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Hello. I am having surgery on my c5/c6 and c6/c7. What is the reality of recovery? My doctor said that I would be back taking care of my kids (5, 4, and 10 months--he is 21 lbs) and on the treadmill in a couple days. I have read and heard otherwise. Thank you for any responses.

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I had ACDF surgery 22mos ago. I have never fully recovered from the surgery. I was told, by the surgeon, that I would be able to drive the day after surgery! and alot of other things that did not happen.
I've done lots of research on this surgery since trying to discover a fix for me. During this time I've come to realize that this surgery is a gamble of sorts.
Some people seem to be doing great. Others are just like me and having a rough time and still continue to deal with a great deal of problems and pain from this surgery.
I was in pretty intense prior to surgery so I rushed in hoping for a fix. Now looking back I think I should have done more research at the time, asked more questions, and maybe waited until that pain was absolutely unbearable before I had surgery.
Good Luck to you.
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I had ACDF C5-7 with iliac bone graft Wednesday afternoon Jan 7. I have just returned from the NS. Had the stitches out. The first 24 hours were difficult. The bone graft site was very sore and I could not swallow unless i held my neck flexed. I wear the collar only in the car and when moving about a lot. I have been sleeping in a chair with an ottoman. Each day I am better. Today I have only taken one percocet. I think it really has to do with the competence of your neurosurgeon. Mine is a prince. A 60 something Armenian curmudgeon who is a bear to work with ( I am a surgical nurse) but an artist as a surgeon. He also is a sculptor and painter. He is very liberal regarding movement of the neck. I am to do full range of motion. I cannot break anything.... he says. There is fatigue and creaks and some pain in the neck. My pain preop was on the left side. I have had pain only on the right side post op. The pain on swallowing is a bear as was the pain at the site of the graft. Flex your neck to eat or drink. That makes it much better. And walk around as much as you can. I have just very mild soreness at the graft site today. If you trust your surgeon you will do well. God bless
Sharon in Cincinnati
My e-mail is _[removed]_ if you would like to ask more questions
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sharonbog-

My ortho surgeon is rated the top 14% and I have suffered tremendously since ACDF C-5,C-6 over 3 yrs ago.
I have been to numerous specialist trying to get to the bottom of my problem (severe muscle pain in neck, arms. Numbness and weakness that is spreading throughout my body).
I have been going to a new neurologist since October. He ran MRI's of my cervicle spine and of the brain. Findings are that my cervicle spine is great but I have spots in my brain stem. Therefore further testing.
I have had this pain (muscle spasms, numbness and weakness) for about 8 yrs now and no doctor can figure out what is wrong. All the doctors but this new one have only looked at my cervicle spine, found no problem, so ordered me to PT which does not help.

I guess the point I'm trying to make here was did the ortho surgeon convince me to have an unecessary surgery?
Reading all of these blogs I've found I'm not the only one suffering from these symptoms after ACDF....which makes one wonder what is really going on.

We can't all have MS or mini strokes which they are testing me for now.
Do you suppose damage is done to our muscles, nerves, etc. that will not heal?

Because of your profession I thought you might have some insight to my questions. I'm sure you've dealt with alot of people that has went through this procedure.

I hope you continue to recover wonderfully. It was one of the roughest surgeries I have ever had and it does take awhile to be able to lay in bed, stand, sit ,etc. and be somewhat comfortable. I'm still trying to get comfortable after all of this time.

Best of luck with a speedy recovery.
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sharonbog-

When I read your post I found it hard to swallow but I do believe you. I will not call you a liar but will say your case is wonderful and an inspiration to others who are worried about doing this surgery.

After careful thought about how your NS handled you post-op, I think that in some cases that it would be highly beneficial to push yourself to move and stretch to keep those muscles active. But in a lot of cases there are circumstances that determine a different coarse of action.

I think it is great that you are posting a different method of post-op treatment. I was not allowed to move my neck for 10 weeks, and when I did accidentally in the shower I wanted to scream. The reason it was 10 weeks was due to me not healing right and something else was wrong. So, to protect my neck I sat most of the time. In fact, in the first 2 weeks I could barely walk because it hurt that much. My NS told me to rest as much as I could. So after that length of time the body degenerates and the problems were just starting.

Like KSF, My surgeon was rated really high in the nation so I have nothing but faith that he made the right choices when he was inside my neck and that he was "competent". I to am having troubles sitting still, looking around when taking a walk with the wife, sleeping through the night without waking up in pain and more.... So just having faith in your doctor is not everything you need. I still won't drive because the pain involved when I have to react to other motorists.

I guess what I want to say is to other people who are looking to have this surgery, If you and your NS think that your surgery will come off without a hitch.... and no unforeseen side effects, Then you might want to ask your doctor about doing what sharonbog did post-op. Your recovery might just be easier than mine.

Just my thoughts,
Rob
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Hi,

I read alot of comments on this forum before I went in to have my surgery on Jan 12th. Because of all of the comments I was really worried!

I had no choice but to have the surgery as the prolapsed disc was HUGE and was impinging greatly on my spine. I had very severe pain in left arm, neck and head. Also ferocious pins and needles and burning pains. Had weaknessi id left arm and also left leg aswell as other symptoms. Numbness in my left hand, felt very clumsy and total lack of balance.

I went in for surgery at Newcastle in England. I am only 30 so was quite young to have this anyway. The surgeon was fabulous.

Anyway, I had surgery on Monday, so am now 4 days post-surgery. I feel MILES BETTER! THe arm, head and neck pain and pins and needles were gone when I woke from the anaesthetic. I have got pain in my hip where the iliac crest graft was taken and my throat feels a bit grim at the moment. There is discomfort but no great pain. I am hoping to feel even better when the staples are removed next week. The weakness and pins and needles in my leg are still there but they think that might be another disc lower down.

I just thought that bring some hope in all of the other very negative comments. Perhaps some of you would be better coming to ENgland to have it as we seem to have a high rate of success from the research I have previously done and the 5 or 10 other people I spoke to who have had it done.
X
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Hi vickilouise,

It is great that your most severe symptoms are now under control and you feel so much better. From what I have seen on here, It looks like the people who have the most severe symptoms have the most relief immediately after surgery.

I would not trade the way my NS in the USA did my surgery for one done with a graft from my hip. Mine was done with some new form of disk replacement that got filled with sterilized ground up bone from a donor. I had no pain in my hip to deal with, and from what I have read and heard first hand I don't want to.

Best wishes for your recovery. Keep us posted, it would be nice to read more success stories.

Rob
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Hi everyone,

It is now three weeks post op. And at one week post op I thought by three weeks post op I would have been dancing! Last Friday I did something to my right hip, stretched something and I have not been able to walk without pain since then. I guess I favored the right leg a lot, (site of the graft), and then last week took two long walks and tried to do some leg exercises and hurt something. My Neurosurgeon said that sometimes happens. I plan to call a physical therapist tomorrow. No one was in the office today because of the weather. I do range of motion exercises to my neck. There is some stiffness and some aches and pains in my upper back and right neck where the incision was. I have not driven yet because I really can't imagine driving with that collar. Maybe some of the initial euphoria I felt had to do with the percocet! I take one pill at night primarily for my leg. Each day it gets a little bit better, but I am really upset about what I interpret as a setback! I have never had difficulty walking before. Everyone is different and surgery is an abomination however you look at it, but is sometimes necessary. I had DDD fro over 20 years and the last exacerbation was a killer. I have no pain like that now.
Take Care,
Sharon
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Hello! I REALLY know how you feel and sympathize with your fears. I had Anterior Discectomy And Bone Fusion on Dec 12th,08 at Stanfotrd, c-5 and c-6. Reality, no, you will not be able to drive, lift anything weighing more than 5 lbs. (the same as 1 gallon of milk), no bending and you will need to sleep in a recliner chair. I am pretty much pain free. The things you can expect are a feeling there is something stuck in your throat, pain some days, others o.k., and you will be in a brace for AT LEAST 6 weeks. I still am not to do anything except rest until 3 month post surgical. If you smoke, STOP BEFORE, it is a cause of failure of the fusion. Good luck sweetie, it is what it is. You may want to take your MRI to another Dr. for a 2nd opinion. Ask anyone in close to you for help w/ kids, freeze meals.
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I just had c6-c7 surgery.I had tried all other types of treatment with no improvement. My doc suggested the surgery, and I reluctantly agreed. The neurosurgeon explained every thing in detail so I knew what to expect.The pain was bad initionally, but lessens every day. I am 4 days post-op.My throat feels strange like there is a lump or something stuck in it. But I believe I will be happy with the results after the recovery process is over. I can already tell that my head does not seem to weigh a ton,as it did before. I'm not sure about the treadmill but I also have 3 kids at home but mine are older and my husband is great. Good luck.
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I have become addicted to all of the posts that you all have made regarding your experiences with cervical fusion and find them both helpful AND confusing. It seems that there is everything from being able to move your neck around right after surgery to wearing a collar for many weeks. After reading everything I could on the topic, I am still not sure how careful I am supposed to be after my 11-24-08 fusion of 3 discs (c-4 thru c-7). I wore a soft collar for 6 weeks and now my spine surgeon just advises me to "be careful" and not to do anything but walk and ride a stationary bike "gently". He was very adamant about not forcing my neck to move past the point of pain, which is not very far. I was a very active person, working out for an hour every day, before my surgery and I want to get back to that. Now I am told that it will be 6 weeks to a year before fusion is complete! :-( Are any of you working out more than just walking? I just do not want to damage what has been done in my neck and I am very paranoid about that. Maybe that is a good thing?
I appreciate all of your posts and have learned a lot from you.
Annette
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I am having surgery next week on Feb 17th and I am scared to death. I sometimes wonder if reading these posts are a good thing or not. Seems to be a wide range of post op systems. My doctor said a few days in the hospital and 4-6 weeks off work and that I should be back 100% in 3 months. I have a desk job on a computer so I am not sure if that is harder on the neck or not. Does anyone know how long before you can drive. My doc said that 2 weeks in the collar then taking it off for short periods of time but pretty much wearing it for 6 weeks. I am pretty active as I bicycle a lot of 4-5 day tours 50-100 mile days so I am hoping that I can be back biking by mid June.

Any insights would be great.
Thanks,
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Your right, there are a lot of different outcomes here. Do not be afraid though. Even though my story has been one of the not so good ones in here, I still think that if I had not had the surgery that I would be in so much more pain with NO hope of feeling better someday.

I remember when I only had 7 days to go. I was worried but I at least had my sister close to talke me through it. She had 3 of these before my first and she was right when she said this:

"After the surgery, you will ask yourself Why did I do it?"

Before long you will know why. You may still hurt, You MAY NOT! Pray for the latter. But know this:

Doing something about your pain today with hopes of feeling better tomorrow is far better than,
Knowing how you will hurt tommorrow if you do nothing about it today.

I hope you keep your chin up and maybe you can get something from what I said.
Good Luck,
Rob
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By now, our "guest" has had surgery and that part of the anxiety will be over. Hopefully, you will realize soon that you are over the worst part of the ordeal. I agree with Rob that surgery is the better option, no matter how long it takes to get back to your regular life. I was getting tired of worrying about everything I did making my neck worse or that I might fall off a bike, or trip on a sidewalk crack and compound my condition, maybe even making it irreversible.

I don't regret the surgery at all, just am disappointed that it takes so darn long to get back into life as I knew it. I truly hope that you are 100% by 3 months but I think that is unrealistic (don't you, Rob?) I am hoping that I will be close to that in 6 months.

I wish you the best and will be thinking about you as you recover. Right now you feel like c**p, most likely :-( but that will get better soon and you will know that you are going to live! Unfortunately, I reacted to the anesthesia and threw up for 18 hours after the surgery (OUCH!) but without that nasty issue, I would have done fairly well. Keep us posted, and you too, Rob, as your posts have been helpful.

Annette
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I had my surgery on Dec 8, 2008. The first week was excruciating after the ACDF C6. The next week was better and I still see small improvements. My surgeon used titanium plating so I did not have to wear a collar. My pain level was a 7/8 with numbness, tingling, severe muscle spasms, loss of strength, pain in my left arm and armpit. I would rate my pain at 3/4 at this time. I still have the muscle spasms, numbess, tingling and the pain is now a dull ache. I'm still taking Flexiral and extra strength tyelonal. I researched the heck out of ACDF surgery and had three opinions before the surgery. I'm going through rehab right now and trying to work through everything. If I could get rid of the muscle spasms, I would definitely be in a better place. Does anyone have any problems with muscle spasms after driving with a seat belt? Every time I drive for over 20 to 30 minutes, I experience pain on the left side. For the most part, I'm glad I had the surgery. I felt like I was just existing before. I was rear ended six months ago and I thought it was whiplash. Was I surprised to learn it was a herniated disc.
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