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I wanted to post my positive experience with ACDF. I read so many horror stories and I needed people out there to know it typically is a VERY successful procedure, and I have my life back...

I too had ACDF surgery, C-6, C-7. I am 27, single mother of a 1 year old, very active, have been running and skiing my whole life. I don't know what caused my herniated discs or when, but something shifted them into my nerves in November of 2012, but it's likely the discs were herniated a long time ago. The first doc I saw said it was most likely muscle tightness...I begged him for an MRI because it was the worst pain in my entire life. I continued to run for an hour at a time every other day, and pushed through the "muscle pain". In the span of a few weeks, I had lost all feeling in my arm, couldn't hold a coffee cup, & couldn't throw a dart. I knew it was bad when I tried to do a push up and fell flat on my face.  When I tilted my chin to the ceiling I got pins and needles everywhere in my right hand.  I finally got my MRI in January 2013 and the next thing I knew I was being scheduled for surgery because the nerve damage was progressing very rapidly and the loss of strength got worse by the week. Spinal cord compression was very bad and doc said if I slipped on the ice and fell I could severely damage the cord even more than it already was. I can't believe the first doc just gave me muscle relaxers and sent me on my way, and told me I should still be ok to run...


I too read horror stories about this surgery. I kept asking my doc what my recovery would be like, and he said it really always depends on the situation and he wouldn't know until it was over and done. Also, I'm a non-smoker, chose to do the bone donor, and traditional hard wear, not the new stuff b/c it would have taken a few months for my insurance to OK it because it's so new, and my doc said I didn't have a few months to wait. 

Here are notes on my recovery:

-Woke up with NO more arm pain. Still numbness in hands, but he said that would be the final part to come come back. I didn't realize how bad the pain had gotten until I didn't have it anymore...

-I ate solids and a sandwich as my first meal - throat was sore for sure, but more just annoying. 

-I was only instructed to wear a soft collar when sleeping - I asked why I had seen so many different instructions on this, and  he said it really depends on the quality of your bone and how successful the screws secure the plate. I have very healthy bones & my hardwear wasn't going anywhere..

-For the 2nd day out, first day home from hospital, I slept in almost every chair in my house. I slept a full 8 hours that night on a couch. 3 days on the couch, then slept in my own bed propped up with pillows. No issues sleeping!

-See I'm an active person and get antsy doing nothing, so I went for a 2 mile walk on day 6 and 7. No problems. I did the dishes and housework on day 2. I listened to my body and slowed down if I felt I needed to. The hardest thing was not picking my daughter up.

-I went back to work at week after 1 week & stopped taking pk's. I mean, I guess if you feel like you can't work, and it depends on your job, but I see things where people are out of work for 6 weeks....I don't get it! Maybe some people enjoy spending their paid vacation hopped up on pk's and sleeping, but not me. I'd rather actually be on vacation.

-2 week check up showed everything was great. I got the ok to drive! I also got the ok to lift my daughter, as long as I held her close to my body and not with arms stretched out, but again, being smart with it. Also got the ok to exercise, just no upper body lifting of course and no running/skiing/impact activities. 


I'm 4 weeks out and have gone back to my regular life, just minus the pain. I still have numbness in my fingers, but I'm hopeful it will come back with time. I'm anxious for this thing to fuse so I can get back into running, but I'm not stupid enough to push anything and mess this up! Everything I have done has been on doctor's orders, also. 


I kept reading these terrible posts and then having my doctor reassure me that everything was going to be ok, and it was exhausting.  almost didn't have it because I didn't want the terrible recovery, complications, etc I read...


I hope this helps you prepare for your surgery and takes away some of the worry!


Thank you for such a positive post to read with my morning coffee. This is what I need to hear. One of my biggest concerns is when I can hold my daughter again. She is 14months old and quite rambunctious. The pain and what not are not my biggest concerns. I have more bad days now than before and still muscle through it. My biggest concern is when I can pick up and hold my daughter. Snuggle with her when she is having her bottle and play on the floor with her. Thank you for the bright horizon this morning.