Shoulder pain 3 months post op

Hi I am 3 months post op after a 2 level ACDF surgery on C567. For the most part, I am recovering nicely.  The only problem is I get muscle tightness in my shoulder sometimes.  I was wondering if anyone of you experienced this and what helped.  I just started PT so I hope that helps. Any insight/advice appreciated.



  • The only advice that I can give is that I had a one level ACDF at C6-C7 and three months later I developed a frozen shoulder on the same side where I had radiculopathy pre-ACDF.

    Based on my own experience, I would advise to do as much PT as you can and to keep the shoulder moving every single day, even when not at PT -- i.e., home exercises.  I ended up needing shoulder surgery 6 months post-ACDF. My shoulder surgeon's opinion is that a nerve got irritated during ACDF and that I stiffened up the shoulder as a protective measure, which apparently is the exact wrong thing to do, because it puts you at risk for frozen shoulder.

    If I had to do it over again, I would have started aggressive PT within 6 weeks of ACDF although I didn't feel up to it at the time and had various problems finding a decent PT in network. Believe me that you want to avoid a post ACDF shoulder surgery.
  • I am also 3 months out from ACDF (C6/5, C5/4) and have some residual right shoulder pain, which hasn't changed much in 2 months.  I did PT for 3 weeks starting one month after surgery, and I continue the exercises in a medical gym.  It is much better than before surgery and the pain is less widespread -  in a very specific spot.  No real range of motion limitation. The surgeon said to take an NSAID for 1 week and to give it more time.  To be honest, I thought I had bursitis before the surgery and that is what this feels like - I had a cortisone shot in my shoulder for bursitis maybe ten years ago.  I'm willing to "wait and see".
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