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ACDF Recovery

SamoCPASSamoCPA Posts: 18
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:50 AM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi...just joined today. As my signature (hopefully) shows, I am recovering from ACDF surgery on 1/3/11.

At six weeks post-op, I am surprised to not be farther along (even though I know patience is required for this recovery). Specifically, I was hoping for input on others' experiences with the following aspects of their recovery:

1. Lump in throat --- The first week was awful, then it went away. Now that my neck/chin numbness has decreased considerably (at least I think this is why), the lump in my throat is back. I have no titanium plate, just screws. Mostly, it is annoying, but towards the end of the day it is pretty painful/scary.

2. Sleeping --- I still can't go more than 4 hours or so sleeping without waking up, and can't do more than 8 hours no matter what. Of all the online postings I have reviewed on the variuos sites, I have not come across any discussion of this.

3. Morning pain --- I still have significant pain in the morning (probably why #2 is happening). The more I walk and move around, the more it abates.

Please share your stories, if willing.

Thank you!


  • Please read my comments on the forum which I hope you find helpful. Regards from over the pond in UK.
  • Thanks for the comment, Wonder. I just joined the site today, though, so not quite sure how to read just your posts....
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  • MetalneckMetalneck The Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,772
    One question ... Do they have you using a ridgid or soft collar when awake or sleeping?

    Ok one more ... Are they having you wear a bone growth stimulator?

    No plate ... hmmmm.

    Again welcome to S.H.

    Time is our friend and our enemy ....


  • D,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond and for your comments.

    No collar. And confirming no plate. I don't feel unstable in any way. So I think the multiple sets of screws is my NS preference.

    Just more pain than I was expecting this far out. I didn't mention it in the first post, but I am still on pain meds - though just in the evening (and Tylenol - big whup - in the morning).

    Oh, and yes, I do the bone stim. The model I have, apparently the latest and greatest, is once a day for a half-hour.
  • MetalneckMetalneck The Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,772
    to convelese. Don't be in a big hurry to get back to work. THis is only a suggestion based on my experience of a failed 2 level ACDF 5 years ago ...
    I like a ding a ling and tough guy went back to work
    12 days after my procedure - wound up with a non-union (no fusion).

    I spent the next year and a half of my life in worse pain and getting tested and consulted and retested till I finally found a ortho who said we needed to redo the entire "shabang".

    Don't down play what you have been through, give your body time to heal.

    Its amazing the differences in post surgical treatment modalites that are (or are not) employed ..
    What did your N.S. say about physical therapy??

    Best regards,

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  • I am trying really hard not to be a hero. It's hard, though, given my job (Director of Accounting at a $300m company). I am doing my best to listen to my body and tell others that I need to do this. Reading about your experience certainly helps put things in perspective.

    Treatment differences ARE truly amazing. Funny you should mention PT. I see it all over this forum and my NS has not brought up the subject even once. Perhaps this is because I have no strength loss.

    Just a heck of a lot of pain. And exhausted from lack of sleep. And then there's that damn golf ball in my throat.

    I do know I have things better than many, many others who have gone through this surgery. So I am thankful for that.
  • Wow, that's weird to have 2 levels and no plate? Hummm... as Dave said. You are still very early out of your surgery, and you DID go through major surgery. Your whole spine has to adjust to the now new rigid area in it, as does your body dynamics.

    If I remember right, I had throat issues such as yours for both my C5/6 and then C6/7 and it does normally pass. I have other issues, so won't go there as it isn't relevant here. It probably wouldn't hurt to let your surgeon know what is going on, but try not to freak out unless "he" deems a problem. We all heal at different speeds.

    I see you already know that "patience is a virtue", so you understand that. Try staying with warm soft foods for now, and hopefully it will back off soon. Please keep us posted on how it goes.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thanks for your comments, Brenda.

    I did tell my NS about the lump in the throat. He said that the lump is typical for the first week or so (which I had) but then it goes away. I told him that it was back and he said it was unrelated. He is a well-renowned surgeon, so he's done terrific work in there I'm sure, but to tell me that it is unrelated is clearly false. That's why I turned to the forum for answers.

    By the way, a very nice person on here sent me a Private Message suggesting to go get a Tempurpedic neck pillow, which I did yesterday. I slept 8 hours last night! Still had the morning pain, but hooray!

    So your issues started with a helicopter crash? Are you former military? USNA '92 myself.

  • Greetings Samo!! :)

    I have the TempurPedic adjustable bed thanks to my neck and back - best buy decision I have made! Glad to hear your pillow is helping you.

    It could be you are having muscle spasms in your neck which are affecting your throat, not sure. If it goes past 3 weeks, I would revisit the discussion with your surgeon and see what he says.

    I was bassackwards in that I started having swallowing/voice problems around month 5/6 post op! Come to find my C6 vertebra cracked through, and allowing the hardware to move, and fubar my vocal cords - still going on. The worst of it isn't losing my voice, or the occasional sore throat, but the "choke outs" when I have my head in certain positions, or when drinking liquids - it bites big time!! My ENT is the one that discovered what was going on - while at the same time my NS ignored the crack in the x-ray!!

    Former military (Army) 1979-1989. Then went with the federal government as a law enforcement officer and pilot (jets and helicopters). Didn't fly in the military - wasn't common for women back then. I was offered by another commander to join his unit and he would send me to flight school, my @ss of a commander wouldn't let "his only girl" out of the hanger. Yep, I had 3 MOS's in helicopter maintenance, OH6, OH58 and UH1. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I am about a month ahead of you as far as recovery is concerned. As far as the swallowing is concerned: I had major issues due to significant swelling post op and needed steroids to decrease in order to even swallow ice cream or applesauce. I am using a different bone stimulator as I have to wear mine 4 hours a day. I was told that it could increase swallowing issues because it increases blood flow to the area which in turn causes swelling. Do not push your self to go back to work. I am pretty sure I went back too early, but I now have a week off. I am concerned when I go back on 2/28 that it will be too much for me. But emotionally I needed to get back. Just curious, how do they complete a ACDF with only screws and not plate. What are the screws used for then?
    Glad you were able to get some sleep. I slept in the recline for 8 weeks because I got more sleep that way. I still use the soft collar for sleeping. Being ache and sore in the am is normal.
    12/9/2010 ACDF C5-6 C6-7 with plate, screws,
    BMP & bone fragment filled cages
    6 weeks no bone growth
    2/14/2011 went to go back to work as a teacher
    2/17/2011 starting PT
    wearing bone stimulator 4 hours a day (Cervical Stim)
    DDD, arthritis, herniated disks, pinched nerves
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