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I just found this board and thought I would share my story. Sorry its so long.

On Dec. 16th 2005, I had ACDF of the C4,5,6 with donor bone and a metal plate with 6 screws at Depaul hospital in Norfolk, VA. Dr. Byrd was my OS. I am 44 year old father of 2.

For decades I had upper neck pain, was always looking for some relief whether it be painkillers, icepacks, bought a hot tub, chiropractors, fancy pillows, expensive matresses, you name it I tried it but nothing would make it go away. It made me grumpy and affected my outlook on life, the only thing I wanted to do was lie down to get some relief.

About a year ago, sometimes I would move the wrong way and I would then have trouble turning my head to the left or I would feel a shooting pain down my left arm. Also, my arms and hands would sometimes fall asleep when motionless, this would wake me at night.

I am not one to complain and I am very healthy otherwise but my wife convinced me to go see our doctor about it. I felt like a sniveling complainer telling my doctor my symtoms, after all, I'm a tough guy right. Luckily, my doctor did not see it that way and decided something was wrong and set about a plan to fix it.

First, I was put on steroids and did physical therapy for 2 months. This did not help me much and in fact was somewhat painful at times. After a couple more doctor visits and some other drugs that did not help, my doctor ordered a MRI and referred me to an Orthopedic Surgeon (OS).

I saw 3 of these OS, I did not like the first one and the second didnt seem to have enough experience for my needs. They all said basically the same thing, I had a disc protrusion onto my spinal cord and some other technical nerve compression and all recommended surgery.

The 3rd OS (Dr. Byrd) seemed very experienced with this exact proceedure, he recommeded I have ACDF with donor bone and a metal plate. After stalling for a couple more months and talking to everyone I could find, and suffering, I decided to have it done.

I decided I could take several weeks off over the Xmas holidays to recover, so I scheduled my surgery for Dec. 16th.

After the surgery on the 16th, I felt terrible, I was in alot of pain and was not able to stand up to go to the bathroom, I could not swallow even a drink of water. The next day, the gave me drugs and sent me home. For the next several days I did nothing but lay in bed and sleep. After about 3 days, I was able to slowly walk around to house with my soft collar on. The swallowing was getting better also. I continued to take the Tylox they prescribed for the pain for about a week.

At about a week and a half, I noticed something! The continued nagging ache and pain in my neck was gone! Yes, I was still sore from the surgery, but I could tell the pain I was having was gone, along with the numbness.

I went back to work full time and drove after 3 weeks, still a little sore if I move too fast and not able to do any lifting for about another month according to my doctor. I also was able to stop wearing the collar with the doctors permission.

I'm now at 4 weeks since my surgery and I feel great. Just a little pain left now from the surgery, the scar on my neck is about 3 inches long and healing nicely, doctor says it will be barely noticeable in several months.

I do notice a little less range of motion, especially when I look up, but I think my body will adjust to that over time. Also, my neck gets a little tired at the end of the day but seems to be getting better.

So, I think although I am only 1 month out, I am so far a SUCCESS STORY! I feel much better and I am no longer a slave to tylenol or aspirin.

There is hope thanks to this wonderful operation and not everyone has a bad outcome. I think those, like me, who have success, no longer post here because they have moved on.

I will continue to update on my progress over the next several months for the benefit of others suffering from this same problem.

Good luck to you all! :bouncing:

jjman1, your original message was a ray of hope for me. i've been planning (i.e., stallling) a 2-level acdf for a couple of months now, but the pain has just gotten too bad and i finally gave in and scheduled for early next month.

i sound kind of like you did in that i've been "interviewing" surgeons and reading everything i can find about the procedure. i really did not like the first one i met with and he, in turn, told me i had a "bad attitude" when i started asking a gazillion questions about the procedure.

i decided to go with a neurological surgeon rather than a straight ortho surgeon, mostly because i convinced myself that i'd reduce the risk of nerve-damage complications that way. this one still gets annoyed at all my questions, but at least he tries to be polite and is better at hiding his irritation.

almost 3 years of pain ranging from simply annoying to nothing-provides-relief. textbook list of symptoms down the right arm/hand. i've been taking a progressively increasing dose of pain meds along with anti-neurologics for that time. several stints of PT. a steroid injection 18 months ago (helped), one in january (made pain worse) and another this past tuesday (seems to have helped a little). this most recent one was just an attempt to make the pain more bearable for the next month until surgery. doc had been talking about surgery but i kept saying i didn't want to consider it. when, this past christmas, things took a sudden turn for the worse, i said 'ok, let's talk', expecting laminotomy or something. i was utterly stunned when he said acdf.

i was pretty freaked out, but have calmed a bit now that i've managed to educate myself more about the procedure. even watched part of one online. i'm still not completely embracing the idea, something each surgeon has emphasized that i need to do, but at least i'm closer to that point.

i've been told that i may have a longer recovery period because i've had symptoms for so long, and - nothing i can do about this - they keep commenting on the 'small space to work in' because of my long, skinny neck. i'm most worried about permanent nerve damage and the trouble swallowing.

anyway, it's been hard finding post-surgical comments, especially those talking about the days/weeks immediately after surgery. i'd love to here of experiences from anyone who's gone through this. what was pain like, life in the collar, trouble swallowing, any residual numbness in the extremities, regaining movement and mobility, etc.

my surgeon has said i'll be in a soft collar for a couple of weeks and is acting like i'll be up and around in no time. i'm skeptical.

i'm in my early 40s, my problems are just a result of progressive degeneration, i've had neck/other arthritic difficulties since i was in my early 20s.

so thanks, jjman1, and all you others, please let me know about your post-surgical recoveries!
Dear BITS,

Thanks for the laugh about complaining & popping pills. Sometimes I wonder how my family can stand me??? :dizzy:

When you see your doc. to discuss releasing you back to work, I would certainly emphasize what you just told me about having to be alert & the possibility of endangering a fellow officer. Don't be intimidated by the doc or WC folk. As a police officer, you may not be up for this, but I find crying in front of them always helps. :rolleyes:

I do not work anymore. We're in a position where hubby earns just enough to keep us comfortable. I worked b4 but we found the stress of mom working wasn't worth the money so we bit the bullet & gave up the income for some peace in the home. I don't judge anyone regarding this issue. But I HIGHLY reccomend this option for anyone who is even close to being able to do this.
Even tho I live w/chronic pain, I'm SO happy to be home.

My right arm is the main reason I had the surgery. Right after, both arms hurt just as much, actually more. Now, I'm 2 weeks ahead of you. My left arm has stopped for the most part. Both are really about what they were prior to surgery.
PT told us to buy a hot tub so we bought a duzy. 'Went in it yesterday for the 1st time & it really helped my neck & shoulder blade muscles. The pain was there but didn't nag me & actually isn't nagging me today, either. I'm going back in after this post.

How wonderful to have horses. Just be patient. Don't look up at them when you're petting/grooming them as I've heard that's the worst position to be in before the bones fuse...looking up.
Riding has to be put off cuz of the bouncing, of course.
One day though, BITS, you will look back on this & while being happy it's might actually see some good things that have come of it. At least you will be able to empathise with those who hurt & be of some comfort to them.

Keep in touch.

JackieH :wave:

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