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Old 03-15-2007, 10:22 PM   #1
~Ro ~Ro is offline
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Question ACDF Pain worse later part of day?

Hi,
I'm now 7 weeks post op after an ACDF with donor bone on C5, C6 & C7. I'm stuck in an Aspen collar for a total of 3 months according to NS; I'm so tired of it and trying to be patient for the next 5 weeks or so.

I have such pain in the late afternoons into the evening opposed to tolerably painful in the early part of the day; I wonder if others experience this too or is the severity of your pain constant?

I'm happy that I sleep through the night and then some so I know I'm healing. I'm happy I don't have most of the nerve, numbing pain in my right arm/hand now but can not stand the horrible, burning pain between my shoulder blades, back of my neck and down my spine. On top of that, I have been enduring some pretty bad headaches that aren't relieved with the pain meds. Have I just exchanged a couple pains for a couple others? Can I make it through a day without getting bummed out about the pain & lack of my normal existence? Will the pain ever go away enough for me to be off such heavy duty medication?

Thanks for being here.

~Ro - who seriously wonders if there is a light at the end of this tunnel

 
Old 03-15-2007, 10:59 PM   #2
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Re: ACDF Pain worse later part of day?

Hello `Ro
Hang in there - there is light at the end of the tunnel. I have had 2 ACDFs to fuse C4/5/6/7 - and have been what you are going through. A couple of thoughts for you -

After my second ACDF, I had some pain that lasted, and was taking pain meds for about 20 months. Part of that was good, as it let me get back to work and my life, which is an important part of healing. However, taking them too long has a downside - after enough time you can become dependent on them, and that causes a whole other set of problems to sort through. I'm speaking from experience, here.

I found that I have had to learn a new 'normal' for me - not that it's better or worse than before, just different. My experience is (even now, with the last ACDF two years behind me) that I have some pain from time to time, and it gets worse if I let myself get too tired, or too stressed. You are just beginning your path to recovery, so give yourself time, and try to find some ways to rest and relax when you experience pain, like you are late in the day. I think you can expect continued improvement, you are not so very far past your operation. When you find the pain is increasing, try to find something to rest and relax, and see if that helps get you through this. For me it is sometimes going for a walk, and sometimes leaving work early or taking a day off to rest. The important thing is to learn to go with the flow, and don't get discouraged.

You still have every reason to think you can get back to pain free - but maybe try looking for simple lifetstyle changes that work for you, to help you on this journey! And by all means discuss the pain with your Dr., and if you find yourself getting too discouraged or depressed, seek some help to find ways to control the pain meds you have to take. You can get through this, don't let it get you down.

Best luck!
Bob

 
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Old 03-16-2007, 08:12 AM   #3
SKZ SKZ is offline
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Re: ACDF Pain worse later part of day?

Ro,
Are you going to physical therapy? They can help you with some treatments. I started feeling better when I started PT at around 7 1/2 weeks. That was the point where I stopped taking my pain meds because, even though I still hurt, it wasnt horrible. They started me with gentle stretches and gentle isometrics using the neck. I also got ultrasound and electrical stimulation.I had the same surgery as you (C5-C7). I didnt wear a collar though. I am not sure why you have to wear the collar so long. Now we are working on my screwed up sacral area that is totally adding to my upper body muscle spasms.

 
Old 03-16-2007, 08:18 AM   #4
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Re: ACDF Pain worse later part of day?

Hi Ro,

I totally agree with Bob in that you are still in the early stages of your recovery and with my first surgery....I, too, had to wear a collar for about 3 months...This in itself caused a lot of pain and "burning" in my muscles towards the end of the day because your poor neck doesn't know whether to "lean" and rely completely on the collar or to use it's muscles to hold your head up... So, it's at that in between stage and since you're not relying totally on your own muscles to build them back up after surgery....it will take some time...Did they use metal plates and screws to help with the fusion??? My first sugery they did not and this is why I used the collar for so long.....The last two surgeries....i have lots of metal, rods, plates, and screws to help fuse and didn't have to use a collar at all....But every surgeon seems to be different....



I would also say that when you are done with the collar....you will probably still feel some residual muscle pain/burning as your muscles are re-learning to all be used again...

This is a great time to work with your Dr. on continually stepping down from your medication and doses to let your body get used to handling the regular aches and pains that can happen....I know for me, by the end of the day still....after about 4 months out from this last surgery (they went in from the front and the back of my neck so cut through muscle in the back)....I spend my evening resting my head on the back of the couch with my favorite pillow.....it feels SO much better just to "lean" against the back of something after my neck muscles have been working so hard all day....

Although you think with my head full of air...it would be really light...HAHAHAHA....

Sorry, couldn't resist.....LOL...


Please give yourself time....a fusion actually takes a total of a year and there are many tweaks of pain/soreness that can happen from time to time and also when you start getting more active and then tapering off the pain meds.....

Last edited by TraveltoSL; 03-16-2007 at 08:40 AM.

 
Old 03-16-2007, 08:27 AM   #5
SKZ SKZ is offline
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Re: ACDF Pain worse later part of day?

Ro,
TraveltoSL is right. When the pain gets bad, allow yourself to lie down with a pillow and rest that neck. You neck is trying to tell you something. Dont force yourself to stay upright and over do things. I notice my pain progesses and gets worse as the day gets long. I think its the neck and upper body muscles getting tired..period. So I make sure that I lie down for a bit.

 
Old 03-19-2007, 09:48 PM   #6
~Ro ~Ro is offline
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Re: ACDF Pain worse later part of day?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobM View Post
You still have every reason to think you can get back to pain free - but maybe try looking for simple lifetstyle changes that work for you, to help you on this journey! And by all means discuss the pain with your Dr., and if you find yourself getting too discouraged or depressed, seek some help to find ways to control the pain meds you have to take. You can get through this, don't let it get you down.

Best luck!
Bob
Thanks, Bob. Getting used to my new normal has been quite the feat thus far. I do realize that I'm doing too much in the day & have to stop that & use this time to sit back & relax .. but there's so much to do & it never seems like too much. I'm sure you've all made similar excuses. Anyway, as far as talking to my surgeon, he's useless as far as pain medication goes, hence why I'm seeing a pain management specialist, who also is a psychiatrist. My main goal is to get to the other side of this pain & NOT get addicted to these pills. If I do run into a problem, at least I know I'm seeing the right doctor. :-) I see them all, (my thyroid specialist too) on Thursday.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SKZ View Post
Ro,
Are you going to physical therapy? They can help you with some treatments. I started feeling better when I started PT at around 7 1/2 weeks. That was the point where I stopped taking my pain meds because, even though I still hurt, it wasnt horrible. They started me with gentle stretches and gentle isometrics using the neck. I also got ultrasound and electrical stimulation.I had the same surgery as you (C5-C7). I didnt wear a collar though. I am not sure why you have to wear the collar so long. Now we are working on my screwed up sacral area that is totally adding to my upper body muscle spasms.
No PT yet, Skz. I wonder why he's not calling for it but my surgeon isn't so hot on reasons. Maybe he'll give me more of an idea of when I'm to go. I got some excercises to do while in the hospital but that's it. I couldn't even begin to think of quitting the pain meds at this point and I've been in a collar all this time. I think the surgeon made me more reliable on the collar, like a crutch & that's why I hurt so bad between the shoulder blades. I take off the collar on occasion just because I feel so claustrophobic in it. Did you use the bone growth stimulator too, or no? I can tell you that I have had very few muscle spasms & I wonder if it's because of the collar?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TraveltoSL View Post
Hi Ro,

I totally agree with Bob in that you are still in the early stages of your recovery and with my first surgery....I, too, had to wear a collar for about 3 months...This in itself caused a lot of pain and "burning" in my muscles towards the end of the day because your poor neck doesn't know whether to "lean" and rely completely on the collar or to use it's muscles to hold your head up... So, it's at that in between stage and since you're not relying totally on your own muscles to build them back up after surgery....it will take some time...Did they use metal plates and screws to help with the fusion??? My first sugery they did not and this is why I used the collar for so long.....The last two surgeries....i have lots of metal, rods, plates, and screws to help fuse and didn't have to use a collar at all....But every surgeon seems to be different....
They used metal plates & 6 screws to help the fusion, something I wonder how on Earth I'll ever get used to the feeling of. I hate bending down because it feels like the metal rubbing on the back of my throat or wherever ;-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by TraveltoSL View Post
I would also say that when you are done with the collar....you will probably still feel some residual muscle pain/burning as your muscles are re-learning to all be used again...

This is a great time to work with your Dr. on continually stepping down from your medication and doses to let your body get used to handling the regular aches and pains that can happen....I know for me, by the end of the day still....after about 4 months out from this last surgery (they went in from the front and the back of my neck so cut through muscle in the back)....I spend my evening resting my head on the back of the couch with my favorite pillow.....it feels SO much better just to "lean" against the back of something after my neck muscles have been working so hard all day....

Although you think with my head full of air...it would be really light...HAHAHAHA....

Sorry, couldn't resist.....LOL...

Please give yourself time....a fusion actually takes a total of a year and there are many tweaks of pain/soreness that can happen from time to time and also when you start getting more active and then tapering off the pain meds.....
Wow, I appreciate all the helpful reminders. I know I feel better when I lean against my pillows and I'm NOT back to work so don't have that to worry about yet. I just forget to stop & take a load off my shoulders but now it all makes so much sense. Tapering off the meds is something I expect to do but am not about to suffer through any of this, so I'll see what they all say on Thursday. I ordered a new neck pillow that I intend on taking with me for car rides & when I have to take a civil service exam, (in a couple weeks) to get myself back in the work force. I would prefer to not do the exam now but they only offer it twice a year & I'm hoping to be working before the next test in October.

Question, how long after your surgeries did you go back to work?

Thanks all!
~Ro

 
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