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Acdf Surgery (positive experience!)

Started by Nikki444 on 01/16/2021 12:44am

I had C6/C7 fusion surgery on December 28, 2020. I figured if I was going to ruin my holidays with a surgery, it might as well be during a pandemic when not much was happening. I had only suffered 8 weeks of pain near my left shoulder blade which eventually reached down my arm. I took tylenol and advil around the clock during this time, went to PT, chiro care, took a round of steroids and had a worthless steroid shot. The deal-breaker was the fact that I lost nearly all strength in my tricep and starting in my wrist. My Neuro said acdf surgery now, or I risk never getting my strength back. Pretty easy decision for me because I have a very low tolerance for pain and I wanted a fix asap. My pain wasn't unbearable, but unless I was very distracted by something else, I thought about it about 200 times a day. I scheduled surgery for the first opening. Never got a second opinion. I started the process, but it was taking too long to be seen by another Neuro. I woke up from surgery feeling great. No nausea or pain in my back or arm. A few hours later I did have pain in my esophagus and it felt like I had something stuck in my throat. Apparently the surgeon moves your esophagus over during surgery to reach your spine. I'm not going to lie, the swallowing issues were a little scary. My surgeon and nurses assured my it was normal. This pain was pretty intense for the first week. Soft foods only and bendy straws were a life saver. Lots of jello, tapioca, mashed potatoes. I had a some pain at the incision site (front of neck) and in the spine area that was fused, but it was managed by staying on top of my pain meds. I did have a lot of stiffness and pain in my upper back starting day 3. This was apparently from the fact that the bone graft between my vertebrae made me a few millimeters taller (yay!) and stretched my muscles and tendons in a way that they were not familiar with. I'm on day 18 and this is barely an issue now. I went home after an overnight at the hospital without a neck brace. I did have a 5lbs lifting limit, NO activity except walking a few minutes every few hours or as much as I could tolerate. Only slow "natural" neck movements and no looking way up or down. For the first two weeks, laying down or getting up required that I hold my head and "help" it up or down because my neck was not strong enough to lift the weight of my head on its own. Day 18 I do have occasional twinges of pain in my left hand and arm only lasting a few seconds. Im going to assume that's my nerve starting to repair itself?? Not too worried about it yet. I have been walking a mile on the treadmill each day for the last 7 days. Finding a comfortable sleeping position is awful the first 2 weeks. I slept in the recliner for a few days. Im back to work part-time, full time next week. I work from home so I lay down to rest my neck every 2 hours. Oh, and I still use a bendy straw because tilting my head back does not feel good AT ALL yet. This surgery was not easypeasy, but much easier than I expected. I go back to my neuro in 2 weeks for x-rays. If all looks good, I will be cleared for PT. I hope this message helps anyone who is preparing for acdf surgery. Happy to answers any questions from my experience. Nikki in MN

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hi Nikki

thanks for the thorough details. I'm scheduled in 2 weeks and it was good to hear a positive experience, but also a realistic one. I've had a lumbar fusion before but know that neck is a whole other ballgame.