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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board


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Hello everyone, this is my first post. Unfortunately I did not discover this board until about a week prior to my surgery but it was still invaluable. I am a 43 year old male.

My surgery was exactly a week ago (8/4). I had an ACDF performed on C-5/6. Woke up with neck pain about a year ago and it never really subsided. I had written it off as stress or poor posture but when it really acted up last spring I made an appointment with a neurosurgeon. I had noticed that my right thumb and pointing finger would have some numbness when the pain was at its worst. The neurosurgeon ordered an MRI which read as follows:

"There is a right paracentral disk extrusion that extends inferior to the disk interspace causing severe mass efffect in the right lateral recess region as well as moderate effect upon the right anterolateral cord. This is almost certainly compressing the right C6 nerve root. The neural foramina are still patent."

I do have degeneration in the discs above and below also but not as severe.

The NS recommended surgery right away with really no other options due to the spinal cord compression. We scheduled it that day - that gave me two weeks to think about it. The surgery was to be a fusion with donor bone and titanium plate.

I have to say I was pretty nervous about it. I considered a second opinion but chose to put my faith in my NS who I had been told by many people was the best in our area.

The surgery was relatively uneventful. Arrived at 7:30 and surgery was completed by 2 p.m. I believe the total surgery time was just over an hour. I was in recovery for a couple of hours due to sleep apnea. I had an appendectomy in January and this surgery seemed like a piece of cake compared to it. When I awoke in recovery, discomfort was minimal. The incision is about three inches from the center of my neck to the left side. My voice was very hoarse and sore but I had no problem eating shortly after surgery. I really didn't have much soreness in the neck while on pain pills.

My NS does not require a collar. He does not require them for any fusion with the titanium plate as he feels that the collar causes the neck muscles to become weak - then you are in more pain when you take it off.

I spent one night and was sent home the next morning. Riding in the car was not nearly as bad as I expected. I just held my head back tight against the headrest. Really no problem at all.

The worst part so far was sleeping the first few nights. It didn't seem that I could find a comfortable position that didn't torque my neck. I have to admit I was second guessing my NS's decision not to use a collar. But I struggled through a couple nights in the recliner and as of last night (night #7), I slept in my own bed the entire night with no problems. I do make sure my pillows are built up to a level that supports my neck with no kinks.

Numbness in my right thumb and finger are gone as far as I can tell. I have been on Percoset fairly heavy until yesterday. I began cutting down and today have only had two tablets this morning (had been taking 2 every four hours). My neck is sore at the base and have had a pain in my left shoulder but it seems to be going away with time. I have been walking every morning since coming home - about 2-3 miles a day. It actually feels good to get out and walk. Most of the pain I have comes from sitting around all day.

Anyway, sorry for the novel but just wanted to share my experience so far. I'm optimistic that the neck pain will diminish as that was my primary complaint but must admit I'm nervous after reading many accounts here and other places.

Will try to provide further updates on this post. Hope this helps someone.
Failed to mention that the surgeon discovered the disc at C5-6 has ruptured and they removed it in three pieces. It was pushing against my spinal cord as was a bone spur they also removed.
Hi It sounds like you went through surgery pretty good for having spinal cord compression!
The pain I was experiencing was primarily at the base of my neck where it meets the shoulders. It would really become aggravated sitting at my desk for work (poor posture?). So far that pain is still there just one week post op but I am praying it will go away once everything has had time to heal.
Is your pain as bad or do you feel any relief even in other areas?
I forgot to say I'm 8 weeks post op.
when did you have your surgery? My situation is a little different because I wasn't in horrible pain before the surgery. That made the decision more difficult because I wasn't hurting as bad as some folks. The deciding factor for me was the spinal cord compression which was severe. The numbness I was experiencing in my right thumb and pointing finger does seem to be gone. Time will tell on my neck pain.
I am considering purchasing a sift collar for riding in the car. The acceleration and braking kind of freaks me out as a passenger and does cause some soreness.
That is amazing too that you had cord compression and you weren't in that much pain! I hope you heal successfully and sounds like you are to a good start.
My prayers are with you and I hope you don't have to go through another surgery. The thing you have to remember is you just had a major surgery and it can take months to heal. I went into this knowing it was for the long haul and a step in improving my overall health. So I made a promise to myself that I would do everything I could to help make this surgery a success (lose a few pounds, exercise to strengthen my core, eat right,etc). While I may still have issues to deal with down the road, atleast I can say I've done my part. I did call the nurse today to inquire about the left shoulder pain I have when I ease up on the pain meds-she had me switch to a different muscle relaxer(flexerall?). We will see how that goes.

Again, best of luck to you. Look forward to updates on your progress.
Thanks your right. Even though it went as well as it did (even considering the neck pain I still have) sometimes it's easy to forget it was major surgery.
Hey - everyone - I had surgery posterior & anterior on 7/7 - the flexiral worked great for me - & your absolutely right it takes time - my nerves r still freaking out & I'm 6 weeks post op.
Just wanted to give a brief update now that I am 3 weeks post op.

I went back to work full time yesterday (desk job). Surprisingly, it went surprisingly well. It seems like the last two days have been a marked improvement. I had been trying to wean myself off the pain medication and muscle relaxers but would the base of my neck and shoulders would get very sore and my entire body would ache (much like the flu). I stopped taking the hydrocodone and opted to take tamoral that my doctor had prescribed before surgery. I'm down to taking one before bedtime.

Alot of the weird post op pains have disappeared. I was having spasms in my left bicep and left shoulder would hurt towards the end of the day. That seems to be gone now.

My first two days of driving aggravated the neck - you do not realize how much you do move your neck while driving!

I can turn my head side to side and up and down albeit slowly - but I think that is mainly a mental thing with me, there really isn't any pain but I favor it badly.

Scar is healed and once the glue dried up and came off, a nice clean scar was left that looks like it will disappear with time.

All in all, I am very happy with the surgery outcome. I know time will tell with the fusion, etc. but these encouraging signs certainly help me keep a positive outlook.
That's great you are doing good! It's good to have a success story and that sure helped me before surgery so I hope it gives hope to someone else trying to decide.
MoSportsDad and InNJ,
I was reading your posts and comparing notes. I'm in Northeast Arkansas and had my surgery (C5-6) in Little Rock on May 3rd. I had donor bone graft with anterior titanium plate. I had asked my neurosurgeon about the ProDisc prior to surgery. He said he had been trained to do ProDisc but as of yet he hasn't been able to get approval from any insurance companies to use them. Also told me I wouldn't be an acceptable candidate since he would have to remove a lot of bone from lower part of C-5 to remove bone spurs from back of C-5.
MoSportsDad, I can highly recommend some sort of memory foam pillow. This was recommended to me by a physical therapist friend. We stopped at the mall when I was discharged from the hospital (not a good idea) and got a good quality. It has been a really good investment as it help with the alignment of my neck sleeping on my side or back.
My surgeon used the soft c-collar post-op, was told to use it while riding in car or walking where crowds were just in case....I didn't wear it at home at all. I went back to work after 4 weeks and have done very well I feel.
Hope you both continue to improve. Most of the post op aches and pains have gone now and I do pretty much anything I want.
Hey Poppa Thanks for posting. It's good to hear that your post op pains are mostly gone! It's good to see a success story! I think that sure helps others trying to decide.
**4 WEEK POST SURGERY UPDATE**

Just had my first follow up with the neurosurgeon since having the ACDF on C 5/6. He says the x-rays look great. He also checked strength in my right arm (bicep) that was poor before the surgery and he could not break my arm open like he could.

He has basically given me a greenlight to resume normal activities "within reason". I asked about working out and he said it was find, just nothing overhead like pull-downs. He stressed light weight and high reps. Other then that, I really have no restrictions. He just wants to see me in six months.

Yesterday was my first full day with no muscle relaxers or pain killers. I still have some soreness at the base of my neck and center of shoulders but the neurosurgeon said this was due to stretching me out during the surgery and that it should ease with time. It seems to be less everyday.

So all in all, a very good report. Interesting enough, I did ask him about the possibility of having to have future ACDF's on other levels as I had read nightmares about one fusion leading to many, etc. He told me that he does an average of 15 ACDF surgeries per month and has for the last 10 years. Out of all of those surgeries (1,800 or so), he has only had 5 people that had to come back for additonal surgery. So that was very encouraging.

Anyway, I will still update this thread on a monthly basis. I know it helps folks who are considering this type of surgery - or who are going through the first steps of recovery. So far I can say it has been a positive for me.
MoSportsDad, the soreness at the base of the neck is something that I wasn't well informed about prior to surgery. I was told afterwards about how they bend you backwards. Similar to being bent backwards over a 55 gallon drum to open up the disc spaces to give the surgeon better access. That soreness does go away, takes time but it gets much easier.
Thanks Poppa. Glad to hear you are doing well also.

Coincedently, my mother had purchased a memory foam "ergonomic" pillow for me the day before my surgery and it has been AWESOME!! I would have had a rough time sleeping in anything but the recliner without it. The extra support for the neck is crucial in my opinion. Anyone considering this surgery should purchase one. I'm trying to get my wife to start using one.

And no, I did not realize how much they "torque" you during surgery either. I wasn't even aware that I had been fit with a "halo" until post surgery when I felt the sores on my head. For those that are not informed, you are fit with a halo that allows them to stretch your neck for the surgery. It leaves some minor sores and scabbing on your scalp where they tightened it onto your head. Sounds scary but it's really no big deal.
I finally got a memory foam pillow too, and I haven't had an achy neck since. One of the best things I ever did. I got a memory foam topper for my bed also, and finally sleep through the night. Amazing.
I can't tell you how nice it is to come across a post that is so positive.
Its good for others to know they have a chance & we are all so different.
Have to keep in mind there are so many factor involved.
I wish you the best of luck, be careful & don't over do it. You seem to be doing so well its not worth risking trust me. God bless, Sammy

PS perhaps you could pop back on & update everyone. Nice for the members to read about successful surgeries. Never hurts to give others hope.
Yes it's good to hear your doing well & to continue posting I look forward to your update soon !
[QUOTE=mosportsdad;4305525]Hello everyone, this is my first post. Unfortunately I did not discover this board until about a week prior to my surgery but it was still invaluable. I am a 43 year old male.

My surgery was exactly a week ago (8/4). I had an ACDF performed on C-5/6. Woke up with neck pain about a year ago and it never really subsided. I had written it off as stress or poor posture but when it really acted up last spring I made an appointment with a neurosurgeon. I had noticed that my right thumb and pointing finger would have some numbness when the pain was at its worst. The neurosurgeon ordered an MRI which read as follows:

"There is a right paracentral disk extrusion that extends inferior to the disk interspace causing severe mass efffect in the right lateral recess region as well as moderate effect upon the right anterolateral cord. This is almost certainly compressing the right C6 nerve root. The neural foramina are still patent."

I do have degeneration in the discs above and below also but not as severe.

The NS recommended surgery right away with really no other options due to the spinal cord compression. We scheduled it that day - that gave me two weeks to think about it. The surgery was to be a fusion with donor bone and titanium plate.

I have to say I was pretty nervous about it. I considered a second opinion but chose to put my faith in my NS who I had been told by many people was the best in our area.

The surgery was relatively uneventful. Arrived at 7:30 and surgery was completed by 2 p.m. I believe the total surgery time was just over an hour. I was in recovery for a couple of hours due to sleep apnea. I had an appendectomy in January and this surgery seemed like a piece of cake compared to it. When I awoke in recovery, discomfort was minimal. The incision is about three inches from the center of my neck to the left side. My voice was very hoarse and sore but I had no problem eating shortly after surgery. I really didn't have much soreness in the neck while on pain pills.

My NS does not require a collar. He does not require them for any fusion with the titanium plate as he feels that the collar causes the neck muscles to become weak - then you are in more pain when you take it off.

I spent one night and was sent home the next morning. Riding in the car was not nearly as bad as I expected. I just held my head back tight against the headrest. Really no problem at all.

The worst part so far was sleeping the first few nights. It didn't seem that I could find a comfortable position that didn't torque my neck. I have to admit I was second guessing my NS's decision not to use a collar. But I struggled through a couple nights in the recliner and as of last night (night #7), I slept in my own bed the entire night with no problems. I do make sure my pillows are built up to a level that supports my neck with no kinks.

Numbness in my right thumb and finger are gone as far as I can tell. I have been on Percoset fairly heavy until yesterday. I began cutting down and today have only had two tablets this morning (had been taking 2 every four hours). My neck is sore at the base and have had a pain in my left shoulder but it seems to be going away with time. I have been walking every morning since coming home - about 2-3 miles a day. It actually feels good to get out and walk. Most of the pain I have comes from sitting around all day.

Anyway, sorry for the novel but just wanted to share my experience so far. I'm optimistic that the neck pain will diminish as that was my primary complaint but must admit I'm nervous after reading many accounts here and other places.

Will try to provide further updates on this post. Hope this helps someone.[/QUOTE]

i wanted you to know that this does help someone. i am scheduled for this very procedure in a month and am very nervous. thank you.





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