Originally Posted by Payton02;2***858
How long is a sufficient amount of time to recover following one level ACDF with donor bone and plate?
I had an ACDF at C5-6-7 on March 6th of 2006, so I'm just over a year out right now.
Mine came on fast - one day a persistent sore muscle I thought came from sleeping wrong suddenly hurt like throbbing hell and wouldn't stop. I was out of work about one week before the surgery, and about two weeks after. My company requires you to use up all of your remaining sick days and vacation days before you start short-term disability, a policy that probably contributed to my good health the rest of the year (damned if I was going to let them dock me for the sniffles!)
Anyway - the two weeks was fine for me, physically. I can't take vicodin due to allergies, so I was on a mix of oxycontin and dilaudid the week before and the first week after surgery. After that I stuck to muscle relaxants and the occasional dilaudid for break-through pain. Mostly I just sucked it up.
My first four-to-six months after surgery were basically hellish, but not so much because of pain. I mean, there *was* pain, but the worst part for me was the paranoia and depression. After ACDF you get a boatload of weird sensations, spasms, twinges, numbnesses, etc, and every time I got one I was convinced the fusion had failed and I’d have to have surgery again and it would be even worse and the pain would never end and I’d be crippled for life and…and and.
It’s possible some of that was because I did too much, too soon. I have a computer-heavy job that also (at that time) required a lot of getting up and sitting down again, roaming about the office, etc. And it’s really hard to explain to someone why you can’t lift a ream of paper when all you have to show for yourself is a tiny square of gauze on your neck, so sometimes I just lifted it anyway.
I would say, go back when you feel ready to. And do it slow – if you can start at half-days and work your way up from there, I’d go for it, because at least then you can make an educated guess at what you can handle.
I think the important thing to remember is that going back to work doesn't mean you're recovered. The recovery from this surgery is often a long process, and feeling great one day doesn't mean you won't hurt again the next. Don't assume that "good enough to work" should mean that all the problems go away -- I'm a year out, and I consider my procedure to have been a rousing success, but I still have trapezius spasms most nights and my neck gets generally "sore" pretty easily.
(that would probably go away if I did my PT exercises regularly, instead of not at all...