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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

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ACDF 5/6 recovering
May 22, 2011
I am new to the forums here. Prior to surgery I researched what a lot of you had to say about ACDF surgery. It was very helpful to hear of other's experiences when deciding whether or not to proceed with surgery. Well here goes, here is my story:

On October 2, 2010 I was in a pretty serious car accident. My mini van was t-boned by a truck in my driver's side door. Both car and truck were totalled. I am happy to be here with just an ACDF surgery, so I feel lucky.

Since the accident I started with the typical whiplash type symptoms which then progressed gradually over time to extensive weakness in my right arm and hand. The pain was tolerable, but the weakness was very prohibitive. I couldn't even blow dry my hair without feeling like I had done 100 push-ups with my right arm. (I am 40 years old and very active before the accident). Writing was getting harder and harder as well.

To make a long story short, I had ACDF surgery 5/6 on May 12. I am now 10 days post op.

I am doing fairly well. I stayed in the hospital for 1 day. I am not one to take pain meds, so I started on pain pills instead of Morphine on the day of surgery. Pain meds were my worst trouble...the nausea and woozie head feeling were bad. I gradually stopped taking them over the first few days. Now I am taking 1/2 a Lortab at bedtime or when I've done too much during the day. Does anyone know when Motrin is allowed after ACDF surgery? (I heard 6 months??)

The worst of the recovery right now is the lump in my throat feeling. Eating is fine, but it hurts a little to swallow past the lump in my throat. How long does the lump usuallly last???

My NS did not give me a neck brace and encouraged me not to use one if possible. He says he wants my neck muscles to remain strong. I rest a lot of the time with head support on a high back chair or couch. When I am up and moving around, my neck gets tired and sore. The area right under my chin feels tight, probably from the incision, but the incision itself is not painful at all. My NS used skin glue, so there aren't any stitches, staples or steristrips. It looks pretty good, from what I have seen, so I am happy with that.

My NS told me not to drive for 4 weeks. Any other advice on when others are able to drive?? I am not taking pain meds during the day, but certainly don't feel like driving yet. I think turning my head quickly would be difficult.

I know everyone is different, but any idea of when things will be mostly back to normal?? driving kids to activities, and feeling mostly normal??

I just had ACDF 5/6 on May 28 2011, at one of the best hospitals for neurogsurgery ....Ranked 3rd in usa, mass general. Saturday I had nasuea and vomiting from pain meds but they counter acted that with other meds. Don't remember much the first day. 2nd day up walking....not very well. Felt like darth vardar with the collar and the horse voice. Swallowing was and still is a little difficult. 2nd day my spasms came back for about 3 hours and the hospital took care of that pronto...iced my entire arm and spasm meds. I went home on the third day ...late afternoon..(.I asked to, could have gone home the next morning). That morning woke up feeling great great as could be.....walked around many times...ate well soft food instead of clear liquid. Walked out the hospital without a wheel chair.
It is now 2 weeks post op and still wearing the hard collar, all the time.even in the shower.... Seeing the neurosurgeon on Monday and I'm sure after xray..soft collar after see how well the fusion is taking place(donor bone..not graft). The only complaint is the pain in neck, shoulder, bicep is gone...but the numbness in thumb and pointer finger is more severe that prior to surgery. Probably from swelling from surgery. But compared to pain...I'll take numbness any day. I have weened myself off the pain meds except one at night down from 2 every 4 hrs the first week. Tylonol during day....Incision still be expected. I believe that I have one of the best doctors in the country and I am very happy with the results so far...only problem is the no driving for these past two weeks and no picking up anything over the weight of a gallon of milk. So I know everyone is different, but I feel that I have to listen to my doctor and my body and not push recovery..I have been dealing with the pain since Novermber 2010, so what's 4 to 6 weeks of discomfort.Thoughts on the family....think you are home...should be able to do everything normally...but take the brace off off the scare and reality comes back that mom needs to heal. Well, good luck to all out there. Just thought I would share my story and this is great compared to the narcotics that just don't fix nerve pain. Take care.

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