HI, It will be 3 years May 2nd when I had my C 5, C 6, C 7 ACDF with hardware and I'm still having trouble with swallowing! It feels like someone has there hands around my throat all the time. Any pill larger than a small pill has to be cut.. or it will hang in my throat. I've been to three different Ear, Nose and Throat guys and had several tests run.., ballooned my throat trying to stretch it.... but they can't find what the problem is. My brothers Neuro doctor told him my problem was common on 3 or more levels and there wasn't "much" that coud be done. lol.. Not sure what "much" means. My question is..... anyone else going thru this and if so, what are you doing to correct it? Thanks for your time.....
I have had ACDF on C4/5/6/7, and also have some trouble with swallowing. I would describe it mostly as a feeling of 'tightness', have episodes where I can't swallow for awhile, sometimes feel like food or a pill isn't going to go down, and also have spasms around my throat (fortunately not terribly often) where I can't do anything until things settle down.
The first couple of weeks post-op (each time, I've had two surgeries) were the worst, and then improves, but there are some residual symptoms . It's been 1 & 2 years, and the residual problem feels like it is slowly getting worse, but so far I can live with it, and hope it stops getting worse.
When I look at my x-ray from the side, I can see where the plate (and maybe some scar tissue) press on the back of my throat. When I talk to the surgeon, he tells me that my sensations are 'not unusual, but people get used to it', and also said that in a small number of cases he's had to do surgery to remove the plate after the bones have fused, but there's some risk with that because it might contribute to the amount of scar tissue, and there's some risk of damaging nerves with each operation.
Don't know if this is similar to your condition or not, it will be interesting to see what other posts you get.
Hopefully, everyone's surgeon touches on this issue before surgery.
The condition is known as "dysphagia" and is probably the most common complication - very common. There are many studies - both prospective and retrospective (combine the words "ACDF" AND "dysphagia" in your search, if interested).
Thanks Bob and Funny4mony,
That's exactly what I feel! Somedays it's ( almost ) normal with other days where I can hardly swallow at all. Thank you for your reply and I hope I hear more. My general GP has been wonderful and giving me everything he can think of but still... same problem. Seems like when I eat salty foods it's worse.... but other than that, I can't tell you what makes it worse.
I wished my surgeon told me. The ONLY thing he said about swallowing, some people tell me they find it alittle hard to swallow for a week or two but you'll be fine after that. He sent me to two ENT's. One balloned my throat twice but said he really didn't see anything causing the problem and the other after 2 minutes in the room, looked at my throat and said your just dry.... drink a quart of water a day and you'll be fine.( neither helped) I ask my surgeon why I was having this problem, he said he had to manipulate my throat a bunch to get to my spine but he didn't "see that part" so he doesn't know about that. Then, after two months post-op he released me as 100% and said I was fine.. but if I found anything he could "fix", just schedule another appointment and he'll be happy to take care of it. lol.... ( I wasn't even swallowing solid foods till in the third month, not to mention the pain issue's)
I've never heard of the word "dysphagia" but I'm SO happy to have something I can read and learn about. THANK YOU!!!! At times, this makes you think about giving up.... the battle seems to have no end.... I hope this will help.
Dont ever give up! My experience, like yours, has been that there are residual symptoms, and that we have to learn to deal with them. I eat less food, in smaller amounts, but eat more oftern during the day. When I have a 'spell' where it's hard to swallow, I back off, relax, try not to get stressed out, so far it's always gotten better later on. Just examples - but you're not alone in this!
The bottom line is there is now something taking up space in back of your throat that didn't use to be there, so of course there are differences. A lot of people seem to be lucky and not experience this, but some of us do have to deal with it.
My wife works as a Speech Pathologist, and sometime works with people who have difficulty swallowing (not usually ACDF people like we are). There are tests that can be done to learn more about your problem, I can ask her for more details of what they're called if you want. I think you said you've seen an ENT, they would know of these as well. There may be things going on (like nerves & muscles not working exactly the way they used to) that aren't visible in an exam, but are problems never the less. One of the swallowing studies takes images while you are swallowing something to see how everything is working together (or not). Let me know if you want me to dig out some details on these tests that you could take to your ENT to talk about.
Good luck- learn to enjoy the good days, and don't stress out on the bad ones!
Sure, I would appreciate any help. I have had the swallow test, the doctor said he couldn't find anything wrong. That's the response I've heard from all of them. Now, that I don't have health insurance, going to a doctor and having test ran on the trial and error method isn't an option. Maybe with the help of the board I can figure out the best course of action..... I know I'm not dreaming this up... I know pills and food get stuck... or hang in my throat... I know that I will be sitting watching T.V. and saliva alone will chock me... I just can't figure out why atleast one of the doctors, out of 3 I've seen for this, couldn't tell me this was common or find the problem? I haven't been to the doctor for 1 1/2 years with this... just been trying to live with it untill last week when my brothers doctor told him with three or more levels, this is common. You understand Bob what I'm talking about. Everything you say is exactly what I'm going thru.... hey.. maybe I need to take you to my doctors and let you explain what I'm going thru..... you explain things more clearly than I do! lol
Hi, i suffer from painful dysphagia at times. I don't think it was from post acdf 2 level , i had it before, it could have been alignment problem? I also have thyroid disease and sometimes when it is out of level i get it more. I also heard people with acid refulx can experience this. I had swallowing test done , they found nothing. But there are times when it is so bad it feels like a heart attack from the swallowing spasms. If it is your only muscle type symptom that is probably good! If you find any good info out, share it!
it's been a long time since i was last on the boards, but to answer your question on the swallowing issue. i was injured on 10/17/01 and had acdf at the C5, C6, C7 level on 8/2/02 and spent over 2-1/2 yrs on a liquid diet and lost over 35 pounds. i still have some trouble swallowing food and i have had to learn how to remain calm when it sticks in my throat, but thankfully i am able to eat solid food now, but i still watch what i eat. i do not take chances on anything, so everything is cut up including my 5mg oxycodone pills. i take all pills with applesauce to make sure it will go down. i had an orthopaedic surgeon who was so nice before surgery and then a pain in the *** after surgery, he made me feel as if i was crazy and that there was no reason why i would have swallowing problems. thankfully my primary care doctor believed me and finding this board helped me to know that i was not crazy and that the swallowing problem can be a result from the neck surgery. i wish you good luck and go slow when eating and drink tons of liquids to help
Hi Jeffrey, Thanks ....... That's the way my NS said. I was a firefighter when the accident happened and you know what my NS said to me? Well, I don't know why your having trouble because I've operated on two other fireman and they did fine! ( He was suppose to be the best in the state) He released me to 100% duty..... that's why I can't get SSD, no matter how many other doctors say I have a problem.... because the ATTENDING doctor said I was ok... what the other doctors say really doesn't matter. lol.... Oh well... I'm still here.... I'm so sorry to hear your still having all the problems too. Mine doesn't seems as bad as what you have. I will do as you say.. drink plenty of liquids and try to relax. Thanks......
3 level ACDF with Hardware May 2nd,2003
I had a 2 level artificial disc replacement done on July 8th last year, here in London, and I have had nothing but problems with my swallowing since then.
After the initial month post surgery, I thought that the problem would go away, but no. I have seen my neurosurgeon on a few occasions since surgery, and each time I have a set of flexion x-rays done, - (head resting on chest and head tilted back) and he thinks that the discs are positioned nicely. In October he referred me to a speech therapist who did a video fluoroscopy test on me, which entailed me first drinking water with barium mix in it (only a small amount), then eating half of an egg mayo sandwich coated with barium, and finally a sharp biscuit coated with barium. After the test she played me back the whole video (lasted about 20 minutes), and it showed that my swallow mechanism was not as strong as it should be, only like a half-swallow, and small pieces of food were staying trapped in little pockets that lay at the top of your oesaphagus. I could quite clearly see this on the videotape. She in turn after discussion with other doctors referred me to an ENT surgeon, who I saw in February. He says that the muscle laying behind these disc levels is not working properly. I tend to feel the problem worsens as each day goes on, not to bad when I wake up, but by midday I get that old feeling like something is stuck in the throat, or i'm being strangled, I can "FEEL EVERY SWALLOW" i'm sure you know what I mean. His explanation is that whilst sleeping we do not really swallow, and once up and about in the day we start to swallow, and as the day goes on because the muscle has been weakened it gets tired and more tired until it doesn't want to try anymore and sort of packs up - (this seems to make sense to me). He also explained that a normal adult apart from any food or drink intake, would swallow approximately 1 and 1/2 litres of mucus a day . I also happen to have had a sinus infection on and off since October which obviously increases this amount !!!. He thinks it is still early days and that the problem could just come right. I do hope so. I go back to see him on May 10th.
Do you get spasms of like muscular pain around the neck and down the front of the chest when your swallowing feels at it's worst?. I take a 7.5mg tablet called Zopiclone in the evening which is normally used for inducing sleep, and about 30 minutes after taking this my throat feels quite relaxed, and sort of like "normal", this is when I normally eat my meal. Would love to hear more from any of you regarding this, any help or tips would be greatly appreciated, as there are not many people that I find posting with this problem, although they say it is fairly common. By the way, my procedure was done using the PCM disc.
Hope to hear back from any of you. Sorry for the long post,
Thank you for your reply. Don't worry about the long part.... the more I read and the more you tell me ..... the better I can understand this. What your saying makes sense to me because in the morning it's not nearly as bad as evening. I was given Diazepam the last time I talked to my GP about this to relax my throat. It honestly doesn't help much, if any, but when you feel as if your being "chocked" then you'll take anything you think might help! lol I had one of the swallowing test done but the young boy..( he said he was a doctor) told me everything looked good to him. This sounds terrible but I need to share this with you. Sometimes.... after I have eaten... as long as a couple of hours.... I will feel something in my throat still.. and I clear it and find a piece of my meal comes up that was apparently just sitting in my throat. I drink LOTS of liquids when eating to help wash down the food. It's just amazing that anything could stay in my throat and not get washed down! My throat will spasm and also even to this day.... it will spasm at the incision.... like several times... in a row but I don't have them travel down into my chest as you do. About the help..... I don't know what to tell you Mary. When I eat Asain food iit seems to make it worse so I stay away from those. I have a friend that told me it was the MSG (???) in the food. Not sure what that is... but I still don't eat that. lol I hope you get better and Thank you for your reply. harveygray
3 level ACDF with Hardware May 2nd,2003