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Collars after Cervical surgery .... Yes or No



  • Hi my mom was in a major car accicdent and flipped the truck on its top and laid there pinned for nearly 2 hours while the team of fantastic people cut her out. She was then airlifted to nearest hospital. She had fractured upper vertabrae in neck and had fusion done with donor bone (don't know exact name because neuro surge thought obviously it was not nessescary to tell us or my mom anything) could never get any real answers and untill i read this post i wasn't even aware there was a specific name for it..ignorant of me i guess..but it was just so scary that i was just concerned about caring for my mom through all of the pain and discomfort. She is in Miami J Collar with the extended chest and back brace for fractures in back between shoulder blades. She went to the hospital on monday and had to wait till following wednesday to get surgery . That was an awful time for her she was in intense pain with numbness and tingling in both arms. She said that it felt like her bones were trying to break themselves in her arms. I want to know if Lortab is a sufficent pain reliever for this much pain? That is all they would give her before sugery and NOW finally the surgery is over ( this is second day actullay) still she is in so much pain,discomfort and unable to sleep for days now, all this with multiple panic attacks..We have asked for something for all of this, anything at all to relieve some pain and the Dr. said Lortab was all he could is unbelievable to me.also he would not give her a muscle relaxer, sleeping aid, is so hard to watch my mom like this..I f anyone knows anything i could do PLEASE PLEASE WRITE...
    Thank you so much
  • Ayrissa,
    It might be a good idea for you to start another post with a title that is asking about the specific information you are looking for. People see that this is about collars and if that is not what they are interested in or can help with they may not read your post. I'm sorry that I'm no help because 1.5 days after coming home from the hospital I stopped all pain meds. I was having reactions to oxycodrone and I had reactions to morphin in the hospital. The problems with the meds were worse then the pain in my case so I just tough it out. I have never been about to take muscle relaxers.

    In your Mom's case I would think they would give her something fairly strong since she had a care accident and her injurys were all at once. My doctor wanted to write me scripes for pain meds, muscle relaxers and something for my stomach but I ended up only filling the pain meds and then not taking them because of the problems I had with them. Anyway I am not a medical expert and can't give you anything but an opinion and that is that I believe that your Mom should be offered pain meds and muscle relaxers. Maybe you could arrange to be with her when she speaks to the doctor.

    Again I recommend that you post a new message with a title that states the information you are looking for in order to get good feedback.

    Good luck to your Mom for a quick recovery,
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  • I am a 40 year old veterinary technician and had a C5C6 ACF with cadaver bone graft 13 days ago at the University of Utah. My neurosurgeon doesn't like cervical collars post-op. He explained that the instrumentation will stabilize my neck better than any external fixation anyways. He believes long term recovery is easier if you are not immobilized with a collar. If your neck muscles stiffen up and become atrophied due to immobility in a collar, PT later will be much more difficult. I was sent home the day after surgery and told to rotate, flex and extend my neck (slowly and carefully) in all directions. I had a lot of muscle spasm pain in my neck and shoulders for the first 5 days which was managed with lortab, valium, heat, ice and massage. I found that the more I moved my neck (especially under a hot shower or warm rice bag) the less muscle pain I had.

    In less than two weeks I have almost as much ROM as I did before surgery. Right now I only take one lortab in the AM and 1 valium in the evening and I am already back at work part time. Of course I'm taking it easy, getting plenty of sleep, not lifting anything over 10 pounds, and I'm taking omega 3, glucosamine, MSM and multi-vitamins. I also threw in Citracal plus Bone Density Builder in hopes of speeding up my fusion. I've read a lot of horror stories of post-op pain lasting months and months, so I consider myself very lucky. My experience with the neurosurgery department and whole hospital at the University of Utah has been great. If you're anywhere near Salt Lake City and need spine surgery, I suggest you check them out. I live 280 miles away and it has been well worth the travel time. (Well, actually the 5 hour drive home the day after surgery wasn't exactly fun, but worth it in the long run)

    My surgeon told me I should be able to return to all of my normal activity after 6 months, which includes lifting at work, ATV riding, skiing, horseback riding and whitewater rafting (which, BTW, caused the injury in the first place)

    Good Luck to all of you!
  • Hi,
    Its nice to hear you got such a good result. To be honest, personally, I would have had a terrible time if my doctor did suggest I wear a collar because I can't stand anything snug against my throat, but the first two weeks without were really tough.

    Sounds like you are able to do a lot already. I just have to toss a caution in here for others who like me may have more then one level fused. The more levels fused the less range of motion and the more important it is to do exactly what doctors and physical therapists say so as not to effect the chance of fusing.

    Keep doing as good as you are,
  • You're right about my relatively simple fusion surgery. I only had one bad disk with a lot of bone spurs from an old car accident and no obvious DDD above or below. I'm sure a multi-level fusion would result in more instability and possibility of more complications, thus the need for a collar. I hope no one is going against their doctor's orders just because of what they read on here. I just wanted to share my "good" post op experience. I only hope my neck continues to get better as the months go by and that I don't do anything stupid to mess up the fusion. I actually do have a soft collar that I wore this summer before surgery (the pain down my arm was unbearable if I didn't wear it). I'm glad to have it off, because I don't even like wearing turtlenecks!
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  • Wear it if it makes you feel good or you feel your neck is getting tired but other than that I have so much hardware in there there is really no need for a collar. I was one of the lucky ones I see. 4 wks post op and I have almost full ROM of my neck which I totally didn't expect and I've heard the stories of those who have worn theirs for months and then all of the issues they had to deal with after. I woke up in post op and I must have been really loud cause lots of people came running. I told them ever so politely, "GET THIS OFF OF ME MY DOCTOR SAID NO COLLAR! HOW DO YOU UNDO THIS THING?" Next thing I know the collar is gone and I'm knocked out cold again with pain meds.

  • My ACDF at c5-6 and c6-7 (with plates and screws) is scheduled for 11/17. I'm told I'll wear a "hard" collar until my post-op visit -- but I don't have to wear it while I'm eating, showering or sleeping . . .
  • This is my second surgery in 17 months. The 1st surgery was ACDF of C6 -7. I came home in a hard collar for 4 weeks and went to a soft collar after that. My second surgery was ACDF of C5-6 with removal of plate from C6-7 and revision. My new NS doesn't believe in collars. He specializes in difficult spinal cases. It is amazing how much easier it is not dealing with collar this time around. i am keeping my fingers crossed that things will continue to progress.
  • I had Laminoplasty with decompression at levels C2-C5 with titanium plating and screws on Nov. 3rd, 2008. So yes less than 2 weeks ago in MN with an Ortho-spine surgeon who has about hte most experience with the extremely rare disorder I have and spine surgeries. I woke up without a collar lying flat for the first 1 day and then Orthotics came to fit a collar - they originally where going Miami-J, then my surgeon thought possibly soft collar (NONE of the sizes the
    Orthotics person fitted - worked/fit, then he went back across teh river to the other hospital where he was from came back with some others including Philadeplhia - still no go on sizes and finally fitted after a third trip a Miami J in an XS. The reason being is with my disorder you have very short necks and I am also very thin - so this is what I wore the rest of the 5 days in the Hospital and what OT and PT worked with me w/there. (no therapies just extremely barely touching gentle massage of shoulders and rest of back and learning to walk. I also was fitted with a Cane for walking. The disorder I have causes (bc of a missing Enzyme) Storage in virtually (no lie) all the organs, and CNS- including Hydrocephalus and Spine degenerative disease, congenital hypertrophies, stenosis, compression and disc bulging. I also have soem issues in Thoracic and Lumbar spine areas. I will wear this brace for 12 weeks, ugh. The risks with c-spine surgery in my disorder are so humongously bad snd many end up paralyzed or quadtriplegics after so my Surgeon literally my parents said just about jumped for joy when he told them how well my surgery went - he and 2 other surgeons worked on my spine
    from his practice. He is great as is his staff and although
    it took alot to get to finally having this surgery (1 1/2 yrs including 6 months of Intrathecal (injecting the Enzyme replacement drug I get infused with over 4 hours every week into the base of my skull at UCLA-Harbor in CA),
    6 months of blacking out episodes, all of the many Neurologic including LHermitte's, clonus, brisk reflexes, wayward walking ie scissoring, etc, etc. and test - OM lands - SSSEP's, ANS testing, many MRI's, ICP surgery-5days oof NICU watching, VEEG testing- another 5days this year and yet a different surgery all this year + other test but I am on the other side. Trying to not over do it. One area does pull alot and hurt more now and my hands have hurt again although this could be Carpal tunnel which we know returned 2 yrs ago after surgery 5 years ago.
    Anyways sorry so long!

    Age 25
  • Erica,
    Welcome to the forum. Sounds like you have had a lot to deal with at such a young age. I hope that this surgery does everything you want and more. Sometimes being young can also be a good thing because there are constantly new technologies being developed. I think you will find lots of information, friends and support on this forum.

    For you I think the issue of collar or no collar is different then for some of us. Most likely with everything else going on a collar was required after your surgery. I am glad that they were finally able to find one that fit you and I hope you recover quickly.

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