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New to site, scared about my upcoming ACDF C5-6-7 surgery

Hello.  My name is Michele and I am new to this site.  I have been very, very active my entire life and up until 5 months ago.  I have had neck pain and epidurals in the past and that all helped until just recently and the bone spurs in my neck are causing so much pain.  I have tried acupuncture, chiropractic, injections and massages with no relief.  Has anyone on here had this surgery and what can I expect.   Thank you.



  • I have had anterior cervical fusions in C3-C7 with cadaver bone and titanium hardware in 2006 and 2007.  It had to be repeated in 2007 due to my not fusing and some broken hardware.  I'm not going to lie to you and say this is a piece of cake, and while we are all different I will tell you how this has affected my life.  My injury was caused by car accidents I was involved in and my discs were pressing against my spinal cord too much the doctors  feared severing of the cord if I were to be hit again.   I had to wear a bone growth stimulator after the first surgery for four hours a day; it didn't look like anything major, but I will tell you this it is quite painful.  I also had to wear a Miami J collar for several weeks.  That is the hard plastic neck brace you've probably seen people wearing.  It feels cumbersome at first, however, it soon becomes your friend because your head needs the support until those muscles (hopefully) become fully strengthened.  I was medically disabled from my office job of 23 years at the age of 40 and awarded Social Security Disability - this was devastating not only financially but mentally because I was hopeful I would "get better".  Fast forward to today.....I forget what it feels like to wake up and have nothing hurt.  Not only do I have neck pain but I also have low back issues now, which the doctor said is quite common after cervical surgery and neck issues can appear after low back surgery.  I have pain down my right shoulder blade that sometimes is quite unbearable.  I get epidural injections and radio frequency ablation (nerve burning) in my neck and low back and am avoiding back surgery at all costs.  It is nearly impossible to find a pillow after a fusion, and laying flat is painful.  I have probably gone through 30 pillows trying to find one that works half way descent. The best one being Posture Pedic that a local chiropractor sells.  Also helpful are those U-shaped neck pillows because there are times your neck will just need the added support.  I can tell if I have done too much during the day, my head will feel so heavy - best described as a bowling ball sitting on a toothpick!  I wish I didn't have to have a fusion and if I had the choice, I would not have.  However, I had no choice.  I also have issues swallowing, I think from the hardware and/or scar tissue.  My voice is also somewhat raspy/hoarse; sometimes worse than others.  I think when I've done too much, I have internal swelling and it presses against my vocal cords - but I'm not doctor.

    My surgery being so many years ago, I hope with advanced technology there are better ways of doing this for patients.  I didn't mean to discourage you if I did; but I would have wanted someone to honestly give me their experience good or bad before going through this surgery.  I see a pain management doctor monthly and not by choice am on narcotics to help with the pain.  I wish you the best of luck; just remember to be careful and not overdo it on your "good days".

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 12,988
    Please read All about ACDF Surgery There is a lot of information there plus medical videos
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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  • What specifically are you scared about? (My big fear was "what if he sneezes at the wrong moment...")

    I slept through the surgery ;-) and woke up with no problems. Yes, some pain. Surgery and all. But they gave me pain meds and anti-nausea meds (I don't react well to pain meds), and that kept things under control.

    I was prescribed a collar to wear when I was up and about (but, ironically, didn't have it until *after* I left the hospital), so had that at home. At the hospital, I had a one night stay, and the nurse had me walking the halls fairly quickly. So that was good, too. No catheter. (I did have one when I had a craniotomy last year in August, but that is a very different surgery, even if the same surgeon did it.)

    Wishing you the best!

  • Very interesting! thanks folks for sharing. I had a c3-7 laminoplasty in September 2016 without much success in helping the pain and problem areas and now just talked to my surgeon about a fusion C3-6/7 and we are a go once insurance clears it. so this is very helpful.

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