion. I found for me it worked great.

    It's WAY too soon for physical therapy though.
    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
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  • ...I have to say - that helped a lot - as I just stood there taking deep breaths and letting the really hot water hit the back of my neck. The muscles would loosen up.
    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
  • CinbadCCinbad Posts: 55
    edited 04/28/2013 - 2:35 PM
    Thanks for the responses everyone. I responded earlier, but lost it before posted.

    Just realized that tomorrow makes my one week mark. I've been reading about folks walking 1 to 3 days, not happening here. What shoud I be expecting to be able to do?

    Is there a sticky here somewhere, that lists what one could expect from one week to the next. If not, maybe we could create one for each week as I sure they would be very helpful guidance for others.

    I'm sure I'm repeating a lot of stuff others have asked.

    My surgery was moved up four days, so I didn't have the 1 hr consut with the surgeon prior to the surgery to answer all my questions
  • Since everyone is different, Cinbad having a list of what one "should" be doing a certain points in time wouldn't work and could be dangerous. As soon as someone says they can take a walk in 3 days, there are 50 people who say they couldn't walk for a month. I think it would be highly detrimental to someone's psyche to start comparing what they are doing with what you are doing. Every surgery, every person, every reaction is different. All that matters is what you are able to do and what your surgeon has to say about things since in theory he knows you just a little bit more, perhaps. That's my personal thought.

    I wasn't able to take walks the first week, either. I could go outside, shuffle around a bit and then come back inside. But DEFINITELY no walking with any intent other than to get the mail from my mailbox. And, I was in absolutely NO pain whatsoever. After my visit with my surgeon at the end of 7 days, I may have walked just a little more - like two doors down - something like that - and back. Heck, I did it in my robe! My neighbors didn't care. :)

    I had a friend take me to my surgeon for the 7 day post-op visit and we came home right after. I was really fine, I mostly wanted to take a shower and wash my hair - which was the first time in about 11 days I could wash my hair!! :)

    But, wearing a hard collar made me a little cautious. My attitude was that I did not have time to trip and fall and mess things up -- or strain a muscle even while in the collar!

    Your body knows - and I imagine soon enough you will be able - but there is no rush or timeline, truly!

    When do you see your surgeon for a follow-up? I saw mine at 7 or 8 days and we spoke about what I could do at that time. Actually, I whispered everything because I lost my voice for 35 days! :)

    No worries about asking the same questions - we all 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
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  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    I'm in agreement with Cathie & Francine, only do as Dr's orders state. After all if you mess up the fine work your Dr performed that is who you must answer to. I wasn't prescribed any PT following my 3 level ACDF back in 2007, had to take it easy wearing a collar and wearing a spinal fusion pac. Then walking just short distances for a few weeks and gradually increasing the distance. Just be careful!
  • Thanks everyone. My first appt with surgeon is at 4 wks for x-rays, then 8 and then 12 from what I've been told.
  • I agree with Cathie.............you should be taking it easy. In fact, my neurosurgeon doesn't recommend PT. He wants his patients to do a LOT of walking. Walk, walk and walk some more.

    I remember after my very first surgery, which was a L5-S1 lumbar fusion (ALIF), I asked to do PT only because I wanted to get back to work ASAP (rushing myself). He agreed to it given my situation (much younger and supporting a family at the time) and I ended up re-injuring myself and resulting in a revision surgery--with a more painful posterior approach.

    Everybody is different........but if I were you--DON'T rush! :-)

  • and don't really care to at this point. I have actually been feeling worse for the last three days and my throat is killing me.

    Seems likely that I have strept throat or something. Got appt with primary doctor late today. Something's gotta give!
  • Good Luck Cinbad........please keep us posted. :-)

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