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I have heard that anterior cervical discectomy and fusion might be procedure that is going to help me. I have degenerative disc disease, and this is a big problem to me. As discs naturally wear out, bone spurs form and the facet joints inflame, so the disc is dry out and shrink, losing flexibility and cushioning properties. I know my problem is that disc spaces get smaller. These changes lead to stenosis so I need something to help me, and I was thinking if you might tell me about this procedure.

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Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is a surgical procedure performed to treat a damaged disc. Usually it has been done to treat disc in the neck area of the spine. Doctor may recommend a discectomy if physical therapy or medication fails to help relieve your neck or arm pain. This pain usually is caused by inflamed and compressed spinal nerves. ACDF is used to treat conditions that require this kind of improvement, and such a problem as you have. You should know that this surgery requires a hospital stay from one to 3 days and recovery time takes between 4 to 6 weeks. I also think you need to know that anterior cervical discectomy and fusion literally means cutting out the disc. Anterior cervical discectomy is a surgical procedure that removes all or some of the disc; while anterior means that, your doctor reaches the damaged disc from the front of your neck. This is a more convenient approach than from the back or posterior of your neck. Depending on your particular case, one disc or more may be removed, but this is something that your doctor will decide.
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I just had the ACDF sugery 3-weeks ago. It went well, and my throat is fully recovered. My question is not knowing if the pain I am experiecing is "normal" part of the recovery? I have shooting pains, that feel nerve related. does anyone have any insight on this?
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I am a 39 year old healthy female who NEVER HAD any back problems/symptoms. I was rushed to the hospital on 8/13/06 with extreme back pain and numbness in my right arm. And by 9/5/06 I underwent ACDF surgery w/ level 2 fusion at C5/6 & C6/7. I, too, am still feeling limited pain, mostly between the shoulder blades and it seems muscular in nature. Also, my right arm is not as numb or tingly, but I still have a sore spot in my right armpit and irunning across my upper breast. Does anyone else experience pain in the armpit? I am so worried about the healing process and just want to 'get back to normal'. I am an elementary teacher & holding still is just not an option. I already have cabin fever. Can anyone tell me what physical therapy is involved if any? Currently, I am wearing an Orthofix Cervical Stim unit (bone stimulator) for 4 hours daily and have been told not to lift anything over 5 lbs. My doc said to not move my head up or down AT ALL. I wore a soft collar for 4 days post op. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks!
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Hi,

I am a 27 year old male, I suffered a sports injury almost 1 yr ago, i have a herniated disc on my left side between c6 - c7, at first i suffered pain and thought had a pulled muscle in my back, 5 months ago i had an MRI which showed the disc herniation. The symptoms i suffered were as follows:

pain in between shoulder blades, triceps locking, pins and neddles/numbness in the tip of my fingers, shooting pain in both forearms and the tips of both fingers when sneezing or coughing, weakness in my left hand, i could'nt use a nail clippers, co-ordination problems with my left hand, shakes.

All of these symptoms have gradually gone away, i still have slight twitching in my muscles and and very very slight sensitivity in my left hand, sometimes my left hand shakes, not badly, just looks like i had a heavy drinking session the night before.

I feel i have being forced towards surgery, i never had any manipulation or physio, everything was focused on surgery.

I am due for acdf next month and i am wondering is it worth getting another MRI to see if the disc returned into place? Can this happen?

Any comments would be much appreciated.

Thanks,

KR
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I just had C5-6 CDF on 10/5, and I returned to work on 10/12 (part-time), per my doctor. I feel pretty good, but still have numbness and tingling in my shoulder and arm. My doc says its "normal" recovery pains. I find it hard to believe too. I feel like I'm never going to recover and it's frustrating. I know I'm only 2 weeks post-op, but I hate feeling like this. I want to be normal again. I take percocet only as needed, mostly at night to help me rest. I weened myself off of it every four hours about 4 days ago b/c I don't want to get addicted. I am just so frustrated b/c I don't know when I will know what recovered will feel like. Am I the only one so frustrated??? :x
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Does anyone use a TENS unit for the pain after the fusion? I have a unit now that I use for the pain. I am scheduled for surgery 11/30/06 and would like to know if anyone has used a TENS unit after surgery?
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I have been treated for the last 4 months for cervical radiculopathy. I have been experiencing excrucitating pain for the last two weeks because of this. I was hospitalized last week because of acute pain with this. I found out I won't be able to have ACDF surgery for two more weeks because of this doctor's schedule. I can't go to work because of the pain. I am taking percocet and neurontin to help control the pain and work on the nerve pain, but it just barely takes the edge off. Anyone have any suggestions to help? I am looking forward to the surgery just to be pain free for a little while.
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The first week of Oct. I woke with a stiff neck, went to the doctor and she did an X-ray and did not like what she saw, so she sent me for an MRI. Diagnosis was Severe Stenosis at C5 & C6, that is squeezing my spinal cord. Now here is the hard part...I have had no symptoms whatsoever, this was all a complete surprise. After 3 opinions I am scheduled for the surgery 11-28, but I am terrified by the posts that the cure maybe worse than what I am feeling right now, which is nothing. I was told by 2 neurosurgeons and 1 ortho that I was way past PT, and that only surgery would help. I would really like some answers.

Linda
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10 years ago I had cervical fusion on my C4 and C5 discs.Yes ,it was more painful at times after surgery than I thought.I do wish that my nuero surgeon would have told me that.Now ten years later I find that I have to have C6 andC7 operated on Nov 23).Am I looking forward to this ,no!!But I do know that the nerve pain I have every day is not fun either.I have learned to take one day at a time.To anyone having this done do not be afraid to ask questions.[/enc]
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Have just discovered this site and wanted to reassure anyone about to undergo surgery. 9 years ago, aged 39, my mother had died and I had responsibility for packing up the family home. I was months and months clearing out the house and in the process herniated C4,5 & 6. My excrutiating neck pain was initially misdiagnosed by my GP, who decided the pain was due to 'grieving over my mother'!

It took several months and breaking down in the pharmacy in tears to be given a number for a neurosurgeon. I was immediately rushed to MRI and apparently, according to the surgeon, I was '4 hours from paralysis'! My spinal chord was almost flattened and I could no longer use my left arm.

I had emergency surgery and had a bone graft taken from my hip and a titaniam plate fitted. The whole thing was the scariest thing I have ever experienced. I was in hospital 8 days and on a morphine drip. It was impossible to get comfortable despite an electric orthopeadic bed. I had a neck brace. I was sent home with no physiotherapy plan (that surprised me) to any empty house and had to recover without anyone close near me (too long a story to explain here!).

Oh dear, this is supposed to be an encouraging posting! What I am trying to get to is that the recovery was tough but I am now in great shape. I would say it took 6 months to really get back on my feet... I then got myself to the gym and now religiously do yoga.... if I don't exercise I completely cease up (I am a bit like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz) and still get stiff. I still have numbness in the tips of my fingers left hand and have been told this is probably permanent. I also have what can only be described as a slight 'hump' on the back of my neck that seems to be where my neck was set.

My advice for recovery would be: try have as much support around you as possible, this is an emotionally challenging operation as well as physically. Don't expect to be pain free for a while (the bone graft was agony) and start very gentle exercise once your doctor has given you the go ahead. I find a monthly massage incredibly helpful, I am mindful of my posture and a hot water bottle between the shoulder blades can help the ache when I am tired.

On a lighter note - for goodness sake make sure you take the laxatives they dish out in the hospital - my insides were like the Elgin Marbles after all the morphine and on return home had one of the worst night's of my life doubled up with constipation! Real, screaming agony stomach cramps! I had to be given an enema the next morning by a friend's nanny who had been a nurse!!!!

I am fitter and in better shape than I have ever been in my life and in fact the operation was a real 'wake up call' for me to look at my lifestyle and start looking after myself - I quite smoking as well.

Good luck to anyone going this traumatic experience but you can come through the other side intact and although my neck will never be completely normal, its pretty functional considering and I definitely do not experience any extreme pain anymore. The scar has completely faded and it all moves nicely.
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Hi,

This forum has been really helpful to read. I live in Canada and am having a lot of trouble making a decision regarding treatment for my C 5-6 disc herniation.

My original injury was 30/12/05 and had severe pain in neck and lt arm. I recovered nicely but it took 6+ months and I was off work for 12 weeks. My dr said most of these injuries will recover with exercise, rest, and physiotherapy and he was right.

Unfortunately it recurred in October 06 and I am referred for surgery to have the portion of the disc removed that is herniated through an endoscopic procedure rather than open surgery. Less risky and usually very effective. The problem is the wait time is up to a year in Canada.

I am looking into the Laser procedures offered in the US. I am wondering if anyone else has any experience with these Laser Spine Clinics that claim they can fix the problem with only a short outpatient procedure with amazing results.

Looking forward to any thoughts.

D
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I am now 5 months post fusion due to spinal cord entrapment. I spent the first 14 weeks in a rigid brace from chin to waist. I have now been brace free for almost 7 weeks. I had minimal pain pre-surgery my primary symptom was complete loss of use of my right arm.
I have regained some use of the arm but now am finding that by the end of a day the back of head and neck are very "achy". Today I drove for 6 hours (1.5 hours then 4 hours later 4.5 hours) and I feel like I am ready to die.
This is the first that I have driven more than 2 hours since July 1 and had no idea how hard it would be. My Dr. does not want me to take any products containing ibuprophen for 1 year- only Tylenol.
I am glad to regain some use of the arm although that was not a given pre-surgery. It has been a long and slow recovery to gain use of the arm. I am happy to dress myself, brush my teeth and feed myself again. My lifting limit is 2-3 pounds (not much).
I wish I had found this forum PRE-SURGERY- my survival mechanisms were the prism glasses (I could read, knit and watch TV laying on my back), several squooshie pillows and a wedge pillow. I can not forget a loving and ever patient husband who waited on me hand and foot for weeks!
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Unless it is an absolute necessity to have disc replacement and a fusion I beg you to ask your doctor what type of artificial disc will be used and research it.
Not recovering from C-5, C-6 surgery ( its been 18 months now) I have started research trying to find a cure on my own. During this research I have discovered lots of things my neuro surgeon did not tell me.
I was in pain and desperate so I rushed into the surgery...wow am I sorry.
I hurt much worse now than prior to surgery.
Please do your research before you submit to this surgery.
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Linda,



I just had ACDF of C4-C7 on 1/10/07 and I must say that I have had excellent results. I was like you also when I was first diagnosed. I had no pain but the top of my right hand was numb and I felt like a had a line of little ants crawling down my arm. I waited one year before having to undergo surgery. Before I went in I had developed severe right arm pain, loss of fine motor skills and strength to my right arm, my right foot was completely numb, and my legs felt heavy and I tired easily. You will not be allowed to forget this forever as it is insidious and will only get worse with time. I would say go for surgery now! Don't wait until you are totally miserable and have all kinds of symptoms. Cervical stenosis effects your entire body, not just your neck and arms. Hope this helps you make your decision easier.



Brenda
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