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Anterior Cervical Disectomy W/Fusion Recovery
I have never posted anything to a forum, but I have to agree with Ronin, there must be success stories out there. My doctor told me that I needed anterior cervical discestomy w/fusion C5-C7. I reseached the internet and decided I should go for the surgery. If I read these forums before surgery, I would have chickened out. I was scared because my brother-in-law had the surgery three years ago which resulted in his being confined to a wheelchair. After three years he is still undergoing surgery. I had a right to be scared but I didn't want to lose the use of my right arm. My surgery was October 17, 2006. On October 19th I went home. I am recovering and except for taking 2 hydrocodone and the scar on my neck, you can not tell that I had surgery. By the 20th of Oct. I was helping my wife with dishes, I drove my pick-up, and feel very well. Today is October 30th and I was raking leaves. I still take it easy, but I was blessed by having an excellent doctor. Since the surgery I don't have the daily headaches, my arm pain comes and goes but is not as bad as before the surgery. Bottom line is that I feel my surgery was very successful and recovery will be quick. I know there are others out there that have had success. Yes it was scary deciding on the surgery, but I'm glad I did.
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This might be long.....My story begins about 12 years ago.  I woke up one Saturday morning and couldn't get out of bed.  When I tried, it felt like someone was stabbing me in the neck with a large knife.  It took me about 1/2 an hour to get out of bed.  I figured I just pinched a nerve very badly.  After suffering for 3 weeks, I finally went to see my doctor (who yelled at me for waiting so long) and after an MRI, it was found that I had a herniated disk, C5-C6.  By the time I went to see a Neurosurgeon, he told me I had basically healed myself (pain wasn't so bad anymore).

The next few years were on and off pain management/physical therapy as I was not willing to have surgery unless it was absolutely necessary.  At this time, the pain in my neck and shoulders/upper back was manageable and I was not having any tingling/numbness down my arm.  Then it May 2010, it all started to change.  I started to have IMMENSE pain down my left arm with numbness and tingling down to my fingertips, and I tried to give it some time to go away, but there was no way I was going to suffer like that!  Went to see my Neurosurgeon (great guy) and after weighing my options, was hoping to have a disk replacement.  After fighting with my insurance company (they wouldn't cover the disk replacement, but would cover the spinal fusion, which I didn't want), I decided to go ahead and have the diskectomy and fusion.  I couldn't wait anymore. That occurred on July 20, 2010.

I have to be honest here. Right after surgery, it was awful.  Even though they went through the front of my neck, the BACK of my neck hurt like a truck was dropped on it.  I sat up most of the night due to the pain, but eventually was able to fall asleep sitting up.  Don't ever try to be tough and refuse pain meds like I did, BIG MISTAKE.  I ended up having to have a shot of morphine in the morning to take the edge off (nurse saw I was suffering and asked the doc for it), then started to take the meds like a good girl.  I left the hospital the next afternoon, less than 24 hours after the surgery.  My wonderful fiance spent the night in the hospital with me and never left my side.  I highly recommend having someone with you overnight if at all possible.  Makes a big difference!

After about a week, it felt less and less like a truck hit me in the neck, but more like a minivan, then a smart car.  I relied on Vicodin for the next 4-5 weeks (mostly so I could sleep), had no type of neck collar (docs said the titanium plate and screws were my "cast") and walked around as much as I could to get myself up and about sooner.  

I was back at work after 7 weeks and for the first time in 12 years, no neck/shoulder and upper back pain.  Any residual pain was just from the healing process.  It is now 7 months later and although the pain in my arm and the tingling went away quickly after surgery, the numbness in my index finger and thumb remain.  Doc said this will take longer for the feeling to come back.  Even if it doesn't, I'm ok with that.  I can still function without it and I have no pain.  The scar on my neck is barely visible (they cut it into one of the natural creases in my neck; I'm 47, I have creases!), and although I do feel sometimes like I have something in my throat, I feel that this was a complete success and would do it again in a heartbeat.  Docs said the only thing I can't do now is gymnastics.  No problem there!

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I have whiplash injuries sustained in a car accident 12 years ago. I also have lower back injuries from a fell 4 years before that. For the past 16 years till present I have been having regular massage therapy, physiotherapy and tried many alternate medicines and conservative treatments such as acupuncture, tunai (Chinese traditional massage and chiropractics), yoga etc. I also learnt Pilates, Alexandra technique, TaiChi etc. I have tried many different treatments and pain managements methods including neural myotomy on my lower back. Now my lower back pains are manageable.

However my cervical injuries seem to have got worst over the years. My radiculopathy conditions are getting worst despite my regular massage and physiotherapy. Recent MRI shown I have severe right foraminal stenosis at c6/7 and c5/6 left sided disc protrusion flattening the left anterior theca.

Two Neurosurgeons have advised ACDF as soon as possible to avoid permanent nerve damage. I was introduced to 3 different techniques, 1.ACDF with P.E.E.K and autograft; 2. ACDF with Zimmer Trabecular metal (TM) and tricalcium phosphate; 3. Artificial disc replacement.

I knew that PEEK with own bone graft is closest to the golden technique for these condition but I am hesitating because of my lower back conditions and the possible donor site complications. So I am considering ACDF with trabecular metal or artificial cervical disc replacement.

However there were reports about trabecular metal(TM) has slightly lower fusion rate and might affect future MRI reporting. And artificial disc replacement history is still too young to shown all its benefits or any long term outcome or complications.

After reading the following article : http://www.springerlink.com/content/j348q317w3427215/fulltext.html
I am considering opting for ACDF with TM. I am keen to hear from anyone who had similar surgery method. Any advice?
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I am 34 years old and 10 days ago had my C5 to C6 and C6 to C7  fused. I went to Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, CA and had a top neurosurgeon, Christopher Uchiyama, MD/PhD. Great care was taken to make the surgery specific for my needs and I never felt any pain in my neck post-op. Only a moderate pain in my hip from the bone graft. So far I am recovery quickly and after speaking with many other spinal surgery patients, I made the right decision. I was told not to do the surgery by people whom never had spinal fusion and I was told TO do the surgery by people whom have had a similar surgery. I was off pain medication within the first week and my neck has very acceptable mobility side to side and very little limited mobility up and down. I was experiencing severe nerve pain along my left upper back and down through my left arm. The nerve pain was immediately gone post-surgery and is still gone. Only a diminished amount of numbness remains in my left index finger which is supposed to slowly go away.
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I had an Anterior cervical fusion C5-6-7 last monday, feb 28, 2011.  Was on the OR table to be preped at 1230pm,, got to my hospital room at 5:30pm.  I took one percocet prior to discharge at 8pm "just in case" the bumpy roads hurt.  By tuesday afternoon I was bored to tears.  My only issue with the procedure is i still have a lot of esophageal spasms.  The numbness and pain in my neck and left arm were gone immeadiatly.  I like to think I'm not the exception to the rule, but Dr. Ryken in Waterloo is my new Hero!!
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I'm scheduled for C5C6 disk fusion surgery on Friday.  My left arm feels like i've stuck my fingers in a light socket.  they've been that way for awhile.  It will be nice to have them back again.  I'm hoping the surgery goes well.  they are keeping me overnight on friday.
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Hi Debbie,
How are you recovering from your disk fusion surgery last Friday? Hope everything went well for you. Which procedure did you actually had?
I have just booked my ACDF surgery date for mid next month. I will have ACDF with Zimmer TM100 cage and trinia plate. I was told I will be in intensive care unit for the first 12 hours post-op. And I will be able to go back to work after 6 weeks post-op.
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I'm glad to see all the comments about how Anterior Cervical Disectomy w/Fusion help a lot of people out. I had an MRI done and was shown I had an herniated disk compressing my nerve and needed to have the surgery. They have other methods but I realize and like my doc said its up to me but my right arm is so weak I can't push a door open hardly. So It help a lot reading up on this type of surgery and hearing about how it help a lot of people, also seeing how they performed the surgery on youtube(yes,they have a video on a ACDC w/F surgery on youtube). Now I'm not so nervous, still worried because it's still surgery on my neck but thank's to people who make comments like this IT HELPS. So once they get my papers together and my blood work and everything done,I'm going for it.    
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I had surgery to C-6 and C-7 on July 8, 2011 with fusion with bone grafts.  Had a two day stay in the hospital.  Recovery was pretty difficult for the first week with a lot of throat pain and and a hard time getting use to wearing the collar.

This is my third week out and had a dr.'s appt tomorrow for my post-op and x-ray and I am considering going back to work - I am wondering if I am rushing it.  The surgery was definitely the best thing I could have done because I suffered with headaches and numbness in my left arm for several years and I feel that this surgery has been successful  I know I had one of the best surgeons in my area.
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I had ACDF C2-C4 on June 21, 2011. I stayed in the Hospital for about 36 hours. I am 55 years old and was told that recovery would take about 3 weeks and could return to work then on light duty. Because of my line of work, Law Enforcement, the light duty was not an option and was told 6 weeks. The hard collar came off after the 3 weeks and the I was in a soft collar for another 3 weeks. Iam 7 weeks post op now and the soft collar was taken off last friday.

However, Iam still having pain in my hip at the bone graft site. I was told to rest the hip and stay off work until 8 weeks post op. At this point I dont know when to return to work as it is very physically demanding.

Has anyone gone thru the hip pain issue and can make any suggestions as to what I can do to better it. Thanks.
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How you doing?
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I'm a 35 man fron Spain and I have exactly the same surgery than you except for the hip graft: C2 C4 anterior cervical fusion. If you want we can share experiencies.
Hope you the best, I'm stil fighting.
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10 months post surgery, anterior 3 allograph fusion cervical with plate and screws.  No pain before surgery, just some tingling.  Spinal cord compression down to 6mm, so it was surgery or pants pooping in my future.  Very little apprehension about the surgery, as the same department did my husbands posterior and anterior (they flip them during the surgery) the prior year.  Had to delay 30 days due to a cold sore breakout. BTW, dentists recommend antibiotic pre-medicating even for cleanings for 1-2 years when you are making bone (fusing).  Hadn't seen this mentioned in this forum.

Surgery was no biggie.  Woke up puffy and swallowing was challenging for a few days probably due to the typical throat swelling from the breathing tube during surgery...and no, you are asleep when it goes in and out.  Made sure of that.

Wore a hard collar for 3 months, 24/7.  Even showering.  Just switched out the pads after the shower got them wet.  Sleeping with the collar was wonderful, no pain.  I have bad claustrophobia, so I was concerned I'd freak with the collar.  I think if I got hot that would have happened, but it was November in the midwest, so no issues. Exercised outside, not in the gym to stay cool through the winter.  Had to cut back on the wine, tho, because the alcohol flush made me on edge.  No driving as the driver for 4 months, as passenger not until after the first appointment x-ray to see how the fusion was going.

At 7 days post surgery I began walking, 2 miles a day for the next 7 months.  I read it would help fusion, and indeed all 3 inserts fused straight before I took off the hard collar.  I do sense some range of motion limitations, I was told I'd lose 25% up/down and 50% side to side.  The neck lets you know when you're pushing too far!

Did no pain meds when home after 3 days in the hospital, and none since.  No headaches, no limb pain.  Did get the shoulder blade ache for a while, but it went away.  There are certain cocked head positions that are a no-go, and flicking hair out of your face is a no-no (again, the neck speaks...)

My concern was getting back to tennis, my favorite activity.  Surgeon said that new neck doesn't like impact or jolting, so this week (10 months out) I boldly returned to a 2 hour tennis drill and although I took it easy, I was able to accelerate, and keep my feet moving, serve and have good net reflexes.  I fear falling, but I'm 55, so that wouldn't be good without "old person's neck" either.

Moral of the story:  Chose a top surgeon (I drove 2 hours to find mine) and allow him/her to manage your recovery conservatively if that's their choice.  Keep active early, as allowed to help your body heal.  Hope you don't bang your head or crash your car but enjoy your life, if it's your time, it's your time.  Stay positive.

For those who want to know, doc stats: university teaching hospital, orthopedic-neurosurgery department, spine surgery specialist, researcher with a decade of surgical experience and no-sugar coating personality.  

Here's hoping this repair is the last, but if there's another, let's hope he's still around.
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I recently underwent the surgery of C5-C6 on 8/23/11. It was not a decision my wife and I made lightly. The surgery went well, I am in severer pain and was givin morphine injunctions on Regular intervals over ther first three days. Then cut back to two hydrocodone  and valume for muscle spasams to this day. The numbness in my hands has subsided. However I an getting unbelievable pain running down my back and in to my legs.at times strong enough to have me in tears and unable to move. Mined you I am a 6'4" 230 lbs guy and it takes alot to put me down. I am scared this may result in an even worse condition and keep me from supporting my family.
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I had my c5-c7 surgery 4 weeks ago tommorrow. Went very well. I have not had any head aches for 27 days. I still have to take pain meds for pain. Only issues I am having these days are with my right arm from the fore muscle to above the wrist is killing me no strength at all. Does anyone know if this is normal after this surgery or is it another issue? I am a 45 year old.
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I have major C5/6 issues.  First surgical consult with a neurosurgeon is on Halloween.  My physiatrist whom I've been going to for 3 years says most likely we are looking at an ACDF.  This forum has been very helpful to me.

We tried many more conservative treatments.  Cervical epidurals, foraminal route blocks, trigger point injections, botox.  I'm taking more meds than I'd like to, but it keeps me going to work.  I'm 48 with two girls, 8 and 11.  My wife works, too, so we're always busy.  At this point, I can't wait until surgery - my pain levels have increased in the past few months.

My main fear, besides the unlikely ones like paralysis, are that it won't fix my problems.  Lots of disc pain at C5/6 as well as pain in the neck, sub occipital headaches (helped a lot with Botox), and really bad pain in my shoulders.  My left arm is numb alot and both my right and left index fingers and thumbs are always numb.  Mainly, I'm sick of the constant meds, constant pain, and that I'm barely making it through the work week and have nothing left when I get home.  I just ice and go to bed.  I used to volunteer as an EMT, and I hope to get back to that.
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I have had my neck fused, c6-7 around 12 years ago and all went very well.  Great doctor!!  After moving to another state and having so many extreme head aches, I found I had degenerative arthritis and had to have my neck fused again. In March of 2009 I needed another surgery. Now I am literally screwed from C3-7.  After having and still having horrible head aches and neck pain radiating down both arms with numbness, I insisted on another MRI.  The findings were that a 2 inch screw out of the 9 just put in my neck, was put through a nerve.  Was taken back to surgery the next day, on a Saturday, by the leading surgeron to try to repair what was done my my surgeron.  Screw moved but now  I have been on neurontin ever since and pain pills just to survive.  So please check with all doctors to get the right one or you to can suffer for the rest of your life for something that could have been prevented.
irhog
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I am 26 years old and i had this surgery done on C-4 C-5. i am having quite a bit of pain in my shoulders and in my throat. its even hard to swallow noodles. anyway i was wanting to know how long till the sore throat goes away. its making me not want to eat. i have lost 10 lbs in 4 days. any suggestions would be great. thanks everyone
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I had c6-c7 fusion 11/3/11.  Today is 11/4/11 and no disc pain.  Woke up pain free.

DDD with bad rupture, that happened golfing a month ago, that was totally pinching nurve causing extreme arm, armpit, whole arm and all finger pain. Major weakness in Triceps muscle.  Woke up every morning for past two weeks with all muscles in full spasm and in extreme pain.  Tried the epidural, didnt work.  My neurolgist rushed the surgery and everything is great.  Of course I just woke up 24 hours ago from surgery.  At home now with very minimal soreness.

Spine Team Texas in Southlake.  Professionals.
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had my ACDF done October 26th 2011... all is going well thus farl.  My only problem i have really had was running out of meds and that caused grief in the first week.  I also have a 21mth old that i have no help with during the day time....so we know what is happening there.  dumb i know.  they also brought me a necklace that basically sends radiowaves (electromagnetic) kind of like the microwave w/o the heat to help the fusing of the bones.  I had a fantastic Doc  Dr. MacCree, i'd let him do it again if had to.. anyway i hope my healing time goes w/o problems other than the child i have to deal with.  Trust your gutt on the whether you should or not have the surgery, but if you don't have a dr that makes you feel good about it, don't go thru it.. until you find that Doctor... hang in there everyone!
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I had C5-C7 Fused 3 weeks ago at Mt. Sinai in New York.  I was seriously considering disc replacement but being 47 years old I didn't want the suckers to pop out in the next 40 years or wear out.  The surgery was the a piece of cake.  I was discharge the next day and felt pretty good right away.  My right arm pain, finger numbness, and burning pain on upper right back was instantly gone.  I wore a soft collar for 2 weeks.  Now I only have to wear it in the car.  I find when I sit in front of the computer for more than 30 minutes I get a burning pain on my left upper back.  This is something new.  Also my neck often gets stiff and sore.  It seems to be getting better.  I am much better than I was pre-surgery and I am hoping that I will make a full recovery.  Dr. said I will start PT in 6 weeks after surgery.  I will never know if I made the right decision on the fusion, but at this time I am staying optimistic.
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How did it work out?
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Hello, I am 44 year old male. About 5 months ago I injured my back and it ended up a being a bulging disk.I had radiating pain in my right arm and muscle atrofie in my right chest muscle and right upper arm.  I tried rehab and shots and neither worked.  I had c6-c7 fused on this past Friday Dec 2, 2011. My surgery was at 8:30 in the morning. I woke up in recovery around 11:30am. I was moved to a room and I could tell there was no more pain in my right arm. I spent the night and was released on Saturday. On Saturday I was still pretty sleepy so I just laid around. I was told to take it easy and not lift any thing heaver than a gallon of milk. Saturday afternoon I started taking a percocet every 4 hrs for pain. I slept on the couch so I could propt myself up. Laying flat was not happening. I took two percocets before going to bed and I slept all night. Today Sunday Dec 4th I have been up and about. I went grocery shopping with the wife. I am stiff and very soar but its not to bad. I helped decorate the Christmas tree and since the bulds only weight a few ounces I got a little movement in. the surgery was a complete sucess. I no longer have any pain or numbness in my right arm. I am about to go to bed and again sleep on the couch to propt up. I am very happy with the out come and I am very surprised I am doing so well. Tommorrow I plan on just relaxing and watching TV. I don't want to push it. My surgeon was DR. Parks with Tallahassee Ortho Pedic Clinic. He did a great job and I look forward to my complete recovery.

I also need to mention my throat is very soar and when I cough it hurts but this is normal.
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Hello, I am 44 year old male. About 5 months ago I injured my back and it ended up a being a bulging disk.I had radiating pain in my right arm and muscle atrofie in my right chest muscle and right upper arm.  I tried rehab and shots and neither worked.  I had c6-c7 fused on this past Friday Dec 2, 2011. My surgery was at 8:30 in the morning. I woke up in recovery around 11:30am. I was moved to a room and I could tell there was no more pain in my right arm. I spent the night and was released on Saturday. On Saturday I was still pretty sleepy so I just laid around. I was told to take it easy and not lift any thing heaver than a gallon of milk. Saturday afternoon I started taking a percocet every 4 hrs for pain. I slept on the couch so I could propt myself up. Laying flat was not happening. I took two percocets before going to bed and I slept all night. Today Sunday Dec 4th I have been up and about. I went grocery shopping with the wife. I am stiff and very soar but its not to bad. I helped decorate the Christmas tree and since the bulds only weight a few ounces I got a little movement in. the surgery was a complete sucess. I no longer have any pain or numbness in my right arm. I am about to go to bed and again sleep on the couch to propt up. I am very happy with the out come and I am very surprised I am doing so well. Tommorrow I plan on just relaxing and watching TV. I don't want to push it. My surgeon was DR. Parks with Tallahassee Ortho Pedic Clinic. He did a great job and I look forward to my complete recovery.

I also need to mention my throat is very soar and when I cough it hurts but this is normal.
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Yes I have clonus in both my ankles and trouble walking. I also have pain throughout my neck and right arm. My problem area is c4-5 and getting fused on Jan 19. This surgery is very common and I am not in the least bit worried. I wish you well. Go in with a positive attitude and you'll likely get the desired outcome.
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7 weeks post op today! Surgery was successful. I had ACDF 3 levels, C4-C5, C5-C6, C6-C7 (titanium plate) with a bone graft (iliac crest) I woke up in a (hard) cervical collar, and I have been instructed to wear it always...bed and shower I only take it off to change the pads. It will be on for a minimum of 3 months. I can see by reading some of the posts that it's different depending on the doctor and/or the country you live in. The scar on my neck is very thin, and about 3 inches long. I figure it will one day disappear into wrinkles, lol (I am 42). I don't wear a bikini, so I don't really care about the one on my hip, lol. I have had no neck pain. The hip is a different story. It was painful for the first few days, and then I walked with one crutch for close to 2 weeks to keep from baring weight on it. I have an extremely high threshold for pain, so when I say it hurt...it hurt! I still didn't take any meds for long. I was in hospital for 2 days, and took what they gave me, however I was removed from the dripped after 24 hours because I barely used it, so I received oral meds. I took Tylenol 3's for 2 days after I got home (twice a day) and then I stopped. All shoulder and back pain is gone. Legs are no longer weak, and I can stand on my toes again (yipeeeeee). The only thing is that I still have some burning across the top of my right thumb, and there is still numbness in my hands. I was told that the surgery may or may not (50/50) treat the symptoms that I already had. The purpose of the surgery was to prevent further damage, that would definitely one day result in paralysis from the neck down. Though this was a potential risk in the surgery as well...I took that chance. Maybe vs definitely = No Brainer! Still, it was scary...but, with a positive attitude, I went for it, and I am grateful. I also believe that my hands will recover as well :-) Best wishes to anyone who is facing this surgery. Remember to stay positive. Trust that you will be o.k!
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Thank you, keep positive. You have definately helped me prepare...
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I'm glad :-)

Stay positive...keep the faith!
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Am a 47 year-old male and am scheduled for a plate and bone graft fusion of C6-C7 in one week.  Pain and weakness just started three weeks ago while at work.  For over a year had intermittent pain when lifting over my head, would cause muscle spasms in my upper back and at times shoulder pain.  I now have no strength in my right pec or triceps.  Can't wait to be "fixed".  Having outpatient surgery, really refuse to stay in  a hospital unless its the morgue.  Dr is a neurosurgeon and have a 20# lifting restriction for 8 weeks at which time I should be able to go back unrestricted to work.  Am a nurse and won't be pulling many 500# patients up for a while.
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Good luck!
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Who was your surgeon? I hear some good results but no one posts a name.
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I used Dr. Tanvir Choudhri at Mt. Sinai in New York.  He is top notch.
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My mother is 77 with congestive heart failure and is in desperate need of this Anterior Cervical surgery. We are wondering about who and where is the best surgeon for this operation. My mother was told she has severe critical cervical stenosis of the neck. What are the chances, percent of something going wrong? She needs to have her spinal canal widened. The bones are pressing very hard on her spine. I was told there was only a tiny opening ? 4 millimeters?  We are in upstate New York.
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is anyone still posting on here?
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I was confused when Dr.'s were referring to neck pain when most of my pain was the shoulder blade, pain down the outer left arm, elbow and numbness in the baby and ring finger. That was 3 years ago when I ended up in emergency thinking I was having a heart attach or stroke. Since then there has been Lyrica, Ultrium, patches, gabapentin, chlorzoxazone and little bit of therapy. For two and one half years I did fine and didn't have to take meds. Then it came back with neck pain, again not able to move my left arm. Can't wait to get home and prop myself up like a manniken, back on pills and even reached up and found some steroids and started taking those. I'm not overdosing, but I have increased my dosage of meds. Got an MRI and it said "It demonstrated degenerative disc disease. There was a right-sided posterolateral disc herniation at C45 and at C67. There was a broad disc herniation at C56. I've made a decision based on what I have read here to go for it. Seems people have had better results with bone grafts (even if the hip is sore). Seems that not many people have as many disc messed up as me. I was concerned about range of motion and not having the help post-surgery more than anything else. Got an appointment Wednesday and will keep you posted on everything. I am going to Dr. Claybrooks in Southfield, Michigan and may get an second opinion somewhere else. (maybe University of Michigan) Just to have an option of Doctors. I already know its not going to get better. Take care everybody!
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I am a 55 yr old female clinical counselor.  I have fibromyalgia and before my accident was on anti-inflammatory meds, weekly acupuncture and massage therapy.  Dec 11 2012 I had my ACDF C5-7 done by a neurosurgeon.  Pain in shoulder blade and right arm was gone right out of surgery.  Back to work part-time in 3 weeks.  Driving to work.  Vocal chords would swell if talking too much so I had to loosen the cervical collar.  The worse part of the whole ordeal is wearing the hard cervical collar 24/7 except showering.  I have to sleep on my back which I can't stand.  Resistance is low, learned to pace myself.  The more fatigued I get the more muscle cramping I get-which I attribute to no anti-infammatory for 6 months and no acupuncture or massage therapy until collar comes off.  I was informed of all risks and told when pain was severe enough I would let the doc know.  By accident being caught between 2 doors broke off a piece of the disk onto the nerve root causing instantaneous searing pain.  I highly recommend the acupuncture & massage therapy.
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hello, im new to this site, i just had anterior disectomy fusion c5/c6 and spinal decompression, i had a contusion to my spine as well and was suffering from myelopathy, i am i fireman and had a bad fall at work, was having weakness in all extremities and numbness and tingly on my whole left side, weakness got real bad weak leading up to surgery, my Dr rushed my surgery within a week of seeing my MRI which i am grateful for. i just wanna say im 8 days post surgery and i feel much better already, my strength feels stronger everyday and my balance when i walk is also getting much better, i cant wait till i can get this collar off and start PT but do not want to rush the recovery process. i am in high hope to return to work and be as close to 100% as possible. my only complaint i have at this time and i know it is still early post operation but i still have numbness to my left hand which i can live with and a tingly sensation to my left thigh that i am a bit worried about, i just hope it is not due to the cord bruise and will not cause weakness so hopefully over time that will resolve as well also from the incision to my jaw line is still numb. so far i am very happy with the surgery dont have pain in my shoulders or arms anymore but im still on pain meds which im taking less eachday, as long as that sensation goes away in my left leg and does not cause weakness i will consider this a full 100% recovery and thats with a spinal cord injury and having myelopathy which most people fortunately dont experience. so lets all stay positive and take one day at a time, any advice from anyone with more experience would greatly be appreciated thank you and god bless
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I am afraid that I may be looking at my 6th c-spine surgery sometime soon, and am seeking opinions on whether or not I'm right.  Brief history - 2007 - hemilaminotomy, c4-5 - failed, followed by 2 level acdf, c4-5-6-7. .  Continued pain followed by another hemilaminotomy c3-4 in 2009.   Continued pain - acdf c3-4 in early 2010 - false union of joint - followed by posterior cabling of c3-4 and repositioning of plate.  I wore a hard collar and a bone stimulator for 3 months post-op.  So, I'm fused C3-C7 (I think - it's easy to lose track).

Reasonable recovery following all this.  Still on methadone 30mg/daily, diazapam for muscle spasms and vicodin 500 for breakthrough pain.  We went through financial crises in 2010 (foreclosure - mostly due to medical bills).  Partner lost job in 2012, and haven't had insurance since then.  Partner's working again, but we still don't have benefits - I'm close to court hearing for SSI appeal.  I found a doc willing to prescribe my pain meds, but for financial reasons, haven't had my spine evaluated since 2011.  I have fairly continuous mild to moderate L neck, shoulder and arm pain - parasthesias in L arm and hand. Parasthesias include numbness in number 4 and 5 fingers on L hand.  Can't sleep over 3-4 hours at a time because of pain and numbness.  Wake up with hands numb all the time  I've got loss of fine motor control in L hand and moderate loss of strength

We've had to move a couple of times, and I've had to do some pretty heavy lifting.  I think I may have "screwed the pooch" with my neck.  I'm having increased neck and shoulder pain - increased posterior headaches.  Weird pain that I had with the last false union - pain and pressure at the back of my tongue and throat, hard to describe - like pain in the middle of your skull - neuro said before that was indicative of movement at the fusion site.  That pain did appear after the cabling and re-positioning of the plate.  I'm also wondering if I might have busted a cable or a screw.

So - has anyone gone through something like this?  Does it sound like the last fusion re-failed?  
I can't have surgery anytime soon - no insurance.  My plan is to ask my internist to order flexion/extension c-spine x-rays and have a radiologist compare them to the last ones.  I may just have to put up with the increased pain for awhile, or at least till we get insurance again.  The only positive is that this may help cinch disability - I swear it's the only thing I've gone through in my life where I would have to say "Yay!  I'm worse!"  Again, I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts or advice.  Thanks, Beth
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I had an anterior cervical disc. with fusion ten weeks ago.  This was due to a degenerative disk disease, not an accident.  I have been careful.  Doing what I am and am not suppose to be doing but yesterday I was at work and was trying to push the lock down to clamp it on a Sentry lock box.  It would not shut.  Too much junk in it.  I pushed to hard because I had to get it locked.  I felt a pain in the back of my neck on the right side like somebody stabbed me.  Since then my neck has hurt.  Not really bad but enough that it bothers me.  Do you think it will pass or did I do something terribly wrong.  
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I'm a 46 year old male that woke up to numbing pain (cervical radiculopathy) on right hand/arm about 3 months ago.  This was due to a herniated disc at C 6-7 compressing on nerves.  I was mainly suffering from numbing/tingling in right hand along with muscle weakness.  Had a few epidural steroid injections which helped the pain but not the numbness or weakness.  On 6/5 I had an artificial disc replacement (Synthes ProDisc-C) due to concern of permanent nerve damage and loss of right arm function, I'm right handed and extremely active.  I'm 3 weeks post-op and still have numbness in right hand, which I was told I'm having a significant inflammatory response.  Also, still don't have much of a voice and wondering when I need to be concerned.  As a sales guy I need to be able to communicate effectively.  Currently on short term disability and a bit concerned.  I know voice/swallowing issues are a surgical risk and everyone's recovery is different but wanted to know if anyone has experienced similar a road to recovery?  Thanks for the kind consideration!
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Hi Beth, I have been in twice as much pain since my surgery than I was before the surgery.  I was expecting it to be the other way around.  After 3 1/2 months post-op, I talked to my surgeon.  In looking at the x-rays, he says everything is looking good after his six week xray check.  I asked him why I am in so much pain, he shrugs his shoulders and says I don't know.  He does not believe in any kind of narcotic pain medication other than NSAIDS and tylenol but I am very upset because I am in so much pain and cannot function without the meds.  I have gone back to my original pain management specialist for the pain medication and he seems to be okay with me taking them, so that Ic an function in day to day life. Even though the narcotic pain meds help, it is not a resolution.  The pain is much less intense when taking them but still always there. I also took the advice of the surgeon and started PT a week ago.  I have been to two appointments and the pain is even more excruciating.  I know this is part of it in getting better (at least I think that is what is suppose to be happening) but I cannot sleep in my bed.  I sleep in a recliner because it is more comfortable and I awaken much more often when I am sleeping in bed tossing and turning.  I am 54 years old and cannot retire.  My husband relies on me for our insurance and income. I teach Pre-K so always on my feet and moving.  I have always loved my job but have been out on medical leave and then the summer since then.  I only have about three more weeks before school starts.  I am afraid to go back.  I don't know if I am ready for this.  I have always been a "be all you can be" kind of person (from being in the Army reserve), but since the surgery, I have never been the same person, with this nagging neck and shoulder pain with numbness, tingling, and upper body weakness.  I worry everyday that I can't be the person I was before.  I feel like someone stuck in a body that doesn't belong to me and I don't know what to do to resolve it and get back to the person I once was.  Any insight to that?  I feel a little better reading these posts and knowing I am not alone.  
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Hi Douglas, I am 4 months post op and still having a tremendous amount of pain under the colar bone, shoulder pain, numbness in my right thumb and tingling in my pointer and middle finger on the right hand.  I am quite concerned.  I have swelling under the colar bone on the left side very often.  Some kind of inflammation but don't know what it is or what is causing it.  The surgeon sent me to PT after three months, two times a week for eight weeks.  He says he doesn't know why I am having pain, and shrugs it off.  This makes me feel angry with him when I think about it and irritable on a daily basis because I feel like a person who is in the wrong body.  I have always been rather physical and a busy person and now I am lucky to make it through a day without resting.  I hope your surgery gets better Douglas.  I am wishing you luck and please keep me posted.  It interests me to know how things are going as time passes, and I will keep up with you on what is happening with me, as well.  
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The surgeons always say they don't know what's causing your pain, and maybe they don't. But the fact of the matter is that many people have severe pain after these procedures, so don't let them make you feel like you're the only one. My pain was much worse afterwards.

It can take a long time to recover from a ACDF my 1st took about 8 months and I was by no means back to normal.

Try to hang in there, need to chat, you can find me on the Back and Neck Forum.

Take Care
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Hey Kalvin, Thank you for your reply.  You know, I started researching my symptoms since my surgery and I found something that sounds exactly what I am feeling right down to the very last symptom.    
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
• Neurogenic (neurological) thoracic outlet syndrome. This form of thoracic outlet syndrome is characterized by compression of the brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that come from your spinal cord and control muscle movements and sensation in your shoulder, arm and hand. In the majority of thoracic outlet syndrome cases, the symptoms are neurogenic.
Thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms can vary, depending on which structures are compressed. When nerves are compressed, signs and symptoms of neurological thoracic outlet syndrome often include:
• Wasting in the fleshy base of your thumb (Gilliatt-Sumner hand)
• Numbness or tingling in your fingers
• Pain in your shoulder and neck
• Ache in your arm or hand
• Weakening grip
I have complained about my right thumb to the surgeon ever since the surgery.  I am unable to grip anything in my right hand with that thumb.  My fingers tingle and oh, the pain across and under the collar bone.  Sometimes worse than other times but always constant. I don't know what can be done about it, and I know I shouldn't self diagnose; but it makes sense to me and since the surgeon doesn't want to admit something is wrong, I find myself searching for an answer elsewhere.  From what I can see online it is called neuro TOE.  Have you heard of this?
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I did a lot of research after surgery myself, its only normal when no one really has any answers for you and you feel like your not progressing like you should.

In my experience surgeons tend to look at things a certain way. You identify the problem or defect, and you correct it. Theoretically, everything should work out great. Given that kind of mindset, one can understand why they say things to post-op patients like” I don’t know why you’re having pain” or “sorry there’s nothing else I can do for you”. In their mind, they’ve done all they can do. End of story.  I praise the Doctor that has the decency to tell you that your operation might not take all your pain away. At least that way we would have such high expectations. Sorry for the rant.


Yes, I’ve heard of TOS. It is a syndrome, but my understanding is that it can be diagnosed. What Cervical level did you have done, and how many? Did you have the same symptoms you have now prior to surgery? Have you had an post-op MRI? I have a couple fingers that are still numb 8 years afterwards, I was told the nerve damage was too severe to heal. I had one surgery back in 2005 and another about 3 years ago. The tingling isn’t too bad; I have pain in my shoulder and scapular area, constantly, some facial numbness,arm strength is about 60%. I’d say I received about 50%-60% pain reduction from the 2 procedures, much less than I was lead to believe.

You mentioned that you were seeing another Doctor, are any of them proving helpful or offer guidance in terms of what is exactly going on with you, and what can be done?
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Hi Kalvin, I had a cadaver bone inserted into C-5, C-6 area with titanium plate.  No, I did not have this pain before the surgery under the collar bone.  That's what bothers me so much.  At first, I thought, wow, all the pain I had before was on my left side, and now after the surgery, not only is it worse, but it is more on the right.  The only thing I can figure is that the muscles and ligaments that were pulled to get the new cadaver in, caused the pain.  I don't know, but he did tell me that there would be a lot of pain just after surgery because of all the pulling and stretching they had to do down the shoulders and middle of the back.  Also, since I had so many bone spurs, I don't know if maybe that caused the pain to be more severe.  I don't really even understand what a bone spur is and what causes it or if getting rid of them during surgery, causes more post op pain.  My PT told me today that a lot my attitude, will affect whether or not how quickly I will get better.  I told him I try to be positive, I really do, but when I get up in the morning, plant my feet on the floor and walk to the coffee pot in so much pain, the minute I get up, the harder it gets to stay positive when I don't see progress.  He says four months is really not a long time to feel that great yet, and to give it time, so I am trying to direct the anger and frustration into the exercises I do and walking a lot.  But I'm with you, if the surgeon would at least act as though he understood that you do have pain and let you know it will take time instead of just saying, I don't know and shrugging his shoulders, it would sure make me feel more like he cared instead of making me feel like, well, I've got your money now, and did my job, deal with it and go away!  Yeh, right...Gee thanks...That's how I feel.  lol
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Yeah, I did the cadaver bone, plate thing myself. Twice. Bone spurs are just arthritis that forms as in all the other joints in the body. Problem is, in the spine not only do they effect movement, but they can pinch nerves as well.

Attitude is important, I agree. But after awhile a person can't help but get a little discouraged, it's only natural.

Take Care
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That's exactly what I told the PT.  I try to be positive but that only gets you so far.  One thing that is frightening me a bit is that I am four months post op and I had a new PT come in last week to the place I go.  He was the one who gave me a pep talk about attitude and he also had me lay on the table and he pulled and stretched on my neck.  He pulled my neck slowly but so hard that the rest of my body moved up.  Do you think this is ok, Kalvin.  I am afraid that if my fusion isn't totally fused, this will cause it to separate or something. I mean, I know the plate is there to keep it firmly in place. I don't know.  Im sure the guy knows what he is doing, but I am so afraid that he is pulling too hard and stretching the neck vertebra too much.  He also did some firm massaging to my neck and when he rubbed on the spot that hurt to begin with years ago on the back left side, it made me realize that it isn't any better in that spot either.  And when I got up this morning after this being done yesterday, my neck is swollen underneath my ear to the bottom of my neck on the left side which is also where the incision was made anteriorly.  Maybe this is all normal.  Maybe I have unrealistic fear of him hurting the very thing that they just tried to fix, or maybe I am worrying over nothing, but I know I have to trust him.  He's the one that is suppose to know what he is doing.  Just scarey.  
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My 19 yr old son was involved in a serious car accident where he was ejected from the vehicle considering this he suffered mostly minor injuries however he had to have c7 and t1 fused together because they were pressing on his spinal cord but spinal cord was intact. It only had some minor bruising. We just got home from the hospital today and it is a fight to continue to get him to walk. He acts like he just wants to give up because of the pain he is in. I on the other hand will not let him. I am being the drill sgt and making him get up and walk every 2 hrs. I am in tears most of the time because I am tired. he seems totally satisfied to lay in his bed and take pain meds. My question is what kind of time frame am I looking at before the pain eases and he is able to walk without so much pain. I realize this is not going to be an overnight process but just to give me an idea of the fight I am in for consistently? Are there any other excercises he can do to strengthen himself? I am concerned because he was such an active kid and now seems to have given up. I will not let him lay down! Just not going to happen!!! Please someone give me some help in looking toward a goal timewise. thanks mom-mj
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Thank you for your positive comment -- I'm scheduled to have this surgery on Oct. 1, 2014, and after reading this forum, I'm scared to death!  My surgeon told me he has a 90-95% success rate and that I will be exercising fully, back to cycling and swimming vigorously in 4-5 months, back to work in 6-8 weeks.  I am optimistic and take good care of myself generally.  These posts are so negative!  I'm sorry so many people are having such a hard time, but I need to stop reading this now, and go stretch.  Wish me luck!  
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I think things have changed dramatically over the past few years and since people began writing about their experience. I also believe I had an exceptional Neurosurgeon. Prior to surgery I had terrible pain. Day of surgery, checked into hospital around noon, and in the OR for about 2 hours. There was much more damage than visible on the MRI including a "profound" 'bone spur' and more bone damage, making plate placement challenging. All that translated into an additional hour of surgery that was not anticipated. Had cadaver bone graft with Ti plate and screw fusion at C4-5.... After time in recovery, I was discharged an hour later. Yup, ACDF is an outpatient surgery in this neck of the woods (so to speak). 8 hours in and out.
I was discharged with no collar of any kind, no PT then or ever after and basic limitations along the lines of "don't be an idiot and go bungee jumping or ski jumping". I had no pain, didn't take pain meds at any time after the surgery for pain from the surgery, and felt absolutely wonderful relative to the pain before surgery. I'm sure I had pain meds on board and they were sufficient to carry me into the next day.  I caught myself carrying 5Gal of sand from under the house 2 days later, and had to stop myself thinking this might be in the category of "idiot" I have high pain tolerance... but the surgery itself was the point of total relief.
I have and probably always will have some degree of "numbness" as I waited too long. And no pain. No problems since then. Only recently, 18 s/post surgery am I now having increasing loss of voice, so its time to see ENT r/o organic process then off to neurosurgeon to check for loose or shifting plate or screws, or maybe a tad of scar tissue. No pain, just increasing loss of voice. So for all of those contemplating this surgery, like it was said before, have it sooner than later, and hold firmly to knowing that things have changed dramatically and you will be among the 90-95% success group. Best Wishes for ya on this journey.
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That was supposed to read 18 months after surgery.... NOT 18 surgeries..
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can you recommend the surgeon you had ? Thanks
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