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I am 3 weeks post Anterior Cervical discectomy and fusion of C5-6 w/ allograft (donor bone) and titianium plate. First thing is I feel like someone is constantly choking me, it worsens with mucles spasms. I am not sleeping at night due to pain in the right posterior side of ny neck and shoulder and the choking sensation. I am disappointed that I am still having to take the pain meds to manage this level of discomfort. Four Questions: 1- Any suggestions to reduce the choking? 2- How can I improve my sleeping? 3- How long should I expect to take the pain meds and muscle relaxors? 4- When should I know the surgery has been successful?

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Hello,

I have to have this surgery next month and although I can't answer your questions (sorry about your pain) I would like to ask some questions I have about the surgery and the recovery. I am worried about the surgery, I have never had to have surgery before.
I am afraid of not waking up and when I do wake up I am afraid of the recovery time. and how long will I be down I trust my surgeon but it's still scarry to me. I am having it done at St.Joe's in eureka calif. and he is the best surgeon he doe's these types of surgery all day long, but he has never had to go through this surgery himself so he can't answer me about the pain factor. At this point I want anything done to get rid of the constant pain I am in now my neck and right arm/hand is so numb and now just resently I get this burning pain that runs down my arm and hits my middle finger then races across the rest of my fingers it feels like fire and ice mixed with a vise grip and it lasts for 5 to 7 minutes it makes me cry it hurts so bad and I can't move my fingers when this is going on also it causes my hand to freeze up and change colors. My questions are; What am I in for before and after the surgery? and do you wear some type of neck brace if so for how long? I don't see Dr. John until the 1st to ask him but in the meantime I would feel better talking to people who have been through this. Thank You so much Rebecca
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Hi Rebecca,
I am two days post op of anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, and I had bone spurs irritating nerve roots. I had a herniated c5-c6 and c6-c7 discs removed, new discs put in, all three vertebra fused. Before the surgery I had "blackout" right arm pain, from my shoulder clear to my wrist, with my index and middle fingers numb. I went into this surgery very positive and optimistic, knowing that my pain coming out of it would be less than going into it. And so far that is correct. I went to a good surgeon, very well known for this surgery in Pittsburgh. The surgery is about two hours long, but for me, it was only seconds! They wheeled me into the op room, talked and kidded around for a few minutes before they put me out.When I woke up in recovery, I was groggy, and my neck and upper back, and throat were sore, but for a minute I thought they didn't do they surgery! Once I opened my eyes, they gave me some pain meds, took me to a room, I immediately got up, as soon as I could, to stand and walk around for very short periods of time. I was a little dizzy, but walking helps with recovery. Deep lung filling breaths help, too. I still had anesthisia in me for several hours, but I ate a normal dinner (meatloaf and mashed potatoes) and spent a lot of my one day hospital stay walking around.

They don't put you in a collar, I am assuming because maybe the neck heals better and faster if you support it yourself. I keep reminding my self to keep a very strait posture, as I am used to tilting forward to relieve old pain.

I slept in my bed last night for the first time in a year, but with pillows to keep me propped up, but that might not even be necessary. My neck and upper back is sore, and so is my throat, but...ARM PAIN IS GONE!!! My two fingers are still numb, but I was told as swelling from surgery goes down, so will numbness. I notice that neck pain is relieved with walking around, and I am doing very light stretching of my neck to and fro, back and forth. My range of motion is decent for now, and I expect to get better. I hope to drive soon, for now being in a car is weird, as my neck is kind of week, and the force of motion is noticable.

I want to let you know, I am a 40 year old single mom of 3 kids,( 16, 7, and 3) For the past few months I felt like an old woman, in pain, depressed that I couldn't do my usual activities, and suffered ridiculous panic attacks. I feel mentally fantastic and hopeful that within the next couple of months I will be able to slowly resume a normal life.

I believe in this surgery, for myself because I had two herniated discs, where my situation wasn't getting any better. You know, they don't guarantee that this will solve all the pain problems, and I have several weeks of healing to go, but I do feel that I am better off now than when I went in.

Good luck with your decision to have the surgery, go in with a positive attitude, be prepared to move around immediately, and remember you will hurt afterwards, but in a different, better way that you will heal from shortly, plus they give you percocet to deal with that.
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Hi! I had this surgery on C3/4 and C4/5 - 7 weeks ago. i just started back to work this week. The choking does get better, try to flex your neck as you swallow and be sure to chew your food really good. We all tend to swallow before completely chewed. After 7 weeks I have no pain while swallowing but I still have to chew well or it sticks and I cough a little piece up.


My arm/shoulder pain and numbness is gone! I still have stiffness and some soreness from the surgery in my neck but it is so much better. I'm glad I had the surgery. It takes awhile for everything to get better but it will. Try to stretch your neck but don't overdo it. You will have to take pain meds for awhile but it does get better. It did take me about 4 weeks to really sleep good because I couldn't get comfortable. At first I slept sitting up, after a couple of weeks I used 2 pillows as I usually do but make sure you have something under your neck to support, even squishing a pillow under your neck. Even now I do that and when sitting up I have a pillow to support my neck. Also, if you can lay flat on the floor once in a while and give your neck a rest from supporting your head. Turn your head to each side as you lay down, gently. It does help with the pain.


If you haven't already gotten one you will get a bone stimulator, it's like a collar but not tight, it sits around your neck and you turn it on and somehow it helps the bone fuse together. It does not hurt at all to use. I use mine 4 hours a day. When you visit your doctor they will do an x-ray to see if the fusion worked. Be very careful do not lift, pull or push anything for awhile. Also, I was told not to lift my arms above my head for about 6 weeks until I saw my surgeon..


Since I have been back to work this week I have been really tired and my neck really gets sore in the afternoon. I know I will get better but it will take time. Everybody says I look so much better, my attitude and my posture is a lot better. Yeah, because I'm not is so much pain! Don't give up, it does get better! Please ask any questions and I will try to answer. Good luck!
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I guess I am one of the lucky ones.. I just had a crushed L3/L4 disc and a couple of bone spurs to remove. I had the L3/L4 fusion and am 10 days post op. I had problems with painful swallowing that steadily got better after day 2 and not at day 10 is about 95% back to normal. Whereas I could only move my neck about +/- 20 degrees without pain, now I can move it about +/- 60 degrees and it only gets "sore" at the ends of travel. I cannot look upward quite as far now, but I can live with that fine. Overall, I am quite pleased with the result. Advice: Make sure your surgeon does a couple of these operations a week and check out his/her "report card" Experience means a lot!!
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I am 4 weeks post same surgery. I had the choking feeling which is not unusual. The have to move everything out of the way to get to the spine. I am no longer have that sensation at 4 weeks. Icy cold things helped me :). I am now sleeping better. Had to take a lot of naps the first 3 weeks which is expected. Still do on some days. Am now weaning off pain meds, everyone is different on that one. It can take months to know if the surgery was truly successful. Depends on how bad a nerve was pinched and how long. All I can say is lots of rest and even if you feel like you can do things that you are not supposed DON"T!
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