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Post op pain after ACDF surgery
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Post op pain after ACDF surgery

I recently had bi-level ACDF C5-C6 C6-C7, 4 weeks, 3 days ago.  I noticed an immediate relief of the nerve pain, numbness and muscle spasms after surgery ... I was elated!  I am a 45 yr old female.  I had to wait 15 months after the original injury to have surgery due to workman's comp.

At the 3 wk mark I attended a meeting, a rather long one, I was able to get up, move around and get comfortable as needed.  When I returned home that evening I was in agony.  I notified my surgeon the following Monday (the meeting was Friday night).  After talking to the nurse, she asured me it was normal, and that I had "over done it" in a long meeting.  I accepted that the pain was my fault for pushing it.

I am now just a little past the 4 wk mark and I have barely been able to keep the pain at bay daily.  I have an increase in muscle spasms, nerve pain in my arms (to the forearm) as well as below the surgery site.  I feel as though the vertebra at the base of my fusion is about to explode out of my neck.  I have been very close to going to the ER during the night on more than one occasion.  I am still taking pain meds and it's not cutting the pain more than 60% of the time.  I sleep no more than 3 hours at any given time due to pain.

I am worried, yet continue to be asured by the nurse that this is normal.  I have been well behaved since the night of the meeting over a week ago.  

Is it just too soon?  Am I thinking I should be further along than I really 'should' be at this point?  Or, do I need to bypass the nurse and attempt to get an appointment before my 6 wk post op visit?

Thank you for your time.  Jenn

PS.  I am a K9 handler, and am very concerned that anything I do, or don't do now, may more than interfere with my work in the future...such as climing on rubble piles, wearing a pack or being in the field for long periods of time.
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547368_tn?1332173665
Hi Jenn,

Welcome to the Pain Management Forum. Please excuse my tardy response. I am very sorry to hear about your uncontrolled post-op pain. How unfortunate.

I think you have to rely on the nurse's opinion at this point. She knows far more then any of us do on your particular situation. However your pain should be better controlled. Is your surgeon area of your high levels of pain? In my opinion you should not have to suffer through this post-op pain without proper medication.... and you seem under medicated. So please contact your surgeon and be assertive. Tell them what you have told us. Sleep and rest is important in the healing process, you apparently are obtaining neither.

If in 6-8 weeks your pain has not improved then I would be much more concerned. You know your body better then any physician or any of us. You are your own best advocate so push for answers if you do not improve.

I hope you will keep in touch with us. Feel free to respond to other posts and become active in our community. I'll look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Take Care,
~Tuck
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547368_tn?1332173665
Hi Jenn,

Welcome to the Pain Management Forum. Please excuse my tardy response. I am very sorry to hear about your uncontrolled post-op pain. How unfortunate.

I think you have to rely on the nurse's opinion at this point. She knows far more then any of us do on your particular situation. However your pain should be better controlled. Is your surgeon area of your high levels of pain? In my opinion you should not have to suffer through this post-op pain without proper medication.... and you seem under medicated. So please contact your surgeon and be assertive. Tell them what you have told us. Sleep and rest is important in the healing process, you apparently are obtaining neither.

If in 6-8 weeks your pain has not improved then I would be much more concerned. You know your body better then any physician or any of us. You are your own best advocate so push for answers if you do not improve.

I hope you will keep in touch with us. Feel free to respond to other posts and become active in our community. I'll look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Take Care,
~Tuck
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you for your response.  I think being assertive is often confused with being a pain in the butt, however, I plan to contct my Dr's office again today.  My sleep situation has not gotten any better and I feel like I'm stuggling to get the pain under control.

I have my 6 week post op appointment a week from today, if nothing else ... I'll have an opportunity to see and talk directly to the Dr. then.

Thank you,

Jenn
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Avatar_f_tn
I saw my surgeon this afternoon ...  He was concerned with what he believes is swelling in the area of the plate.  In the past week, the pain has increaded even more, yawning, taking a deep breath when about to sneeze or cough even worse.  Muscle spasms had increased to the point of pre surgery spasms.  I began dropping things (my blackberry multiple times, a glass even).

Naturally, I was getting worried that I had messed something up.  The Dr asured me the xrays looked good and that swelling was the likely culpret...(he pointed a few areas out to me)  I was put on a medrol pack (solu-medro steroid).  He also cleared me for PT, 3x a week for 6 weeks with a follow up with him at 6 weeks.  Said that being able to rebuild my strength and ROM would help the pain.

He adjusted my medication slightly and continued me on muscle relaxers ... and thats where I stand as of tonight.  I continue to have a no work restriction, as well as lifting over 10 pounds (a gollon of water is 9.25 pounds, so thats what I go by).

Just wanted to give a quick update.

Jenn
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Avatar_m_tn
I am going thru the similar thing. I had an acdf 6-7 on dec 5, I had suffed since july 2010 doing what ever the docs advised, work comp. I received over 30 injections and 5 mri's while continuing full duty at a very physical job. It got to the point I was loosing full function of my left arm. So had surgery, immediately gained some strength back and nerve pain went away. After 3 weeks, pain in neck came back and got an appt 2 weeks later to make sure nothing was wrong. The PA said it was all normal and started me on physical therapy and to continue taking muscle relaxers and pain meds. I have been going to PT for about 7 weeks and pain feels like it's getting worse and all anyone says is it is muscle tension and spasms. I feel like WC docs don't listen to any complaints and just keep saying its normal. I really had hoped I would be out of this pain. Good luck to u. Hugo0842
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