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Hi, I am a 45yr old who has just had ACDF 2 weeks ago.. I am still kinda in the dark since my surgeon is out of town and I have many post op questions that I dont feel I need to bother him with. I am doing good I think. While sleeping I find myself getting restless and I put my arms abobe my head and then I wake with numb arms/legs/fingers. I have pain in between the shoulders and in the back part of my neck. The pain in between the shoulders can get very bad and am now wondering how many people have ongoing pain for years and what is the normal time frame for taking vicoden 7.5mg? Since the onset of my problems in june of 2008 I have been medicated all the time. I have dome all the prescribed PT am then some including Chiropractic care and cold laser PT.

The biggest question I have is how many people find that they cannot return to thier jobs since it was a very physical and fast paced job? I am a line cook for a major fast paced food chain and have to twist and turn and lift many things many times all day long of variing wieghts. I've done this for 26 years and know how hard it is and am worried that I wont be able to do it any longer. Any ideas about this?

Thanks very much.


Well I am now 3 weeks into recovery. Still doing good. I have mild to moderate pain in the shoulders still, but have backed down on the pain meds. Nights are still a little hard since I tend to toss and turn... or try to.

I want to kidof keep updating this post to maybe help others who have questions as to what others have gone thru.

I believe what I have read in many posts, That all cases are different. But we still have a need to gather as much info as we can to be prepared for the worst and hopeful for the best.

Thanks to all others who have posted and replied in other threads.

For those who are not members and can't post... Please respond to the poll above so I can still get some kind of idea for my original question.

Thanks again in advance.


One thing I am noticing with people who have had ACDF surgery is that maybe at first they appear better but then after several months they start getting the muscle pain in neck and shoulders leaving them miserable.
I had this surgery over 3 yrs ago and I only continue to get worse after having it. I'm sure there has to be sucess stories out there but for the people I personally know that have had this surgery ( 4 people thus far) none of them have fully recuperated.
Hope this helps with your survey.


Thanks ksf.

I am trying to think positive but I am also trying to be realistic. A year ago I was tossing 3000lb logs around running my own sawmill and now I get up and walk for 15 minuets and set back down.... just getting a little stir crazy and looking for insight into my possible future.

One thing I didn't put in my message was that I had a bulged disc at C3-4, a herniated disc C4-5 with cord compression and another bulge at C5-6. so I had my ACDF from C4-5, C5-6 with hardware and a lot of screws. wearing a neck brace for 1 month, the a followup with my surgeon who says I will return to work at 4 weeks. I am not really sure I can do my job at that point.

once again thanks.


I am now nearing the 4th weeks end and things have changed somewhat. This week I began to have muscle spasms which are very painful. I have not been able to increase my activities much due to my collar which is due to come off on Dec. 3rd. When I take my collar off, my neck feels very weak. I tried to turn my head which I was told I would be able to do and I cannot! Is this normal? I can not get my chin to my shoulder or even close before the pain hits me.

Here is something that has begun 2 weeks ago and I keep forgetting to ask about... When I am out walking in a store I get dizzy and motion sick... is this from the vicodin? I have cut back to 3/day as needed. Also, Headaches which resemble my Cluster Headaches(baby migraines, only baby in the duration and frequency).

Sleeping is still a problem. Positioning is everything!... I can only sleep on my back yet. I tried to put more support under my head to try to get it into a neutral position... and nothing works except my back with a pillow under the very top of my head only.

Anyone heading for this surgery, I hope you don't plan on all of this happening... but be prepared instead. This is why I am posting a weekly update. I hope this can help somebody. And anybody Know if what I am experiencing is normal and How long do I have to expect the pain to keep on from their experience?


Well, as predicted I have made it through the worst of recovery pains. I still have a very rough time sleeping and cannot turn over onto my side and stay there. Week 4 was very hard. I have new pains arise as others subside. When this al began I had only pain on the left side from my neck down to my fingers. Well, the left feels better but not pain free and the right now has shown its own set of troubles.

I got to see my Surgeon Wednesday and he said he did not fuse C6-C7 because he was hoping he could get away without it. He said it is bad but it would be rougher on him and I if he did the 3 level.. so he opted out of doing it. He now says my new pains on the right are from C6-C7 and he put me on some kind of Epilepsy medicine that is supposed to tame down the nerves.

I believe this is something like what I have heard of in my past that your body can only process one pain signal at a time and it will do the worst first. So while my C4-C6 were the worst and flared up, my C6-C7 was not being diagnosed. Now it has come to the surface.

It looks like I already know I will be having another surgery in the future. Maybe not. But it looks like it. My C3-C4 is bulging badly also.

I have to wear my Miami J collar for another 2 weeks due to my neck not fusing yet.

Good luck to all. and Happy Holidays!


Well, 1 more week of my Miami J collar. I was told by my surgeon to ween myself off of it over the span of 2 weeks and I am trying. Yesterday after about 4 1/2 hours without it my right tricept and both shoulders flared up and I had to put the collar back on. It seems that the Neurontin (Epilepsy medicine) that my surgeon put me on is helping to tame down the nerves. When I have had pains this week they seem to be less painful than last week.

To anyone who has to wear this collar for a minimum of 4 weeks, be prepared for the muscles in your neck and shoulders to be weakened. As you try to go without the collar your neck and back will have spasms from being to weak to do the job and you may misinterpret this pain as being the same as the pain you had before the surgery. I did.

Also, I was reading another post by thegloveman (Tom) who is posting his week to week thoughts and experiences and you will want to go read that. He is having a good recovery compared to most and who knows, maybe there are more good cases than we get to read about. It is just encouraging to read something positive for a change.

I on the other hand still have to take pain meds daily(Lortab & Flexeril), but now I can take them as needed rather than on a schedual. I still can't sleep through the night because when I try to turn over onto my side the pain hits me hard. I can sometimes get onto my side and I try to stay there but after only 10 min. or so a dull pain begins and I have to turn back over onto my back which is when it hits me again. I guess that is about the worst pain I feel nowadays, just not the only pain. I still get the headaches but they seem to be fewer and farther between.

Well, onto week 6 and wishing the best of luck to everyone and Happy Holidays!



I just had to add a note that today, 44 days after my surgery, I have left my collar off for most of the day. I will still listen to my doctor and wear it when I am in a car or any time my neck tells me to have it on. But so far, the only time I have had pain was after folding blankets. Then my right triceps flared up and hasn't settled down yet.

After corresponding with others on this site over the last few weeks I am really seeing how different each Doctor and each Patient really are. Please listen to your doctor and not so much to us.

Remember, These posts are just OUR experiences. Not fake, fabricated or made up.. very real... for us. And for me, after being stuck here at home for going on 6 weeks and only having my wife to talk to for just the few hours she is home after work before going to bed, This is an outlet for me to communicate to others. Thanks!


Well, I was hoping for a little better than this but at least I am still up and about.
Tomorrow will be my 7 week mark and I am to be out of my collar totally. Yesterday I was without it for most of the day and then my neck begun to hurt around 6pm, next came my light pain in my triceps and then I decided to put the collar on before it got into my shoulders. That really did not stop the pain and I had to take my first pain killer and muscle relaxer (trying to wean myself off of those also). For the most part I was good for the rest of the evening.

I am worried about going totally without the brace but it will be nice if I can. I have tried to go without it for the last 4 days and always find myself in pain late in the days. I have been feeling better the last two days compared to a week ago and I am hoping this is a sign of things to come.

My surgeon said I can lift up to 20lbs and I think I can come close to that but find that I better watch how I do it or I pay quickly.

All in all I would say that where I felt real pain last week, I only feel discomfort right now.

I think that I still need to watch what what I do and how I do it. I used to run a sawmill in my spare time and handled very heavy logs by my self, so I am used to being very active and very physical. I was also used to handling very long boards all day and am getting anxious to get back to my hobby. A couple of my doctors told me my lumber making days are done and yet my surgeon thought I would be back to work 3 weeks ago.... I feel like they all are guessing. I also think they tell you the best prognosis and hope that is how it will go. My surgeon never told me about any of the bad things that I could experience. He only said that I would be in my collar for 4 weeks and that I could drive the 2nd week... neither of those things happened.

I feel like I am getting very negative after 7 weeks of doing pretty much nothing and hearing the phone ring and knowing they are all bill collectors. Don't they know I just had a major surgery and am out of work? They don't care. My depression is getting worse day by day as I talk to all of the bill collectors and my knowing that I won't be returning to my job that I have done for 26 years. I haven't heard anyone else talk about this aspect of their post-op troubles... But it is real and I believe that depression is a real problem in this healing process. I am going to loose our home due to this and the lack of insurance. I carried the only thing my work place offered and it only paid $300 on my surgery.

Sorry for rambling on, These thing are personal and somehow by me posting them on here I feel it is helping me in a way. Someone once told me that if you think things are collapsing on you and you are fighting a losing battle and see no way out, just write all your troubles down on a piece of paper and as you do, you may see a new way of dealing with your troubles or you may just feel better when your done. And sometimes it works.

I have switched places with my wife and have been doing most of the house work for her over the last 4 weeks. I have noticed a lot of soreness in the legs and my lower back as I increase my activities.

I go back to my surgeon January 7th for another checkup since I was not doing as good as he predicted.

Thanks for reading and allowing me to share.
Good Luck to everyone and Happy Holidays.



Just wanted you to know that you are not alone in the loss of job issue.
I've blogged several times, can't believe I am the only one that answered your poll and can't believe no one else is blogging about all of the other issues that go along with this surgery that are not physical.
Though we both know the physical challenge is an ordeal all by itself often times daily living becomes boring and a chore.
I worked in retail for over 30 yrs, had C-5,C-6 ACDF and had to quit my job because of this pain. I can't tell you the frustration it has been to not "make my own money". I raised a daughter from birth on my own, worked full time, took some college night coarses. Shortly before this surgery my daughter married and then I followed. I'm married to a wonderful man but you wouldn't believe all of the guilt I feel each and every day because I am not the person (physically) he married. I'm not bringing in my share of the income and there are many things I can't physically do anymore because of the pain.
I applied for SSD and that is a joke! I'm awaiting a hearing date.
As for my health I am on my millionth doctor. This doctor was wise enough to do an MRI of my brain and it showed I had lesions possibly from mini strokes or MS. I am still awaiting confirmation.
That in iself is frustrating. I have been diagnosed with just about everything that involves the nerves and muscles and as of now nothing is easing my pain.
It's hard to know if its from the ACDF or if it is something else.
I sure hope you continue to heal and get better with each new day...because it is pure hell if you don't.
Just wanted to let you know you aren't alone...many of us face the challenge of having time off work. You just need to try to keep busy. Even if its things (crosswords for as long as I can look down to do them) to keep your mind busy and working.



Thanks for the blog. I appreciate knowing I am not alone. I figured I wasn't but it sure feels like it. I am kin of in the other spot compared to your situation whereas I m the male who cannot support my wife. It is the same deal as yours though. I wish you the best and hope some doctor does something to help you figure out what can be done and what has to be dealt with permanently. For me, the only things that the doctors found in my case was a lump on my lung that is no problem I am told and a part of my heart is enlarged. Nothing is in my future medically other than the C6-C7 that the surgeon skipped thinking he could. And now I am dealing with pain from that disk. They put me on Neurontin which is an anti-epileptic drug that as I read about has major side effects.

I also applied for SSD and am waiting for a rejection. My wife has called job placement agencies and the reject me upfront due to my neck surgery. So I do not know what to do. We will be filing for a bankruptcy later next year since we will be so far in debt that we can never pay our way out. So, the loss of my job was only the start.

Sorry folks... This is all part of what a lot of us deal with.. and it takes it's toll.

I am nearing the end of my blogging here since my physical problems seem to have just settled into what everyone else is experiencing. I won't continue to ramble on when others need to be heard.

Thank you all for posting in other blogs,


hi all deb 7 months now since my ACDF they put me on gabapentin that is also a anti epileptic pill for PAIN im on 900mg a day but not helping plus 400mg mersendole forte 900mg day muscle spasms all the time yes weakness cant work ,i have not been at work since 2007may an told im am not returning,due to cant do repetitive stuff or heavy lifting ,pushing,pulling,all that stuff and more,i cant beleive that it has now taking over my life to,i am waiting to here what the insurance compy wants to do ,or i to will be applying for pension,this sucks,anyways talk soon,/DEB :-( i am 45yrs young,now feeling 100yrs old


Hi Deb,

Sorry to hear how this has effected you. You are the only other person I heard of that is on an anti-epileptic medicine. My meds consist of Lortab 7.5mg 2-3 times a day(now trying to wean myself off of it with little luck), Flexeril muscle relaxer which I think does the most other than my Neurontin which is the Epileptic medicine which actually has stopped the nerve pains I was having on my right arm. I am worried about the Neurontin's side affects and don't know if my surgeon is going to wean me off of them or what. I was wondering if it is working to stop the flare ups in my right arm, will the effects last and keep me pain free after stopping the medicine?

I talked to my mom today and she said I had "a bad surgery" ... hearing that bothers me since she was the one with the positive attitude all the time about my recovery and me going back to my regular job.

I am also about your age, I am 46yrs old and feeling like you are. I have been trying to do more and I ache everywhere. When I reach for something I have a pain just like before the surgery. And like you, the pushing and pulling can't be done.

I feel bad for thegloveman if you have read his posts.. He is as positive as we were in the beginning and yet he is coming along just as I did. He has setbacks here and there and his doctor is telling him all positive things. Mine said I would be driving in a week.. NO WAY! and I would be back to work in 4 weeks... nope. He made me stay in the brace for 7 weeks. I wish thegloveman the best... but he needs to be prepared to deal with occasional setbacks and some definite limitations.

Deb, did your epileptic meds make you feel funny at first?

Man, look at me... I said I was not going to post anymore....I guess this gives me something to do.. and I can't mess this up like I did my Christmas cookies today. lol

Hey, best wishes to you Deb, and reply if ya need some conversation.



hi Rob,thanks,um dont know much of anything anymore,just PAIN everyday
yes reaching is so bad, basicly everything you do is PAINFUL i didn't feel funny on those meds i dont feel they are working,an i take 900mg a day my neck and shoulder blades are the worst im driving but only to the doctors an my psychologist ,psychiatrist,i want to scream out,(take the PAIN away)
but know one here's me,i just cant beleive that this is the way life is now,,grrrr so angry, upset,an depressed ,but under neath im still hopeing
that one day i will wake from this night mare,ayway,talk soon,merry christmas to all big wishes for the new year,thanks Rob,
Deb :-( %-), gloveman chin up,well be here if you need us ,Deb


hello I had my acdf on 11/26/08 and its been approx 3 weeks after my surgery. I was in a bad car accident and injured my head, neck, shoulder and back. The pain in my neck has reduced significantly since the surgery. However I am experiencing other pain in other areas of my body due to all the injuries. Ive been in the house for 5 months unable to care for myself or my family, I lost my job due to not being able to work and now my car insurance has cut all benefits WHY i dont know i was perfectly fine before the accident and now my life is ruined i will never be the same i can't think straight, im in so much pain at times i can't think at all and am often severly confused. I pray a lot and ask God to help me to understand it all and deal with it without losing my mind totally. I have a bruise on my brain that affect my memor and thinking so here is a highly intelligent individual who has diminished thinking capacity/ life sure takes some strange turns I JUST CONTINUE TO0 PRAY AND ASK GOD FOR MERCY AND HELP ME THROUGH THIS VERY TRYING TIME IN MY LIFE I ALSO PRAY FOR ALL OF YOU AS WELL, MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND BE WITH YOU ALWAYS