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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index

Hi all. I underwent an ACDF at C6-C7 on Wednesday, April 3rd. I'm writing this post to give a bright report for those of who may be considering the procedure to alleviate symptoms related to herniated cervical discs. After my own time reviewing posts prior to meeting with my neurosurgeon, I was terribly anxious and somewhat terrified to undergo the surgery. Most of what we read on here and other sites focus on the negative. I do understand that people posting on here are looking for guidance in dealing with what can be terribly painful issues, and those with success stories are off living their lives with great recoveries. So, my intention is to give some positive perspective for those who may be able to relate to my story. So, a little background:

I am a 36 year old female. I'm very active and compete in and coach CrossFit, which is a very highly intense mode of achieving fitness. I actually competed in the CrossFit Games last year on my affiliate team. Anyway, that being said, I injured myself in Sept of '12 and after some misdiagnosed issues of a pinched nerve and spondylosis, I finally got an MRI in Feb of this year. I was experiencing pretty extreme muscle weakness in my left arm, pain in my neck and arm, and radiculopathy throughout my left upper extremity. I took drugs, got adjusted by my chiro, and pursued conservative physical therapy. The pain in my neck and arm improved, but the weakness and numbness never got better. The MRI revealed a severely herniated disc at C6-C7, that had actually fragmented, with pieces putting pressure on my spinal column and nerve root leading out to my left arm. I have a herniation at C5-C6, but no symptoms related to it. I was referred to a NS and, after a couple of opinions, agreed to undergo surgery with a NS with a very solid reputation.

I was fit going into the surgery, but still worried about the outcome... When I woke up from surgery, the first thing I did was wiggle all of my fingers and toes. I had a bit of an issue during surgery that gave the surgical team a scare when my temp spiked near the end of surgery, but they were able to get that under control. For this reason, I woke up to a team in the recovery room checking my temp every few minutes and packing me with ice. They also had me eating ice chips right away to help with the temp. My throat was sore from the procedure, but nowhere near what I expected after reading posts on here. The ice helped a ton and I requested throat lozenges to help with some dry mouth. I had one dose of pain meds immediately upon waking and NO MORE since then! I was moved to my room and spent the night there. I was up to use the restroom about two hours after coming out of surgery. I was walking a lap around our floor about an hour later because I didn't want to have to wear the leg pump tights and that was the only way I could get out of them! :)

I was visited by my NS the next morning and when he checked my strength, he stated I had already regained a great deal back to my left arm and my numbness was completely gone. I still had not had anymore pain meds. Don't get me wrong, I was in some discomfort, but it wasn't so much pain as it was soreness. I could handle the soreness, but not the loopiness the pain meds made me feel. I went home that day and finally put a soft collar on for the car ride home. I had been instructed to wear it only if my neck needed a break. My family took me to fill my prescription and I headed home to relax. I was instructed to move my neck as little as possible and not lift more than ten lbs, but I was finding this to be tough. I honestly felt very little restriction in my neck! I made myself wear my soft collar to keep myself from moving too much.

Jump ahead three days and I'm now four days post-op. I made breakfast for the family this morning and helped clean yesterday. I attended a function at my gym yesterday and have been walking a good deal each day. I was tired yesterday, but again, I've been pretty active. I've been able to sleep in my bed comfortably. I use my cervical support pillow and have made it through the night every night. Last night was my best night of sleep. It's taking some getting used to staying on my back as I sleep. I've taken some regular Tylenol for some muscular soreness between my shoulder blades, along with a bunch of vitamins like calcium, vitamin D, B, magnesium, and fish oil, but that is all. I have permission to start no impact cardio tomorrow, so I'll be on an elliptical, stationary bike, and stair climber, along with some leg exercises, but that is it until my follow up on the 15th. I'll probably go back to work following my follow up. I will be released to more physical activity as my NS sees fit.

I feel very fortunate to have such a wonderful outcome, thus far. I know it's important to respect the healing process by sticking to what my NS says I am allowed to do and NOT overdoing it. I hope the healing process continues to be so smooth! I also hope this helps any of you who may be in similar situations as am I. I know it's not always possible, but being in the best possible health going into this surgery can significantly improve the outcome, along with finding a stellar NS.

Good luck to all who are considering or have undergone this procedure!

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