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I have now completed 1 week of recovery following ACDF for a herniated disc at C6/7. Overall, I think my recovery is going very well. I hope to return to work after 3 weeks off (2 weeks from now).

The first day in the hospital was the worst with bad vomiting and having to use a Foley. Ouch! I think the painkillers and anethesia were not good for my body. I wasn't feeling much pain so I quickly stopped pushing the pain button and everything was back to normal the next morning. By noon on day 2, I was home and fairly comfortable. I had a sore throat for about 2 days. The lump in my throat continues, but is finally starting to get better. The lump does not affect eating or breathing, just feels strange when swallowing. I haven't taken any pain meds since the first night home. The incision is the worst of the pain and that's only noticeable when I'm sitting up from lying down. I started walking a bit on the treadmill and now walk 1 mile a day. I could probably walk more as I don't have any problems.

As for my symptoms before the surgery, I had lots of arm/shoulder/chest tingling and pain. Sitting on the couch would be fine, but moving would cause everything to act up. Everything is much better than before. There have been a few times, maybe a total of 30 seconds, where my right arm has felt weird, but nothing like before. I'm cautiously optimistic about a full recovery and returning to an active lifestyle.

I plan to update this thread every so often as I recover to keep a record for anyone considering the surgery.
Great news Birdman. I'm so happy to hear your shoulder/chest/arm pain is much better.

I'm awaiting surgery and am really looking forward to more updates from you.
I'm a little more than 2 weeks post-op so I figured it was time for another update. My original symptoms continue to stay "fixed". I keep thinking my arm is going to start tingling again, but so far so good. The real test will be when I return to activities because that's when my symptoms were the worst. I still wear my collar almost full time as directed by my doctor. He said I wouldn't need a collar before I had the surgery, but the story changed. Kinda strange. My follow-up appt with the NS is tomorrow. I'm hoping to get cleared for driving and be able to take off my collar. The collar can definitely get itchy sometimes. I didn't shave until a few days ago and that felt really good. Stubble/beard + neck collar = bad news.

As for recovery... I still have very little to no neck pain. The incision is a little sore if I strain my neck like when getting out of bed. The steri-strips are still in place. They are starting to peel, but none have fallen off yet. That means I still haven't had a great look at the incision. Perhaps my NS will take them off tomorrow. I still occasionally have the lump in my throat. Doesn't really cause any problems, just annoying. I think the lump is from tightness at the incision so I bet my throat won't be back to normal until the incision fully heals.

Tomorrow could be a big day... maybe cleared to take off collar, return to driving, and return to working. Fingers crossed...
I've been hoping for another update from you! It sounds like you're doing great. I hope everything goes well at your appointment tomorrow. Please update after your appointment. Reading your updates really eases some of my fears of my upcoming surgery.
I have not had any voice issues from the surgery so I cannot comment. I do still have the lump feeling in my throat. Nothing terrible and it seems to be improving, but I still notice almost every time I swallow.
Hi BirdMan and Everyone, I was on this board a few months ago... but have been busy as business has picked up for my soils lab. I'm still in line for the ACDF and have set up for Nov 1 (All Saints Day) but am trying to get my lab sample load under control first... as I will close down my lab for at least two weeks for recovery ( I do have some help there). Ths NS assures me I wil be able to do light work on the microscope in a few weeks post-surg... not so sure after reading some of this board, however... but I remain optomistic. The NS gave me the Aspen collar to "practice" with. The surprise is that the collar gives me quite alot of temporary relief, and brings feeling and function back to both of my hands, even before the surgery, as it jacks my head up and takes the pressure off those nerves. This, to me, bodes well for a successful surgery as the nerves will likely recover once the permanent "fix" is in. Still, the surgical process seems intimidating. I really appreciate the positive posts from people like you, Birdman, who are having a good and speedy recovery. That is my hope. I will try to post more regularly now... as I am afraid I might otherwise back out of my decision to go forward with the surgery... especially with business picking up. I think surgery is the right thing to do to for preservation of the nerves and function of my hands... but need moral support from those of you in the same situation. Blessings and peace to all, Denise
[QUOTE=dbaum;4330406]This is a great thread and really helped me remain positive about my upcoming ACDF. I pre op tomorrow and surgery is next week.

My biggest concerns are being able to swallow, navigate stairs and take care of my pets. I'll have help for a few days but then I'm on my own.

How bad is the swallowing issue? Also, my NS said he doesn't collar anyone. I wonder about this while trying to sleep. Seems to me a soft collar might be a good idea at night. What do you guys think?[/QUOTE]

I wore a hard Aspen collar during the day and a soft rubber coated foam collar at night. I didn't mind the Aspen collar much except for some itchiness from not being able to shave very well. The soft collar was not much fun for me because of a hard plastic brace in the back. The brace kept my neck straight and comfortable, but forced my back into an odd position while sleeping. I tried lots of different pillow combinations and never got to be particularly comfortable. The hospital bed was fine so it might just be I don't have the best selection of pillows. Despite the discomfort, I'm glad I had a collar because it kept me from accidently moving my neck during the early days of my recovery. I would recommend wearing a collar any time you are moving around and the soft collar while sleeping.
[QUOTE=LabGal;4330940]Hi BirdMan and Everyone, I was on this board a few months ago... but have been busy as business has picked up for my soils lab. I'm still in line for the ACDF and have set up for Nov 1 (All Saints Day) but am trying to get my lab sample load under control first... as I will close down my lab for at least two weeks for recovery ( I do have some help there). Ths NS assures me I wil be able to do light work on the microscope in a few weeks post-surg... not so sure after reading some of this board, however... but I remain optomistic. The NS gave me the Aspen collar to "practice" with. The surprise is that the collar gives me quite alot of temporary relief, and brings feeling and function back to both of my hands, even before the surgery, as it jacks my head up and takes the pressure off those nerves. This, to me, bodes well for a successful surgery as the nerves will likely recover once the permanent "fix" is in. Still, the surgical process seems intimidating. I really appreciate the positive posts from people like you, Birdman, who are having a good and speedy recovery. That is my hope. I will try to post more regularly now... as I am afraid I might otherwise back out of my decision to go forward with the surgery... especially with business picking up. I think surgery is the right thing to do to for preservation of the nerves and function of my hands... but need moral support from those of you in the same situation. Blessings and peace to all, Denise[/QUOTE]

Glad my posts are helpful! I remember before my surgery feeling very worried because most of the posts on here are from people with complications. The ACDF patients with good outcomes are out enjoying life. I figured it doesn't take much effort to post an update every once in while and some people might benefit.

I also work where I need to look under a microscope several times during the day and didn't have any difficulty after returning to work full time (4 weeks post-op). The key thing is to have the microscope and work station ergonomically positioned. You should sit upright and not lean over at an awkward angle. My neck was still stiff in the beginning so I was forced to sit properly anyway. I remember poorly positioned microscopes really made my symptoms flare up before the surgery.
Great news Birdman! You must be so happy to hear that you are fully fused!

I am now two weeks out from my two level ACDF and have relied on your updates for a positive perspective on the surgery while I was waiting for mine.
I had ACDF surgery on 9/20/2010. My symptoms were neck pain, mid-back pain and shoulder pain. I was diagnosed with tedonitis in the shoulders a few years ago due to my job. After two rear-end collisions (2006 & 2010) the neck was done for as well as mid back. I tried all the routine stuff before going ahead with surgery. Now I am going into my 2nd month post op and nothing has really changed except the burning at the base of my skull. My c5/6 were fused and bone spurs ground down. I still have the migraines, my back still hurts with everything I do and the PT is killing me. Especially my back and shoulders. Still can't drive, NS moved my weight restrictions from 5lbs to 20lbs...not possible. He told me I could drive short distances, tried that one day and the muscle spasms had me on the verge of suicide from the pain! My visit with my NS today was not promising either. Three more weeks of PT, 3 times a week, still using the bone growth stimulator for 4 hours a day, no collar even after surgery. He seems to think I will be able to return to a job lifting 70lbs, with lots of looking up/down, bending and walking on concrete for 8 hrs a day. My back is already burning from just sitting here typing this. Does it really get better?:confused:
[QUOTE=Delsie;4616591]I had ACDF surgery on 9/20/2010. My symptoms were neck pain, mid-back pain and shoulder pain. I was diagnosed with tedonitis in the shoulders a few years ago due to my job. After two rear-end collisions (2006 & 2010) the neck was done for as well as mid back. I tried all the routine stuff before going ahead with surgery. Now I am going into my 2nd month post op and nothing has really changed except the burning at the base of my skull. My c5/6 were fused and bone spurs ground down. I still have the migraines, my back still hurts with everything I do and the PT is killing me. Especially my back and shoulders. Still can't drive, NS moved my weight restrictions from 5lbs to 20lbs...not possible. He told me I could drive short distances, tried that one day and the muscle spasms had me on the verge of suicide from the pain! My visit with my NS today was not promising either. Three more weeks of PT, 3 times a week, still using the bone growth stimulator for 4 hours a day, no collar even after surgery. He seems to think I will be able to return to a job lifting 70lbs, with lots of looking up/down, bending and walking on concrete for 8 hrs a day. My back is already burning from just sitting here typing this. Does it really get better?:confused:[/QUOTE]

Hi Delsie...So sorry to hear you are not recovering as you would like to... though I have heard that is not so unusual in the first months. Still, perhaps you can have another MRI done to be sure everything is where it is supposed to be. I expect I might have some spasm issues as healing continues as well. But it is still very early in your recovery process... and my understanding from many posts that I have read, is that you have to be patient with the recovery process... as it tends to be slow. Even those of us who don't have significant post-surg issues...we have to be aware of the changes that need to take place for a successful fusion and stability of an area that has been injured for a long time. Hang in there... keep talking to your Docs... push them for another MRI if you need the reassurance for sanity sake (you wouldn't be the first)... then be patient with yourself. This is your "downtime" don't think immediately about whether you will lift 70 lbs. There are other ways to make a living.

Praying for you...
Denise
You are only one month since surgery so some pain and symptoms can be expected as healing occurs. Are you wearing a cervical neck collar from your surgeon?
Hi Realtor... I'm still doing great at 26 days also (one level 5-6). Haven't tried the intimacy thing yet... I am giving the neck plenty of time. However, my love life was in the tank from the problem that put me into surgery... so I am used to it at this point. It will be like a honeymoon when we get it back. I would be very cautious as intercourse is a rigorous sport---spinewise, that is. Ask your doc what he thinks.
Birdman:
Just wanted to let you know that I had (PLIF) L5/S1 fusion surgery 12/21/09 and ACDF on C6/C7 1/18/11. Only 2 weeks post-op for the ACDF. I was in a hard shell brace for 3 months post-op for the PLIF, Prior to the PLIF, I was wheelchair-bound from Oct. 21 - Dec. 21 (the day of my surgery) All of the terrible nerve pain in my legs was gone upon awakening from the anesthesia, but there was a lot of pain from the surgery itself. I was able to return to work March 21, 2010 under a 20 pound restriction and by June I was able to get myself up and down from groundlevel without much discomfort. I do a lot of gardening so it was important to me that I be able to sit on the ground to pick beans, etc.. since bending over was no longer an option. I am now at 13 months post-op for my PLIF and my back rarely hurts more than a "2". The ACDF was a breeze compared to the PLIF, but I went into it knowing I had a great surgeon. I would have both done again without hesitation. My NS gave me my life back- twice! I will be returning to work in late March from the ACDF surgery, my NS wants me to have a little PT prior to returning due to having 2 surgeries in a year. Both injuries were just bad luck. I sneezed and blew out the L5/S1 disk, Got startled and jumped the wrong way and blew out the C6/C7. It happens. Hope you don't have to have the lower back surgery, but if you do it's better sooner than later to avoid permanent nerve damage. I was given the run-around by my regular doctor (fired him shortly after and have a new doctor now) and had permanent nerve damage in my left leg due to his neglect and indifference. He should have sent me immediately to a NS since I had become completely incontinent overnight. He waited 7 months to refer me, refused to send me for even x-rays, then only referred me to a "pain management" doctor. I took myself to a NS, or rather, my husband took me, wheel chair, diaper and all. I had gone from an active, physically fit person to a total invalid in just a few weeks. So happy to have my life back! My NS is the greatest! Wishing you good health!
This week will be 9 months from my surgery and I'm still doing well. Just in the past few weeks I started doing some more physical activity. I went to the driving range for the first time since the surgery. I was cautious not to over swing. Aside from avoiding any issues with my neck, taking an easier swing also straightened out my slice :)

My other big physical activity has been remodeling my kitchen. Nothing too serious... paint, tile backsplash, new appliances, and new flooring. The tile backsplash and painting causing some soreness and mild pain in my neck. I think I had my neck at an awkward angle for too long. It took about 24 hours each time to recover back to normal. I had the headache/pain in the back of my head. The project is just about done and no more neck straining is required. Next weekend I plan to hit the driving range again so hopefully that goes as well as last weekend.

Overall, I'm doing very well. I still always know I had ACDF when doing activities, but no real problems so far. I hope everyone else will recover as well as I have.
Morning everyone!
It has been awhile since I have posted. My neck continues to get better. The anterior/posterior surgery really was pretty easy. Still have some stiffness in the posterior but really all is well.
I did have a major set back. 10 days post op I had a blood vessel burst in my neck. We were food shopping which put us 30 minutes closer to the hospital.

Got to the hospital and put to sleep and intubated and in surgery within an hour. Was on a vent and in ICU for 5 days.Doc's don't know if it was caused by my surgery and told my husband that when I got to the hospital I had about 30 minutes before my air way would have been cut off and might have died. I am thankful that my hubby kept his cool and got me to the hospital.

I am 4 weeks post that surgery and went back to work this week. All is feeling better and really not sore. It was a set back but not diabilating.

Still can't lift but that is more from the second surgery not the first. Scar in the anterior is ugly but again that is from the second surgery not the first. Posterior scar is smooth.

Listen to your Doc's, they know best!
Blessings my friends!:angel:
I just passed the 1 year mark since my C6/7 ACDF surgery. It seems like so long ago that I was dealing with constant arm pain, muscle weakness, and pins and needles. Overall, I feel great. I've been playing golf almost every weekend for the past 2 months. I never have the pins and needles feeling in my arm. My strength seems fully recovered. The only issues I have are occasional tightness in my neck muscles and slight pain between my shoulder blades. Both issues typically occur after too much lifting or work around the house. I plan to increase my physical activity this summer and start lifting weights. I definitely plan to take it slow, but I need to get in better shape so my posture improves and I don't blow another disc.

All of you considering ACDF, feel free to read this thread from the start to get an idea of my recovery. I also check in about once a week and can answer any questions.

Good luck to everyone having surgery :)





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