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Accidental fall 6 weeks post 2-level ACDF

spineanxioussspineanxious Posts: 21
edited 08/04/2014 - 3:53 PM in Recovering from Surgery

I was recovering quite well after my 2-level ACDF (C4-6). In fact, I was just contemplating the 6 weeks mark post about my experience so far... until I took a fall forward today on my daily walk.

I was walking at a brisk pace when my shoe got caught up in the pavement tile and I was thrown forward, head first. I managed to catch myself right before hitting the ground, but my neck did hyperextend and jerked violently, as did my head. Immediately after this fall i’ve experienced neck pain (which was completely gone for 2 weeks now), headache,tingling in the right hand, feet and head, as well as a lovely“choking” sensation similar to that I had in the first few post-surgery weeks.

Needless to say i'm terrified that I've messed up my surgeon's work...My 4-week post-op appointment showed that everything was going great, so it's far too early to schedule another follow-up. I'm really hoping this is just muscular reaction, but the tingling is not very encouraging.

Does anyone have an experience with a similar fall? Is this a real reason for concern?
My doctor did say that the hardware will withstand a significant force, and I should not worry too much about my daily activities. However, i'm not sure if such a fall qualifies as "significant force".

I'm scared and in pain. Any thoughts would be appreciated! Thank you.



  • Jules27JJules27 Posts: 64
    edited 08/04/2014 - 4:02 PM
    Spineanxious --
    I am approaching the four-month mark following a single level ACDF (C5/C6). I've had numerous incidents that caused me to question whether I "messed up" my surgeon's work. In fact, I contacted his surgical nurse on several occasions, asking whether they wanted me to come in for new x-rays to make sure everything was still in place. Only once did they schedule me for an otherwise unanticipated recheck. Thankfully, the new x-rays showed everything was okay. I would recommend you call your surgeon's office tomorrow and ask if you should come in. They will probably tell you it's just a flare-up and you'll be fine in a few days, but they might let you come in for new x-rays just to give you peace of mind.
    Take Care,

  • spineanxioussspineanxious Posts: 21
    edited 08/04/2014 - 4:05 PM
    I hope you are healing well from your surgery and started to fuse! I will contact my doctor's office tomorrow. Out of curiosity - what was the incidents did they have you come in do X-rays for?
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  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 1,033
    I'd have to agree with Jules. I've had a few major cervical spine fusions and have encountered some close calls that made me think I really messed up. Fortunately over time and experience I have learned it would take a major trauma to ruin the hardware installed.
    Take care,
  • Hello, Spineanxious --
    My incidents varied from minor to fairly significant. Within the first month or two after my surgery, I would get worried if I did anything that may have put stress on my neck. One time, it was opening and closing the tall windows in my Victorian house. Another time, I failed to stick to my doctor's five-pound weight restriction and carried my 19-pound dog twice within two days. My surgeon's nurse told me both times that I would be fine, and I was. About two months after my surgery, I had an incident where I failed to dry my hands sufficiently after washing them and had a heavy wine bottle slip from my grip. I did a really fast release and grab (very tightly) and felt it go all the way up to my neck and spine. Again, I was fine. The last two occurred around three months or so after my surgery. I was getting into the passenger side of my husband's car. I never wear clips in my hair, but I was this time. I failed to account for the extra couple inches on top of my head and managed to bump it really hard on the doorframe of his car. The jolt shot my head to the right and my neck to the left. My PT guy equated it to "whiplash." That time, they had me come in for x-rays. Thankfully, I was fine. The last incident was really dumb. I sat down on my living room floor and went to lay back to rest my neck. I misjudged the distance and hit the back of my head on a small coffee table. Once again, I checked with my surgeon's office (since this was just 8 days after the car incident), and this time, the response was basically: You are so far along and fusion is going so well that you are not going to endanger the hardware. Go live! (Seriously, they said I was released to go back to normal activities, but could still have some flare-ups, but not to worry about them.)
    I hope this information helps you.
    Take Care,
  • @Jules - Thank you very much for such detailed description, Jules! That does help. I'm very happy to hear that your restrictions have been lifted. What a relief.

    My fusion didn't even start, of course, and I can't wait to stop worrying about ordinary mishaps. I've called my doctor and he said he doesn't think anything was compromised but suggested I get xrays for the piece of mind. Sadly, I live 60miles away from his office, so I'm trying to work out a local referral with his office. If that doesn't happen, I might just wait and see rather then drive for over an hour.

    @Ranger - thank you Ranger for sharing your experience! I, too, can not wait get wise enough to tell the difference and stop constantly worrying.
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