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Looking for advice about ACDF

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Unread 10-14-2007, 02:11 PM   #1
trinab
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Smile Looking for advice about ACDF

I have checked this site out over the last two years looking for alternative treatments and feedback about ACDF (C6-C7). After trying nerve root block injections, epidurals, facet joint blocks, PT, and accupuncture, it seems that surgery is the only option I have to deal with my pain and hopefully end it completely. I have an ACDF scheduled on Nov 7. Do any of our ACDF survivors have any feedback about how I can be prepared for possible health needs immediately after the surgery? Foods to eat? Medical or sleep equipment needed? What to do and what to avoid?


Thanks for any help you can give!
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Unread 10-14-2007, 04:54 PM   #2
Kathi49
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trinab,

Having had two ACDF's I'll tell you what I did or used...

1) Slept in a recliner for at least two weeks if not longer.
2) IF you are laying flat in your own bed and need to get up, hold the back of your neck and do a "log roll" to get up. Ask the hospital to show you how. Trust me, if not done right, you WILL feel it!
3) You will probably be in a soft collar for a few weeks maybe less. I wore mine all the time at first and then periodically if I started to feel the muscles get tight.
4) The hospital or doctor will explain how to care for the incision; it is no biggie really...but those steri strips sometimes don't like to fall off.
5) I bought one of those long "grabber" poles to pick things off the floor instead of bending over.
6) Some people pack themselves in pillows too...but I always just used my own cervical pillow.
7) Walk! And walk as much as you possibly can when you feel up to it. That seems to be the biggest thing the docs stress...just walk!
8) As time passes, they will have you do stretches. I learned the hard way...do not do them when your neck is cold so to speak. Do them in a hot shower...something my spinal PM mentioned.

This is really all I can think of for now. I am sure others will be along to add more. As far as food goes, I didn't worry too much because at first because hubby brought meals home. And truthfully, it wasn't so bad that I couldn't make myself something to eat. And this last fusion I had done was outpatient! Anyway, I wish you luck and let everyone know how it goes.
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Unread 10-14-2007, 05:14 PM   #3
stiffnecked
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I also had an ACDF C5-6-7 on 8-8-05. I second the recommends on #1,#2 & #7. Make sure you have a recliner now. Don't do like I did and wait until after the surgery to buy it. I didn't get a single night of good sleep until I got the recliner. Slept the first three nights sitting upright on the couch. Or should I say I watched TV for 72 hours straight.
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Unread 10-14-2007, 09:31 PM   #4
trinab
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Smile Thanks for the great ideas... one more question

I appreciate all of the great feedback. I guess my biggest worries are: that the doc will get in and decide he needs to do another level as well (my 3-4 has issues also), that I will have lots of throat/swallowing problems, and that the pain, which is now mostly muscle spasm types, with some stabbing pains in the side of neck, won't get any better. I also worry that this surgery will be starting a whole long line of surgeries on my neck. Any comments on any of that? What do the stats show, does anyone know?

Also, how long can I realistically expect before I can go back to work and feel better? My doc has said 10 days, but I have told my work sight 3 weeks as 10 days just seems unrealistic to me. Will I be so debiltated that I won't be able to do any of the activities related to the holidays like shopping and cooking? Will I be able to shower, lift my arms over my head to do my hair, silly (but important to me!) things like that?
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Unread 10-15-2007, 08:40 AM   #5
stiffnecked
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Honestly, don't worry about it. Just do it. If you don't things will only progressively get worse. I would vote for the 3 weeks instead of 10 days. Swallowing, talking, anything involving the throat will be painful for a while. It's just part of how they do the surgery.
Stock up on sugar-free jello and pudding and stuff that goes down easy. I didn't have any problems reaching above my head though I moved a bit more slowly.
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Unread 10-23-2007, 11:37 PM   #6
Bugler
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Default Don't baby it

I guess I have a different point of view than others that say to lay around. My brother had the surgery and laid around in a lounger chair for 12 weeks. I really think his pain lasted so long because he chose to lay around putting pressure on the hip bone shaving site.

In contrast, I had the same surgery you are talking about. The only work I missed was the two days I was in the hospital. Ten days later I was scuba diving in the Bahama, jumping from a large boat.

Now I did not have the hip shaving for that surgery. Instead, I insisted on a donor bone. I figured that my hip was fine so why mess with it. It was a great decision for me.

A few years later I had to have another fusion much lower in my back. There they did the hip shaving and that was the worst recovery part. Even now, five years later, I get discomfort from where they saved my hip. Avoid that part if you can. However, even after the hip shaving, rods and screws, I again only spent two days away from work after getting out of the hospital.

Stay active, refuse to give in to the pain where you possibly can.
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Unread 10-24-2007, 11:08 PM   #7
dagm131
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Default depends on the type of work you do

you should be told not to lift anything over 5 pds. take there advice, as for work it depends i have a heavy lifting job so it took 3 months. but the surgen messed up and i had to have aposterior revision done which is alot more painful. you should see if you can get a hospital bed oes wonders milk shakes thoat will be soar for about a week, a cane so you don't fall when you do all that walking. this is really not a bad surgery mimimum pain ,good to go in a week but don't if you over do it you could mess it up. just take your time no dish washing and no vaccuming. hope all works for you i am still having a bad time due to more herniations t6-7, t7-8 with compromise all lumber herniated with l4-5 stenonic and no one will touch me too dangerous.. so be very careful and good luck
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Unread 10-24-2007, 11:47 PM   #8
1MikeD
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Default Do anything you can to avoid the surgery

Quote:
Originally Posted by trinab View Post
I appreciate all of the great feedback. I guess my biggest worries are: that the doc will get in and decide he needs to do another level as well (my 3-4 has issues also), that I will have lots of throat/swallowing problems, and that the pain, which is now mostly muscle spasm types, with some stabbing pains in the side of neck, won't get any better. I also worry that this surgery will be starting a whole long line of surgeries on my neck. Any comments on any of that? What do the stats show, does anyone know?

Also, how long can I realistically expect before I can go back to work and feel better? My doc has said 10 days, but I have told my work sight 3 weeks as 10 days just seems unrealistic to me. Will I be so debiltated that I won't be able to do any of the activities related to the holidays like shopping and cooking? Will I be able to shower, lift my arms over my head to do my hair, silly (but important to me!) things like that?
Supp trinab I'm Mike, how long have you had this problem? How long have you been treating it with PT and Acupuncture and for how many treatments?

Just ask your self those questions.

Look I'm just going to say it straight up the people that get these kind of surgeries you are discribing are looking for the quick fix. You really have to understand that these things take time (years). I'll just give you one example; my uncle baddled with back pain so bad that he could not walk or stand. He spent 29 days in traction and had to take some serious pain killers. They had him preped for the surgery the Docs even had the room all ready for him but you know what happened, at the last minute he said NO. NO you are wrong this will heal and it took him 19 years BUT IT HEALED. Today he is 81 years old and is cutting grass on his farm in upsate New York Chopping fire wood lifting dozzens of 50lb bags of pellets and he has no back pain NONE.

Look I know neck pain is more painful I have ligiment dammage in my neck and herneated disks in my thorasic spine and in my lumbar spine. People have told me I need surgerybut they are worng. I am healing because I believe I can heal and I am doing whatever it takes to heal and YOU CAN TOO without any surgery.

I'm going to Say a prayer for your health and that you make the right choice.

,Mike
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Unread 10-25-2007, 06:50 AM   #9
Kathi49
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Mike,

We are speaking of the neck and not the lumbar. The neck is the "fusebox" of the body. While I realize some people wait it out it is BEST to go with the recommendations of the NS or OSS. Your faith is a great thing but it is not realistic. I am proof positive that waiting out a cervical fusion is NOT the best thing to do!!! I did not go in for a "quick fix" instead I was MADE to wait for 3 years and in SEVERE pain! When I switched over to another spine group the NS was in shock and we are not speaking of ligaments or muscle pain. You could NOT see my nerve roots at C3/C4...they were totally crushed with osteoarthritis. There was no amount of meds nor injections or anything that would fix that...osteo just does not go away short of surgery. Not only that but you risk severe neurological deficits. Then came my second fusion...C5/C6. I was losing use of my arms and hands. In May of 2006 I was told I could wait but the MINUTE I began to have deficits, I should come in. By August I could not hold a pen.

To tell someone they will heal from something like this is just flat out wrong! Again, we are not speaking of ligaments and muscles. And, btw, fusions do NOT guarantee pain relief...they are done to stabilize the spine. I do not regret either one. And, yes, they can lead to more. But, sorry, I wasn't about to wait around and lose use of my arms...motor nerves are not something that will heal with time. Once shot, there is no getting them back.

And so now I am left with Central Pain Syndrome. NOT because of surgery...the surgery freed up the nerve roots. According to my NS and Neurologist both...the severe pain I had by WAITING caused windup or central sensitization. I WISH I had had the first fusion immediately.
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Unread 10-25-2007, 09:03 AM   #10
Redhotbeads
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This has been a great thread - thank you all, for the information you've shared.

I have a herniated disc at C6/7 and am considering ACDF. My pain level is better after two cortisone shots, but not completely gone. That, and the fact I have nerve damage that may be irreversible, is another reason I am considering the surgery.

Keep that info coming!! I have an appt Monday with my OSS to discuss my options (like there are any left, LOL).

thanks,
Kelly
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