Upcoming Anterior Cervical Spine Surgery C-4-C-5,C-5-C6

Hello, I am 64 and scheduled for cervical spine surgery on April 11,2017 I would like to know what to expect. Nothing has been said about wearing a collar,
I am expected to be overnight in the hospital and home the next day. I experience parasthesia down both arms to my fingertips and neck pain for which I
take Tramodol. I have also been plagued by migraine headaches since 12-24-16. Those respond to Imitrex, so my neck specialist says they are not coming 
from my neck. They do originate at the base of my skull and fan out. MRI of brain showed  sequelae of chronic microvascular ischemic changes and brain atrophy, said to be "normal for my age"(!). The neck MRI showed a whole line of blown discs C-3 thru C-7 hence this surgery to address the worst ones first. I also  experience some interference with my balance which is getting worse. I am told all this comes from my neck.
 Can anyone let me know what to expect from this surgery, start to finish? Will I be able to put on my own shirts after surgery? What about swallowing and swelling and sore throat?


  • fingerscrossedffingerscrossed Rochester NYPosts: 26
    Sorry to hear you are going through this. I am 3 months post opt on having one disc. But I can tell you that you will need help at the hospital and getting home. You may have nausea and vomit but the Percocet will help but if you can switch to Tylenol coding after a week you will feel better. Ask for stomach medication and a stool softener. You can't take ibuprofen at all. You will most likely have a collar that you will need to wear for a month. You willl notice relief from your head aces and numbness fast. The first month is hard, I had to eat soft foods like soup, pudding, mash potatoes so pre buy those foods. The collar can give you lock jaw, but the exersize help. I needed a mouth guard because it made my teeth hurt from the pressure that that relieved itself when collar came off. Basically you are going to just want to sleep, eat, meds repeat. I slept a good two months on my couch. I couldn't even watch tv, but sleep is so good. Once you get past the two month mark you will feel so much better! I am in my 3rd month now doing PT exersize s to strengthen and streach my muscles. You might take longer but you will be feeling very normal. The hardest part is do not lift, push or pull anything. Hire a cleaning lady or have family help you. You will only be able to do simple things, that will pass. But expect a lifting restrictions for a year. Major surgery, you will need drivers the first two months, so you can't do it all alone. 
  • I just had surgery on 3/7/17 and I have hurt more than I did BEFORE!! I will never have this surgery done again!!! My neck and shoulders KILL ME!!! The biggest problem though is my esophagus and indigestion!! It's like nothing goes down right without taking air with it. Then I can't .....cannot burp!!!! I don't know why this is happening and nothing that I take does any good!!!!
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  • Thanks for the tips, sorry to hear you had hard times after. That is what scares me. I fear not being able to swallow, fear pain, etc.But I have read various responses. One person woke up, could walk, talk, put arms over head, and several other good things. I am going to pray and hope to be like that person.
       I know hospitals have meds. for nausea so that doesn't upset me much. I do have some help at home and do have cleaning ladies. Need to be able to take my service dog out at least once a day, family will help as much as they can. Family is one working husband and one nineteen year old college girl. I am sure they will do what they can, but I may need more help than they can provide? Husband has to take time off this year, wonder if he will take it off to help me. Big possibility he will. I don't like the sound of this collar thingy and put in a call to find out if I will even have one. I want to know one way or the other.Hopefully they use good painblocking meds. I am a non-driver already so that is nonissue for me. I remind myself how our dogs HATED wearing colllars after procedures and if its like that, I sure understand their reactions, lol.
  • I am 50. Had c5-c6 done on Feb 7. I was driving forklift 1.5 weeks later. I am self employed so had to get back to work.  Still following doctor's orders and not lifting anything. Feel great. I are soft foods for half a day then back to regular stuff. Throat was sore for couple days and swallowing a little difficult for a week. Took pain meds for two days after surgery then nothing at all. Hope your surgery goes just as well!
  • Thank your lucky stars they are going in anterior, and not posterior!!!  I had both-two front, one back. Thru the front is a piece of cake and I was looking to go home hours after the surgery. When they did posterior, they were looking to get me out of the hospital after 4 days and I told them I'm not going anywhere. The headaches were AWFUL and although they lasted 2 weeks, the spasms in the shoulders lasted for MONTHS till I got 3 viles of Botox shot up in my shoulders. Get measured ahead of time for your hard collar especially if you have a skinny neck like mine cause they don't keep all sizes, and get yourself a soft one at the drug store or on Amazon (measure your neck)..even though I had my 3 surgeries 10 years, & 7 years ago, I still need my soft collar from time to time like long car rides, on the plane etc. I always keep a collar in my car...the vibration will bother you.
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  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 4,299
    edited 07/23/2019 - 1:08 PM
    hello carol 65 !
    Welcome to Veritas Health Forumplease click on link for helpful information!
    1. Hi there, I am 62, had c3-c7, 4 level acdf done March 2. Stayed 2 days in hospital mostly due to nausea caused by the anesthesia.  Did have difficulty swallowing for about 10 days but am mostly back to normal now. I also had chronic migraines for the last 10 years, numbness and burning pain down both arms, pain in both shoulders,  poor balance. Have not had a headache since surgery,  pain in my shoulders is gone, balance is improving. I do have sun burn type feeling down the inner part of my right arm and numbness on my right shoulder. This is improving. Did not have to wear any type of neck brace and was told by my surgeon that he expected to see "normal conversational head movement " at my post op appointment. Which I had, honestly think I have much better mobility after surgery. Go to physical therapy twice weekly with exercises to do at home. I hope you have as successful results as I have, I would recommend researching your surgeon, ask about their complication rate, etc. Good luck :)
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