I'm back with my first post surgical report 8 days post double ACDF, using allograft, BMP, a titanium plate & 5 screws.
I awakened with a searing pain in my upper back and an incredibly sore/tender chest (lower sternum). There were some minor problems stabilizing me post op (I have sleep apnea), but it worked out fine.
I was walking again shortly after being brought up to my room and "voiding," drinking & eating. I was looking forward to leaving the hospital the next day and did. Although, if I had it do over again...
My big problem was the spinal cord compression, causing neurological impairment. I was surprised to discover nearly all of the pain that I thought was just "normal aging" disappeared immediately after surgery. Also, walking is different now, which is good. Basically, it had felt like I was walking on a boat previous to the surgery.
I feel good most of the time, but then my body sends me a big reminder that I've just had surgery. I still need to nap/rest after even a few hours of sitting. My body feels best when I am upright/standing or walking. I tire very easily.
Pain? Dunno what to make of it.
I have horrible pain - lower in the spine than before - near my left shoulder blade and can't lay down. The Dr. warned that I'd feel some pain when the proteins kicked in. The pain makes its way out to my armpit and, to a lesser degree, my arm. I still have some mild twitches & tremors in the left arm/hand.
I'm due for a med.
Last edited by funny4mony; 03-14-2006 at 02:52 PM.
Reason: Wong date in title.
8 Days After Surgery (my wife says I shouldn't include the date of surgery in my count ;-)
Aside from one issue, I feel fantastic. I'd like to hop on the treadmill, start driving again, etc.
My pre-op issues of limb pain, loss of coordination, motor function, etc. are essentially gone.
The normal post operative pain issues discussed previous to surgery have been virtually non-existent; no pain of note at the site of the incision; no throat pain, and; only mild cases of hoarseness and difficulty swallowing.
The pain/tenderness that I had immediately after surgery in my center chest/sternum is almost gone. I still don't know what that was from. My wife was guessing that the NS may have used some kind of scaffolding-like apparatus, a portion of which was braced against my sternum. Maybe it was from the tachycardia (fast heartbeat). My pulse rate was over 200 for a while in post op. Dunno.
I think - HOPE - the only problem I'm dealing with now is a swollen nerve root.
As I wrote above, I have had some pretty spectacular pain in a new location in my back, off to the left, as in the "ice pick jammed under the shoulder blade" kind of pain. I had some steroids administered via IV post op and took steroid tablets through last Sunday. I'm guessing those treatments were given based on the pain I was having.
I don't know if I'm just expecting too much. I've been trying to go without the Vicodin. But I don't think I've made it 24 hours without taking 4 yet. I held out until 2:30 P.M. today, but it just became unbearable.
My wife and I have been debating when to contact the surgeon. Late last Saturday, actually around 4:30 a.m. Sunday, we were going to head to the ER if an additional Vicodin didn't relieve the pain, allowing me to sleep. Obviously, it worked.
I have enough pain meds to make it through the week. But I don't know if this new pain is just a normal part of the healing process that I need to go through, or if it's an new issue that needs to be addressed medically.
When I got injured the knife between the shoulder blades was the first symptom I had. It never totally went away, lifting or walking seem to fire it up. Doc ordered a thoracic MRI which showed nothing. He shrugged his shoulders and said he didnt know. I wonder if anyone knows where the nerve originates that goes to the center of the the back and around the shoulder blade. Mine Is at about roughly t-6. 1or 2 inches right of center.
Glad to hear you're feelin better. What about that pain in your lower back you mentioned?
It has only been a short time so I wouldnt worry about overdoing the meds.
I've had ACDF two times. It's really OK to take the pain medication, I believe you recover faster and better if you're not constantly in pain. Don't hesitate to call the Dr for a refill, and do it before you're close to running out. If you hurt, you will move differently (some of this is inevitable due to the fusing), and I think you can actually increase the pain, put strain on the rest of your neck, etc.
I had the shoulder blade pain you mentioned, and in one case it got worse after the sugery. The cause was inflammation of the nerve root having been 'man handled' during the operation. I had a course of Prednisone, and it slowly got better, but took 3 or 4 weeks to go away.
Check your hospital release instructions - probably says to notify the Dr. immediately if you have pain. If you were even thinking about going to the ER, you waited too long. The Dr has no way of knowing what's going on if you don't tell him, you shouldn't feel reluctant to call him. It's funny how we hesitate to call, not wanting to be a bother - I'm the same way.
Just my thoughts - best of luck for getting better!
You're absolutely right, Bob, and my wife is calling the Dr. tomorrow and getting a refill while she's at it.
My discharge instructions indicated that I should call the Dr. about any new pain that doesn't resolve.
Literally, it's bolded just like that, but in caps.
Mike - the new, lower pain is off the spine into the left shoulder blade. My original neck pain was higher, about two inches higher up on the spine. That pain is gone, and was not nearly as debilitating as this one.
Last edited by funny4mony; 03-14-2006 at 08:20 PM.
I like the comment about 'new' pain - like if it's 'old' pain it's OK!
I had my 2nd ACDF to fix a disc that had been deteriorating when I had the 1st ACDF (C5/6/7), but wasn't as bad yet. When the pain came back a year later, I didn't want to call the surgeon, and after the 2nd surgery when 'new' pain (ha!) showed up in the other shoulder, I didn't want to call the surgeon. Absolutley no logic in this, but that was my response.
In both instances, my wife called the surgeon, and both times he said 'get back in here' - first surgery to treat disc (C4/5), and 5 days later another MRI to investigate the 'new' pain and see if something had not gone right during the surgery. But I didn't call...
If I had my car repaired and it didn't work the next day, for sure I'd revisit the mechanic right away, but there's a reluctance sometimes to call the Dr. I attribute my actions to fear of going to see the Dr!
Funny4....keep us posted. It's helpful. 'Guess ya just have to post in a sandwhich.
Mike....now we're shoulder-blade-pain-buddies. I've been a member of THAT club for 18 years! 'Matter of fact, that was my 1st pain ever. Doc's never had a answer. I'm still hoping the acdf will somehow help?
Thanks for asking about me on the other thread. I'm still creeping along slowwwly in the healing dept. 'Hip a bit better...right arm still same as b4 the surgery.
You just have to start thinking of the doc's a mechanics with 6 degrees. But don't forget the part about when you show up...you can't get your body to make that same noise that comes with the important "NEW" pain.
Ah life as a patient. Gotta love it.
BTW....I have my 6-wk X-ray Monday & see the surgeon Tuesday. Big day for me. I am so praying that the X-ray looks GOOD so I don't keep thinking I'm turning my neck too much. My hubby & parents will be so relieved.
I'll let y'all know. (Sounds too Southern for a Canadian.)
I 'll ya know, eh?
keep up the progress but don't rush it. I was told the best thing to do after my acdf was walking and I was up to several miles a day within no time. Even so found it hard to concentrate to read or even watch tv for several weeks.
Cervical nerve injuries also cause scapular pain, where it is depends on the level. your current pain may be due to irritation of the nerve root during retraction during your operation and will hopefully get better over the next few weeks. In the meantime take it easy and don't push yourself, no matter how good you feel.
HI Funny4mony, hope you are feeling somewhat better now, I am 2wks post op, had a herniated cervical disc, same place but I had one plate and one screw (LOL), I didn't have problems in the hospital, was only there for one night and discharged but I keep having all these strange sensations and annoying pains around my neck, shoulder blades which my neurosurgeon says is normal and can last for quite awhile.............have good use of the right arm back except for the numbness and on/off burning to right hand but I'm told that will eventually go away........waiting for the energy to come back and feel like "me" again but that to seems slow in coming....
hang in there......