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After you have ACDF c5-6, are you "supposed" to be like new? For example, can you go on roller coasters and do everyday things once you have recovered, or are you always going to have restrictions even after the surgery?

Thanks.
After a brief recovery period my NS said that I could resume all my activities without limitations.
Hi,
Just wanted to say that it's nice to hear some positive and encouraging posts once in a while. I may be facing surgery soon and I am trying to remain optimistic.
Thanks,
Debbie
I also like to see some good posts too. This is undoubtedly a very major surgery that a person needs to take seriously. I think that the spasms, and pain, and the likes that most of us are blatting about, is just our bodies telling us that it's not done healing yet. I do not believe that the surgery heals the nerves...I do believe that it's purpose is to give our bodies the best scenerio for healing to occur...and it is a long healing process.

I don't like muscle spasms, pain etc... but if thats part of this gammut, then so be it. I was pretty nervous about this surgery too, but , it's not the worst once you get a month or two under your belt. The hardest part is these set backs that we probably cause ourselves. Like right now, I'm having some spasms and it's been about 1.5 weeks... I'll give em a few more days, then call the doc to see what they suggest.

My doc told me that I'm restricted until the end of august. Maybe he's over cautious... but I'll try to behave and do what I'm told. I suspect that if I'm fusing good then, I'll get the green light to let er rip and do what I normally do...
Thanks jacki56; this thought occurred to me yesterday--would I have to give up horseback riding & amusement rides? Like neckache35--appreciate this post--a bit of good news for those of us struggling to make decisions. I have two "bulging" discs C5-6 and C6-7 w/o stenosis. Return to NS 6/10; basically have gotten worse in last month on meds (Arthroflex, Soma & rare Darvocet) & work restrictions. (How is THAT possible?) I have avoided aerobics, athletics of any kind since 7/03 after the carpal tunnel release (gained 5 lbs., change in agility/muscle tone) so as not to worsen the neck pain, ear ringing. As I see it now I can't let my whole body deteriorate because the simple act of brisk walking (do walk on a treadmill 3 miles a day to get weight under control) brings on the numbness/pain,etc. My NS tells me he has seen worse MRIs & patients don't complain. Honestly, I question myself every day as to why, why I could possibly worsen over the last month--numbness is constant now, reaching w/ right arm provokes knife-like pain in mid-back between shoulder blades or numbness down left arm. I have really bad nights where I lay flat (while asleep) and my whole arm/thumb goes numb & out of bed I go. I have a second opinion appt. 6/14 with my PMD's preferred referral-an ortho/spine specialist. I have really lost a lot of ground this past month--go figure & it's the first time I have been prescribed meds. Also my husband finds it unbelievable that I have difficulty doing things with my left hand/arm. I know it looks okay and is not paralyzed but over the last month when I try to hold my arm extended or chest-height to do a household task, the left arm feels numb, tingly & "fatigued" like there is lactic acid in the muscle or as it would feel after a lot of reps of an exercise. Is this what you would describe as "weakness"? My right arm never feels like that so I feel like it is not "in my mind." I have kept a symptom diary so whatever happens (surgery) I will know I had quantifiable reasons--although my NS never listens/talks to patient/symptoms but centers on objective findings-MRIs, etc. Heaven knows if I will get to update him on what I have just posted on 6/10. Last visit (May), he was dismissive and his attitude scared me--"If you're no better in month, then I'll remove the disc," which came after him saying I can see no reasons for your complaints??? Maybe my second opinion will fill in the gaps.
I was back to riding my Harley about 3 weeks after my C5-6 and C6-7 fusion last July. Also ride horses.
It's the first week to ten days that is a bear.
" ... he was dismissive and his attitude scared me--"If you're no better in month, then I'll remove the disc," which came after him saying I can see no reasons for your complaints??? Maybe my second opinion will fill in the gaps.[/QUOTE]

You might consider talking to someone else who is listening to you. I had the same experience so I interviewed 3 doctors until I could like one. It's important to me that they are in the business of healing in a more holistic sense.
I am not telling you guys what you should do, but for me I will never ride another roller coaster in my life. That is what did my neck in, a roller coaster at Marine World in Norther Calif. called Kong. It was horrible and immediately after I got off the thing, my neck felt terrible. There is one called California Screaming in the new amusement park next to Disneyland in Anaheim that is really smooth and dosen't jerk your neck around.

You guys can do it if you want, but I suffered for almost 2 years before surgery because of a roller coaster ride. Most of them post a sign that says to avoid if you have back or neck problems.
To Boxerdogluv: Dont feel bad, I have gotten worse myself. I used to only have tingling when I turned my head in certain ways. Now I have tingling all the time. I go to see the Ortho on Saturday June 12th. Yes they actually have office hours on Saturday. He is going to discuss my MRI results and my progess thus far. Sorry I don't have any good new to tell him. Actually I do have one positive thing to say. The knot on my right shoulder blade actually did get smaller after I took the steroids. But the numbness/tingling and weakness is actually getting worse. I fear that surgery is inevitable for me.

Debbie
I agree Rolex; I probably will chose not to do roller coasters (haven't since the neck probs >5 yrs), just like I don't enjoy ice/roller skating now since the floor is farther away :) I think it is the whole psychological thing at this point--not feeling like the choice I am making will mean "giving up" on activities or becoming handicapped (we hope). No substitute for common sense.

I have hoped for a happy nonsurgical ending; been real chipper about trying everything and now that the inevitable is in sight--I'm am going through stages of blame-placing (bad chair, bad car seat, if I had a better seat) and tears/grief. Sitting is a real killer. Went to a mtg 6/7, routine long drive but it evoked all the familiar pains; I was about to scream with the feeling of a butter knife stuck between the left ribs the last 20 miles. Reaching antagonizes the arm numbness and exacerbates it. Such occasions confirm to me that I have not "healed" miraculously although there is always that desparate hope lingering in the back of my mind.

Thanks Ricki; I think my NS's attitude has made this month harder to bear. For peace of mind, I see it is def. important to get several opinions before doing anything like surgery.
you should be good to go, that segment will be stronger than it was to start with. the thing that always stays in the back of my mind, is that the segments above and below, must now carry the stresses not taken by the fused level..
sue t.
Thanks for all of your replies. I have just been somewhat depressed after this diagnosis. I realize that it is not a fatal illness, so for that I am thankful. I try not to make more out of this, since others can have worse fates. But, I feel like I was given a "disability" or permanent injury. But if many of you have surgery and feel good as new, that gives me hope. Because, I am only 35, and the thought of chroinc pain and restrictions in life (not that I was an adventurous one) makes me kind of sad. All in perspective of course.

Jacki
I feel the same as you, Jacki. I am 42 tomorrow; if I had known I was "tearing up" my neck I would have stopped years ago. I have never had general anesthesia surgery before. Am esp. terrified and distrustful of hospitals due to my best friend's hysterectomy last year, her husband was told to leave at 6:30 p.m. after she rec. pain meds that he was in the way, she would not wake up and it was preplanned I would stop by the hospital to see if he needed anything at 8 p.m. I found her out of bed, confused, crying at the nurse's station with her catheter bag slung upside down over the IV pole. She was hot & sweaty, I led her back to her room (as unbelievable as this sounds) while the three staffers mutely looked. A staffer then arrived with a basin and told me to help her with a bath; my friend thought it was the next a.m. & felt like she needed a bath. After leaving at 10 p.m. her husband called me to see if I had been to the hospital, he then called the unit to check on his wife & was told that she had never awakened since he left. He was concerned and called her cousin who lives 10 mins from hospital & cousin arrived to find her lying in a pool of blood from pulling out cath/IV at 11 p.m. It very greatly concerns me that the staff would basically lie upon inquiry and initially advise a spouse to leave a patient unattended. Yes-there is a nursing shortage-I guess things like this can happen. This incident concerned me so much that I used a more distant hospital (50 miles away--no complaints--my OPS care was excellent) for my carpal tunnel last year rather than the closest hospital (30 miles). Now I worry that the more distant hospital--has greater traffic risks trying to get home as it is on a very busy freeway where people drive fast and crazy. My NS operates at both hospitals. I guess there are always risks. I am insisting that my husband not leave me unattended in any hospital just based on what happened to my friend.
I have alot of burning sensations after acdf c5-6. I am taking Nuerontin and Skelaxin with not much relief. Does anyone else have this?
boxer dog luv,

Sorry to hear about your friend's negative hospital experience. My experiences have been basically positive but there is no doubt that even with caring nursing care, they are spread way too thin over too many patients, especially during the night shift.

After a couple of negative experiences with overnight stays I made arrangements to have my husband stay with me overnight after my ACDF surgery. I had to set this up beforehand. I had to pay a small extra fee for a private room but I feel it was the best thing I could have done. I didn't even get back to my room until visiting hours were over. Then, I suffered severe nausea and vomiting all night long. If it weren't for my husband's quick hands with the basin I would have been a mess, and a real burden on the nursing staff. Also, I didn't have a catheter so I had to get up and walk to the bathroom every half hour due to the IV. I never could have made it on my own and a previous hospital experience taught me that I had to call the nurse at least a half hour before needing help to the bathroom. Anyway, it was extremely comforting to have my husband acting as private duty nurse and have promised to do the same for him should he ever need it. He was an amazing help. If you can have someone stay with you that first night I highly recommend it.

CTMom
I have had an acdf c5-6 and have alot of burning sensations in my shoulders across my back. I am on meds for it, and it has been 2 months, but still no improvement. Anyone else had this burning sensation after acdf?
Yes, I had some burning sensation. It must be the damaged nerves. I am 4 wks post op ACDF C5-C6. I saw my doctor yesterday and he mentioned it can take the nerves up to 6 months to heal after surgery. Hope you feel better!!
Returned to original NS 6/10 as planned; his PA always does all the preliminaries--NS wings in always briefly to draw conclusions. I stressed to PA that I was having definite worsening symptoms over the month of conservative therapy. (It is even hard to type with the left hand now.) He did the neuro tests and said there was a demonstrable decrease in strength on the left over the last month indicating he believes what I have been saying. NS appeared and said ACDF was planned; my symptoms indicated C5-6 but he would take care of C6-7 while there and open the foramen where the nerve roots pass thru the vertebrae. For the first time, he flipped open the chart and was pointing to his own extensive interpretation of the new MRIs which I first took to his office a month ago. His review and signed office note was far more extensive than the one page radiologist's report. I guess when I felt he was "dismissive" last month it could have meant that he knew he was planning to review the films himself, needed time to do so, and it was not the appropriate time to talk about the "what-ifs." He told me not to take another Advil or any NSAID before surgery on 6/30; only Darvocet for pain. My ins co. has dictated that this be a 23-hour short stay admission. He plans to have me in a hard collar, does not plan plating at this point but may if he does more extensive work than he thinks now. Will be out of work for 8 weeks. He was insistant that I use the closest hospital--the one I think has "quality" issues where I also worked for 10 years :) I have tried to quantify my fears--I think the surgeon/OR will be fine, PACU okay, it is only the nursing unit where "things happen" in the dark of night. My husband promises not to leave me and my "friend" of the previous post with the demeanor of a pit bull is "salivating" at body guarding. I do go for my second opinion tomorrow. My husband has talked to folks too and is very concerned about the plan NOT to use a plate/screws for fixation. I have been firm to my husband that once I get home I will not leave or be in a car until the doctor's appt. (I am seriously concerned about hubby's driving; he swerves, runs off the road, slams on brakes, hits every pot hole and animal by the roadside. I may have suffered whiplash on a daily basis and not know it?!? A real Mr. Magoo so the choice of hospitals might be a mixed blessing--only 30 miles away.)

I am so encouraged that I see people able to post 48 hours after surgery. Take care all. I don't know what I would have done without this board so I am trying to give back info from my humble viewpoint.
I am also concerned about the idea of not using a titanium plate. Out here in Los Angeles, I interviewed 3 surgeons and they ALL use plates nowadays and I believe we have some of the finest doctors and facilities here. I heard one time that they used to only use plates for multi level ACDF surgery because it was too expensive a procedure to use it for a one level ACDF!! Can you believe it?? That would force people into WEEKS of using a collar when they wouldn't have needed it with a plate. Please don't be a victim of this!!!! Ask him why and make sure it's not for economic reasons ... or get a second, third or fourth opinion!!! How far is a hospital you like?? Maybe your friend can drive!! Good luck. Ricki.
Thanks Ricki. More people i ever imagined have had this surgery; all have the plate with excellent results. I had the 2nd opinion (50 miles away) 6/14 & with my PMD's friend/the ortho and fishing buddy. Large practice, like a puppy mill, disorganized, l-o-n-g wait, office staff would not even take my MRIs for fear of "losing them." No--ortho did not want to review them before he saw me. It raised my hackles when the "staffer" taking the hx, pronounced during the interview that since I had not tried a course of steroids, the MD would rx them and she could tell that I was apprehensive about surgery. Anyhow I was there for a 2nd opinion & the ortho proceeded to bad mouth my NS and wanted me to convert to his practice. The ortho wanted me to try a course of prednisone, epidural steroid injections and cervical traction w/ three months of PT. He wanted to try this one more thing before he would plan to do surgery--maybe I would need it in a few months. Well, this is contrary to my PMD who has been treating me x 1 yr. and wanted surgical intervention last summer. I have more confidence than ever in my NS now. From my previous posts where I have been worsening profoundly over the last month, have diminished strength in left hand & >numbness lasting longer, I have gotten to the point where it is intolerable. I am climbing the walls w/o my Advil and yesterday didn't take a Darvocet at all due to the 2nd opinion and was a wild animal by the end of the day. I ached so much I couldn't see straight and sat so long in the ortho's office that I finally had to stand when he arrived. From the posts and from people I have spoken with having same, I really think I have suffered enough, don't want more holes punched in my epidural space for steroid injections and end up having surgery later anyway. I had a complication w/ an epidural following childbirth and had a lot of phantom pain and scarring of the myelin sheath. Does this seem prudent and well reasoned by people who have considered or had epidural steroid injections, particularly those would have read all my symptoms/results in my previous posts? Thanks.
My husband is more concerned about the lack of plate/screw fixation. The two crazy things that worry me most: I have an antique 4-poster high bed with steps- Could I be killed in a fall from my bed? Also I have an 80 lb. boxer who is very physical & 2 yrs old--He has not knocked me down yet and I find my pets are usually intuitive about sick, frail or disabled people. (but I will mention this to my NS) No kidding--I picked up Sat.'s newspaper and a local man was killed in a 5 ft. fall down the steps of his yacht--he broke his neck. Just my luck to read all the broken neck stories now?!?. Somehow my gut feeling is of enormous respect for my NS (we worked in same facility for 10 years so his work/outcomes are familiar to me) and I trust him--I feel like he will plate/screw fixate rather than take a chance with my outcome. I would be in some very slim minority not to have a plate if it truly comes to pass. (I am not sure why NOT to plate would be the first choice in a patient w/ no past surgical hx, no allergies--only thing I can think of is maybe the six screw holes would increase risk of infection & titanium would increase risk of foreign body reaction--although these are not significantly documented risks so this revelation surprised me too.)

I am committed to making sure I have the best recovery possible (will not take chances to jeopardize M.D.'s orders) and it would be no big deal to concentrate on that for 8 weeks.
Here's another perspective on plates/screws. Not to give anyone here even more to think about, but my sister-in-law's close friend had ACDF (not sure of the level) using titanium plate and screws a little over a year ago (same hospital I had mine at but different NS). She first developed an infection in the area and was back in the hospital for a round of IV antibiotics for that. Then the plate started to irritate the back of her esophagus to the point where it was actually wearing it away and another serious infection developed that put her in intensive care for several days with antibiotics pumped into the site through a tube. Subsequently she had 2 more surgeries to remove the plate and re-do the original ACDF. So don't think plating is necessarily "foolproof" compared to other techniques.

Second, (for comparison) I went through ACDF C-6/7 in April using Rabea implant, no plates, no screws. I was not required to wear any collar. I went back to work at 10 days and drove at 2 weeks. My NS said that this is one of the most stable implants he's seen and has had patients who've taken serious falls shortly after surgery who've returned to be checked because they fear they've moved things around. Has never seen a misalignment in over 200 procedures. By the way, he's also qualified as a pediatric NS, is on the teaching staff at the Univ. of MN med school, and has literally a world-class reputation. I suppose it all depends on the individual situation and how many levels/severity in each case. But you can't make an automatic assumption that plating = better stability or better results.

You can go to 10 NS's and probably get 10 answers on this surgery. I still think that you hear more horror stories on this site (and I just added one above) than positive results, which has to make it tough and confusing for folks out there considering this procedure. Ultimately, you just have to make up your mind what's best in your case and do it.

Also, stuff like Advil (anything w/ibuprofen) hampers bone development after surgery and is not allowed until you're fully recovered.

My 2 cents.
Hey boxer_dog_luv,

I agree regarding the injections. Sounds like you have suffered enough, and at some point permanent nerve damage can occur without surgery. I tried the epidurals and they didn't help much so I can't give much encouragement in that direction. I will check back to see how you're doing.

Ricki
Hi X-Man and Ricki, Thanks so very much for the info. My director's wife had ACDF w/plate in Nov. and says she can "feel the plate." Not a complaint, just statement of fact. That does not sound pleasant.

X-man makes a very valuable point--the more intervention, the more risk for complication. I have to keep doing mental health checks on myself--the constant aching, pain drags one down in mindset. After the 2nd consult where everything felt wrong about the ortho and his practice, it reaffirmed that my NS is being very methodical and careful. I probably shouldn't have let my PMD plant the seed about seeing his friend-the ortho--but after 6/30 it will be too late for a second opinion. You don't want to be too eager, but then you don't want to keep going around in circles.

I don't think they are doing the Rabea implants here (suburb of Norfolk, VA). In taking care of loose ends here in the community, I am amazed at how many people around me have had same surgery--having done quite well. Our principal had a two-level ACDF (for same symptoms as mine) in 2000, talked to my husband earlier in the week, so I tracked him down 'cause I wanted to watch him move his head. He says he has done great and would have done it sooner than he did as he has more mobility. His was done for DJD and is also diabetic so that was most encouraging. He says his plate/screws set off airport metal detectors so he carries a credit card sized x-ray (which I presume is imprinted with his name to cross check). Interestingly, like me, his MRIs didn't look terrible, only bulging discs, but he said his surgeon was amazed at how bad it was once inside--chards of bone sticking out.

Thanks for the Advil advisory postop. You hope the MD's don't forget to tell you all that stuff but one never knows.





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