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ACDF C6-C7

Here is my story:



I had c6-c7 fused on febr 20th.



Immediately after waking up, the burning pain in right shoulder and elbow was gone, so was the tingling in my hand. I did notice the left part of my tongue was numb and some tingling in the tip of my index finger. And my right arm felt a bit weak. 10 days post op, these symptoms remain. They don 't bother me much, but I do hope they will go away.



I haven't taken any pain killers since leaving  the hospital. I do take a muscle relaxant before going to sleep.



I have been walking since day 2. I do a couple of walks each day,  totaling around 6kms a day. 



I hope to get back on my mtb as soon as possible. At first probably short rides on pavement.



I also had difficulty swallowing after surgery. I could eat solid food from day 1, but it wasn't very comfortable. So I have been making smoothies more often. After 11 days swallowing has improved considerably, but still not 100%.



I have also been riding a stationary bike for 30 minutes since yesterday.



*******



2 weeks post op:



I still have tingling sensation in 1 finger. It seems to get worse during the night. My right upper arm feels week and hurts when raising hand above shoulder level. Left side of tip of tongue still numb. I sometimes feel a burning sensation in my neck. I think 1 level below fusion, but hard to tell exactly where.



Stitches have been removed. Swallowing has improved a lot. I have a scar, but I don't mind scars and it's hardly noticable.



I have been walking and/or riding the stationary bike daily. Normally I should be able to ride a bike in 2 more weeks, but I can't imagine riding one now. Lifting my head to look ahead, and also road vibration worries me.



Haven't taken any pain meds since leaving hospital.



*******



3 weeks post op:



I still have the tingling in my finger, weakness in right upper arm and numb tongue. Swallowing is at 99% now. Scar itches a little bit. I have also been experiencing a couple of off days, where I get muscle pain in my back and neck. This seems to move around. Sometimes a sharp pain in the middle of my neck. I think at or 1 level below fusion. Hard to tell.



Surgeon said I could drive a car and ride a bike after 4 weeks. My range of motion still seems limited for this. From left to right is less then normal, so I'm a bit worried for driving a car. But looking up is very limited. So riding my bike seems impossible. I also don't deal well with shocks, like road vibration or any holes or bumps in the road. I'll try riding a city bike first, before moving on to a roadbike. For now, I'm still walking around 7kms daily, and riding a stationary bike for 30min 5 times a week.



Anyone have experience with mtb, running and/or swimming post ACDF?
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Comments

  • OswaldOtte - I've had three ACDFs over the years.  The surgeons told me that ACDFs generally take 9 to 12 months to completely heal.  On the timing of running, I highly suggest having that discussion with your surgeon.  Every case is different.  All three of my ACDFs were different.

  • Last few days have been uncomfortable. Lot's of pain in my neck which seems to move around. Was supposed to see the surgeon beginning of April. But with the Corona our Belgian hospitals only do urgent visits. So my visit may be cancelled. Physical therapists are also no longer treating patients.

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  • OswaldOtte - Sorry to hear your visit was cancelled.  In the part of the U.S. I live, it is kind-of the same story.  My follow-up visit for my SCS implant has been cancelled.  I really don't want to be close to any medical facility right now if I don't need to be.  Our lack of preparedness is crazy.

  • 5 weeks post-op:

    Hand still tingling (maybe carpal tunnel??)

    Tongue numbness almost gone.

    Muscle pain comes and goes, but no big deal.

    When extending my neck, it feels like a nail is poking my vertebrae. This worries me the most.

    So not much to complain about. Going to start working again tomorrow. Only for a few hours a day, from home.

    Been walking and riding my stationary bike a lot. Would like to start PT, but impossible due to Corona lockdown.


  • Might be interesting to know that

    I'm a 40y old male, I'm reasonably fit (used to swim, run and mtb pre op), 70kg for 175cm. 

    I don't drink nor smoke. I have reumatoid arthritis. I have a deskjob.

    The surgeon used a peek cage filled with scrapings from the treated vertebrae. The cage is bolted to the c6-c7, so no plate was used (which may explain why I have no longer difficulty swallowing). 

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  • It sounds like you are doing very well in your recovery, I am fused C4-C7, it takes time to get all or most of the muscle, nerve and surgical pain to go away, just don't try to do too much too soon.

    Take care and keep us posted

    Chip

  • Work was a big disappointment. My upper back and neck muscles are killing me now. Can't wait to take a muscle relaxant and crawl into bed.

  • Maybe a little too soon? It's only been a month, I know after my cervical fusion surgery that I would not have been ready to go back in a month, by 6 weeks, maybe part time.

    Take care and keep us posted

    Chip

  • 6 weeks post-op:

    I will probably need a couple of extra weeks to start work again. Muscles start to ache and I get super tired, just from sitting at a desk all day.

    What bothers me most is not being able to look up. This is a major problem as I am very passionate about cycling. Really disappointed about it. When I extend my neck it hurts and feels like something is poking in my vertebrae. It's not a muscle, it's in the vertebrae. I feel it as soon as I look up. It's impossible to ride a bike like this. Even after raising my handlebar 2cm, to sit more upright, I can only see a few meters ahead. Looking any further hurts too much.

  • Looking up was the hardest for me also, I can't remember how long that lasted, but it was no more than 3 months for me, I am 2 years out now and basically have full range of motion, it took patience and exercise to get that way.

    Take care and keep us posted

    Chip 

  • What did it feel like when you tried to look up? To me it feels like a lump is poking in my vertebrae. And it starts to hurt quickly when looking up. This pain lasts for 15 minutes after trying to look up. It doesn't feel like muscle or ligament. Feels like it's within the vertebrae.

  • I had something close to that feeling, it lasted probably 6 weeks after surgery, the thing that helped me the most was physical therapy, they showed me the proper stretches to do that got everything moving in the right way again, I was allowed to start after 8 weeks.

    Chip

  • OswaldOtteOOswaldOtte Posts: 25
    edited 04/22/2020 - 6:42 AM

    9 weeks post-op:

    Feeling better now. Have started working from home. 

    Looking up has improved slightly, but not a lot.

    Tingling in my finger still a problem. Have been wearing a splint at night, which seems to improve symptoms. Probably carpal tunnel.

    I have some inflammation in my facets. It seems to come and go. When it's present, it burns like hell. I have rheumatoid arthritis, so probably caused by the RA. Hopefully the ACDF doesn't cause that wear and tear to accelerate.

    Drove my car today. Have only driven it maybe 4 times since surgery. Looking sideways for traffic is limited. Almost hit a car when reversing. Not feeling very confident about driving.

    Can't reach anyone for follow up or guidance, due to Corona. Would probably do better with PT.

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,476

    OswaldOtte

    9 weeks is still early in recovery but at least you are feeling better. If you can't reach anyone by phone, have you tried email? Now days it seems you can get an answer faster with email than trying to call. Just a thought.

    Sandra

  • OswaldOtteOOswaldOtte Posts: 25
    edited 05/08/2020 - 7:57 AM

    11 weeks post op:

    I don't know what to think... The pain in arm and shoulder is completely gone, so the surgeon considers the surgery to be a great success. But I am having so much pain and discomfort in my neck... I had some minor discomfort at times before my operation. But not like this.

    The first weeks after my operation, I felt great. But I'm getting more and more pain now. I've got an appointment next week in a clinic that specialises in revalidation. And will probably start PT the week after. No idea what to expect from it.

    At my first appointment with the surgeon I asked how the rest of my neck was doing and how the ACDF would impact the adjacant levels. He said it looked perfect. After seeing the mri myself, I asked him again and he said the rest was within limit. Now after the ACDF he says it's normal to have so much discomfort because the rest of my neck has to take over and it was already in pretty bad shape before the operation. I'm afraid I will need more surgery in the (near) future to deal with adjacent levels.

    Before the surgery he said I could ride my roadbike after 4 weeks and my mountainbike after 16 weeks. Now he says I takes at least 3 months to ride a roadbike and up to a year to ride a mountainbike. I'm almost at 3 months now, and there is no way I can ride a road bike. I'm 100% sure if I were to ride a roadbike now, I would end up in surgery again within no time. I can't do anything that involves extension of the neck without pain.

    Before the surgery he said most of the extension comes from the upper part of the neck. And now he claims that the C6-C7 is the 'tipping point' in the neck that is used mostly for extension.

    I feel like I've been tricked into surgery.

  • PT helped me greatly when it came to range of motion, it also helped get the muscles moving in the right direction again, I still do most of the exercises daily, if I don't my neck hurts and my surgery was over 2 years ago.

    Take care and keep us posted

    Chip

  • 14 weeks post op:

    I feel every movement I make in my neck. Not making any progress. Feeling very depressed, which is impacting my relation, my job, ...

    I'v been doing PT now for a week. Mostly stretches: looking left/right, forward/down, tilting ear towards shoulder, ... have to do that for another week. Then I will start using machines (david spine concept) Not sure if I will be able to use the machines. Seems like a lot  of stress on the neck. Neck already hurts from simple stretches. Looking left/right I hear noises. This made  bit of a grinding noise pre op. But now it's crazy. Like a worn ball bearing.

    Feels like my neck is wearing out fast now.

  • Could you guys describe some excercises you did in PT. Just to give me an idea of what is normal PT after acdf. I feel like I got a general PT course, not tailered for acdf.

  • I am afraid that's against the rules, what was good for us may not be for your situation and could actually harm you, it would be worth a call to your surgeon or your PT though, they may be able to help you with it

  • I understand, and I won't try any of the exercises. Just to know if what I am doing corresponds to what others where asked to do by their PT.


  • The exercises you are doing are the same as I was told to do at the start, when I started actual PT we went a little deeper, I would call my PT and ask them, most of the exercises I did at PT did not require any machines, but they were specefic to the cervical area

    Take care and keep us posted

    Chip 

  • stiffneck7, can I ask how you ended up have so many fusions? Did you do something 'wrong' after the first fusion? What is your age? Do you smoke? Did you have a job that taxed your neck/back too much?

    I hope this isn't too much to ask. Just wondering how I can avoid going down the same path. I'm terrified of having more surgeries down the road.

  • 16 weeks post op:

    This has been a reasonably good week. I visited a chiropractor on Monday because I have some lower back pain radiating into my upper left leg. He manipulated my lower and upper back and also shoulders. He knew that my C6-C7 had been fused recently so he didn't touch that, except for some light stretches. I still get some radiation into my left leg now, so need to work on that. But... after visiting the chiropractor, my back, shoulder and even neck are feeling more 'loose', more comfortable and less painful. Very happy with that visit.

    I've been doing the physical therapy twice a week. The first 2 weeks were ROM exercises and stretching. This always caused some discomfort and pain the following days. Meanwhile I've added some resistance training (david spine concept) which seems to be going well. I was a bit worried that this would be too hard on the neck. But the resistance can be set very low. So I'm excited to see how I progress with PT and chiro the coming weeks.

    Neck extension has improved a little bit more. I still experience pain when looking up, but it's not as bad as before. Hopefully this will improve more.

    Haven't been able to do any exercise besides walking. Would like to get into running, cycling and swimming again. But it's probably best to wait until I finish the PT course, which is somewhere in August.

    Work is going okay. Sitting at a desk all day isn't a good idea with neck and back issues. But not much options there...

  • I am happy to hear that things are getting better

    Chip

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