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Old 03-22-2006, 06:16 PM   #1
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Original MRI on page 10! Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

Hi!

Long time lurker - first time poster. Wish I had a better prognosis ... But, never the less, here I am.

...I am 30 yrs old and had an ACDF C5/6 on Feb. 27...

I will start from the begining...

3 1/2 - 4 years ago I went to the ER with chest pains...After a complete work up it was decided that I had not had a heart attack...but was probably pretty close (relatively speaking if I did not do something about it)

...I was 50 lbs overweight had high cholesterol and high blood pressure...for the past couple of years I have managed to lose 40lbs get my cholesterol and blood pressure under control with no medications...but the chest pain still lingered...

In june of 2005 my wife gave birth to our son...After carting him around...painting a nursery...and doing all the manual labor (which I'm not used to being a computer geek for a living), I started having a lot of neck and chest pain. After freaking out over the next few months...and many trips to the ER, I found out that I had a herniated disc that absolutly HAD to be operated on or I would lose all function in my left arm...Prior to the surgery I had intense chest pain and a lot of numbness in my left arm and face... I also had the classic symptoms of thumb and index finger numbness. It was also confirmed on an EMG that I had C6 nerve damage.

February 27th comes along and I have the surgery...The Neurosurgeon tells me everything went well...nerves have been totally decompressed...I leave the hospital the next with a lot of throat pain a lot of meds...The first week or so I have no chest or arm pain..the incision sight is very sore and so is my throat...over the next few days the throat pain subsides but I develop some "soreness" in my neck..and I start to notice my right eye is drooping a lot and the pupil is not the same size as the left one...that along with a rapid heartbeat sends me to the ER...After a few days in the hospital its determined the rapid heartbeat is due to dehdration and the droopy eye/small pupil is Horner's Syndrome.

I go home being told to drink plenty of water and that the Horner's should fix itself...Gradually my pain worsens...I start having chest pain, neck pain, arm pain & numbness...so basically I am back where I started...I call the neurosugeon on call and tell her about my pain...she says "go to the local ER and get X-Rays" So I do...Everything looks great...I'm told to take percocet and the muscle relaxer skelaxin (which I have been taking since after the surgery)...Pain is still getting worse and on top of it all I've developed a sinus infection...Taking antibiotics for this..

Which brings me to yesterday...After emailing back and forth with the nurse at the hospital where I had my surgery, I decided I can't take the pain anymore and have my wife drive me to that hospital...at that point I am still wearing my Phila******a collar which I have been wearing the entire time religiously... When I was originally fitted for it, I was given a large as it was thought the medium was too small. After surgery, the surgeon gave me the medium saying the large was too big.

Once I get there, I get an X-Ray and I'm told that the bones are starting to fuse and to remove the collar...I was told that I can take 600mg of Motrin 3 - 4 times a day for pain along with my Skelaxin...this makes me a little nervous as I've ready many things saying that taking Nsaids could cause the bones not to fuse...I did take it once today and found it gave me little to no refief...I will probably not take this again...

If someone can give me any advice as to what to do I'd really appreciate it...I have an MRI tomorrow to check for bone spurs...I have not started physical therapy / rehab yet...Any advice or stories would be great to hear!

Is all of this simply the "way things should be"? Perhaps muscle spasms? Something to do with the collar?

And I passed a stress test in January with flying colors apparently - my blood pressure at rest is typically 115/75 and pulse is ~70. I'm 5'7 and 180 (still a little more weight loss to go but I've made a lot of progress from my original 230!)

Last edited by acdfouch; 03-29-2006 at 10:37 AM.

 
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Old 03-23-2006, 06:34 AM   #2
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Re: Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

I've had a 3 level, C4-7, and it sounds like you are doing fairly well after the single level. At one month post op, I would have thought you'd only have an x-ray, but checking for bone spurs is good.

You do know that smoking and caffiene can inhibit fusion, don't you? Stay away from them for a while.

Make sure your question your NS about therapy. If he thinks you're ready, the sooner you go in and start working they better you will feel in the long run. One suggestion, take your pain med about an hour before your appointment. It will kick in, so you won't be as bothered by the soreness after the session.

I also experienced some "tightness" in my back between my shoulder blades. My doctor suggested massage. If I could only get insurance to pay for that.

wb

 
Old 03-23-2006, 06:40 AM   #3
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Re: Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by whackedback
I've had a 3 level, C4-7, and it sounds like you are doing fairly well after the single level. At one month post op, I would have thought you'd only have an x-ray, but checking for bone spurs is good.

You do know that smoking and caffiene can inhibit fusion, don't you? Stay away from them for a while.

Make sure your question your NS about therapy. If he thinks you're ready, the sooner you go in and start working they better you will feel in the long run. One suggestion, take your pain med about an hour before your appointment. It will kick in, so you won't be as bothered by the soreness after the session.

I also experienced some "tightness" in my back between my shoulder blades. My doctor suggested massage. If I could only get insurance to pay for that.

wb
Thanks for the words of encouragement!! After being told that it would be magic and I would "wake up with no pain", I am finding it is VERY different!!

And in regards to caffiene or smoking - I don't do either. Matter of fact, my nutrition life as done a complete turn around. I can't bring myself to shop anywhere else than Whole Foods because the are the only store that has a selection of healthy choices for me!

But it sounds like you had pain - muscular specifically? How long did it last? .... How are you doing today?

Anyone else?

 
Old 03-23-2006, 07:06 AM   #4
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Re: Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

Hi,

I had ACDF C5-6 and C6-7 in June of 2004.

It seems that your problems are a bit worse than normal (based on your descriptions). I would keep on top of things as you progress.

The two things you mentioned spasms and the collar, should be considered. First, muscle spasms are common in this surgery, because your
body "protects" the area of "injury". Your body is essentially inactive during the first couple of weeks, and it is healing. Spasms will mask themselves, and feel like all sorts of other things, including the pain you felt before surgery. Remember, you are sleeping in strange positions also, so this can cause neck muscle pain. If you can pinpoint the areas, apply hot and cold alternately, about 15 minutes each. Don't do this for more than 30-45 minutes at a time. Also try muscle rubs like Ben Gay. I found Flexall to be very helpful. Try to get some normal excercise each day, like walking for 20-30 minutes. Don't do anything heavy duty or stressful.

I had a problem with the fit of my collar, so much so that it made me dizzy. Try to add some extra padding if you continue to wear it.

Keep us posted.

Dennis

 
Old 03-23-2006, 07:09 AM   #5
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Re: Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by dennisgb
Hi,

I had ACDF C5-6 and C6-7 in June of 2004.

It seems that your problems are a bit worse than normal (based on your descriptions). I would keep on top of things as you progress.

The two things you mentioned spasms and the collar, should be considered. First, muscle spasms are common in this surgery, because your
body "protects" the area of "injury". Your body is essentially inactive during the first couple of weeks, and it is healing. Spasms will mask themselves, and feel like all sorts of other things, including the pain you felt before surgery. Remember, you are sleeping in strange positions also, so this can cause neck muscle pain. If you can pinpoint the areas, apply hot and cold alternately, about 15 minutes each. Don't do this for more than 30-45 minutes at a time. Also try muscle rubs like Ben Gay. I found Flexall to be very helpful. Try to get some normal excercise each day, like walking for 20-30 minutes. Don't do anything heavy duty or stressful.

I had a problem with the fit of my collar, so much so that it made me dizzy. Try to add some extra padding if you continue to wear it.

Keep us posted.

Dennis
Thanks for the suggestions!

I am no longer wearing the collar (as per the doctor) due to the fact that I am starting to fuse. He felt that it is no longer necessary...

Perhaps I am far enough along that I do not need the additional support of the collar? Dunno. Unfortunately, he was not very specific about the quality / amount of fusing.

I'm still pressing for answers / information from the nurse but am certainly interested in hearing this stuff from people with real world experience in the mean time!

 
Old 03-23-2006, 07:24 AM   #6
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Backinthesaddle HB User
Re: Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

I was just about to post something simular to yours until I read your post. I do not have chest problems nor was I ever overweight so that is different but not much else. I had surgery to fuse C4/5 on 2/15. My spinal cord was moderate to severely depressed to 6.5mm for over 1 1/2 years before surgery. This is my second spinal surgery also, I had a post decomp of 6/7 in April 2003. I started have major issues about 3 months post my injury and it never got better. I had arm, shoulder, neck, wrist and finger pain. Not numbing but pain. I too thought this was the answer. Well, I am 5 weeks out and I still have the same pain and often worse. My shoulder region from the middle of my shoulder blades to my armpit area as well as the tips of my shoulders hurt and ache all the time. My fingers ache when my 7mo grabs them and he surely isn't that strong. I am still on muscle relaxers (3rd kind) and pain killers as needed. I am recovering from a hysterctomy 3/13 and am doing better with that then my neck. I would think the rest from this would help but it hasn't. I too would like to solicite any post ACDF's out there to see when and if the pain goes away? I go back on the 31st and fear being released back to work since this is W/C and I do not think I can go 8 hours plus 2 hours of driving right now. I would love to work out again, ride my horses again and I too wonder if I will ever be able to.

K

 
Old 03-23-2006, 07:46 AM   #7
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Re: Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Backinthesaddle
I was just about to post something simular to yours until I read your post. I do not have chest problems nor was I ever overweight so that is different but not much else. I had surgery to fuse C4/5 on 2/15. My spinal cord was moderate to severely depressed to 6.5mm for over 1 1/2 years before surgery. This is my second spinal surgery also, I had a post decomp of 6/7 in April 2003. I started have major issues about 3 months post my injury and it never got better. I had arm, shoulder, neck, wrist and finger pain. Not numbing but pain. I too thought this was the answer. Well, I am 5 weeks out and I still have the same pain and often worse. My shoulder region from the middle of my shoulder blades to my armpit area as well as the tips of my shoulders hurt and ache all the time. My fingers ache when my 7mo grabs them and he surely isn't that strong. I am still on muscle relaxers (3rd kind) and pain killers as needed. I am recovering from a hysterctomy 3/13 and am doing better with that then my neck. I would think the rest from this would help but it hasn't. I too would like to solicite any post ACDF's out there to see when and if the pain goes away? I go back on the 31st and fear being released back to work since this is W/C and I do not think I can go 8 hours plus 2 hours of driving right now. I would love to work out again, ride my horses again and I too wonder if I will ever be able to.

K
Best of luck to you!

I am trying the suggestions of others with heat and cold... It hasn't kicked in 100% yet, but I'm giving it a shot!

As I recover / find more information, I will certainly keep posting in this thread. Hopefully I can provide some light at the end of the tunnel assuming I have some of my own!

How about everyone else?

 
Old 03-23-2006, 09:38 AM   #8
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Re: Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

Hi Ouch,

I did the heat/cold early after surgery too. I dont remember how much it helped to be honest, but I know it made me feel better to be doing something! Now I find that heat helps more than anything, hot showers heating pad, ect.

My surgeon said with the extent of my neurological impairment before surgery it was likely that I would have some permanent nerve damage. He also said this type of surgery did not guarantee that the pain would go away.
He did say that 95% of the relief/recovery from symptoms would happen immediately after surgery, with the other 5% coming over time. In my case I found that to be true. I've read/heard of others that started out with the same pain and symptoms only to have them fade away in time. Hopefully that will include you!

I did have a couple questions though, just curious (nosy).

Did they find a connection between the neck problem and the chest pain?
Or the facial numbness?

Did they put a plate in?

How did your MRI look?

You're still early in the recovery process. Just take things slow and dont overdo it. This procedure has a high sucess rate.

You might ask your Dr if you could take a different pain med like vicodin or something. It sucks to be in pain all the time.

Hey best of luck to you, keep postig, and take it slow......Mike

 
Old 03-23-2006, 11:24 AM   #9
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Re: Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mb100
Hi Ouch,

I did the heat/cold early after surgery too. I dont remember how much it helped to be honest, but I know it made me feel better to be doing something! Now I find that heat helps more than anything, hot showers heating pad, ect.

My surgeon said with the extent of my neurological impairment before surgery it was likely that I would have some permanent nerve damage. He also said this type of surgery did not guarantee that the pain would go away.
He did say that 95% of the relief/recovery from symptoms would happen immediately after surgery, with the other 5% coming over time. In my case I found that to be true. I've read/heard of others that started out with the same pain and symptoms only to have them fade away in time. Hopefully that will include you!

I did have a couple questions though, just curious (nosy).

Did they find a connection between the neck problem and the chest pain?
Or the facial numbness?

Did they put a plate in?

How did your MRI look?

You're still early in the recovery process. Just take things slow and dont overdo it. This procedure has a high sucess rate.

You might ask your Dr if you could take a different pain med like vicodin or something. It sucks to be in pain all the time.

Hey best of luck to you, keep postig, and take it slow......Mike
Thanks for the words!

In regards to your questions :

1 - They felt it was "likely" that there was a connection due to the lack of other areas confirming issues (such as extensive heart workups etc)

2 - I have a titanium plate with 4 screws

3 - Just got back from the MRI - we'll see what the doc says when he has an opportunity to look it over (hopefully soon)

 
Old 03-23-2006, 11:55 AM   #10
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Re: Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

Hey ouch,

Did he give you pain meds? No point in suffering....

You might want to get a copy of your MRI report too. I've got all of my films and reports to go with them. They'll come in handy if you ever need to go to a different Dr. My Dr. threw out my original films after surgery. I was not happy, I bought a second set from the place that did the MRI. From that time to now, I made sure none of them got lost. I had a CT scan that I got a copy of on disc, Shows you the fusion like nothing else will. Interesting stuff.

The chest pain was a new one on me. But not a surprise by any stretch, I've heard of, and had, a slew of symptoms.

Anyway, take it easy and I hope you feel better.

Mike

 
Old 03-23-2006, 12:05 PM   #11
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acdfouch HB User
Re: Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mb100
Hey ouch,

Did he give you pain meds? No point in suffering....

You might want to get a copy of your MRI report too. I've got all of my films and reports to go with them. They'll come in handy if you ever need to go to a different Dr. My Dr. threw out my original films after surgery. I was not happy, I bought a second set from the place that did the MRI. From that time to now, I made sure none of them got lost. I had a CT scan that I got a copy of on disc, Shows you the fusion like nothing else will. Interesting stuff.

The chest pain was a new one on me. But not a surprise by any stretch, I've heard of, and had, a slew of symptoms.

Anyway, take it easy and I hope you feel better.

Mike
Yea - I have a mix of different mediciines...

Skelaxin, Percoet... None of those seem to do much.

I did try a Valium 5mg a few hours ago and that helped prior to the MRI.

I'm sure laying on that hard thing for an hour straight put me back in pain again, but I *DID* have two nice hours of relief. Took it down from an 8 to a 2 on the pain level.

Perhaps there is something to be said there...

 
Old 03-23-2006, 12:09 PM   #12
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Re: Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

Ouch,

HEhehe feels real good when that pain subsides dont it???

 
Old 03-23-2006, 12:22 PM   #13
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Re: Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mb100
Ouch,

HEhehe feels real good when that pain subsides dont it???
Too good.

I almost feel myself tensing up waiting for the pain to start again.

 
Old 03-23-2006, 12:36 PM   #14
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Re: Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

Call the doc for a stronger drug if you have to. Dont sweat it, you wont get addicted if you have genuine pain. Anyone on here will tell you the same. Make yourself comfortable as possible, not at the keyboard I would guess???

Take it easy

Mike

 
Old 03-23-2006, 12:40 PM   #15
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Re: Four Weeks Post ACDF C5/6 - Ouch! (?)

Touch-

My road to recovery was not as smooth as yours will be. I had a spinal fluid leak post surgery and spent 6 days in the ICU while it drained from a tap in my lumbar. That original ACDF was in 2002.

The surgeon left part of the middle disc in for stability. It later shifted and compressed my cord at C5/6. I just had a posterior laminectomy in February to fix that. So the whole process took 4 years. I begin PT for that surgery starting this coming Monday. it was my 4th (2 cervical, 2 lumbar). As far as I'm concerned, I'm done. Thus my handle, whackedback.

I'm only now beginning to feel normal.

wb

Last edited by whackedback; 03-23-2006 at 01:06 PM.

 
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