30 Years Old With ACDF For C5-C6 Scheduled

Hi all, 

New here, but have been lurking for some time and felt it is my time to jump in and introduce myself. I am a very active 30 year old male, married with a one year old daughter and a job that keeps me going all hours of the day (operations and warehouse management).

Needless to say my family history had put me on the track to have joint, bone, back and cervical issues. About 5 years ago I begun to really notice the annoyance of a slight pain, but nothing that kept me from doing anything or that required immediate attention. X-Ray and MRI showed mild DDD, but nothing to get worked up about. Did PT off and on for a few month and never saw any real relief. 2 years into the next phase and the neck and upper back pain increases greatly, never "turned off" and started to effect my quality of sleep. Put on tramadol and ambien to help get both under control. About another year in and everything starts to become more noticeable as a real problem. Neck feels likes it on fire, lifting of any sort introduces fatigue and the clicking/catching in my neck starts up. Noticing weakness in my arms and occasional numbness.

Visit a highly reviewed ortho doctor here in town, immediately ordered new X-Rays and MRI. Bam! Early onset disc degeneration in C5-C6 with bulge, mild stenosis and minor cases in the discs above and below the problem spot. At that point my medication changed to Oxycodon 7.5, Valium 5mg and Ambient 10mg. This cocktail seemed to keep me comfortable for at least 8-10 months, but it keeps going downhill. I still feel like my strength has diminished, I seem "lopsided" or unbalanced at times and find it tough to play with my 1 year old child without paying for it later.

After ready a lot on these forums and another discussion with my ortho I decided to schedule ACDF C5-C6 in october. My job requires a lot of mix sit down computer tasks as well as warehouse support as needed - both can be pretty taxing in their own ways on the body. I feel that I'm as active as I can be now at home and at work and that I'm hoping to be able to be back to my job in 6-8 weeks?

 Is this plausible? Are there things I can be doing before to strengthen my neck without hurting it more? My doctor sees other levels with possibility of DDD developing... will doing this procedur really increase the speed in which the others will give out and I'm back in surgery? Evrybody keeps saying I have age on my side, but you also read about a lot of fusion failures, hardware issues or the need to go back in 5-10 years to do another later? Trying not to get my nerves going, but wife is a mess thinking about it.and I just want to approach it has best I can and do any physical exercise before surgery that may help recovery time. Would being back to somewhat normal be possible by say mid-Dedember or Christmas? Surgery is on 10/21.

Thanks in advance for all of your toughts and suggestions. I'm a noobie and looking to take care of this the right way with hopefully little to no complications or having other levels done.


  • LizLiz Posts: 2,265
    edited 07/23/2019 - 1:08 PM
    hello td

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  • Hi! I have had two neck surgeries and have a 3 level fusion, c-4 to c-7. I was 38 when I had my first and my second was this past February. I can tell you what I have read and what I have been told by doctors is once you go in and fuse even one level, it causes pressure on the disc above and below. Your chances of having another disc herniate and cause you pain increases. It happened to me and I still have pain in my neck everyday. They tell you that the surgery may not take your neck pain away but the goal is to alleviate arm pain, numbness, etc. I would say that I regret having the first surgery but your outcome could be completely different. Good luck to you!!!
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  • Bruce EitmanBruce Eitman Akron, OH, USAPosts: 1,340

    From what you describe for work, it is possible that you can return to work in 6-8 weeks.  What you may need to plan on is asking for help from your employees - don't do the things that you should ask someone else to do.

    You will probably want to begin doing some Physical Therapy (PT) as soon as your surgeon releases you to do so.  Also start walking as soon as possible after surgery - this will strengthen your muscles and help build your endurance.
  • Thank you both for the kind words and tips. Is there any specific pre-surgery exercises that you felt help speed up recovery and fusion time? It will be tough to slow things down and take it easy, but I understand I must... but I would love to get back to work and enjoying time with my child especially being so young for a procedure like this. Hoping future activities aren't severely impacted and hoping my age helps play a roll in a speedy recovery. 

    It's frustrating to know that fixing one level could now accelerate the rate in which my other levels may degenerate. Hoping to get atleast 10+ years of relatively pain-free living. Are there activities that you find you can now not do due to a ACDF?
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