Neurology Community
How do I take care of myself after cervical fusion
About This Community:

This forum is for questions and support regarding neurology issues such as: Alzheimer's Disease, ALS, Autism, Brain Cancer, Cerebral Palsy, Chronic Pain, Epilepsy, Headaches, MS, Neuralgia, Neuropathy, Parkinson's Disease, RSD, Sleep Disorders, Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury.

Font Size:
A
A
A
Background:
Blank
Blank
Blank
Blank Blank

How do I take care of myself after cervical fusion

I will be having a 4 level anterior cervical interbody fusion from C-3 thru C-7 with plating and screws June 8th. Will also be using cadaver bone and bone morphogenic protein. I have a mostly desk type job, and plan to be off work 3 weeks. What I don't know is how do I take care of myself at home. My husband can be home with me as long as necessary. How is the best way to sleep? I understand I will have trouble swallowing for weeks or months but will that be due to pain or swelling in my neck? If you are home resting in a recliner and watching tv, can you take off the front part of the collar as long as you aren't up and walking around? I am sure there are other questions I need to ask and my surgeon isn't very forthcoming with answers other than they will teach me in the hospital in the expected 2 nite stay. I'm afraid I won't remember details while on pain meds and I want to know beforehand how others with multi-level cervical fusions manage at home. Anything that did or didn't work to make you more comfy would be appreciated as I want to get my home prepared before I have the surgery. Thanks to all, Cindy
Related Discussions
94 Comments Post a Comment
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
While I don't know the answers to your questions, I too am very interested in replies you receive. My disc removal, cadaver bone implant, and single level fusion will be on June 4th. I too would like answers! Am hoping to piggyback on your post and get some info too....if I'm able, I'll post after my surgery, and let you know how it's going. Yours will be more involved, but should be able to give you a little info.Best wishes.
Blank
178107_tn?1315951230
I had a two level ACDF (C5-C7) in Nov 2006.  I only stayed in the hospital one night.  I did not have to wear a collar.  I had a hard time swallowing for about 4 weeks and I still have a hard time swallowing large pills.  I've had a lot of complications since my surgery but most people do very well.  I still have not returned to work.  I am still sleeping in a recliner and I'm still not driving due to the pain meds I'm on and the limited mobility of my neck.  It is really hard to turn my neck well enough to look both ways and to turn around to look behind when trying to drive.  I couldn't imagine having a four level fusion with the lack of mobility I have after a two level.  Most people that I've talked to are fully recovered after three months.  I hope everything goes well.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I'm having 3 level ACDF this week may 30th.

My NS said I can nothing for two weeks into I go back for x rays. After the Xrays he will taper my restriction down.

Some of the things I have prepared ahead are: I bought bendy straws, soups, pudding, icecream, soft foods. Also some fruit juice. Extra pillows, a pill crusher. I spent yesterday preparing some meals and freezing them so my husband can pop in the oven when he gets in from work. He will be off with me the first week. I have enough meals ready for the 2nd week and I hope after week two I will at least be cooking.

Hope this helps some....and good luck to you all!!!
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Good luck on your surgery, please keep us posted on how you are doing. All our prayers are with you, and all of us here facing surgery shortly. Gets scarier the closer it gets! Glad you have a husband to help you. Mine passed away last summer, so have been depressed as well as in pain, making facing this surgery even scarier. Oh well, God will help us all.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
sorry about your loss LLWB!

Good luck with your surgery and take care!
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I had a single level fusion in 2005.  I stayed overnight in the hospital.  My husband brought me home the next day.  I had to sleep with a hard cervical collar on which was very difficult.  It was painful and hard to swallow for a few days.  I had a very hard time getting from a lying down position to sitting up.  I thought the surgery was very painful.  I was bruised down to my chest.  I was off work 2 months.  I think three weeks off work is definitely not enough.  I am a nurse and I don't have a desk job so I had to be off longer.  Still, even with a desk job, it was painful to sit up straight for periods of time.  I would take more time off work if you can.  I was able to take care of myself at home while my husband was working but I couldn't do housework or lifting, grocery shopping etc...
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I had c5-6 fusion in 2003, and now in 2008 had to have c3-4. I'm still recovering and its been since Jan. 30th. Went to doc on feb 21 and i was not fused yet so he said no going back to work until at least april! Im still having pain, cant drive and only in vehicle for doc. appt. I can now take my collar off and only wear it while sleeping. But not suppose to do anything and just seems like i should be feeling better since its almost been a month. Well we will just keep praying and start thanking the lord for a speedy recovery as i really need to get back to work!
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I had 3-level ACDF 5 weeks ago. I was given donor bone graph and a titanium plate with 8 screws. I stayed 2 nights in the hospital before release.

I prepared for the post surgery with protein shakes, pudding, broths, soups, veggie drinks etc. You will probably want to do the same as you WILL have swollowing problems.

I required steroid drip in my IV due to excessive swelling (helped alot). With the inflammation from the incision, scar tissue development and the added thickness of the titanium plate (plus reaction to that tube shoved down your throat in surgery), swallowing your normal size bites will be extremely difficult for a while.

Your throat shape will change and you may develop a temporary "pool" in the back of your throat where it deforms around your plate. This is where larger footbal shaped pills will get stuck. It hurts. Break up your pills into small chunks.

At 5 weeks, I am back in the gym, riding stationary bikes for 30-45 minutes and doing lower body and some ab work. I'm finally off my Percocet and Loritab and have weaned myself from Ambien. Sleeping is presently on and off as my system adjusts to less meds (i still take 3000mg of Tylenol a day).

Oh, In case your surgeon doesn't mention it, stay away from NSAIDs (advil) as they affect the fusion process...

I am excitedly looking forward to the day I am given permission to stop moving like a robot... as you will find that not moving your neck is annoying (to you) and visually disturbing (to others).

In fact, has anyone here been told how long after surgery do they have to wait to begin turning your neck?
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Hi, My name is katie and I am home recovering from 2nd ant cerv, fusion.  This last one was 5 days ago and included c3-7, cages, fusions, plates and allografts.  I feel great.  I can finally feel my hands again, and have no more shooting pain in my head and shoulder region.  I have a very high pain threshhold so that's not my issue, boredome is it!  My Neurosurg. promised complete fusion in 8 wks. if healthy. so at that time slow range of motion therapy is a great plan.   I would love a nanny, Driver, laundry lady, personal shopper, cleaning crew until that time.  Good luck to all of you,  Meditation to knock the percocet is a great help.... p.s. buy a proper neck pillow or some mornings will bring pre-op type pain.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Hi

I have been told that i hav to have a c5/6 decompression and fusion. Same symptoms as many people on this site. I see that you had your first op in 2003. would you recommend this operation and did it achieve what it was suppose to do. Hope you dont mind me asking.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I had C3, C4, C5, C6, C7 and T1 fusions (two separate operations - one in 2001 and a 2nd cervical fusion in 2008).  First let me say, if you have more discs with problems than your present doctor can safely do, then go see another doctor who can do ALL the fusions that you need done.  Example:  some doctors only do 3 levels and tell you you will have to live with the pain in the 4th level - you should see another docotor who can safely do all 4 levels at once.  Also,  neck braces keep our (woman's) necks lovely. Without wearing collars for months afterwards, your neck becomes shorter (yes shorter from the weight of your head on you newly fused and soft bone) and you begin to see, sometimes, a ring or wrinkle that goes across the neck.  Also, no doctor who does a cervical fusion should leave a scar that goes across and up (for those of us who have neck creases) - a doctor also should do the stitches in a way which is also asthetically pleasing to the eye of the patient, and those who have to look at her.  Please do not poo- poo wearing a collar, my first doctor made my long neck look short and the scar he left between my two neck creases was so ugly.  The doctor's response was, "the scar had to be made this way" ---wrong! it didn't and he lied.  My first doctor left my lovely long neck shorter and looking stocky like a guy's neck!  Now my second, more carefully selected doctor did ALL levels at once and redid the poor work the 1st doctor left.  My neck is now long, as before any surgery and the scar is almost unnoticeable.  THE COLLAR WILL ALLOW YOUR LOVELY NECK TO STAY LONG AND SLIM SO WEAR IT EVEN IF IT IS 100 DEGREES OUTSIDE!   I wore a hard collar for 3 months and a soft collar for 1 and 1/2 months but sleeping in a hard collar all 4 and 1/2 months.  6 weeks after surgery I had physical therapy for 4 months!  Now I have a beautiful neck, just like when I was a teenager with a scar that is so minimal, it blends into my crease (I am 56 years old).  No arthritis medicine until the bone heals 100% (about 4 to 6 months), no epidurals because steroids interferes with the bones healing after an operation so talk to your doctor about what can be done if you have arthritis problems because you may have no arthritis medicine while your bones heal and if you need epidurals, well, you can't have any while your bones heal!  If you follow this and your doctor is very good with his hands, your neck should end up looking just as long (or short) as it was before the surgery so TAKE PICTURES OF YOUR NECK with a ruler beside your neck.  I am very serious about this because so many women complain that their neck "doesn't look as good as pre-surgery."  For the first 2 weeks after cervical fusion, you must sleep sitting up, this is a must!  So a recliner you can sleep in or get or rent a bed that elevates your head and back into a sitting position is great.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I was wondering if anyone has used a wedge pillow to sleep, instead of the recliner. I really don't want to sleep in one that long. I'm really worried about the sleep pattern. I was rear ended last July,2007 they have done all they could to help with my chronic pain in my upper shoulders and neck area.Just sitting here typing aggervates it. Plus I am on percosets too and they don't take the edge off of my pain, I've tried a lot and nothing I take works. Except I have tried a few viccodin750mg and they did take some edge off, so I'm going to see if they will give me them. I read that we can't drive for two weeks well I have a standard shift so I might be longer, because of the stress it might put on my neck I hope not though I will go NUTS!!!! Well my husband has a automatic I can go somewhere after I can drive.
I can't even think about getting a pill smasher this aprt is going to be hard to deal with, because I have to throw my head back and swallow. I need to start and go out and get things I need though to eat. Like they have been saying in this blog, is it really going to be 2 weeks to be able to eat good again too? I'm 50 years old and in pretty good shape, so i hope to heal fast. I can't wait to get back an exercise like I did before this accident. I had lost 50lb's before the accident then put back on 30lb's pretty depressing, so I really am looking forward to get back to my exercise program.
I have a GREAT PS and he is one of the best in my area, plus I know of other people who had him, and they don't even feel thier pain no more. That one felt great after her 2 weeks so I am really BLESSED in having him. He is Dr.Rahn from Northeastern,Indiana. I had crotizone shot, epidural shot, theraphy twice, and all kinds of meds, so that is why he said syrgery. So can you get by and use a wedge pillow instead of the recliner I will need to ask him or call his nurse a week before. If she says I can get a wedge pillow I will be sure to post how it did for me. I've had a breast reduction and i had to sleep on the sofa for 6 WEEKS which it S_ _ _S!!! I just hate to think about the recliner. Some people still say even after all this it is still hard to sleep in bed. I love these blogs I've have learned a lot about what I am in for.
Donna
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Just had second cervical fusion at c 5-6 and replacement disc at c 6-7.  Had a fusion at c 4-5 18 months ago,  After both surgeries I have been able to eat and or drink and take my medications with no problems.  My throat all the way down my chest area was sore/tight.  Drank a lot of ice water to help with swelling.  Soreness.tightness completely gone by day 3-4.  Have slept in bed as normal since came home after just an overnight stay.  Pain completly gone.  I am having some pressure I assume from swelling, in my neck and the back of my head and some muscle spasms still. Using ice and heat to help along with narcotics and muscle relaxers.  Very optomistic with recovery.  Wearing soft collar at all times except to sleep and use heat and ice only while lying down though.  So sorry for all those who have poor outcomes but for those facing this surgery know that there is positive outcomes probably more often than not.  People are more apt to complain than to spread good cheer.  So good luck and god bless to all.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
hi evryone, this looks like a great forum, i am having a cervical fusion, c-5, c6, and c-6 and c7 and i have bone spurs.  has anyone had bone spurs?  my surgery isn't till july 20.  a friens of mine had the same operation done 7 weeks ago.  he is very satisfied with the surgery, but his throat is very inflamed i guess. he is now on steroids for this.  but i am so so so nervous,  but i want it done.  i have gotten alot of good advise here.  i cut hair for a living,  they told me i should only have to be off of work for 2 weeks and then light duty for a couple of weeks.  but from what i am reading, the recouperation sounds like its longer.  any advise?
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I had C4-C7 Fused 4 weeks ago and I'm doing very well so far!  I had donar bone and the plate screwed in place.  My doctor doesn't require a neck brace at all.  I had mostly muscle spasms the first week that caused most of my pain due to lying flat on my back during the operation which took about 2 1/2 hours.  I can't lie down long enough to do an MRI without severe pain due to curvature of my spine.  The only thing is that I have a numbness in my right thumb that I didn't have before but most of the pain in my right arm is gone and I slept in the recliner for about 2 weeks and then for 1 week would sleep about half the night in the recliner and half in the bed and the last week I've been in the bed all night long.  I was allowed to drive a limited amount after two weeks and I had so many bone spurs (arthritis) that after the operation I had more mobility that before.  It gets better every week.  I'm supposed to go back to the doctor next week for a checkup to see how things are going.  I work from home a lot anyway so I was back to work from my recliner soon after the operation.  I had the operation on a Thursday, released on Friday, back to work from home on Monday.

I was leary of the operation but I'm really glad I did it!
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Hi everyone, I too am having an anterior cervical fusion C-2C3 on the 29th of March, then 2 months after that C4-C5 and 2 months after that lumbar surgery too. My Neuro said it looks like my vertebra have been crushed and are sliding off to the left side so he really doesn't know what he will find when he gets in there. Needless to say, I'm pretty scared but the pain has made the decision is the only one I can make now. I've learned a lot through this forum and I want to thank you all. I'll check back in after my surgery and let you all know how things are.  
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I have had three fusions,  All at seperate times.  The C3 C4 C5 C6 C7 and S1(think that is it the one above the tailbone.)  Anyhow,  my question are not being answered by my doctor.  I know that I will have nerve damage in lots of different areas.  However this past surgery has been the hardest.  Everything was going ok and then less than two weeks after the surgery I got rearended and now I am having numbness in my arms and legs after sitting up for a while or even laying the wrong way.   If I lift my arm above my head it goes numb, I am worried that I am not going to be able to go to work anymore.  I dont know what to do I have tried heat, ice muscle relaxers and pain meds I dont know where to go from here.  Please if anyone have any advise email me, or post here my email is ***@****.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
3 weeks ago I had fusion at C-4, this after having fusion at C5 and C6 four years ago. Problem is finding the right pillow to use to be comfortable all night sleeping! Has anyone tried the one with water in it or can anyone share what works for the best neck support?  
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I had 2 levels done 7months ago. Never used a collar-no longer used according to my surgeon. It may depend on how many levels. I was driving on day 3, no neck mobility problems, swallowing problems for 3 weeks and very little pain in my neck. I did go to PT to iron out the pain I was having and that worked. All pain should be gone by the 3 month mark. My incision is beautiful. I had a wonderful surgeon and that is crucial!!!  
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I wish I had another doctor, or maybe I was too severe to be doing great.  I have c4-c7 with plate and cadiver bones.  I am three months post op, I still hurt.  Before surgery I was a 10 or over with pain.  My pain stays between a 2-5.  I can not sit for over 15 or 20 minutes at the computer or I will get the burn in my shoulders.  I still do not have the feeling in the thumb.  Sounds like your doctor has you prepared and outcome looks great!!!  The choking thing w/the plate is not fun, but I will say that has gotten better and I do feel it with every swallow, just used to it by now!!!!!!
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Wow! Great for you that you've recovered so nicely. I, too, had a great surgeon...my incision (done right over the last one) looks good. The only problem is the stiffness and feeling coming back that I have something stuck in my throat! I think this is all related to coming off the Flexerill (muscle relaxant) 3X a day and certainly, how the neck is positioned during sleep...that's why I wondered what others have used for a pillow...soft or firm, contoured or flat?? What have you been using?
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I never changed my pillow and it is a pure feathered pillow that contours with your neck when you lay on it. A regular cheap pillow is not good and they are usually too elevated and is bad for posture.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Am in Day 4 following C3/4, 4/5, 5/6 ACDF with autograft.  Autograft site is a pain.  Only took two Lortabs first 24 hours. Ever since a couple of Tylenol PMs help to sleep.  Difficult to get into that small comfort zone window.  Sore throat is getting better by the day.  Wear collar at all times except showering (my shower has a sitting area; slipping & falling without a collar would be very bad).  OS says 6 weeks in the collar.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
So you're completely off pain meds after 4 days? Thats great, always happy to hear success stories. Hope you're recovery continues to go well.

Take Care
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I am 2.5 weeks after c5 c6 c7 discetomy fusion.  I am doing great I think.  I get very tired easily after being up and moving after an hour or so.  I take long walks morning and night with collar.  I wear my collar 50% of time and take 2 vicadin a day, one in morning and one at nite.  I have no more burning and pulling pain down shoulder and no more tingling and numbness.  I have limited mobility with neck...always feels like a balancing act and pain when I move side to side too far.  I am bored to tears but will stay that way till July 1st which will be 6 weeks and my next checkup.  Stay patient, the first 6 weeks are crucial to do nothing, and I mean nothing.  Unfortunately I cannot work and I will figure all that out after my check up...my job is to heal and I plan to do that so I do not have to go thru this again and to get out of pain and off pain killers.  Good Luck everythone and hang in there.

Bored in Michigan
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
PS  One more thing...I sleep on a 2 way memory foam pillow and love it!  one side is soft pillow and other side is memory foam.  It is the only pillow I can sleep on a it feels like it really keeps my neck in position....i tend to sleep on my side and this pillow gives me support.  I bought it at Kohls.  

Bored In Michigan
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
If you have limited mobility you need to contact the surgeon and start PT when Dr. says it is okay. I started 3 weeks post-op.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I am 9 days post-op after having anterior cervical discectomy with 4 fusions from C3 to C7. I was scared to death prior to the procedure but I had no choice since 2 discs and spurs were pressing/displacing my spinal cord. I was also losing small motor skills in my right hand and both hands felt like they were on fire. My toes were also cramping. Procedure was done by a neurosurgeon & orthopedic surgeon. the first 2 days were pure pain from hell, and I was able to talk, but not eat solid food for 4 days, but now, I'm fine. I'm down to 2 hydrocodones 5mg. and tylenol. My right hand is much better and the motor skills are back, my right shoulder is pain-free, but my left hand still has numbness in ring & pinky finger. i was told this could take months to resolve. My 1st post-op visit is tomorrow and I'm turning my head freely - never had to wear a collar. Hoping I can drive soon. Sleep with a roll-shape pillow under your neck and lie on your back and tuck a pillow under your knees. Ice packs help with the soreness/pain in the back of my neck. Massage also helps. I am hoping for successful fusion and they will be giving me a bone stimulator this week. I wish all of you well...keep the faith and find the best surgeons. Ask me anything you like and I'll keep you posted.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Does anyone have information on results of some of the newer, non fusion surgeries?  

I've heard the recovery from these can be very, very good.  There is no bone fusion done.  Instead, small holes are drilled in the bone, positioned to relieve the pressure on whatever is being pressed on, or to widen the hole a nerve or blood vessel must pass through.  The approach is from the side or various angles.  I understand they can clean up several sites at once.  There is nothing afterwards to affect swallowing and the recovery is supposed to be very fast.

I have bone spurs at several positions, and thinning of cervical disks.  My xray looks bad, but the physical therapist said I have excellent flexibility and range of motion of my neck.  My doctor obviously does not know much about this as he said 'You can't have sugery because you have multiple sites'.  Clearly, that isn't really true.  Especially if only one site is actually causing the problems.  

I see by reading here that many people have multiple sites and several can be operated on at once.

I am very active(have led a very active life in competitive sports, riding, traveling in the third world, backpacking), 55, and no accidents or injuries.  I farm, ride and at least til the last few weeks have been very active.

I am bothered by looking up.  I can even get a bit dizzy and nauseated when I look up.  But I have to do it for a sustained period and maintain the position, for several hours, to cause that pain down both my arms(radiculopathy).  And for several weeks after that flare-up, I feel ill and 'off'.  This has happened twice.  The pain down the arms can easily occur during that recovery period of a few weeks.  But afterwards, if I am careful not to strain and look up for periods of time, it seems I can go back to my activities.  This has happened twice now.  The pain down the arms is like a wave of pain and nausea, very sudden.

Up til now I did not realize it was looking up sustainedly that caused the condition to flare up.   But I am not sure if simply not looking up will resolve this.  My physical therapist said if I throw my head back I could even get a stroke!  Since my head could get thrown back as simply as if someone bumps me on the sidewalk or I get in a slight car accident, that sounds like a ticking time bomb!

I may have to pay for this surgery myself as I may not be bad enough off yet for the insurance company to be in a mood to pay for the surgery, but what I am thinking is, that if I could have it done now, I may be able to remain active for more years.  I head about the non fusion surgeries and was very hopeful.

Thanks, Susan
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Make sure you have bendy straws, lots of soft foods, and a grabber.  I got a hospital bed and set it up in the living room.   It was the best thing we did, so much easier for sleeping in a semi upright position for the 6 weeks I used it. Best of luck!!!  I have a desk job and was off for 6 weeks and have had to be very careful since,  Surgery wasa 2 years ago,
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I'm 5 days out from an anterior cervical fusion (C4---C7).  I had one over-night in the hospital.  One of the main problems is sleeping. My doctor wanted me at a 45% angle for one-two weeks (my husband nor mother remember how long).  I'll call the office on Monday about that. The doctor also wanted during waking hours to have an ice pack on the neck area, 20 minutes on and then 20 minutes and in the small cervical collar and then etc., etc. until the fifth night.  That is where I am now.  I also took the outer bandage tonight because it was wet and I didn't want the moisture on the internal tape plus the doctor said okay after 5 days.  I have been amazed by the lack of pain.  I had lower lumber several years ago and will need more when I recovery from this.  I was in much greater pain.  I have had a lot of sinus-type problems and am continually clearing my throat.  I'm taking 1/2 doze of the pain pills several times a day (except at night to sleep) and muscle relaxers, and antibiotics.  Pill swallowing is uncomfortable and I have to be careful of what I eat.  I'm to be in the soft collar for two months except when showering and using the cervical-stim when it arrives in about four weeks.  Day 3 and 4 were bad.  I started swelling and had been given medication for that.  It was the oddest feeling when my throat was closing up.  It was very hard not to panic.  I can't be in a car for 30 day (because of the other drivers on the road) and won't be driving for another 2-3 weeks.  I'm concerned that I'm going to hurt myself because I don't have much of a list of limitation.  How much should I move my neck?  I do notice some tension when looking down at the scale and try to remember to be careful when being over. I'm also trying not to stay in one location very long.  Thanks for any suggestions
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I AM HAVING ANTERIOR CERVICAL FUSION  C4-5, C5-6 AND C6-7 IN A FEW WEEKS AND I AM CONCERNED ABOUT THE SIDE EFFECTS AFTER NAMELY SORE THROAT SWALLOWING AND COUGHING.  APPROXIMATELY HOW LONG SHOULD THAT LAST.  ALSO I SEE SEVERAL COMMENTS ABOUT WEARING THE COLLAR.  MY NS DOES NOT BELIEVE IN THE COLLAR.  ALSO I HAVE NOT BEEN GIVEN ANY INFO ABOUT SLEEPING POSITION AND WHAT KIND OF PILLOW TO USE.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I had a three level C 3/4, C 4/5 and C 5/6 cervical fusion 2.5 weeks ago. WOW!!  A major surgery!!  My neurosurgeon used the new PEEK cage artificial disc and plating to secure the fusions.  He did not prescribe use of the collar nor physical therapy.  He told me there is no way I can hurt the fusion.

The first week I had no energy and felt like a truck hit me.  It was hard to swallow so I stuck with soft foods.  I had to sleep sitting up.  Thank God I bought an adjustable bed during the prior pain months.

I still have slight issues swallowing.  I went back to work after 2 weeks because I needed to, but I can tell you that it was not easy.  By the end of the day my neck and shoulders were killing me.

I still have pain, and the nerve damage is probably going to take a while to heal.  I don't do much as it hurts to lift anything and I do get tired easily.


My doctor says it takes 4-6 weeks for the post-operative pain to heal and a total of six months for complete fusion.

I still have trouble sleeping lying down, but it is getting better.  I had to have the surgery because my quality of life was terrible, it is better now, but I still deal with pain.  The light at the end of the tunnel is that this pain is temporary and I will be healed.  

I will keep you posted.  I hope this helps if you are deciding whether or not to have surgery.  The success rate is 98% for cervical fusions and they are so cutting edge now that many of the ROM problems and other issues are not an issue.

Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Due t a job related injury I underwent 4th level fusion
from C4-C7 2008-2009. the surgery includes front brace,
rear plate and srcews.  I am in pain all the time having to
endure stiffness and musle spasms.

I am member of the Police Dept. My duites are  
fingerprinting and Identification of prisoners and deceased
individuals. I am not permited at this time to have contact
with prisoners due to my disability. My supervisors are
afraid that another physical confrontation would parylize
me or kill me.  They are trying to force me into retirement.
Due to the economy I can not afford to retire. I'll just keep
applying heat, doing my neck exercses and popping Aleves
to get through the day.  

Do you have any suggestions?

Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I just had cervical fusion C-5,C-6. (12-15-10) I did not have a cadaver or a bone graph, i had a cage put in where my disk was and a plate with 4 screws.I don't know too much of the medial terminology. I had a badly herniated disk & a bad bone spur.My muscles spasm-ed so badly my neck had no curvature to it, it was perfectly straight in my x-rays. My Dr said that was bad.  I had been having pain,numbness down my right arm severely for 3 months... I had one day's notice to prepare for my surgery. I was waiting for weeks to get in to see the surgeon, when i finally got in to see him, I told him i wanted the surgery before Christmas since my husband, who travels for work, would be able to take off over the holidays & help me with my three children. he called me after i left his office & said he could do it tomorrow. So i went for it. I had little time to do research, or prepare physically or mentally for the surgery. Not to mention having to do all my X-mas shopping in 2 hrs!

Now it has been almost a week since my surgery. I have had very little pain. I have not taken any pain meds since leaving the hospital. (i was there one night) My two concerns are this;
I have conflicting instructions from the Dr's. The surgeon that did my surgery did not discharge me from the hospital, another Doc from his practice did, and he told me different instructions than my surgeon.

My surgeon said i would be in a hard collar for 2 weeks followed by a soft collar.
The Doc who released me sent me home on a hard collar only to be worn while in a car. No other collar is necessary he told me.

My surgeon told me to stay around the house & chill out, the Doc that released me told me to do NOTHING but walk around house..no baking, no computer NOTHING!

I feel pretty good, i am just afraid that i will inhibit my healing. Or damage the work. any suggestions. Otherwise i can tell anyone else that i am glad i had the surgery, so far my numbness & pain are gone!
thanks & good luck to all!
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I had a 3 level c4-5-6 cervical fusion and its been almost 7 weeks. I went home with a hard collar and had to wear it for 4 weeks 24/7 except to shower. I had alot of trouble swallowing and lived on ensure, yogurt, soft foods for 2 weeks. It is much better, but it is definitely not normal. I have to swallow towards the left side or any food/pills get stuck on the right side and i end up spitting it back out. I drink a lot of water with my meals. My original pain is gone, but now have pain in the back of my neck where the hardware is (2 plates, 6 screws). The discs were degenerated and very soft so the dr really had to jack my neck to get  the plates in. Since the surgery I started getting pain in my elbows and I wake up every day in excruciating pain. I have no idea what the elbow pain is from. Has anyone ever developed elbow pain? I was very active before and walked 3 miles a day. I am still taking percocets, but need to back off of them in the next 4 weeks. I was taking 60 mg per day and down to 20-25. I also have another problem though, I have a torn rotator cuff that causes alot of pain. I had to stop yoga b4 the surgery because my shoulders hurt. In the back of my mind, I wonder if my neck pain was due to the degenerated discs/osteoarthritis or is it because of the torn cuff. I have to put the surgery on hold for cufff until I heal from the fusion. I am so tired of being in pain and I am having alot of trouble trying to cut back on the pain meds because the lower dosage doesn't help. Also I am wearing the bone growth stim. and was told I have to wear it for 6 months. I hate that thing, it hurts the back of my neck tremendously. I am really happy with my doctor, he is an excellent doctor, but right now I am really tired of being like this. Also, it probably doesn't help that its been snowing 2-3 times a week for the past 5 weeks. I've always been prone to the winter blues, but this year is dreadful.... I am also a skier but can't this year.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I am a 68 year-old male who had c4-c7 cervical spine fusion on 1/27/11. Difficulty swallowing while drinking has been my only complaint with the throat. Main problem is with my neck and shoulders in back. Can't seem to get comfortable yet, and I always feel as though I have a 20 pound weight on my neck. Sleep with a chiropractic water pillow, but can't say that has been that successful yet either.

I had a bone graft from my left hip that is supposed to be the worst part of the ordeal, but so far, it's not too bad.

I just had my two week checkup, and everything is the way it's supposed to be, according to my surgeon. He has not even mentioned rehab yet, and I am allowed (without the collar) to drive short distances.  I am interested in what specific exercises most of you have done after surgery. If I am going to sit here in my chair wearing the hard collar, I would prefer doing something besides tv and a book. Something that can help toward recovering quicker.

I would really appreciate your input.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
It has been several years since my 3 level fusion.. Mostly all good, but lately having a bit of struggle agian.  My advise to everyone on here is...... It takes at least a year to recover fully from a fusion surgery.  It is not going to be better and back to normal in a few weeks.  So don't set yourselves up for thinking that way. Do take the collar off after the first week and allow your neck muscles to work, if you don't it will take longer to heal. Your muscles deteriorate quickly when not being used. You head will not fall off I promise !  Don't over do it, but dont wear that dam collar every min of everyday for months, you will regret it!  Lots of Doctors dont even send people home with them anymore because they are worse. You will never be the same. You will always have limited movement. But being out of pain with limited movement is a fair trade off !    I guess my message is just expect that this takes time. Dont get frustrated and think you made a mistake by having it done. Do it with the knowing that a year is about how long you will adjusting to your "New" neck.  The swallowing takes a while to get used to also. It will drive you nuts at first. But I promise for most peoople it gets better.   Just take care of yourself and lots of rest. Move as much as you can tolorate. And dont become dependant on that collar or the pain meds.  They more you get about and not sit around, the faster you will heal.   Best of luck to all :o)   Chris
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
  I had a Cervical Laminoplasty C3-C7 on 6/28/10,wore a collar for one week,started phys. therapy six wks. later. Unfortunately, after about three months my symptoms came back a lot worse than before the surgery.  Yes, I started doing things I shouldn't have been doing (yardwork,housework,etc.).  By the time I went back to the doctor for an exam my spinal cord was so compressed I had almost no control of my bladder or bowels,my hands and arms were almost useless,and my legs were not working at all. Second surgery was 10/14/10. Had a anterior cervical discotemy with bone graft(my bone) and fusion on C5-C6. Was in hosp. 3 days and at an acute rehab. place for 10 days. Phys. Therapy 6 wks. later. My bladder,bowels and legs are in great shape. My arms are almost at full strength. Still have some coordination issues and numbness in my fingers. I've talked to my doctor and done a LOT of research on the internet and my hands are just going to take time to get back to normal. Cervical Spondylosis was what I was diagnosed with. I got a lot of info from WebMD, Mayo Clinic, and several other reputable websites. I hope this info is helpful. By the way, after the 2nd surgery I was eating baked for lunch that day!!  NO problems with swallowing.      Sincerely, Anna Smith
        
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Here is what I have done post-op to recovery quickly and safely...

I had a 3 level cervical fusion done about 10+ days ago. Post-op I iced my hip, where the bone graft was taken, and iced my neck at the incision site. I went off pain meds 1 week post-op and I never had neck pain nor throat pain post-op. I ate eggs, toast, etc the very next morning after my surgery. I spent 2 and one half days at the hospital. I feel some pressure (like a small lump) behind my throat and I think that is just my body adjusting to the hardware installed (a plate with 6 screws). At first large bites of food got stuck in my throat but now I can eat normally again. Rest, healthy food and going for a walk every day is my best advise. Wear the neck brace often, even if you do not feel the need for it. I keep wearing mine and my neck feels strong and stable. I also take 8,000 IU vitamin D, take Juice Plus and a multi-vitamin every day. Avoid taking any NSAIDs, Tylenol/Motrin, as they interfere with the bone fusing together.

I go on a walk every day for about 300-500 yards. My hip pain is only mild but I still have no neck pain whatsoever. I do some minor chores around the house but I avoid lifting heavy objects and I try to keep good posture. I wear the neck brace when I am upright and take it off when my head is supported on the bed or couch.

I surmise that my surgeon is one of the best. Christopher Uychiama, MD/PhD at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, CA. He took great care to make my surgery specific to my needs, he obviously did a great job, and he avoided damaging nearby soft tissue in my neck during surgery.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I had a ACDF at two levels with donor bone and plate/screws on Mar 1, 2011.  I was in the hospital one night.  I was back to work and driving in one week.  I have a little trouble with swallowing pills.  I have not had to eat soft foods - nor did the dr. mention it.  I did not have to wear any type of collar.  NS said the plate is like a cast - which is what a collar is.  I will have xrays on April 27 for my first post-op appointment.  My major complaint is my neck gets tired.  Sleeping continues to be an issue - I still can only sleep on my back with a flat pillow.  I did sleep in a recliner for about a week.  Restrictions are little - can't push, pull or left over 30 pounds and no jumping/jogging/jarring until??  
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I am 3 months post op after having my C7/T1 fused. Mine was fragmentation to my disc due to a trauma. I am still not back at work due to the fact that I work in a school with teenagers and they caused my accident in the first place. Risk of it being aggravated is quite high if I return to work too soon. My surgeon was brilliant. My scare is hardly noticeable as he made it in one of the creases of my neck. I spent 13 days in hospital due to root nerve damage and only had to wear a collar for about 4 weeks post op just when I was moving around. I was allowed to drive 6 weeks post op but waited a bit longer as I was afraid someone might rear end me and I didn't want to run the risk. My surgeon wouldn't let me have pt as he said it can cause more problems than it's worth. I still experience pain if I try anything that requires lifting, I avoid it like the plague. I have noticed some restriction in movement of my neck but I am hoping that it may improve in time. Good luck to all those out there in line for the surgery. My advice is choose your surgeon well, your future mobility is in his/her hands.  
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I agree with you and everyone who said the doctor makes the difference.  My doctor was Dr. Shyam Shridharani of the DC Metropolitan area.  I am 7 days post-op after 3 levels being done and am still very achy but it is being managed with pain medication.  I was told no driving for 3 months or the duration of wearing of the brace, which is the same.  Also, I have been told to stay off work for 12 weeks since I work in a school with teenagers as an administrator.  I will probably (hopefully) not be off for that long.  My hospital stay was 3 days post op and day two I was swallowing pills (small) and eating soft food.  Swallowing is still an art as I must sit up military straight and lean forward slightly to ensure that no mishaps occurs.  

I have decided that it is not in best interest to get into a car at this time as the last time (today) I got into my truck, we hit one bump and my head felt like it was trying to explode off my shoulders.  After the u-turn back home, that is when I made that vow.  
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I just recently had a 3 level fusion, im on day 23 after surgery, i've experienced many of the same problems as the rest of you, my worry at this point is the loss of strength in my arms especially my right arm i have alot of numbness in my right arm ive been to the hospital for it they prescribed a cycle of steroids that hellped but now the numbness and pain are still there. Is this weakness permanent or will it go away with some physical therapy?
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I am one week since surgery, ACDF, C6 C7.  I walked 20 minutes  3 hours after surgery, half mile the next morning, 1-4 miles daily since then. My neck is sore, as is my throat. I wear a soft collar at work and when I am being driven in a car.

I have tingling in the tips of  two fingers, and get very tired at night. I am wondering if I am taking too much calcium supplements, 4000 mg a day. Will this cause excess calcification in the fused vertebrae?
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
I had a 3 level PEEK implant with screws and 2 level dicectomy 4 days ago. Had 4+ hour surgery in morning and stayed in hospital overnight; restricted to bed-no standing or walking-in hospital. They went through great strides putting me in anti-embolism cuffs for my legs. The drive home was the most painful 20 minutes of my life. I'm out of work for 12 weeks, and realistically probably 16 weeks or more, on state disability. I'm a mechanic/ service manager.
If you've had the same surgery-
I was given a long list of do's and don't's-Do not pick up anything heavier then a half gallon of milk! Seriously! NO WORK at home! No strain to your arms or neck which could cause a problem.
STAY HOME FROM WORK-you can't heal properly otherwise. Even using a computer -oops- is discouraged.

The pain and numbness is gone from my back, shoulders, arms and hand for the first time in YEARS! My strength is already better. Sleeping is definitely an issue now (although it was before the surgery, so no biggie) with the collar and my throat and neck are very sore, but I am confident these issues will go away and I will be able to resume my so-called, normal, life! YAAAA HOOOO! If your doctor recommends this surgery and you trust him/her, by all means do it! Your quality of life will improve greatly.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I am home now just having had a c5-c6 fusion with donor bone.  Swallowing is difficult.  this is day two after the surgery.  Swallowing is a challange-  taking smaller bites eating smaller amounts- soft food and keeping a beverage close by.  Pain at wound site and neck.  Pain meds help a lot though.  I do have a collar but Dr. said i really don't need it.  i am putting it on when my neck begins to feel weak or when i am holding my 1 year old.  she likes to wach me in the chest /throat area.  ouch.  I am planning on being off of work for 2 weeks and than part time for a month later.  I am a psychotherapist so it should not be too strenuous on my neck.  The collar does feel good an supportive.  I would just us occasionally and not become to dependant on it.ON the up side.  tingling is less and i already have more strength.  amazing.  I did not have a ton of pain so hard to say at this time how much less it is due to recovery from surgery.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I had ACDF (C5-C7) on Oct 31. I am 5 days post op and definitely feeling relief from the right arm pain and weakness. I still have numbness in my right hand. I am not sure if I should be concerned, but my left lymph node area in my neck is extremely painful to the touch. I had a 100.8 fever last night, but did not call the doctor or go to the ER because my post op instructions said to call if it's above 101. My neck is extremely stiff from loss of ROM and sleeping is difficult. Swallowing ***** because of the pain but it is getting better with each day. I am only taking Vicodin at night with Zanaflex (stronger muscle relaxer). The Zanaflex is very helpful but is very sedating. I am scheduled to go back to work on Nov 14 so that's 2 weeks off from surgery. I am not supposed to drive for 3-4 weeks so I will have to get transportation to/from work. I have a desk job working for a hospital IT dept.

Does anyone have pain in their neck lymph node area, adjacent to the incision? It hurts so much. I am not sure if I should be concerned. I see my surgeon for a post op on Nov 8th.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I am having a three level fusion next week. Can you tell me how you are doing now?
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
H, I had ADCF surgery on Mon, Jan 23rd 2012..@ levels, C4C5 C5 C6..is there any questions I can answer?..Very painful procedure, getting better day by day,arms & hands numb still..!To many to type with weak hands, :( I;l be happy to answer  ...Sue
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I am having the same surgery on C5-6 & Dr. Shyam Shridharani is my dr. as well.(I'll find out on the 17th of Feb my surgery date) Can you please tell me what you think of him. If you will please email me personally I would appriciate it. ***@****  I would like as much info about your experience as you could share. What hospital was your surgery done? I am terrified about this surgery :(
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I was reading about surgery and after effects of the automatic blood pressure cuff on the nerves in arms - median, radial and ulnar nerve causing numbness, weakness, etc.  Sometime people are attributing the symptoms to the neck but it is caused by the damage to the nerve from the cuff.
google it - found it interesting.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Had C5-C7 fused one week ago, with plates a bone graft from cadaver. No collar required, no stated restrictions on lifting anything (he stated the strongest part of my body is now where the plates are screwed in). One week after surgery back to work, stopped all pain meds three days after surgery. Minor throat problems (swallowing), but have lost 10 pounds due to liquid diet (this is a good thing). Overall, most numbness gone. I have two other discs severely herniated, but no symptoms. The two he replaced were nearly non existent from damage. Hopefully no further surgery for a few years... The surgery is not bad at all.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I had c5&6 fused back in 2009 i felt great for a while but now in 2012 my original  symptoms are back im a side and stomach sleeper dose any one know the recommended position to sleep in after three years im in pain when i sleep and when i wake up i feel like i was beat with a bat in my neck and shoulder region should i sleep sitting up or with a neck pillow im in need of some good advise
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
that's a wonderful post.  Thank you!  I'm considering having C4-C7 fusion and it's so good to hear the positive outcomes!
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
My medical aid refuses to pay for Disc Replacement.  So now I have to have fusion from C4 - C7. Am really worried about my mobility.  How much will I be able to move my neck?
Please can someone let me know.
Thanks and good luck to all of you.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I'm a 61 year old man and I had a 4 level ACDF about 2 months ago, with cadaver bone implants and a titanium plate.  I'd had mutlitple bone spurs, stenosis, herniated discs and DDD, due to age and a trauma about 20 years ago (a tree fell on me).  Surgery was about 4 1/2 hours, and they kept me in the hospital overnight, just for observation because of the multiple levels.  I wore a hard collar home, but was told that I could take it off when I was just sitting around in a recliner.  I was suppose to wear it for a couple of weeks whenever I walked (which I did a lot of, since there was nothing else I was really allowed to do), and had, and still have a 10 pound lifting limit.  I missed about 6 weeks of work because of the demands of my job, but honestly, the most painful thing I do now is sitting and looking at a computer monitor.  Side-to-side neck movement is about 75% and up and down movement is about 25%.  It's looking like I just have to learn to live with the loss of looking up!  The pain in my arms is much reduced, although in the past couple of weeks it's come back some, due to inflammation.  I need to learn to not push things, to be more patient with my recovery.  Things are looking good, and I am very optimistic.  I just want to feel better now!  
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I'm a 30yo female about to do ACDF with C4-5 and C5-6.  I don't have the normal symptoms (no numbness or pain radiating down my arms) but do have severe neck and upper back mucsle and joint pain.  I have seen many many docs and done so many different treatments.  This is the first one with the promise of 70%+ relief.  
I'm nervous about the restrictions after the surgery.  I live on my own with few close friends.  My mom is coming to help the first week but after that i will need to drive, go to work, walk the dog, go up and down stairs (i live on the second floor).  Is this fesable?  I forgot to ask the doc and plan to but talking to folk who have been there would be helpful too.  Any info would be helpful.  I currently work at a desk job - working at a computer all day.
Thanks for all the information and good luck and God bless to all those out there dealing with pain on a daily basis.  
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I'm having a lot of the same problems you are since a C5-7 fusion.  Please email me, everyone is telling me there's nothing wrong, but I know there is!  ***@****
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I had an anterior two level cervical fusion c5-c7 a week ago.  I was doing very well and now I'm having lots of shoulder and upper back muscle spasms.  My surgeon said this would happen.  Has anyone else had spasms after surgey?
I'm worried they won't go away.  
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I am 67 years old. I just had fusion of c4,5, and 6. My only trouble has been the nerves in my right thumb and right palm..Bad pain with needles.I have been on pain pills for 12 days, Yesterday, I saw an orthopedic surgeon. He could not tell me if it was the IV or the fusion. The IV pain was immense for 28 hours in the hospital. They would not remove it from my hand. The orthopedic surgeon ordered occupational therapy. Please let me know if anyone had this problem....I go back to see neurological surgeon on Nov. 27th.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
No muscle problems. Mine was done on Nov. 5. Take care.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Excited to read your post..Had surgery Nov. 5th. Take care...
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Do you still have pain? Take care...
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I may need a C3-C4 fusion some day.   Did you ever get an answer to your question about a non-fusion solution?  
Please reply to:  ***@****
Blank
3147776_tn?1349200103
Please don't post contact info in the Forums.  You can contact other members using our private message function if you'd like to exchange info.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Sorry, I didn't know...  :)
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I had horrible neck and back spasms before my 3 level fusion in 2007, but the surgery did cure that problem.  I was 46 at the time of surgery.  The surgeon said I was the youngest he had ever performed a 3 level fusion on, and that to date he had not had any one live more than 10 years after surgery, due to their age, not the surgery, so he was going to follow my progress.  Today, at 51 I am on prescription pain meds that are almost the same dosage as before surgery.  I don't have the horrible spasms I used to, but I do suffer from chronic, progressive pain.  I also have numbness creeping into my right hand.  Arthritis is joining in now.  Due to the way I must move my head, I am now having new problems.  I hurt, and I wonder, "Now what?"  
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I have had 4 levels done (2009) w/bone spurs.  Can't say after this 2nd surgery that it has been a walk in the park.  2 years post op I am having many issues with arthritis and the plating.  I wonder about the bone donated from the bone bank.  Does anyone wonder about the dna which comes with this bone?  I wonder if anyone out there knows anything about this issue?  If so, please write and let me know.  I have begun to worry about this as I have developed vasculitis since my surgery.  Info of any kind is great.  I had complex issues in my throat prior to the 2 cervical surgeries from a car wreck many years ago.  My left larynx was paralyzed.  Help with info????
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I had 4 level fusion done 2 weeks ago.  I was in the hospital the night of surgery, plus 1 more night.  The ride home was no picnic, and I was wobbly for the 1st week home.  I now have recovered amazingly well, and have no pain other than when I tend to sit at my computer for too long of a period.  I have a bone growth stimulator that I use every day. I had a surgeon with 30 years experience.  I do, however, have my incision lenthwise vs across because my neurosurgeon said she did it the way she felt was best for access to all discs.  My neck was crooked before surgery, and it appears straighter now from the front, however, the fusion seems to bow in instead of being straight due to the curvature of my neck and appearance wise, I seem to have a hump on my back, which I am not satisfied with.  I am hoping this will resolve with healing, but doubtful.  I still cannot tolerate heavy meals, or taking large pills.  They said it could take up to a month or more for this to resolve.  Also, I am slurring my words due to a swollen tongue.  This too, they said, shall pass. Very annoying over the holidays to not be able to hold a conversation.  Appearance wise, so far, I am not pleased, pain wise, and range of motion, all is doing great, and I am very pleased with that part.  I am sleeping in bed at this time with no problems.  Again, it is very early in my recovery to be judging, so will post an update at a later time.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
don't know if you ever resolved your pillow and sleep problem but here is what works for me;
I am currently waiting fusion of C4-5-6-7 and found a candy cane shaped pillow that has a small indentation for your ear;   seep on my side and have a thin pillow between my legs;  it helps
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I am one week post cervical spinal surgery of c 6-7.  Immediately felt great. Doctor said to expect numbness I'd felt in my hands for possibly several more months. A the numbness is still there. Immediately though, the original, arm-shooting pain and right shoulderblade pain are gone. Now, today, five days out, I'm experiencing a gnawing pain in my ledt shoulderblade .... Never had pain there before and it's strikingly similar to pain I was having on my right side.

Has anybody experienced something like this before?
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Hi, I've just had same op, 6th Feb (cage fusion). I had (last 10 months) swollen area base of neck which hasn't subsided (yet) and continue to get a fair amount of shooting pains down from top of Neck through it. None of the specialists can advise what it is! I'm hoping its all very early days and will resolve. I've no collar and signed off  for 6 weeks with no driving or physio.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I had the fusion done on levels 5-6 and 6-7, two levels on 2 11 13. I am a healthy 40 yr male, don't smoke and work in an administrative type role (no heavy lifting). I was very worried about the surgery, as with most. If it helps some, I am more than willing to give any input you need to relax what you can mentally. I have a lengthy background with donor bone at work, and with BMP (Bone morph protein). First be careful and ask a lot of questions, BMP is not approved for Cervical Spine surgery. It has been shown to cause significant swelling, including death. There are lesser dangers with certain BMPs. My doctor is one of the best in the world, Cardinal's fly in from Rome and world-wide to have his teams operate. He does famous people and sports players. I wanted to set the stage for what a world class doc does with 45 years of experience. He doesn't use bone from your hip. He says this causes severe danger or more pain to the patient. Be careful and discuss that with your doc. He uses the bone scraped from your vertebrae and then mixes it with the BMP product from Stryker or Medtronics. He then uses a little ground or pre-formed bone from a cadaver. Don't fool yourself, some people have psychological issues with this; make sure you're mentally ok with taking organ-bone-tissue from a donor. It is sterile and was taken in good faith from someone who wanted to help others after they passed. I consider it an honor to that individual’s family and a gift from Gd to me to have it.

The day of surgery, listen to the docs and take a stool softener before surgery. You will be knocked out for 1.5hrs per level on average. Keep in mind; hour prep into surgery to cut and get you ready, then a couple hours after in recover. My two level surgery was 7 total hours out. They use a cathedar, stings worse than anything to do with surgery afterwards IMO. They kept me overnight to infuse more antibiotics and watch me. You should always stay the night IMO. Swelling, infection, getting enough oxygen into your lungs are all issues to be prepared for.

The after surgery, on PCA, for pain, feeling groggy, some movement, but little. The pain is better, but the throat pain is horrid, between the breathing tube and the moving of your trachea and esophagus, it just plain hurts. Good news is that it does go away fast. If it doesn't go away, your doc may have done a poor job during surgery. I have seen a lot of suits online for these throat issues when making sure my doc didn't have legal complaints. (This is another thing pre-surgery, check your doc’s history, and look at his or her local county court in civil cases online to see if they have a lot). I was only drinking my first and second day, could not eat food. A lot of great posts here how to handle that.

At home, still groggy from being knocked out for 7 hours a couple days ago. Caffeine is ok, if you drink a lot be careful, it significantly increases my spasms and tightness in neck. I have had TMJ; it is heavily aggravated due to holding mouth wide open for 5-7 hours of surgery. The incision hurts bad, feels like it's tearing everywhere I move, but it's not. The range of motion is very little; most of it is psychological not to hurt the injury. Fact of the matter is that you cannot hurt your surgical site in any dire way, other than ripping open stitches or stressing tight muscles. The doc was right, he said I could fall off an 8 story bldg and everything would break except his fusion. Keep in mind that your muscles do a lot of the work when turning or pushing it, this is where the core aggravation comes from.

I started with some numbness in arms, tingling and severe pain in the cross-section of my back. Post-surgery, this is ALL gone. The only pain I have is surgical pain and throat pain. Always keep liquids around when swallowing, food will get caught in your throat. I have a little numbness in limbs and weakness, but this is normal after inflammation of muscles and pushing on nerves. It will take a while to go away.

Almost a week post-surgery, I wear the collar 50% of the day. Have been out the first time yesterday, very tired after even a couple hours. My pain is significantly reduced; throat is much better, however, still hurts. I am sleeping on the recliner. You will have trouble in a bed. My doc said DO NOT SLEEP WITH COLLAR IN BED. If you use a pillow, your neck will be too elevated and stress the muscles. I have traction pillows with a divot in the middle. There are lots of great suggestions on here on how to handle that. For most two level patients with fusion, collars are just a placeholder to help you. The fusion is titanium plated into your vertebrae. The collar helps your heavy or tired head stay focused. You will find that you can do without it time to time. I was able to do large steps the first day out of hospital with no help. I am walking all over the house like the doc said to do, almost a half mile in my home daily, will wear down carpet soon.

Some docs say no vitamin E after surgery; mine said to take one daily to help with blood flow and tissue repair. E is deemed safe by most docs unless you already have thin blood. It's not technically a blood thinner, but may act as one. I am taking C and B en masse daily, too.

I start work FT administratively tomorrow, yes, 6 days after surgery recover day in hospital. I will be tired, but that is ok. The best medicine is getting back out there and moving. Sitting will be the worst thing on earth to do for you. Pre-surgery pain was a 10, literally for three years on serious pain meds and treatments, otherwise wouldn't have had surgery. Post-surgery in first few days, pain was a 7-9. Going into days 5-6 I am around 4-6 pain level and weaning off oxycontin.

I have dressing off scar off of yesterday and it looks good. There really is no scar, a small bump where the incision was. Your docs should be using durabond or some form of the superglue in the hospital to help your scar be minimal.

ROM, or range of motion is about a 1/3 of normal today, one week in. I get a little more each day. Doc said I should be around 2/3 next week and driving/doing normal things again that early. For all of the nightmare stories, I encourage you to watch your doc closely, Google the heck of them and pay the $50 to do a background if necessary. Look at their history. Doctor rankings in any file are biased, don't trust those. Injunctions, suits, and complaints online all sum it up. The right doctor will put you in great comfort and have you recovered fast. I was near paralyzed with pain a little more than a week ago and now have less than half that pain.

Apologies for spelling and grammar issues, way too early, however, wanted to be able to help those that are nervous or had questions. Thanks to all of the other valued posts here that helped me.

Feel free to message me if I can help, or elaborate on something missed. I wish every pre and post-surgery the best.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I guess I can join in I had a two level on February 4th 2013, I can agree with almost all of the comments Mindscaperussia posted.  I woke from a two hour surgery and all of the pain in my right shoulder, arm hand, etc was gone.  only a slight numbness in my finger tips remain.  I had the artificail bone graphs with a plate and screws I have to say I am TIRED of the hard collar.  Doc says another two weeks and Xray time then if all is good a soft collar oh boy!  Throat being nsore yes liquids for twoo days yes still having problems with large bites of food but if I watch how big I cut my food its all good.  Downside, Still not sleeping in bed due to hard collar not pain!  Still n ot driving again due to hard collar.  Doc says driving is fine, but I am not a kamakazee!  Some pain occasionally from the surgery and I also had some left shoulder blade pain, but only sporadically.  What is really strange is the top of my head feels weird like tingly but it hurts, and even taking a shower the water hitting the top and back of head is painful...  other than that its all good and I would do again if I had too!
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Had my surgery on 2-11-13. C5-6 and C6-7 replaced and fused. Off of pain meds after 4 day. Occasional Tylenol. Saw Dr. 3 days ago. released me to work but chose to stay off one more week. Wore brace for 10 full days. Then slept w/o it after. Dr. fine with that. Had surgery mainly due to pain in neck going up my head. But, after surgery I did not wake up with hands numb and deformed in morning...that's a plus. Difficulty now is the new pains I have developed. Don't know if I am too tense or what. Perhaps sleeping a bit "deeper" is causing that. Had bad headache for a couple of days. Probably from the tongs they screwed into my head behind ears. Very sore for a while. Seem to get around fine. Allowed to drive now also. Hard to swallow. Have a hematoma near incision area which was told it could possibly be absorbed by my own body. Makes my neck tight. Numbness and soreness from chin down. Dr. said it could last 6 months or more. Incision looking better every day. Mostly concerned about pain and stiffness still in neck and going down back. Weak but hopefully once I get back in the routine of daily job I will get better.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
To all of you preparing for ACDF, be aware that Thrush is possible due to the antibiotics you will be given during and after the surgery.  
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
Tues, March 13, 2013
I had C4-6 Ant Cervical Discetomy and fusion w/PEEK Interbody and Anterior Plate - on Jan 13,2013

I''m 67 yrs old -plagued by back and neck problems for years but it's gotten down to the point of interfering with my life and unbearable pain. so, my neurosurgeon said, It's time.  But, have to do neck before back.  I really feel for all you folks still working.  I had the good fortune to retire early, lived my dream of going sailing for 14 years and now this is what I get to do. No whining allowed.  So, I had the cervical fusion - in early one morning and out the next afternoon. Great doc and his PA - can't say enough good about them - from Tucson Orthopedic Center.  However, most of the post op instructions were a bit skimpy - mostly, I think, because I'm a retired nurse practitioner. so, afew things for those getting ready for the surgery or just having had it - there are many variations of doctor prefereances regarding THE COLLAR - my doc wanted me in a soft collar 224/7 the first 3 week,  then only for sleep until I see him on 4/10. No lifting my hands over hand, no lifting heavier than gallon of milk (actually, i think that's a little much) limited bending, no driving first three weeks and then none until off narcotics (which will be a long time cuz of back), and that was about it - oh, don't get incision wet for first three weeks - use waterproof dressings.   So other things I learned - don't use the airthritis meds, no steriods,  for the swallowing pills - there;s this great stuff called "Pill Glide" - available at Walgreens or other such pharmacies - works great especially for Potassium Tablets.   I also prepared a "wound care" tray before I came home from the hospital - had sterile 4x4's, alcohol sponges, sissors, tape,disposable gloves, waterproof dressings for the shower all there so I didn't have to round it up later.  Well stocked fridge - yogurt, applesauce, puddings, etc. but even with the sore throat, as long as I took small bites of well steamed veggies, chewed well, swallowed and followed up with cold liquid - staws needed even now - no problem. Will say, swallowing still remains a bit of a problem.  Also, at first, in the first few days, easily provoked coughing spells - cepacol lozenges worked great. ice pack - not the frozen pea but real ice pack helpful - not only at the incision site but also across the low shoulders - something to do with the positioning during surgery.  So, post op - I had immediate relief from the pain in hands and neck pre op - magic.  unfortunately, the back has gotten much worse since I can not do my regular exercises although progressing towards that. Walking as much as possible, but again - the back pain. so, once I am healed from the neck fusion - doc estimates 2-3 months - wait a little bit as my husband and I want a brief vaca - then the big one - 6-7 hr surgery and the doc is going to, as he say, build me a new back.  I believe him.  I have scolosis/kyphosis and all the uglies that go with along with them.  that recovery will be a grueling 12-15 months ..a few prayers please.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Had C5-C6 and C6-C7 discectomy with fusion, plates, and screws on March 8, 2013. When the surgery was scheduled, I told doc I had a flight from DFW to DCA (Reagan Airport) scheduled on March 18, with a return flight on March 22. He said that should be no problem. I would not be driving, just taking cabs from airport to hotel, and walking from hotel to office (about five blocks).

While my biggest concern is lifting the suitcase, I've been reading that one shouldn't ride in the back of a car (which is where cabbies put you), or sleeping on your back (no recliners in the hotel, and I am a stomach sleeper when in a bed) for several weeks.

Also, he set me up with home PT, but the therapist said I have to be considered home-bound for insurance to cover. In other words, if I fly to DC, I will lose the PT.

What is your experience?
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
Anyone have their chin down to the base of their neck stay numb for weeks? Still having stiffness and pain in neck. No change after surgery,,,in fact more pain!
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
It is probably a muscle spasm. I had my surgery on March 22, C6-7 and about six days later I had bad muscle spasms in my neck and shoulders along the trigger points. I think it came from not using my hands enough to get up. I was pulling too much from my upper body. I am in a hard collar and it is difficult to get used to moving in. I am taking muscle relaxers to help. I read not to take NSAIDS because it may inhibit the bone fusion. Just use your hands to push yourself up.
Blank
Avatar_n_tn
How are you feeling now?  Are all of you pre-surgery symptoms gone?
Do you have a horizontal or vertical scar?  I am to have this done and really would appreciate some info--thanks!
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Yes, mine is still numb...feels very odd when shaving! I asked my doc about that at my 4-week checkup yesterday. He said that's perfectly normal, some folks have feeling return after a few weeks, some can take up to six months. He said when they make the incision, there are literally hundreds of nerve endings that are affected, and they take time to heal.

Here's hoping for sooner rather than later!
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I am day 4 post op for a one level, c5-c6 fusion. I am a professor, and have put this surgery off for a while given my back to back schedule, using cortisone injections to help get me through. When I began having reactions to the cortisone, I decided for surgery. I built up my fitness, bought soft foods, a recliner, and expected the worst. I planned for three weeks off work. On day 4, post op, I am not on narcotics, just a bit a valium for the cramping in the neck, and bored to death. I want to go back to work. I am not sleeping because of the collar, not because of the pain!! And, because I am not working. Everyone tolerates this surgery differently, but I didn't expect such a good outcome. By the way, I too, was given four days of decadron to reduce surgical swelling. I think that was a remarkable help.
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
I have spinal cord compression at c5-6 and c6-7. I have had severe pain below shoulder blade (scapula), in between shoulder blades, upper back and shoulder pain. NS wants to fuse them and tie into old fusion done 20 yrs. ago. This will mean my whole neck will be fused. Most people I have read about talk alot about arm symptoms, I have some underarm ache and weak feelings and a few issues with thumb and index finger but my main PAIN is the back stuff.Has anyone else had these pain's in the back???? I am so confused, one NS said it could be coming from the cervical another would not answer. I am sceduled for surgery on the 28th and would like to know if this pain is related. Also might add some numb feelings down side of legs. And a feeling in my leg's like they are weak and feel fatigued. Anyone had this for cervical? NO lumbar problems on MRI.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
You said they only lived 10 years after surgery, how old were they?  You really should not say anything unless you know what the doctor meant!  Is he a quack?
Blank
5615003_tn?1370976660
I had a Cervical Fusion from C3 to C7 back in 11/30/2010 with a wonderful surgeon(Dr. Hermenau Desert Spine Institute in Yuma) .. It's been about almost 3 years now and I have minor discomfort.. even though I am not supposed to be using pillows I still do but not too high of a rise. After the surgery I had a neck brace and had to use a walker for about 3 months tops.. then from there I just had to make sure not to "look up" that much where it tilted my neck... even until this day.Currently I am taking EMG tests because afterwards they have diagnosed me with Cervical Myelopathy and I get occasional muscle spasms and nerves reflex(ex. can not control my toe continuously going up unless I hold it down, etc.) . I occasionally lose my balance when walking but not too often(maybe once a month or so..) but not to the point where I am falling. I can still climb 4 flights of stairs good... I have still been blessed since at some point I was in a wheel chair for a few days being quadriplegic before the surgery. So please don't wait too long before talking to a doctor like I did.. I am happy that I can walk but it's been a challenge to live everyday knowing I still have nerve damage and living with a titanium bar/plate in my neck with a scar.  But hey.. I can give piggy back rides to children (that weigh approx. less then 50 pounds) without any problems.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
hi all, I had cervical surgery on june 17, wore neck brace for 6 weeks. I forget which c levels were done but had 2 fusions, bone removed and rods/screws/basket installed. this was needed due to spinal impingement from a disc. surgery went well, 2 days at the hospital. was hard to swallow but is getting better. burning in arms went away until I started p.t. dr said to stop p.t. for now as my body may not be ready for it. I still have partial hand numbness, which I had before surgery. i feel pretty good throughout the day and even cut back on pain meds. my biggest problem is mornings. im out of the soft brace and wake up with sore neck. I tried combinations of brace/no brace/pillow/no pillow, so far none has helped. think I will try sleeping upright, sounds like fun but will see how I feel in the am. no stitches, glue was used and is healing up nice, I did try therapy and traction/decomp  via chiropractic prior to surgery with no progress. had a great dr and good hospital experience. good luck to all.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
I had surgery one week ago.  Double fusion in my neck.  It's amazing how great I feel.  I'm not wearing collar only when riding in car.  All the pain and numbness in left arm is completely gone.  I actually walked 40 minutes this morning.  I do get great relief from ice packs and heating pad through out the day.  I find laying on back with tempropeadic pillow at night works great for me.  I'm sore in the morning and have trouble swallowing meds but all else is great.  I had a great surgeon, he did spinal fusion surgery in 2011 on me as well.  That was a great success too.  Hope u continue to recover.

Blank
Avatar_m_tn
hello,i been a heavy construction laborer all my life, and in one day( shoveling snow of all things) my life changed ...  I had a acdf on my c5 c6 c6 c7 on 7-25-13 in Pgh. Pa. and being 98 days or 14 weeks or 3.5 months out of surgery.... I can say this,  my spine hurts where the disc are trying to fuse...  still hurts deep ach,  I had a x-ray at 12 weeks and it showed a area where the graft still has not fused together , my doctor tells me to rest and no work till 1-15-14(6 months), then if no improvement we will see about a ct scan and go from there, he has me on meloxocam, not working yet. I have muscle spasms bad in my neck, shoulders,,,still have some nerve pain down my arm in to my hand and fingers, I sleep on the couch than in bed( better sleep than bed).. I heat up, stretch, walk 2 miles a day,ice down. did therapy (can only do so much there) .... I still have a saying that is burned in to my head,,, one lady said... REST AND PATIENCE...... I  have 2.5 more months till my next. appointment,.. they say( everybody on the web that is)  It will take at least a year to fill better... we will see..
Blank
Avatar_f_tn
4 weeks post op today, ACDF C5-6 and C6-7. My pre op pain in my scapula and down my left arm is gone, a miracle! But here are some of the experiences I've had. VERY difficult to swallow even ice chips the first 48 hours after surgery, and at least 2 weeks of soft food and chewing a lot. Still have the sensation of something in my throat but less awareness as time goes by.
MUCH tiredness and almost non stop sleep the first week, may have been due to pain meds. I stopped most all a few days ago, but couldn't stand it so back on. My surgeon is great but skimpy on words, so I've had to read and figure out what works for comfort and safety. I was in a hard collar 24/7 for 2 weeks and a soft collar for 2 weeks. Today I took it off and have been trying to keep it off, but the back of my neck is aching like the dickens, so I may put it on for a few hours. Sleeping is an issue, I woke up in agony last night, must have slept funny, and not sure HOW to sleep now that collars are off!?! I see my surgeon next week, and intend to get answers.
Cant work, desk job with computer 8 hours a day and just too much with the bent neck!
All in all, best decision, the pre op pain was FAR worse and non stop so I'm happy I had the surgery. Good Luck!
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
C-7 T-1 Fusion on 5-12-14 at 11am was up and walking at 5 am next morning.  Went home next day at 1pm my surgery was done from my back not through my throat.  6" incision from C-ys7 down center of spine.  Had to remove large Cyst starting at C-7 behind disk.  Removed C-7 disk and fused with 2 screws.  No neck collar just pain pills, getting along very well, hard getting out of bed and off couch.  It was 1 week tell I took my first short drive to grocery store.  This set off the pain spent the rest of day in bed but other then that it has went better then expected.  Thats my story good luck to all.
Blank
Avatar_m_tn
Excellent Post - needed the specifics.  Hope you are enjoying a new back and new lease on life.
Blank
10476843_tn?1410418826
I had a 3 level ACDF w/fusion C 4-5, 5-6, 6-,7, 6 wks ago and was in hospital overnight then went home. I was told to prop up pillows or get a 30° wedge at a foam shop and used it for 2 wks as instructed. I'm so tired of wearing the hard coller day and night. Its been in the 80's in the SF north bay, CA and I've had to add Band-Aids to where it rubs causing a rash. That has helped. I also had Posterior invision where they added support wedges that will fuse as bone. I have a bone growth stimulater that I wear around my neck for 4 hrs a day while watching TV in the evenings. Tablet & smart phones mess with the signals so don't use them while it is around your neck. I had xrays 2 wks post op but I don't have a f/u appointment with the OS or PT so I'll f/u with their office to see what to do next. No driving yet since I'm still in the hard cooler. I'm off all narcotics but I do take 3000 mg Tylonol for pain. No Advil as it slows bone growth and healing. I can't drive until hard collar off and I can turn my head due to blind spots. The Anterior portion was not painful at all but the two 1 1/2" Posterior incisions have been painful since first night where they cut into muscle and lasted for a month. I had my husband and adult daughter here to help me as I couldn't do much of anything while I was doped up with Norco and Flexeral. I'm feeling much better but its hard for me to walk due to PN/CMT and which I take generics for Neurontin and Cymbalta to control nerve pain. The surgery was uneventful and pain free on the anterior side. The posterior portion took 4 wks. There is no way I could return to my job before 6-8 weeks post op. I'm using short term disability currently. I was needlessly very nervous pre op
Blank
Post a Comment
To
Blank
Weight Tracker
Weight Tracker
Start Tracking Now
Neurology Community Resources
RSS Expert Activity
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
Control Emotional Eating with this ...
Sep 04 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
242532_tn?1269553979
Blank
Emotional Eating Control: How to St...
Aug 28 by Roger Gould, M.D.Blank
233488_tn?1310696703
Blank
New Cannabis Article from NORTH Mag...
Jul 20 by John C Hagan III, MD, FACS, FAAOBlank
Top Neurology Answerers
338416_tn?1260996698
Blank
jensequitur
Fort Worth, TX
620923_tn?1405964489
Blank
selmaS
Allentown, PA
352007_tn?1372861481
Blank
LisaJF
1780921_tn?1384615710
Blank
flipper336
Chandler, AZ
1751596_tn?1406776760
Blank
kristy12
Berlin, Germany
10389859_tn?1409925468
Blank
Foggy2