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Anterior Cervical Disectomy W/Fusion Recovery
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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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Avatar_n_tn
it is wonderful to hear you are healing so well in such a short time.  However, I do have a question for you.  Did your doctor say it is OK for you to be raking leaves just a few weeks post-op?  Please follow the doctor's orders so that you will continue to heal well and be pain free.
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Finally somebody has something good to say about ACDF surgery!  I am scheduled to be fused tomorrow at the UCLA Spine Center.

Wish me luck.

Tim
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, scheduled for surgery 11/30/06.
Have spoken with several people who say this surgery was a great success.  However, they all had arm, neck, hand pain, etc.
Mine is in my legs.  Anyone else out there with this type of problem??    After reading some of the 2005 postings it seems there can be really nasty side effects, I hope there are more of you that have had positive experiences.  Guess Christmas shopping will not happen this year!
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi all,for those contemplating Anterior Cervical Disectomy W/Fusion Recovery I,ve had it and 12 months later I'm fine.
I had a C5 & C6 fusion back in january 2006 and while it was a bit umncofortable at first the end result is fantastic.The muscles/ligaments are weak and sore for a while but if you maintain your exercises a couple of times a day you'll be fine.I'm only talking about my own experience and everyone is different.I was 41 and half at the time of surgery.My discs had prolapsed and had calcified and were pressing on my spinal nerve so I really didn't have an option.Only a slight reduction of movement exists.good luck ps get a good surgeon as you dont want to mess around
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi all,for those contemplating Anterior Cervical Disectomy W/Fusion Recovery I,ve had it and 12 months later I'm fine.
I had a C5 & C6 fusion back in january 2006 and while it was a bit umncofortable at first the end result is fantastic.The muscles/ligaments are weak and sore for a while but if you maintain your exercises a couple of times a day you'll be fine.I'm only talking about my own experience and everyone is different.I was 41 and half at the time of surgery.My discs had prolapsed and had calcified and were pressing on my spinal nerve so I really didn't have an option.Only a slight reduction of movement exists.good luck ps get a good surgeon as you dont want to mess around
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi Everyone,
I had a ADCF in April 2006 on C6&C7. I suffered for a couple of months with neck pains and slight numbness, then in March the pain worsened and I began loosing feeling in my left arm, shoulder and finger numbness. My elbow even hurt. I had an MRI done and was refered to see a Neurosurgeon and he did the surgery a week later. It said that if I didn't have the surgery I would probably go paralyzed because my nerve root was pretty damaged.  

If you are contemplating having this surgery done, it is well worth. I know there are a lot of scary things about it, and trust me I was scared to death. I had the best surgeon! To this day I have not pain any longer and I had instant relief the day of the surgery. I was hospitalized overnight and was also up walking the halls the night of my surgery.  The recoery time is quick. My scar is getting smaller and is beginning to fade.  I would recommend this to anyone who needs it.

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Avatar_n_tn
Just another message to anyone considering this surgery.  It's so true that reading boards like this is enough to scare anyone away.  People are more likely to comment on something negative.

I am one-month post op from a c6-7 acdf using a trabecular cage for the fusion instead of bone.  The doc said the cage was a good option for me because I'm young (he called me YOUNG!)at 38.  I'd been having the usual arm pain and numbness for about three years, but was able to stave it off with exercise until October of 2006.

My surgery was done by an orthopaedic surgeon, not a neuro as I see most posters have used.  I, too, was up and around a few hours after I woke up and only spent one night in the hospital.  BUT, the doc would only let me go home if the pain could be controlled by pills and not the lovely dilauded pump they gave me.  By late the first night, I had stopped hitting the pump and was getting relief with percocet pills.

The first week of recovery was kinda rough.  My main advice is to make sure you have some help and let people spoil you!  Don't try to do ANYTHING you don't have to.  Your doc should be VERY generous with the pain pills so, if you're like me, you'll spend alot of time sleeping in the first week.

At this point, one month later, I've stopped using the percs completely.  I still get a little pain in my arm but only after being at work all day (a desk job).  Regular tylenol does the trick if I need it.  I have pain-free days and I don't have any residual stiffness in my neck.  The doc says it's not unusual to have the arm pain for a few months, as the spinal cord and nerves are waking up and repairing themselves.  It was so worth it!
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi! I have been reserching the possibitly to this surgery since a few weeks ago when I found out from my MRI that I have the discs between my C3-C4, C4-C5, and C5-C6, protruding and compressing my spinal cord. For the past month I have endure the numbness of my hand and arm and I barely can use the computer or hand write. The arm is weak and I am terrified of what can happen. How do I find out if the neurosurgeon I have is a good one....I have not even seen him yet. I have an appointment this week. Please wish me luch and e-mail me back, I would like to know more...
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Avatar_n_tn
It is just 4 weeks since my Anterior Cervical Disectomy W/Fusion (C5-C7). I was misdiagnosed a year ago and had an unnecessary Ulnar Nerve (funny bone) relocation that did nothing for my arm pain / numbness / loss of muscle. Finally saw a neurosurgeon for a second opinion as the symptoms continued to get worse (1st doctor was an orthopaedic surgeon). When the neurosurgeon looked at my mri he proposed removing 3 vertebra as my spinal cord was really compressed. . . Lets just say that really got my attention. I went to a second neurosurgeon for another opinion. This surgeon had succesfully operated on several people I know and when he suggested the 2 discs be removed, fused & plate put in I went with it. He used a synthetic material not a bone graft for the fusion. Unfortunately the proceedure did not resolve my main symtom - arm pain but both neurosurgeons had told me the surgery in all probability would not help that. The numbness that was starting in my foot has gone away as well as much of the numbness in my hand. I managed the pain with Vicodin after surgery and after 2 weeks was addicted. I didn't realize it until the doctor at the 2 week followup suggested I stop using it. I quit using it that day and went thru 3 days of withdrawal - every muscle in my body ached and even my bones hurt. After 3 days all ok. The bad news is the valium he now prescribed doesn't get it done for the pain. I have what feels like VERY tight muscles between my shoulder blades and someone is sticking a knife in there :)
The bottom line I would do it again. I don't think I had a choice and I am hoping PT will help build up the muscles in my arm.
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178107_tn?1315951230
I had a two level ACDF(C5-C7) in Nov of 2006 due to herniated disk after a fall at work. It has been over 10 months now and I still have not returned to work.  My pain is worse than before surgery. The only thing it helped was the arm pain. My neck and right shoulder aches and burns all time time.  I have a terrible headache everyday.  I still don't drive because my range of motion is so bad. I am taking muscle relaxers and Demeral every 4 hours for the pain.

My doctor has done every test to be thought of and he says everything looks great.  He finally decided that I may have injuried the ulner nerve in my elbow when I fell and that my be causing my shoulder pain.  Even though the EMG was good he wanted to do surgery on my elbow.  During surgery he found a lot of scare tissue on the nerve and he thought that the surgery would really help me.

It has been 4 weeks since my surgery and my shoulder pain has not improved.  Now my ring finger, pinky and all the way up to my elbow is totally numb and I have a nine inch incision on my arm.   I know some of the feeling will come back as it heals, but I'm beginning to think that I'm stuck with the pain in my neck and shoulder for the rest of my life.  

I am 45 and husband and I waited late in life to have children, they are ages 7 and 4.  I feel like I have cheated them because it is very hard for me to care for them.  My doctor has really tried to find out what is causing my pain, but I don't know what his next step will be.

I hope PT helps you, have you tried Lidacane patches for the burning between your shoulder blades?  They seemed to help with that.  How long before the numbness went away in your arm and hand after the ulnar nerve surgery?



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hey guys me 2 !!! c5-6-7 removal & fusion withbone bank material on 28 dec im kinda nervous but my doc. is awesome she fixed my l4&5  in 04 was great till pain between shoulder blades and numbness in both arms(like thier asleep hands too)!! all this at once sent me to the er!! 38 male great shape (heartattack) how? er doc said no way ekg is good! she said u need an (adjustment) roll over,she climbed on my back, i said whats this,im going to pop ur back,no thanks i said my neurologist said never do that,er doc was mad but i told my doc about it and she said it could have paralized me!!! wow close call huh? well wish me a safe one and steady hands for my doc!!!thanks stinger
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Avatar_n_tn
I had a nasty mountain bike wreck on 9/12/07. I twisted my neck very hard, and I ending up "crashing" in the ER. During the resulting multiple scans, they discovered the need for fusion of C5-C7. The bike wreck did not cause the problems, but the resulting scans revealed it. I was extremely fortunate.

The surgeon treated this as an emergent condition, and I consented to immediate surgery. In reflection, I am grateful that I did not have the opportunity to agonize about the surgery, as I see some folks are. Prior to surgery, please get a second opinion from a bonafide Neurological Fellow. Those docs do not mess around.

If surgery is indicated, my advice for full recovery of ACF is this -

Pre-Op: prepare your mind and body; stop drinking alcohol and using tobacco right now; exercise as safely and effectively as you can; stop eating and drinking sugary or fatty foods; hydrate, hydrate, hydrate; fix your attitude toward success, not dread!..

Post-Op: start walking as early as you safely can (this was my only effective pain therapy); get plenty of sleep; eat small meals four to six times per day, with plenty of fiber (you'll see what I mean); hydrate, hydrate, hydrate; get off the pain meds as soon as you can (be brave).

Because of the neck trauma, my surgery was complicated and more risky. Because I was in good shape prior to surgery, I have blown away all of the recovery expectations. The surgeon declared my fusion complete just two days ago. I still have some manageable pain, easily handled by Tylenol. My voice is recovering well, as is my strength. I am 44, married with young kids, and relatively healthy. I was out of work for three months (software engineer). I have returned part-time for three weeks, going to full-time after the holiday.

As my Nurse Practitioner brother always says: "Push fluids and exercise!" It makes everything in life easier!

If your surgery is elective, you can expect about half the recovery time of my trauma-induced surgery. This surgery has dramatically improved an already very fulfilling life. I have a new lease on life, and I didn't even need one!

If anyone needs more advice, please contact me at ***@****
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Avatar_f_tn
I am 2 months out of cervical decompression & fusion surgery.  Feeling pretty good, however my neck and shoulder muscles are quite painful.  I'm not reading much about this type of pain so it's making me nervous that it should be gone by now.  Any comments are appreciated.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi,
I think your pain is related to surgery or due to stiffness of Para spinal muscles.
Have you consulted a physiotherapist? If yes, what exercise has he advised?
Did you benefit from those exercises?
Any spinal surgery takes time to heal; sometimes the healing process extends from 6 months to 12 months also.
Do you smoke?
Are you on any pain medicines?
Smoking inhibits or retards the formation of new bone and delays the fusion.
Like wise analgesics continued for too long in higher doses causes delay in healing.
Keep me informed.
Bye.
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Avatar_m_tn
ive had 2 surgerys first was nov of 2004, 2nd was seven days ago.
first one i was fused from c5-7. went back to work 3 months later an reinjured shortly there after.now im fused from c3-c7. postop pain getting little better.  went to emergency room jan 8,08  6days postop
because of soreness in throat an found out i have streep throat.


anyway guess what im saying is be careful because stress on adjacent levels is not good or you to will be going for second surgery too.

                                         good luck to all, scott
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I am 4 weeks postop a c-5-6-7 fusion. I have a 3 in plate and 6 screws in my neck and my doc was an orthopedic. I am a 35 yr old mother of a 7, 5, and 2 1/2 yr old and had been working out every day leading to this surgery. One disc was pressing on the spinal cord and I loss of use of my left arm and tingling in 3 fingers. Recovery has been rough for me.

I spent 6 days in the hospital and the first week home was horrific.
I still have tingling in the forefinger and thumb and middle finger tips, but the pain was gone as soon as I woke up from surgery. I stopped all medications when I came home. I did regain alot of the muscle use in the left arm, but still under alot of restrictions.

I have some pain/pressure on the back of the shoulders and on the collar bones, but it is very infrequent. Last night, I experienced a pain on my rt side of my back (below the blade) and when I inhale, it kills me! It feels muscular. Anyone have this??? Waiting on the doc to call bk.
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I am 4 weeks out from a C6/C7 Anterior Cervical Discetomy and Fusion, and doing great!  I was pertrified to have it done, but it has been a piece of cake.  I had a donor bone graft, and a plate and screws.  I felt good from the minute I woke up in recovery - no pain, no sore throat, nothing.

I had trouble sleeping the 1st two weeks, as I was trying to sleep in a recliner.  Since I moved back to the bed two weeks ago, I have been sleeping great.

I took 1 Darvocet at night the 1st two weeks, just to help me sleep and not for pain.

Yesterday I got to remove my soft collar, and I have not had any pain yet.

I go for my 1st follow up this Thursday, and hope the X-Ray will show everything is fine.

I would highly recommend this surgery if you are having constant, chronic pain and numbness.

So glad I had it done!
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My doc who is a neurosurgeon stated that I need a anterior cervical discectomy and fusion for C3/4 & C 5/6.  I am petrified of back/neck surgery and the thought of being dependent on someone for 2 mths scares the hack out of me.  I've been told that I will need to wear the collar for 2 mths, 24 hrs. a day, no lifting, no driving.  I haven't committed to this yet but I'm afraid that I'm just delaying the inevitable.  Can someone please tell me if this surgery will relieve the constant headaches that I now have?  To me, the headaches are worse than anything else, so far.
Someone please respond, I need to make a decision, fast!!!!  Thanks!!!
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Avatar_n_tn
Ensure you get a competant surgeon who specialises in this type of precedure.  I had my C5/C6 cervical fusion 4 weeks ago.  I am back at work.  Recovery is inconsistent. Some days are better than others but overall the pain is much reduced. I expect a good long term result. It is also nice know that the bone spur I had which was flattening my spinal cord has been removed and no longer poses a further threat. Everyone seems to recover at different rates so slow recovery is not something to panic about.
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Hey everyone, I want to tell you all I have c4-5 and c5-6 done on Aug 28th 2008. The surgeon I had was supposed to be the best in the area. I had numbness in my hands and pain and headaches. Since the surgery the pain and numbness is gone. The challenge I am having now is finding a comfortable position to sleep!!! I read some people had problems with getting there bowels back in order that was a challenge also. Thank God I got that straightened out yesterday it only was 3 days but man is 3 days long when you haven't gone. They sent me home on vicoden and a muscle spasm reliever. NOW HERE IS WHAT I FOUND OUT!! My wife who is a nursing student found in her books that the medication react with eachother causing ALL kind of problems. So I went off of everything for 8 hours just to clear my system. I will live with the muscle spasms for now. I just want to get a good night sleep beside my honey. Anyone know a good position to get in? I had the donor bone with plating put in on 2 levels and sent home without a collar. I was told no need for one. All I want for christmas is a good nights sleep!!!
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178107_tn?1315951230
I had ACDF C5-C7 two years ago.  The same as you, no collar. I'm still in constant pain.  I have slept in a recliner since I had surgery.  I've tried to sleep in the bed but after about an hour both arms are totally numb.  I'd love to be able to sleep beside my honey to, but after two years I don't think it's going to happen.  I'm now looking at having another surgery on the disk above and below the fusion.  Good luck, I hope it turns out better for you than it did me.
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Today I don't feel too bad. They put me on this electronic bone stimulator thing. Looks like the back half of a hard collar and goes down to a little electrical dohicky. I turn it on and supposed to wear it for 4 hours every day till I am told I don't have to. It is supposed to help with the fusion. Laying down doesn't cause any loss of feeling in my arms. My neck muscles are just soooooooo tight from the surgery. I am taking vicoden and it seems to help some. I don't feel the pain the the tension anyway. I still feel the tightness but it isn't painful. Sorry to hear about you discs above and below. Wow that would be a nightmare. I have to just be patient I guess. It is not even a week since I had my surgery so I guess I am not doing too bad considering. Good luck and keep in touch.
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Had C5-C6 spinal fusion surgery 3 weeks ago. Radicular pain in left arm completely gone, Recovery pain has been maageable with strecthing and occasional medication. I have noticed that sometimes my hands shake or tremor. Not sure if this is as a result of the Flexeril I am taking ( does it sometimes when I haven't taken it) Anybody have this symptom?
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Avatar_n_tn
Two and a half years ago, I had ACDF for C3-C7, and that surgery went great.  My only complication then was that everything I swallowed felt like a golf ball going down, but after a month it had gotten much better, and eventually went away completely.  I healed fully and was back to full function after about three or four months.

On Labor day this year, I ruptured the C7-T1 disc bending down in the shower, but I didn't know it at the time.  There was instant severe pain, and I went to the ER, but they didn't diagnose it (X-rays don't show it).  My left forearm and three fingers were numb.  I lived in pain for two weeks before I realized it wasn't getting better and I made an appointment to see my original surgeon who found the problem after examining an MRI.  

I had my second ACDF for C7-T1 four weeks after the rupture.   That was five weeks ago.  I still can't sleep well and get very uncomfortable if I don't take any muscle relaxer or Percocet.  It's hard to describe what I'm feeling any differently than "discomfort", as I don't have any specific pain.  The numbness in my forearm and one finger disappeared immediately after surgery, but I feel no improvement in the remaining finger numbness.  

Based on my previous fusion, I would have thought I'd be past the needs for pain pills, but I'm not.  For the first two weeks, I slept fine, but I was heavily medicated.  My discomfort kicked in as soon as I started cutting back on the meds.  At first I thought it was withdrawal, and I gave my body a few days to get used to the lesser amount of drugs, but it didn't make a difference.

I have a follow-up appointment in 3 days and I pray that the doctor can give me a positive prognosis.

Does anyone have an experience where numbness that remained after a month eventually went away?
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Avatar_n_tn
edj see note at bottom

Had my surgery 9 days ago.  I was nervous going in and at the urging of co-workers and family switched from an orthopedic specialist to a neuro surgeon at the last minute.  It must have been the right choice.  I was up and walking 4 hours after surgery with no pain and complete relief of the incapacitating arm and shoulder pain.  I had been bedridden for 10 days prior to surgery and unable to move my head or neck at all.  More on this latter.  

Procedure was standard entry through the front of the neck, removal of two badly crushed disks and installation of metal plates with a synthetic spacer inserted instead of the cadaver/hip graft I'd been expecting. Will be wearing the cervical collar for at least a month while active (take it off when just sitting around the house).  Swallowing was unpleasant for about 5 days but is pretty much normal now.  My voice seems to be getting worse which may be my fault.  I'm probably trying to talk to people way too much because I'm feeling so great post surgery.  Driving is possible now though, I need to be really careful with visibility when trying to make sharp turns due to restricted mobility.

Problems - I seem to have had a bad reaction to the steristrips, bandages or glue in them.  Really unpleasant rash where the bandages were.  Burns like crazy when anything brushes against the area, like the cervical collar.  
The tip of my index finger on the arm that was numb has not gotten feeling back yet.  I.m afraid this may be permanent.  Similar issue on the other hand from a carpal tunnel surgery I put off too long. The nerves never recovered.

Warning -  I messed around with "giving it time to heal on it's own", "physical therapy", "epidural steroid shots", EMG testing way too long, 5 months total.  Suddenly, 3 weeks ago the pain and numbness went critical for no reason, essentially leaving me incapacitated.  It hit me at work right after I arrived and I could barely raise my head off my chest enough to drive home 4 hours latter after making I finished making all the calls to find a new, highly recommended surgeon, start sick leave, etc.  THIS WAS UNBELIEVABLY STUPID OF ME!  The delay in getting treatment was a major mistake and will likely cause me permanent nerve damage on that index finger I mentioned above.  The surgery is scary, the complications are scary, but what I went through because I delayed treatment was 10 times worse.  I knew the less invasive treatments weren't working, and looking back the problem was probably getting worse all along.  And the multiple epidural shots and PT ended up costing as much again as the surgery.

Advice
Don't wait too long before deciding on corrective surgery. Damage can accelerate rapidly.
Choose your doctor wisely.  I got widely decriptions of results and varying recommendations from people.  Ended up with the number 2 man on the list (number 1 was booked too far out and I could not have endured the drive to his office 40 miles away).
Get out of the surgery center as fast as possible - I was developing a repsiratory infection from the crappy air in the hospital,  There were 20 strangers a day tramping through my room to visit my room mate some of whom were sick.  Hospital are a place to go to get surgery and to die.  Hanging around one is bad news. (Based on experience with 10 major surgeries in 3 years.)  Each day inpatient seems to cost a week of extra recovery time.
On the drive home - have a pillow to support your head and a driver who is not a lead foot.  Acceleration feels like a lead weight on your throat.  Sharp acceleration uphill (the worst) felt like a hiking boot stomping on my throat!  If you get that feeling reach back and with your hand on the back of your head, gently pull it forward against the acceleration.  Same trick helps when getting up from a chair or off a bed when you have reclined too far.

Pain Control-
From my personal experience.  Nothing helped the nerve pain much if at all.  Neurontin with Soma might have helped a little.  Celebrex and Epidural Steroids were useles and may have made me feel enough better that I was progressively worsening the injury.  Vicoden and Hydrocodone were useless.  Narcotic pain killers just make you stupid and slow recovery.  Stick with Tylenol.  (Avoid aspirin, NSAIDs, etc. tehy prevent healing pre and post surgical.)

Hope some of this info from a very satisified patient helps you in your healing.  

edj - I had a persistent numbenss similar to what I have from my disk herniation after a carpal tunnel surgery.  It took months to fade from really numb to mild tingling, but is still with me a year latter. It may not go away completely.  Sometimes the nerve just does not come back all the way depending on how long you wait to fix it and how bad it is damaged.
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I am a 61 yr old lady who plays golf and tennis at least 2x/wk.  I had a fusion at C5-6 by a neurosurgeon on 2/17/08 with an overnite stay.  I had no pain(except a sore throat for a few days) and my presenting symptoms are gone.  I picked up a soft collar on 2/24 to wear when I am busy as a "reminder" that I need to keep my chin elevated.  Of course, I can't play tennis or golf, or reach over my head or lift over 5 lbs.
I haven't needed any pain medication.  My problem is that on 2/28 I woke up with a "stiff neck".  Where I had previously had quite good range of motion side -to-side, it now feels very stiff and twinges when I move in that way. My 1st post-op appt. is 3/6.  What could this be?
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I had my C5-C7 ACD w fusion just over a week ago (03-26-09). Right up until the time I had the surgery my pain had been lessening which made me wonder if I still needed it. But because my left arm was weak and fingers numb, surgeon indicated that it was still necessary. He indicated that because of  serious nerve compression, delaying could result in permanent damage.  Post op, he confirmed that spine and nerve root were really pinched, so we did the right thing.
Now I'm just having trouble dealing with this cervical collar. I have been undoing it in my sleep which scares the **** out of me when I wake up and it's not on. I've got 7-11 weeks to go with the collar. Plus I quit smoking three days before the surgery, so thats been adding to my discomfort also. What a drag it is getting old!
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I had my third surgery earlier in February of this year.  C5,6,7 anterior cervical discectomy and fusion first in Nov 2005.  C5 and C6 fused, however, C6 and C7 never did.  The bone began to deteriorate around the screws and I needed an additional surgery in April 2007.  Was feeling great for about 6 months (the only period I was pain free in the last 4 1/2 years) and then severe neck pain came back.  Began physical therapy, pain medications, etc.  Finally went to see neurosurgeon in January.  Was going to send me for pain management until he discovered that I not only didn't fuse again, but 3 out of the 4 screws in my neck were broken (due to micromovement).  The surgery in February was about 8 1/2 hours long and I spent almost two weeks in the hospital.  My surgeon decided to use bone from my hip to hopefully get fusion this time, and during surgery had to remove one of my vertebrae (corpectomy)and then inserted my bone into a PEAK.  I wear a bone stimulator 4 hours a day, I have quit smoking, and have done everything I am supposed to do!   My hip pain is finally better and have started pysical therapy.  But my neck - I am in severe pain all the time.  I can't stay in one position for too long and sleeping is almost near impossible (unless drug induced)!  I just heard back from the doctor this morning and after reviewing my last three xrays and latest ct scan, he informed me that the graft is migrating into the inferior bone below.  Is there anyone out there that has gone through as many problems as me?  I'm beginning to think that all of this is hopeless!!    
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hi,

Just had my C5-6 6-7 fusion done 5 days ago.. I am home now with  a collar. I feel great. I stopped taking all meds.. I rather just feel the pain than get addicted to meds...Being a military man I'm hard headed and hate pills.. Hardest part for me is sleeping, I hate this collar. I am bored out my mind... nothing on TV  i'm up all the time.. Not sure about depression cause I'm happy with surgery... I'm just very active and this sitting around kills me... any suggestion on killing time.. ??

I see my doc in a week for my first post surg review.. but right now i'm bored as all hell...
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how long before the feeling comes back around the entry point front of the neck to the jaw line? How long before I can swallow properly again? (doesn't hurt anymore, but is difficult) is intense trap muscle spasming normal? Is it okay to use my tens unit on the muscles that close to the fusion site ? I am now 5 days post op from a c5-c6 fusion, and agree that the worst part ties between this uncomfortable neck brace and finding a comfortable sleeping position. For boredom I recommend NETFLIX what a great thing!! I am now watching Lost season 4 and movies I've never made time to see before.
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My c5/c6/c7 fusion and 3 bone spur removal was June 17th 2009  by a Neurosurgeon.  I wore the hard collar for 1 month 24 hours a day and now have the soft collar for 24 hours a day for 2 months.  I am allowed to walk (no treadmill) but NO exercise/pt  for 6 months till the bone grafts are set. I have slept like a baby on and off the meds since I came home two days after surgery. I have not slept like that for the past 4 years even with sleeping pills.  I cannot lift more than 5 pounds for 6 months.  I am off all pain meds. I may take one at night once a week.  I suffered for 3 years prior enduring accupuncture, pt, dry needling, manual manipulation, trigger point injections, myofascial massages, etc. I did pain pills for 2 years and they quit helping so 2 weeks before surgery went off all meds and had fun with withdrawls.  Now c4 was and still is bulging a little but they did not want to touch it.  The pain is gone. now the muscles are a little weak and if I have pain it is muscle pain, no numbness or tingleing down by arms and shoulders neck and back. no headaches and the ringing in my ears is gone.

I am not pushing myself.  What does not get done around the house oh well.  I am not driving yet either,  I have the kids drive for me. I still feel weak, and tired a lot, my hands tremble a little when I am tired, and I stutter a little now when I am tense.   I really don't care to visit peopel and go out yet more than I have to.

As for the throat - see a speech therapist with a swallowing speciality.  My best friend is one.  Why they don't tell you this in the hospital I don't know.  NO CARBONATION.  NO DAIRY. Tea with lemon and honey. Take pills with applesause.  This really worked for me,  First 2 days I had trouble.  Once I followed this within 24 hours felt better,  Also make sure to keep yourself moving - prune juice worked great to flush all the bad meds out of your system,  

Hope this helps.

lz
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A little over 3 months ago, I had (ACDF) Surgery on C5-7 with a titanuim plate and screws as my hardware, as well, as removal of neck spurs and a dislodgement of a pinched nerve behind my spinal cord on C6 ...which yes! caused constant left shoulder to finger numbness, sharpness, soreness, swelling, and tingling .  I was doing great with following my Ortopaedic Spinal Surgereon 's orders with using the hard and soft collar, medications, and physical theraphy after 3 weeks post op for 7 weeks.

Then, out of no where me left shoulder started hurting again all the way to my finger tips!!!  Now, my neck is starting to hurt probably due to all my pain. I had already stopped physical theraphy over 2 weeks. I forgot to mention that on my 3 week post op with my surgeon I mentioned that my left shoulder was hurting a lot. He said, that I had tendenitous there, and during surgery he had to press, pull, and push to insert the hardware. Then, he left and came back with a Cortazone shot right behind my left shoulder. Apparently, this only camoflauged the pain for awhile which has worn off, and also I've been aware that I have  carbal tunnel in my left hand. This worries me because a patient is out cold, limb, and unaware of what happens during surgery. Anyways, I've just had an MRI on my left shoulder which shows Mild inferior projectng left AC joint spur formation seen without indentation at musculotendinous junction region left spuraspinautus tendon (mild degenerative changes left AC joint seen) , 3 mm to 4mm simple cyst distal left clavicle seen probably due to subchondral cyst, grade ! SLAP labral tear. Now, I don't know what the heck this is but, only cyst and tear.  However, where?

The sad part about this is I'v e been in contact with my heaven sent primary doctor who ordered the shoulder MRI and just now called to schedule me for a NECK MRI. My surgeon is on vacation until the 19th of this month. In the past week I was in the ER no help except for the morphine for my high rate of pain, pulse, and blood pressure, next day I made a doctor appt. with primary DR> who gave me trigger injections which didn't help ordered shoulder MRI, and follow up with in one week.  I know he's trying to help with what I interrupt to him on my condition.  Well, I plan to ask for a second nerve test once I see him on follow up.  

I'm a very very athletic forty something year old female who has a very high tolerance for pain and plan to ask questions and have my facts for my Surgeon's return. Believe me my Faith is always strong, and I've learned a great deal since all this.  Especially when it comes to X-Rays verses MRI's, patients rights, insensitivity on healthcare reassurrance after surgery or as a patient.  Also, simple I was in extreme pain (I couldn't hold up my own head and worked like that fulltime) before surgery and tried trigger injectiions, medications of all kinds, Physical Theraphy, Epidural surgery, then (ACDF), and which relieved my pain. Then BAM! I've faced some down falls even a dozen times of numbness and tingling to both legs to toes.  FYI I've always documented in a journal about my experience since the beginning.
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I had posterior surgery 6 yrs ago and am now facing 3 level anterior surgery. My question is what permanent damage can be done if you don't have the surgery?
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Hi i had anterior cervical discectomy and fusion c5-c6 in dec 2008 and opperation went well, xray's all show everything in place. Now most days im in constant pain in my nect and shooting down my spin and cracking within the neck, some days are worse than others, left arm is still numb and limited feeling in the arm and finger ends still. Returned back to work and was lucky to be given a desk job instead of my usual heavy lifting duties, i am finding it hard sitting constantly at a desk and having regular intervals of getting up and walking around, my employer does not like this action one bit. Ive purchased a new desk chair for more comfort and tried a neck colar but still no joy on helping with the pain. The pain killers im currently taking seem to be nopt helping at all, i find going to bed is a real nighrtmare even before i hit the pillow... Ive come to the conclusion to live with the pain and be greatful for Still being able to walk and not been wheelchair bound.  
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Hello. I had a anterior cervical discectomy and fusion to C5, 6/7.using a solis cage, eight weeks ago. From when i came round from the operation, i have had the  feeling that there is a 'lump' in my throat. This has made it uncomfortable when i swallow anything. Then three weeks ago the same 'lump' feeling was at the base of the eosophagus and i am feeling like i have indigestion. I have trouble bringing wind up too, as it feels like something is stopping it. When i bend forward the lump feels much more pronounced and i get a strange feeling as though there is pressure on the front of my neck. I have started having more neck and shoulder pain, also headaches, which i did not have too bad before the surgery. I have not been for my post operative check as yet. Does anyone have any idea if this lump feeling is normal? Thanks for your help. Bless you.
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I had a c2/c3 and c3 thru c6 done on August 18, 2009.  I am having all the above mentioned problems.  The swallowing, sleeping, numbness and a droopy eye lid.  I have a soft collar and they cut the side of my neck instead of the front or back so that they could do it all at once.  c2/c3 required going in from back of neck and others from front.  I am an avid hiker, rock scrambler and this is driving me insane to have to sit like this.  I know it is for the better and I must be patient but originally they thought they only needed to do c4 thru c6.  I do choke on some foods and diet soda, forget it.  I choke every time.  I drink mostly water and tea.  I got back to the doc on the 4th and will see when I can hike again.  I have a feeling it may be a few months.
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I had my surgery on c-5 & c-6 w/fusion as I had some real bad herniated disc. I was rushed to  the ER as I had severe pain and was going numb all on my left side. I had some of the best neuro surgeons here in Houston, TX and I thank God that it all worked out for me. I am going on 2 months now since my procedure, and I have no pain. I have even stopped taking the muscle relaxers and pain pills, as I don't need them anymore..I was told that if I had not gone to the ER , I would have had a stroke or been paralyzed from the severity of the pain and the pulling of the nerves all on my left side. I am back at work full time, with minimal lifting , but other than that I am doing great.
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I had an anterior cervical disk replacement (Prestige)  at c-5 c-6 on July 2.  I had a lot of exterior numbness post surgery- from chin to upper chest (feeling like after you've had a novocaine shot for a cavity).  As feeling started to return to these areas, I started to feel internally like something was pressing on the back of my throat. It eventually became so bad that it would make me gag spontaneously.   I have had a barium swallow which revealed a 25% decrease in the swallowing capacity at the level of the hardware.  Has anyone else experienced this?  My surgeon is still telling me that this feeling will probably go away.  It's very anxiety producing, like someone constantly pressing on your throat.  I'm also still having quite a bit of neck pain and pain between my shoulders.....I feel like my doc lead me to believe I'd be "normal" in about 3 weeks!   What is the REAL timeframe for this recovery?  When can I begin to really feel back to normal?  Anyone else have prolonged throat discomfort/pressure that did resolve???
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I had an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion c5-c6 on September 10th. By the 13th I went out to dinner and a gallery opening and had stopped taking pain medication. I began driving by the 14th and was back at work on the 15th. I have been feeling great, and due to the hardware I did not get sent home with a collar. I am still feeling muscle pain in my back and sholders from what I am assuming is the sand bags that they used to weigh me down with during the surgery. My doctor said this will last for several weeks. Now after reading this I am freaking out that I may have pushed myself too quickly. I don't have my follow up until the 30th of this month.
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I had cervical disc replacement surgery on March 17, 2009, at levels c5-6 and c6-7.  Although in the beginning I had trouble swallowing, (I lost 20 pounds, but have since gained 10 of that back) there are only certain times when I feel like I'm choking.  My problem is the on-going pain, headaches, and muscle spasms.  I thought that once they replaced the herniated discs, I would feel 100% better.  That has not been the case.  A recent CT scan in August compared to one I had in March says disc displacement at the C5-6 level.  However, after my doctor looked at the films, he said it's fine.  I get terrible pinching from the left side of my neck down the top of my arm into my hands.  All my pain is also on the left side.  I'm wondering if a fusion would have been the way to go.  Anyone else with disc replacement having continuing problems?
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I also had an anterior fusion, but I was fortunate to have a Neurosurgeon that explained EVERYthing to me. I am hoping by now, the feeling you are having as if a lump is in your throat has gone away. My surgeon expained to me that while they are working on your neck, they are dangerously close to other nerves and muscles. Sometimes these nerves and muscles get irritated and react with symptoms like yours, or a tightness in the neck like it is pulling, and others, but they go away within a short period of time.
I am sorry you are having other problems. I would return to my surgeon for a follow-up and possibly further tests to see if something else has come up.
My concern is, more than 3 weeks has passed and you haven't been in for a post surgical appointment? My surgeon had me in the week following the surgery. I also wore a neck brace for 4 weeks. The most important thing anyone can do is listen to their surgeon and follow their post surgical instructions to the T. You may not think the neck brace is important, but remember he/she has been INSIDE your body cutting and moving this or that to attempt to fix your problem
I had a friend that had a global fusion after an oilfield accident. He was cut in the front of his abdomen and the back to clean up and fix the discs that were severely damaged and then fused them. Being a stubborn country fellow, he did not follow his doctor's instructions. He did not wear his brace as he should have. He started driving a week after he got out of the hospital, began working on his father's cattle ranch, and picking up heavy stuff. Needless to say, he ended up right back in the hospital because the fusion failed, and had to have it redone. He didn't listen the second time either, and came very close to ending up in a wheelchair.
Why am I sharing this with you? I feel it is important to baby your body while it is healing. It takes months for your body to completely heal from a surgery like you had on your neck.
I hope I was of some help.
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It's good to know that I am in good company.  I had my surgery Oct 7, 2009 and was away from work for a week, then tele-worked for another and am now back on the job.

I, too, am suffering from the lump in the throat sensation.  Following my first Torture, I mean, Physical Therapy session, the Therapist gently moved the front of my throat from side to side and suggested that I do this twice a day.  It has helped; however I still that sensation from time to time.

The Threapist did do a lot of streching and minipulation of the incision site.  She explained that scar tissue inately pulls the top layers of skin down and bunches.  She said it is import to do this manipulation to help the layers of tissue grow evenly.  That's great!  But it hurt like heck.  The incision site was burning afterwards.  

I was wondering what other people experienced during their Therapy.

Also, during my follow-up with the surgeon, he explained that two more of my vertabrae are, on a scale of 1 to 10, a 2.  

I had C5-C7 fused and he removed 14 bone spurs.  I really never want to go through this again.  I'm nervous.

My best to you all.  And, thanks for sharing.
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My brother had a C2, C3 anterior spinal fusion.  12 hours long for the entry in the front by having to cut his tongue in half and create a trache, then 8 days later doing an 8 hour surgery cutting the back of his head to fuse those vertebraes.  He had End Stage 4 Cirrhosis and Hep C.  He is STILL alive and has been in the hospital for  over 3 weeks.  Apparently he had no choice but to get this surgery since his C2 and C3 were completely destroyed.  He has had neck pain for over a year, more significantly in the past 3 months.  Ironically, he had a liver related episode when I rushed him to the hospital and only during that emergency visit did they realize that he was living with pretty close to a broken neck. He has been in ICU for 2 weeks and now going to TCU, nobody knows how long.  I make sure he gets foot rubs and always make sure his trache' is suctioned as much as he needs.  It is frustrating since he has no speech due to the surgery.  Does anybody that has had this kind of surgery?  I keep telling my brother to think about "THE GOAL"  The goal is that no more neck pain and how he can live the rest of his life with a better neck.  The doctors call his case A-Typical and said he is "interesting".  A challenge for all the teams of surgeons.
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I had back in Sept 2008 cervical fusion to C5-6 with plate and bone plug. I am still 24/ 7 dealing with the feeling of something stuck in my throat. My surgeon followed me for aprox 3 months, gave me a barrium swallow test ...which turned out ok ...I can swallow...it just ALWAYS feels as if there is something stuck and at times my throat tightens horribly, especially if i am doing something physical... Another strange thing is  if keep my head down too long I get gagging reflex.
My Surgeon told me he has never seen this problem, and I should just hope it goes away.He also said he did not need to see me any longer.... Well its been over a year , and it has not gone away. I have been seeing my family doctor,every month since the surgery... whom perscribes perocet 1 1/2 pills 2 times a day. well i take them but they only cover the feeling up for a short time. And I really dont want to be on pain meds forever...Has anyone else have this problem? or ideas....... thanks for your help in advance i hope ....Jackie
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I woke up having total numbness from my shoulder blades-down to my fingers and my feet were numb too. I figured it was time for a visit to the Chiropractor since I've had this arm numbness before from time to time in the years past. After 2 weeks (3x a week) visits he from the beginning told me after these 6 visits if it's not better he's sending me to a neuro dr. for an MRI. I had an MRI done thinking it wouldn't show anything. Turns out I had a 9mm herniated disk at C5-C6. I can't recall and specific happenings to cause injury but my Chiro said when sleeping,if you pivot on your head when you toss and turn/roll over it could cause this. I do do that so I'm wondering if that was it. I had great strenght but my right arm has more 'dullness' or 'lack of feeling' than my left arm. Dr. said I did need surgery but because I was feeling great it was totally  my call. My thoughts were if I wait it could totally get worse and be irreversable. So I decided to go ahead and do it.

I'm 33 yrs old,a mom to 3 kids 10 yrs and younger. I had surgery on October 12th,2009 and spent the night in the hospital. I puked most of the time due to the anesthesia. I was put on nausea medicine,Valium and Hydrocodone. The first week totally sucked. My head felt like a bowling ball balanced on a toothpick. Dr. and his working partners do not recommend collars as it doesn't allow natural movement and healing and can cause stiffness and other problems. I used my hands to lift my head up off the pillow or rolled out of bed as recommened. I only took 1/2 the recommended dose of the muscle relaxer because I thought that was what was making me sleepy,but on day seven I woke up and just felt tightness so I decided to take a muscle relaxer w/out the hydrocodone. It relieved the pain. I realized I probably didn't need to take the hydrocodone that week prior because I never,even from the beginning,had pain it was just a bad tightness.

It's now 5 weeks later and I'm not sure how I feel about it,I'm not disappointed but I can't cheer that I'm glad I did it. The numbess I had for 2 months prior to surgery leaving me sleep deprived sucked,but I didn't have any pain or even numbness during the day-it was only at night. Now,I don't have numbness anymore (took until week 3-4 weeks to fully go away) but I have a burning/tabbing pain in my right shoulderblade/base of neck/shoulder. I am thankful I now don't have a herniated disk buldging into my spinal area though and my dr. was fantastic. I've had a very difficult time sleeping at night,no possition is comfortable but each night does seem to get a teeeeeeeeeeeee...eeeeeeny tiny bit better..I think. It's not even a pain though it's a tightness irritating feeling like it's twisting wrong. I did find that puting a little neck pillow behind my neck and one under my jaw at night while lying on my regular pillow helps support my whole head and not let it roll around. Before my surgery my Chiropractor did this maneuver where he had me scrunch up my shoulders (so my shoulders were trying to touch my ears) and then he squeezes my shoulders while I slowly drop my shoulders back down. He did a couple sets right after eachother. It relieved the tightness/muscles there so first thing tomorrow I'm going to call him to see if he'll see me..even 5 weeks post op. Hopefully it'll help some.

I'm trying to take it slow. Dr. said 1-3 months for healing. 5 weeks is just a fraction so I guess I must be patient.
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Forgot to add...

First week I had the worse sore throat I've ever had in my entire life. Followed by 2 weeks of swollowing a golfball,then 1.5 weeks of still feeling like 'something's stuck in the front of my throat. Dr. said it's probably the desolveable stitches and that it will go away and that when they slice and open you up they move everything over ie: throat with the tube down it,vocal cords etc.. all to the side so it takes time for them to aclimate back to normal. I had a hoarse voice in the mornings for a couple weeks too.

I still have the numbness from the incision up to my jaw line,but none below. It is definately odd feeling but I have the same thing from having 3 C-Sections in the years past (belly is still numb) so I'm not too shocked. I'd imagine this neck/jaw line feeling will eventually come back. My first c-section sucked,but my 2nd & 3rd were awesome and I was up and doing things shortly after like I had never had the surgeries. I'd imagine this is the same type of thing..being first time neck surgery= sucky but if I had to have it done again I'd know what I was up against so it might not be as bad. So..this first time (however praying I never have to do it again) I'm trying to give it the upperhand and just wait,rest,document symptoms,look back and see the s.l.o.w progress and hope that in 6 months time I'll be healed.

I did read that the numbness in the arms/hands/legs are the last symptom to go away since the nerves are rebuilding themselves,so those of you still dealing with the numbness I hope that eventually will go away for you. Thank you all for your stories it helps validate what lots of us are going through and to know we're not alone. Sometimes we need that.

I found I can't wear hats (ball cap type) because it makes me tilt my head back to look at people = ouch at the end of the day! :) Also I found that the last 2 nights of sleep have gone rather well because instead of sleeping with my head in the middle,I've been sleeping on the very edge of my pillow and sleeping on my side. For some reason it supports my neck better and I don't have as much pinchy/achy pain?! Anything to sleep better right?

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I have been told that i need c5/c6 fusion surgery and only found out this week. i am a keen footballer and also like running and lots of active avtivities. I am 28 years old and just wanted to know if anyone had recovered to do active sports again? I am seeing the surgeon monday but cant help thinking about what i am going to be able to do after my recovery. i understand that everyone is different  but am just after a little more information on peoples recovery.

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I'll put my experience(s) with back trauma in perspective for all the weekend jocks still trying to keep up with (aka still show you can beat) your kids. I'm 52 years old, my boys are 18, 15 and 6 (yep, he was a huge surprise - to all of you guys married for more than 20 years you'll recognize the surprise as the act of conception, not the conception itself...). We play, ice and roller hockey, basketball, tennis, skiing (snow), Surfing, body boarding,mountain biking and hike alot in the Rockies and Sierras. You'll note that there are really no low impact sports being done.

    Four years ago I "shattered" the L5S1 disk in a roller hockey accident. I rehab'd for 2 years and finally gave in to the surgery. FULL Lami and Fusion L5/S1. Odds of anything near a full recovery less than 65 percent. The Surgery was on Nov 5, I was back country skiing with my boys on March 15 - slightly more than 4 months later!!!

    About 6 months ago I started to have new pains, this time in my right arm - specifically, the pain traveled below the left scapula, under the left armpit, rolled over the left bicep, down the top of the forearm and into my hand. The pain was excruciating.  The sensation was like having "brain-freeze" full time in my whole arm.
MRI data showed that it was, again, a spinal/nerve related injury.

    The Ortho Surgeons had two recommendations - Radically change my lifestyle (ie, buy an Xbox, PS3, and a bunch of movies and plan to do any sports with my thumbs), or get the surgery.

   I had the surgery, was walking 2 hours post procedure, and released the next AM. I did not seek out a second opinion because I had already run the gamut from Ortho, to surgeon, to anesthesiologist who all recommended the same thing. I used the same surgeon who did my L5/S1 fusion, with spectacular results (did I mention that I had no (ie 0) motion degradation? Because of my obsession with making sure it continues to work, I can put my palms flat on the floor, something I never even considered in the past).

I'm not sure if I should be giving out my Surgeon's name, but it rhymes with Neville Alleyen MD (North County Orthopedic Associates  San Diego area). I found his office through the fire fighters and policeman's unions - I belong to neither, but both of those organization see their people subjected to immense bodily stress.
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told i need cervical fusion c 5 - c 7. all i read is bad things about it.we can put a man on the moon,but cant come up with a better way to help with this surgery. anybody who would like to talk about there surgery can e mail me ***@****
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I have just seen a Neurosurgeon & i have Herniated discs in my neck so he has sugged doing a Anterior Cervical Decompression C4/C5 plus Fusion but im unsure if i should go ahead with it or not,otherwise hw said i can try & be careful & not have an accident other i will be paralised.Either way he told me it needs to be done within 2 yrs but iam only 33yrs & was told at 27yrs i had the neck of a 70yr old person.
If i have the surgery i have been told that it causes alot more problems within the neck in the neck 10 yrs so more surgery would be inevitable.
Any advice im confused????    
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I am 58 years old and had an anterial cervical decompression plus fusion at the C5/C6, C6/C7 levels this past February, so I am 6 months out. My surgeon was wonderful. I was losing the use of my right arm and physical therapy wasn't working. I was told that I was in surgery for 4 hours. My surgeon cleaned out the dessicated disks and some bone spurs caused by arthritis. He put bone in without a plate. I had to wear a cervical collar for 3 months. Reading posts on this procedure made me believe that I had a 50/50 chance of a good outcome. After the initial surgical pain, I felt pretty good and my right arm is almost as good as new. I even took a vacation out of the country shortly after I stopped using my collar. Because of my arthritis, not because of this surgery, I may need more surgery in the distant future. I am glad I had a great surgeon, although he tells me that he had a great patient. I think that's his way of saying that a positive attitude helps.
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Its good to hear a success story once in awhile!

Take Care
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I've just had ACDF surgery, on Sept 1st, over 3 levels, C4-5, C5-6 and C6-7.  My neurosurgeon had considered doing C3-4 also, but when he got in and took a look, he decided that that level was fine.  I significant foriminol narrowing (10mm down to 8mm) with severe spinal cord compression nerve damage.  I was facing the loss of the use of my right arm if the surgery wasn't done. I had bone grafts done along with a titanium plate for stabilization.  My surgeon does not use a collar.  I was told to avoid strenuous activities, lifting over 5 pounds, driving.  He also prescribed a bone growth stimulator. Since the surgery, I have the experienced the "lump in the throat" sensation, numbness in my neck and shoulder pain, which I figure I will have for awhile because of the number of the levels I had done.  I'm also experiencing high blood pressure, which I had never had before.  My primary doctor told me it's because of nerves that had to heal and he expects it be temporary.  He prescribed a beta locker to control the pressure.  I have my first post op visit on 9/8, 8 days after surgery.  My husband watches me like a hawk and makes sure I don't over do it.  I expect a good outcome since I'm basically a healthy person and heal quickly as a rule.  They say one of the keys to a good recovery is a positive attitude.  Let's see how I do.   Oh and I like the recommendation to try a muscle relaxer rather than pain pills for back muscle tension..I can't stand taking narcotics and only do so if ABSOLUTELY necessary.  So far a single Darvocet at night and extra strength Tylenol during the day seems to be helping.  But I'll try taking the muscle relaxer also, and see if that helps event more.
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Three years ago I had a ACDF level C5-6 and Aug. 31 I had the same for level C6-7.  I had the same surgeon and he checked the previous fusion, used the existing plate for the new fusion (I used donor bone, same as lat time).  The difference this time is my voice is still not back to normal.  I'm very hoarse, sometimes no voice at all, cannot sing.  Three years ago, my voice was completely back to normal by this point.   How long should I wait before I see and ENT/Otolaryngologist?  I'm a church musician and I need my voice.  Needless to say I'm concerned.  My post-op visit with my surgeon is the 23rd and I'm trying not to get too wound up before then,  I knew going in that voice loss was a risk, but it was such a breeze last time I didn't anticipate any problems this time around either.  From my understanding of the anatomy of the human voice mechanism only one part of the laryngeal nerve has been damaged.  Whether or not it's temporary depends on whether or not my voice comes back.
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1 year later. Re-read my post from Nov 09'. Somethings haven't changed unfortunately. Went to PT for the burning pain in my shoulder blade and although that is gone I still have muscle pain that runs from the back/side of my neck to down across my shoulder. The only thing that saved me was at around 4 months post op (and still getting no sleep) I rolled over and stole my husbands select comfort hard contoured pillow on accident. It was the best sleep ever. I went out and bought myself one and I sleep well now. I can not lay flat or it throws that neck muscle into a spasm and hurts for days. I can't look down to read a book or sew for more than an hour due to that muscle. I was back to going for short jogs at about 6 months. Unfortunately for the last 4 months I've been dealing with a knee muscle/tendon strain (again no clue how) and I'm getting PT Astym treatments on it and it's healing wonderfully. Wonder if they can do that on my neck?! I would just like to be pain free again. Unfortunately I think this is my new normal.  
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I've been having neck & shoulder pain for 8 years now, muscle spams, and it feels like I am carrying a load of bricks each day. My arms hurt (especially my right one) when I brush my teeth, clean windows, cut my son's hair, fold sheets, etc... The MRI showed that I have torn discs and my ortho surgeon suggested I get levels C 4-5 & 5-6 fused. I do not have loss of sensation or any tingling feeling anywhere yet. Just neck, shoulder, back pain, arm pain, headaches. Should I wait til my condition gets worse before I go through with surgery? I am 40 years old and very active.
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My experience, mainly positive:  I'm 44, and was having severe burning pain in both hands and advancing weakness in my legs.  My neurologist ordered a cervical MRI and it showed 2 herniated and 1 severely ruptured discs between C3-C7. He referred me to one of the top 2 neurosurgeons in my area, and it was strongly suggested that I have an ACDF of C3-C7, using cadaver bone with a plate and screws. The surgery went well; I was out of the hospital in about 24 hours. Pain was managed for 3 weeks with percocet and valium. I'm 7 weeks out, now.  My legs, and walking, improved fairly quickly after the surgery. The sensations in my hands have changed from burning to stinging to pins and needles to numbness. I, too, was told that the hands will be the last to heal - up to a year maybe. My doctor, who I was told is conservative as far as post-op care, had me wear a hard collar for 4 weeks, then soft collar for sleeping and hard collar the rest of the time for an additional 3 weeks.  I also use a bone growth stimulator for 30 minutes/day, probabIy for 3-6 months (expensive).  I was cleared to drive short distances after 4 weeks, without the collar on, of course. I'm a programmer, and typing on the keyboard is moderately painful, still, at this point. I'm not back to work... but, I expect to be at 12 weeks post-op, as long as the fusion is making normal progress.  At 4 weeks, the xray showed things to be normal. In the 4 months before my surgery, I lost 25 lbs. Now, I've put back 15; hopefully some of it is muscle mass.  I feel better than before the surgery; yes, it was scary, but the NS told me without the surgery, I wouldn't be walking much longer, and I'd be in progressively worse pain.  How could I not go for the surgery?  If someone has cord compression, as I had, I'd have to say get the best NS you can find, and go for it. There are many more successes than failures.  BTW, my voice was only rough for 1-2 days, and now eveyone says I sound "normal";  and swallowing: I do notice that I have a minor restriction, but, I just try not to stuff my mouth or eat too quickly - it's defintely manageable, and I always sip some drink when I'm eating.  It's not easy, but try to stay hopeful, positive and strong, for yourself and your loved ones.
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I get follow-up and new posts sent to me by email. Please add your comments to this forum thread. I think that it is important that we keep up the dialogue.
I had a great experience up to a month ago. I am now experiencing severe pins and needles in my right hand and arm, the same arm that had done so well after my surgery. My arm also itches. I am having an x-ray taken and then a visit with my surgeon.
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I had C5 - 7 removed with cage and plating. This was done on 10/27/10. I am almost 6 weeks post op and have burning up the left side of my neck. Prior to the surgery the numbness was on the right side and the head aches were unbelievable. The head aches and right side numbness is totally gone. I've read that the burning is common and will disappear. My new problem is I can't wear anything close to my neck. It feels like there is something pressing against my throat. My NS is very cautious. I am still in the hard collar 50% of the day and at night when I sleep. I wear a bone growth stimulator 24/7 for 6 months. Does anyone else have this problem with there throat?
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I am having this surgery on Wednesday the 22nd and thanks to this forum, I'm not completely scared anymore.
I am a flight attendant and on November 6, 2009 I flew up into the ceiling of the lavatory in the very back of a Boeing 757 during clear air turbulence. Immediately after hitting my head twice, I could not move my head. We landed and I was taken to an urgent care facility. I was never given a brace to wear but was given
Cyclobenzaprine to take in order to sleep. I went home the next day (totally drugged in order to deal with the flight) and followed up with a local doctor. I did physical therapy in order to get my neck and head moving and that's when the pinched nerve feeling in my shoulder and pins and needles and numbness in my fingers started.
I had a MRI revealing a herniation at C6-C7. After 2 months of PT, I returned to work. I worked for about 4 months with very little pain. By month 5, the pain started to return regularly until one day I went to close an overhead bin and a huge, sharp pain like a oinched nerve feeling radiated in my shoulder, down my arm and into my hand and fingers.
This time I found a new doctor who said I should have never returned to work and and been trying everything with me since August to alleviate this herniation. Obviously nothing has worked, including traction and ESIs (2 of them).
I'll keep you posted on the recovery. Again thanks to this forum for all of the information.
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Had an anterior discectomy and fusion on C6-7 and this is day 5 after surgery. Pain really hasn't been as bad as I expected. The first day I was in and out of sleep so I really didn't notice any pain. Day 2, my sister had me on schedule with my meds, cyclobenzaprine and vicodon. Day 3, my sister drove me to our oldest sister's house an hour and a half drive, and after that I was in serious pain all day. Every day since has gotten better and better. My throat still feels like I have a lump in it but there is very little numbness and tingling in my fingers. The pain in my shoulders is probably from being tense all the time. I have to consciously relax my shoulders. My first follow up with my doctor isn't until Jan 21.  
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Underwent cervical ADC with Fusion/of C5, C6. C7, Titanium Bengal cage with 4 screws in place.
This was to abate herniated disc with spinal cord compression. Prior to the surgery I experienced intermittent numbness and extreme pain down right arm. March 17,  2009 experienced total loss of feeling in legs and intense pain in both hands.

Chief NS performed Surgery April 3, 2009 after the surgery the right side of my body regained 95% of mobility and sensation. The left side had been a nightmare, continue to experience loss of feeling in left foot and toes, left leg, arm, spine and lower back continue severe pain 24x7 requiring a plethora of pain meds in order to walk, talk and chew gum. I’m unable to lie down in a bed longer than 4 hours, usually sleep in a recliner, when I can go to sleep which is usually around 3AM. Im on my 3rd pain and spine specialist, all state the stenosis is mild and the fusion was a success , however I have permanent nerve damage. I continue to hold out that my condition will get better, however, at times I feel my condition is hopeless. I’m 46 and until recently married to a wonderful woman, but the combination of pain meds (stupid pills) and my lack of physical prowess contributed to its dissolve.

Let me know if there’s someone out there that has experienced anything remote to my current condition 20 months post op.
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I think that its time to post a comment, I had a C5.C6 and C7 surgery on dec. 3 2010, Dr. integrate a Ti plate with 6 screws as well as the allograf. Left the hospital next day after the surgery with no pain, no tingless in my finger, etc., felt that my left arm was normal again. Rested for a few days with moderate walking and no lifting at all. My diet is very natural and healthy, eating chicken legs soup with ginger to add flavor every day to absorb all the collagen. I will be start working by the 3rd week of March, on the meantime I'm walking 2 hours a day and driving with no pain and no issues. My goal is to be ready for Spring to play Soccer , Mountain bike and surfing.
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Approximately one year ago I awoke with excruciating pain in my left shoulder.  Eventually I was diagnosed with 3 herniated discs (c4-c7). I believe shutting 500 lbs in the gym triggered the episode (just because you CAN doesn't mean that you SHOULD).  Two epidurals at c6-c7 eliminated the pain, but I had a week left tricep. I returned to the Orthopaedics surgeon who say (after a two minute consultation) that the best option for me was an artificial disc at c6-c7. For a second opinion, I visited a neurosurgeon (who happens to be one of the inventors of the artificial disc.  After taking more X-rays and a better MRI image, the neurosurgeon informed me that I am contraindicated for the aritiicial disc - since i had no natural curvature left in my neck - and that I needed ACDF surgery to fuse c4 through c7.  Looking at the MRI the neurosurgeon convinced me that his diagnosis was correct.

I was inclined to delay the surgery as I was in no pain, but it was determined that I have stenosis and without surgery one accident could easly paralyze me. In the end, it seemed prudent to go forward with the surgery.

My operation was 2 days ago.   Admit that I almost backed out on my way to the OR,but I went ahead. The surgery seemed to go exceptionally well and my neck once again has a curve.  I wanted pain killers/morphine immediately upon awakening after the option, but by 12 hours later I told them to take away the pump.  I am taking it easy on the Percocet too, but they do help me stay mellow and not do too much.  

Earlier today, I believed some of the arm pain was returning, but moving around some seemed to make that go away.  While I still have more recovery to go, I feel very forunate at how this operation has gone (I credit my great doctor, a bunch of great nurses, and the fact that I am a fit 43 year old.  Indeed, the biggest problem is that I have a resting pulse of 40-45 bpm and that kept setting off the alarms on the monitors.).

I know the surgeon put BMP at the fusion site to help spur bone growth/fusion. I've been given a steroid course and anti-inflamitories, along with painkillers, for the short term and don't go for a follow up X-ray for 10 weeks.  I was given a soft collar but was told to wear it only if I want to.  So far, this has been a much better experience than I feared.  Indeed, I wonder if those with bad experiences are more prone to post.  I have no idea of the actual success rate, but my hunch is that there are many more people who obtain relief from the ACDF procedure than these forums would suggest.

My advice:  1.  Get a great surgeon, preferably a neurosurgeon over an Orthopaedics surgeon. 2.  Make sure the doctor - whatever his specialy - spends the time to get to understand your issues and physiology. My first doctor failed to take the X-rays that would have changed his diagnosis. 3.  If you are going to do this, d it sooner than later - before the damage grows worse and you grow older.

Good luck to all who suffer from the pains and problems of spine pain.  
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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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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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Avatar_m_tn
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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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you, keep positive. You have definately helped me prepare...
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1984346_tn?1326555315
I'm glad :-)

Stay positive...keep the faith!
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Avatar_m_tn
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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Avatar_m_tn
Who was your surgeon? I hear some good results but no one posts a name.
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Avatar_m_tn
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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Avatar_f_tn
is anyone still posting on here?
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Avatar_f_tn
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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Avatar_m_tn
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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Avatar_f_tn
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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Avatar_m_tn
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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Avatar_m_tn
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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Avatar_f_tn
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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Avatar_n_tn
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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