9 weeks post ACDF - Another mishap

hello! not particularly accident-prone by nature, i find myself in another state of worry after what i consider a fairly significant blip during my c5-6 recovery.   i mentioned the first in link above, if you're interested.  in short, my husband slammed brakes to avoid accident on day 9 - pain from that resolved and fusion intact.   

weeks 6 - 8 were starting to go quite well with lessening of both neck pain and arm weakness.  at my week 5 1/2 follow-up, neurosurgeon suggested pt as soon as possible for strengthening left arm.  i must admit that even the exam to test my strength and range of motion caused a flare that lasted several days, but i returned the following week and was given 3 "gentle" exercises using a theraband.  these supposedly engage trapezius and other muscles surrounding the neck, but i can feel them in my neck.  they don't hurt during the exercises, but flare me later.   now to the reason for my concern:  

exactly 2 months after my surgery, i was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and in a particularly upbeat mood, which changed in a flash.  i was sliding an 8 - 10 lb hard plastic container of dog food off the fridge and misjudged distances (??)  i was sort of looking up and it smacked me very hard above the left eye.  that was a week ago and point of contact (skull) still hurts as does my neck.  the day following the "head-bonk" was the worst pain day ever, pre or post op.  i am still not back to baseline with pain or arm weakness.  additionally, i am really feeling the hardware when i swallow.  i had the lump-in-the-throat sensation for several weeks after the surgery, but it pretty much went away.  

the logical question is whether i called the surgeon's office and the answer is "no".  i have been assuming that i flared things up and it will resolve on its own.  i do not want to have another x-ray unless it is absolutely necessary.  i have had more than my fair share of radiation in my adult life and just in the past 6 months there have been multiple lumbar and cervical x-rays, and an abdominal ct with contrast this christmas eve for acute abdominal pain (unrelated to spine).   in my 1st follow-up appointment, the surgeon told me that he has done over 1000  acdf's and he has never seen an issue with the actual fusion site after an accident/impact.  that has assuaged my worries only somewhat and with continued pain, i am re-thinking my approach. 

i would be very grateful to learn of any similar experiences during acdf recovery and how they played out.  actually any thoughts (preferably reassurances - lol) would be great.  i certainly didn't do my fusion any favors, but hoping against hopes that i didn't do it irreparable harm.  like everyone else here, been through way too much. 

thank you!  


  • A lot of views, but unfortunately no comments.  I will post an update on how this resolves.  Wishing everyone a pain-free day!  
  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,340

    If I hurt myself like that, I would seek answers from my surgeon quickly.

    As far as the experience after PT goes, after my first surgery I would feel something akin to swelling,  This went on for months, and nobody could help explain it.  Finally my PT suggested that I take a break.  Within weeks, I felt much better.  I still don't have an explanation...
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  • Bruce, Thank you.  Your comment motivated me to call the neurosurgeon yesterday, which I am sure will ultimately lead to an X-ray.   Now begins the frustrating process of multiple call-backs, explaining and re-explaining to staff that serve strictly as the "go-between" because the PA's and surgeons in this practice do not want to deal with post-op issues.  Literally, 1 minute of conversation with a qualified person would get it done, but no.  Anyway, I don't want to start the day with a vent.  I realize my issue is small compared to some others'.   Thanks again. 
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  • Sue 1965SSue 1965 United KingdomPosts: 111
    Hi Donna-We have chatted before-I had C5/6 acdf on 211215-I was also and am still also feeling a lot better in the day-but at night I am back to the very early days of post op shoulder/base of neck pain that prevents me from getting comfortable and therefore sleeping..I don't know where this has come from as it did seem to go.I do get the smae pain in the day if I stretchand then relax that area-ie when yawning-sounds daft but a big yawn really gives me pain in that area.I am 9 weeks this coming Monday and really thought I was nearly there and ready to go back to work..I'm worried now that I won't be able to manage... Sue
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  • Michelle -  I'm sorry that you are dealing with the same lack of interest and follow-up. It's great that you're pursuing an option from a different NS. I'd like to read about your situation, so I will try to find your posts. As for "complaining", this whole chronic spine thing is a lonely proposition to begin with and then to have issues after surgery is downright depressing.   Even though we may have loved ones around, no one understands better than fellow spineys and this forum has sure made me feel less alone. No, they're not open on Saturdays, but I did speak with someone Thursday and it was so unpleasant that I may just stop going to that practice period.  Still vacillating about X-rays. 

    Hello, again, Sue.  Glad to hear that overall you are doing a little better, but sorry about the discomfort at night.  What a roller coast, huh?  I feel pain sometimes when I yawn, too.  I also have this bizarre lump low in my throat (quite a bit lower than C5-6) when I overdo it. It is different than that post surgical lump when swallowing lump. As I sit and type this my pain level is about a 4 or 5, much higher than it was a few weeks ago (pre head-bonk).   Something new that has recently reared its ugly head is pain shooting deep into my skull and face alongside my nose. I don't think it's the classic occipital neuralgia. Very intermittent, but unsettling.  I guess we are still early in the healing process...?   How awesome would it be to answer honestly "Great!" when someone asks how things are going after the surgery?  :-) 
  • Sue 1965SSue 1965 United KingdomPosts: 111
    Hi Donna-Yes I would also love to be able to say yes I'm cured when someone asks me-I almost feel embarrassed when people ask as they do assume after an op and a period of time that we should be sorted-but this is an op with no guarantees-and in some cases making things worse..The lump in your throat-I get that on the odd occasion-not enough to cause me a problem or pain-but that something is there that shouldn't be-perhaps its scar tissue? Are you back to work Donna? 
  • Have either of you thought about getting your thyroid checked? A lot of woman especially get thyroid problems after his surgery.. That lump you feel could be a swelled thyroid.
  • Sue 1965SSue 1965 United KingdomPosts: 111
    Thanks Lvn-something to consider..Sue
  • joowee40joowee40 Mississippi Posts: 239
    edited 03/05/2016 - 7:47 PM
    Indigo have you gotten any answers yet?
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