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2-3 Level Fusion (ACDF) - advice please

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Unread 01-17-2011, 02:00 PM   #1
cath1
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Default 2-3 Level Fusion (ACDF) - advice please

I'm scheduled for surgery in 4 weeks to have a 2-3 level fusion in my cervical spine. My neurosurgeon will decide whether it will be 2 or 3 after my updated MRI which is tomorrow. But for now we know he will be fusing C5/C6 & C6/C7.

Is there anyone that has had this surgery that can offer advice on pain management, recovery, sleeping after surgery, anything that you wish you knew before your surgery? It's always helpful to hear from someone who has already "been there & done that". Would appreciate hearing how long it took for recovery and did you feel relief from the pinched nerves right away? (I have pinched nerves in my hands and neck which is excrutiating).

Is there anything you wish you knew before surgery that you know now?

Thank you!
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Unread 01-17-2011, 05:43 PM   #2
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Hi ~ You have pinched nerves in your HANDS??? Or are the nerves in your neck affecting your hands?

I can tell you that I'm not a fan of surgery, only because most of the time your pain will NOT be relieved. The surgery only fixes mechanical problems - your pain will most likely still be there, and sometimes it's worse than before. There have been articles from the Amer. Society of Surgeons that stated that MOST of the surgery performed on spines in the U.S. had the SAME results as did physical therapy!! So in other words, the surgeries were useless. That went for the fusions too, as stated in the article. I've had 2 open spinal surgeries, and I'm worse now than I was before the surgeries - I have more pain than I had before.

Also, after spinal surgeries, you will undoubtedly have the "domino" effect, meaning that the levels either above/below the surgical site will fail - thus requiring further surgery. It's a never ending cycle unless you just opt for physical therapy. The only reason I would ever opt for further surgery is if my SPINAL CORD was being impinged.

I'm sorry you have to have surgery. You will need to talk to your doctor about post-op medications because they ALWAYS undermedicate the patient. Be firm about wanting adequate pain medication. The recovery is "longish." If you mean how long does it take to be fully fused -- that takes about a year - sometimes longer. As far as how you feel - it's different for everyone and it's hard to say. You will need some help for probably the first week. Sleeping - you will have to wear a collar for awhile - most docs have you wear a soft collar at night. They aren't too bad. It may take awhile before you feel relief because the nerves are very irritated - nerves heal at the rate of 1" per month. So it depends on your own case.

I hope I've answered a few questions. God bless and take care. hugs, Lee
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Unread 01-17-2011, 07:21 PM   #3
frenchfri1003
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Thumbs up Same situation

cath1 I had exactly the same situation. My surgeon ended up only doing C5/C6 & C6/C7. I am concerned that he opted not to do C4/5. I go for my 6 week check on Wed.
My best advice for pain management is to take everything that is recommended on a strict schedule in the beginning (both the pain and muscle relaxer). I found out the hard way it takes at least 1 1/2 hours for pain meds to help with the pain if you wait and see how you are doing. Really listen to the limitations that your surgeon gives you. I am still sleeping in the recliner, but everyone is different. I think there is a thread what I wish i had known before surgery or items to have. Anyway, items to have in the house: soft foods mashed potatoes, applesauce, instant oatmeal, lots of soup, ice cream, sherbert, yogurt, thin pasta and any other drinks you like. A must is a stool softener. In the hospital I refused the iron since that also clogs up your system. Have plenty of pillows, sweats and sweatshirts so you do not have to worry about wash.
I felt an immediate relief from the symptoms of the pinched nerves: numbness, tingling and pain. The pain from swallowing was severe for me because I had a reaction to the bone protein.
What I was told no BLT (bending, lifting or turning)
Good luck and keep us posted.
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Unread 01-18-2011, 12:08 AM   #4
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Cath 1 I had my C4to 6 fused in 05 and did just great. I was given the choice of surgery or a wheelchair, someone feeding me, and wearing diapers. In other words I would have been paralized and it was so urgent I had it a week after seeing my NS. Never regreted of course and am so thankful to have been saved from the chair. I ride a Hoveround now due to deteration of my spine and my neck is again ruptured at C6 to C7.
It was not that painful and my best advice is to tell you to have a good recliner to sleep in for a while. I slept on ours and it was so much better than the bed due to having a hard collar on for some weeks.
I hope everything turns out well for you and healing is quick' Hugs

PS my spelling is awful. LOL
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cath1 (01-22-2011)
Unread 01-18-2011, 09:20 AM   #5
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Hello Cath1, I had a 3 level ADCF C4-C7 in Feb/09. You may want someone with you for the frist week or two, soft foods and liquids as your throat will be sore, I still experience swallowing issue due to a cyst that formed from a hematoma on my incision. Lots of pillows to keep you elevated in bed, I could not do the recliner, I wore a hard collar for 3 months, used liquid morphine for the frist month and still have to use oxycodone today as I got the gift of the domino effect, C3-4 has herniated and I still have ostoephytes at C4-5 and C5-6 levels, cervical radiculopathy, cervical stenosis and recently dx with TOS(thoracic outlet syndrome) I am in constant severe chronic pain and headaches 4-5 times a week, and have had to apply for CPP disability as I am unable to return to work, both my neurosurgeon and family doctors have wrote me off work and my LTD will be done in May. Cath1 everyone is different when it comes to surgery and healing and some have wonderful success and some not so much, but if your pain is intolerable and your symptoms are relentless then do what you need to do and stay positive, I only wanted to get better and be pain free even quit smoking after 25 yrs per my surgeon as he stated smoking will stop the new bone growth and fusion, sry for long post and Good Luck with surgery! Bunz
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Unread 01-18-2011, 09:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cath1 View Post
I'm scheduled for surgery in 4 weeks to have a 2-3 level fusion in my cervical spine. My neurosurgeon will decide whether it will be 2 or 3 after my updated MRI which is tomorrow. But for now we know he will be fusing C5/C6 & C6/C7.

Is there anyone that has had this surgery that can offer advice on pain management, recovery, sleeping after surgery, anything that you wish you knew before your surgery? It's always helpful to hear from someone who has already "been there & done that". Would appreciate hearing how long it took for recovery and did you feel relief from the pinched nerves right away? (I have pinched nerves in my hands and neck which is excrutiating).

Is there anything you wish you knew before surgery that you know now?

Thank you!
Hi Cath1, posted already but wanted to say I am from Ontario, had my surgery in Windsor, where in Canada are you, if you don't mind me asking. Bunz
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Feb09 - had 3 level anterior cervical fusion
Now have 3-4 herniation and bone spurs
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eva5667faliure (08-14-2013)
Unread 01-18-2011, 10:55 PM   #7
cath1
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Default In Windsor Also

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Originally Posted by bunz50 View Post
Hi Cath1, posted already but wanted to say I am from Ontario, had my surgery in Windsor, where in Canada are you, if you don't mind me asking. Bunz
I'm in Windsor also, having my surgery at Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital, my neurosurgeon is Dr. Jhawar. I like him, and I've been given an 80% chance of complete success (meaning it will cure all my neck, hand and arm pain and I will gain all my strength back in my hands). I'm trying my best to not be put on disability, I've been off work on WSIB since May 31st.

The nerves are pinched in my neck, which are running down my hands. My father is on disability for degenerative disc disease, and I too have been diagnosed with an advance form of it for my age (I'm only 40). I realize everyone has degeneration with age. I was told the same thing about smoking but I've never smoked a day in my life. He also told me that smokers usually have spine problems more severe than non-smokers.

I'm sorry to hear that you are still having problems. Being limited in ability is horrible, these last 8 months off work feel like I'm on house arrest since I can't even drive anymore the pain is so severe.

Who was your surgeon if you don't mind me asking? I have a few friends and family members who have also had this surgery in Windsor, so far everyone has had successful outcomes and I'm hoping for the same!

Take care,
Cathie
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Unread 01-18-2011, 11:10 PM   #8
cath1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leesa View Post
Hi ~ You have pinched nerves in your HANDS??? Or are the nerves in your neck affecting your hands?

I can tell you that I'm not a fan of surgery, only because most of the time your pain will NOT be relieved. The surgery only fixes mechanical problems - your pain will most likely still be there, and sometimes it's worse than before. There have been articles from the Amer. Society of Surgeons that stated that MOST of the surgery performed on spines in the U.S. had the SAME results as did physical therapy!! So in other words, the surgeries were useless. That went for the fusions too, as stated in the article. I've had 2 open spinal surgeries, and I'm worse now than I was before the surgeries - I have more pain than I had before.

Also, after spinal surgeries, you will undoubtedly have the "domino" effect, meaning that the levels either above/below the surgical site will fail - thus requiring further surgery. It's a never ending cycle unless you just opt for physical therapy. The only reason I would ever opt for further surgery is if my SPINAL CORD was being impinged.

I'm sorry you have to have surgery. You will need to talk to your doctor about post-op medications because they ALWAYS undermedicate the patient. Be firm about wanting adequate pain medication. The recovery is "longish." If you mean how long does it take to be fully fused -- that takes about a year - sometimes longer. As far as how you feel - it's different for everyone and it's hard to say. You will need some help for probably the first week. Sleeping - you will have to wear a collar for awhile - most docs have you wear a soft collar at night. They aren't too bad. It may take awhile before you feel relief because the nerves are very irritated - nerves heal at the rate of 1" per month. So it depends on your own case.

I hope I've answered a few questions. God bless and take care. hugs, Lee
The pinched nerves are in my neck and radiating to my hands. I've already been tested for carpal tunnel and ulnar nerve, and went through 6 months of physio, accupuncture, massage, traction, etc.... and then the MRI and CT scans showed the DDG and osteophytes in my neck causing the problem. I was told by my surgeon I will be required to wear a hard collar (at all times) for at least 6 weeks. So the recliner or couch will be wear I will sleep I guess. I am worried about the pain relief, I've been weaning myself down off the high doses of Oxy for 6 weeks now to get my tolerance down and avoid rebound pain after surgery. I will bring in my own meds if need be to get relief! LOL

Thanks for all the advice, I'm having the surgery no matter what, I have lost all quality of life right now, can't even drive, so I would rather take the risk for domino effect than stay like this forever.

Appreciate all the information.. .told my hubby to start learning how to make home made soup! )
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Unread 01-19-2011, 11:27 AM   #9
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Hi Cathie, I am actually in Chatham but had my surgery at Hotel Dieu Grace. My neurosurgeon is Dr. Shamisa, he is a wonderful man and I liked him right from the start. I do not blame him for any residual symtoms or new dx, he sent me to different docs and tests to finally discovered I have TOS. If I recall correctly Dr. Shamisa gave me the same chances of success and had also advised that if the radicular pain was still there after 2yrs then quite possible would have permanent nerve damage. I have been dealing with my cervical issues since 2006, and it was a long process. You know the steps, xray then ct scan and finally the MRI, then it took 2yrs to see Dr. Shamisa and have surgery. I wish you complete success with your surgery and a healthy recovery! Let me know how you make out with your MRI results and if your family or friends have had Shamisa for their surgeon. Thank-you Bunz
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Feb09 - had 3 level anterior cervical fusion
Now have 3-4 herniation and bone spurs
---------------------------------------------------
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Unread 01-19-2011, 03:26 PM   #10
cath1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bunz50 View Post
Hi Cathie, I am actually in Chatham but had my surgery at Hotel Dieu Grace. My neurosurgeon is Dr. Shamisa, he is a wonderful man and I liked him right from the start. I do not blame him for any residual symtoms or new dx, he sent me to different docs and tests to finally discovered I have TOS. If I recall correctly Dr. Shamisa gave me the same chances of success and had also advised that if the radicular pain was still there after 2yrs then quite possible would have permanent nerve damage. I have been dealing with my cervical issues since 2006, and it was a long process. You know the steps, xray then ct scan and finally the MRI, then it took 2yrs to see Dr. Shamisa and have surgery. I wish you complete success with your surgery and a healthy recovery! Let me know how you make out with your MRI results and if your family or friends have had Shamisa for their surgeon. Thank-you Bunz
One of my very close friends also had Dr. Shamisa for the same surgery. She had it 7 years ago, and is now completely recovered. So it definately depends on the person and their problem. Dr. Jhawar (my dr) is in the same office as Dr. Shamisa. I've heard good things about both. You are correct, it has been a very long process, I'm off on WSIB, and it started with physio, then xrays, then ultrasound, then CT and MRI, then a second MRI last night. (It was very hard laying still last night for the 20 minute scan due to pain and twitching, but hopefully they got good images!)

I hope and pray not to end up on disability, it is so frustrating not to be doing and enjoying all the things I was only 1 1/2 years ago. This last month I'm not even driving anymore, which is hard since I live in Belle River and everything is 20 minutes or more driving to Windsor.

How long were you in the hospital after your surgery? Did you get a morphine drip or did you ask for one? How long before you were able to shower after surgery. Silly questions, but I'm getting nervous and my mind is racing thinking of all the things I don't know.

This forum has been very helpful for information, you're the first person on here that is only 1/2 hour away from my house though! LOL... small world.

Thanks for answering all my questions! very appreciated.
Cathie
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