Welcome to this forum - and sorry you have a need to be here!
There are lots of variables - how many levels are you having done, how severe are your related symptoms, are you using donor bone or your own, how stressful is your job, etc. Can you provide any more info?
One thing you might want to consider is going back to work part time at first.
I always took more time than I probably needed - wanted to give my body every chance to successfully fuse. The success rate for ACDF is high but not 100%. There are people here who have not successfully fused and it is no fun dealing with the alternatives when that happens - chronic pain, repeat surgery, etc.
I too have had many surgeries and returned to work quickly after most of them. But, for my ACDF I had a collar on for 6 weeks and even with my relatively sedentary job I would not have been able, nor would have wanted, to return to work any sooner than 4-6 weeks after. I was very leery of traveling in a car until I did some healing (and I'd have to drive to work). I did not drive until I was released from teh collar (6 weeks).
I had knee surgery last May on a Friday and was back at work on Monday.
But for ACDF you have to look at all the factors involved. You are likely to have post-surgical pain and limited movement during recovery which could inhibit your ability to return to work.
I had my ACDF (C4-5-6) nearly 8 years ago. I took off as much time as I possibly could, two months, to make sure it fused properly. I will tell you that I felt great, everything went well, and I probably could have gone back to work the next week....but I met someone who did that. His fusion was not so great. He has very limited range of motion and looks like an old man (in his 40s) because he is humped over.
No one can tell I have a fusion and I have full range of motion. I took my healing seriously and faithfully did the physical therapy to make sure I would heal properly. I would not recommend rushing it. Think long term!
Originally Posted by Manodak
In reading to web sites, they all talk about 2 - 4 weeks off work and such. Traditionally, I recover very quickly from past surgeries (knees rebuilt, etc)
and was planning to return to work, perhaps 5 days after surgery (no physical labor involved with my job). Is this a totally unrealistic expectation.
Mark, you wrote...."Is this a totally unrealistic expectation"
5 days.... NO WAY IN THE WORLD, you will be back to work. And if you think you are mighty mouse like I did, you'll be back in the OR having more surgery. I don't want to sound so negative but this is a MAJOR surgery that comes with pain. You need to rest and let your body heal or it will not fuse. My first surgery I couldn't even sleep laying in my bed rather had to sleep on a recliner. The second surgery I wont count right now cause it was different from what u are having and the third surgery I had a hospital bed in my house for 3 months.
I wish you luck
lami L4-5, ACDF C5-6-7, post. lami-foraminotomy c6-7, staph infect. revision acdf c4-5-6-7 new c4-5 2004. STILL IN PAIN 24/7
I had a two level ACDF on c5-7 in Jan 2007. Mine was done on an out patient basis - I traveled to and from the hospital 100 miles away in the same day, with my DH driving of course! I thought I'd be back at work in a couple weeks. I was out for almost 2 months, then started back part time. Desk jobs and sitting and computer work are stressful on the neck on back, to say the least.
I was not prepared for what I was going to go through in the way of PT, and recovery time at all. I think the fact that it was an out patient procedure made me think that it wasn't that big of a deal. I was SO wrong! My need for surgery came upon me pretty quick and I didn't do much research ahead of time.
My best tips include: if you don't have one, get a recliner. It was the only way I could sleep for about a week or so. Bendy straws were the best way to drink anything! Get help around the house for about the first week. You'd be surprised how little you can do/see, even with a soft collar like I had. My FIL died 2 days after my surgery, and my DH flew out to WA, leaving me alone. It was tough.
Anyway, I digress from your original question.
Yes, everybody is different, but do yourself a favor and give yourself some time to heal.
Hi - I don't remember the exact statistic but ACDFs have a high success rate. However, do you want to be one of the failures? You can have a spectacular surgeon and still not be a success. If you have the ability in your life/career, work it out to take as much time as you can get off. Is it possible to go back to work in shorter time (yes), but you will be pushing yourself to the limits and putting unreasonable stress on your body.
If you are having a one level, think about giving yourself at least 4-6 weeks time. If you are have multiple levels try taking up to 2 months to let your fusion get going good. Your doctor will help determine what is best for your case. I wasn't allowed to go back until my collar came off and that didn't happen until around 11 weeks after each of my surgeries. Everyone is different.
This is your shot to fix your problems, take the best care of yourself that you can.
I am one of those very few "non-fusion" patients in this web forum. I had ACDF at c5/6 in March '07. We are scheduling a new surgery because of the complications of a non-union.
From experience, it is in your best interest to take much more time than a week to recover from this kind of surgery. My job does not require very much physical work, but I still took about 2 months off. I was very careful and did everything I was told. There are no guarantees! You have to give your body a chance to rest to enable the best possible outcome! It is not fun on this side of the "street"!
My advice is to take time to heal, don't push yourself (as much as you really want too!) and stay away from NSAIDS, anti-inflammatory meds, they work against fusion.
Good luck with your surgery, I'll be having mine soon, too!
Hi Everybody, This is my first posting on the board. I had my surgery on Mar. 18, 2008. It turned out to be a 6 hour procedure but they were able to keep it as an anterior procedure only. They fused 4-5-6&7 but I was out of the hospital in 2 days. I quit smoking at the same time and the Chantix I'm taking has really helped. I'm a long haul ruck driver and since I don't handle any freight , my Dr. thinks I can be back to work around the first of June. I know that we all heal in different ways but I'm hoping for the best. I walk the dogs every day and all seems to be going well. Thanks for listening, Paul
2 weeks since acdf surgery and all is well. Besides going stir crazy...lol. Does anyone know if they have a different collar they can put you in after 4-6 weeks or so . I see my Dr. next week for the 1st post op meeting.
Last edited by mortviking; 03-28-2008 at 11:46 AM.
I had a 2-level ACDF (5/6 & 6/7) on Feb. 7th. I had suffered for years and years with the back & neck pain, so the surgery pain was a breeze to get over. The only pain I've really had is in my neck & shoulder where the nerves and muscles are getting back to normal. I've had some tingling and a little numbness, but that was said to be expected as things recover.
I was told under no circumstances to "B-L-T" (bend, lift, twist/turn) and to limit picking up anything over 2-5 lbs. (A gallon of milk weighs more!) This far out into recovery, I'm still with the same instructions until my next visit.
My doctor put me in a Philadelphia collar (the big, ugly hard one) and I was told to wear it unless showering, 24/7. On my 4 week visit, I was told that I could go to a soft collar, but it didn't offer enough support (was having a lot of neck spasms) and I had to go back to the hard collar most days and sleep in the soft collar. On my 8 week visit, I was told to continue to wear the hard collar and sleep in the soft one. I was also told to limit all activity until told otherwise - walking is okay, but no "B-L-T" yet. (I don't work outside the home, so 'going back to work' just means no loading/unloading the dishwasher, laundry, cooking, etc. and the doctor specified all that.)
I made a list of the things that I wish I'd known before the surgery. My husband has been absolutely WONDERFUL and none of this was a problem, but it would have been helpful to know beforehand:
Prepare to sleep in a recliner for a while (I couldn't lay down with the darn hard collar on!)
Mild (baby) shampoo, because it's going to get in your eyes!
Smaller than normal toothbrush (can't open mouth as wide)
Mild toothpaste (My mouth was terribly sore)
Flexible drinking straws for everything!
Something handy to deposit used toothpaste/water into (can't bend over at the sink)
Soft, easy-to-eat foods
Juice, etc. in small, easy to open containers - some twist-off ones aren't so easy!
Keep the portable phone nearby and don't forget to put it on the charger at night
Paper tape (for sensitive skin)
My hubby also found the company (on the internet) that makes material liners for the Philly collar. That was a lifesaver! The collar gets hot and smelly in a hurry. Before we had the liner, he scrubbed it every night with a mild cleaner and dried it with the blow dryer after my shower. (Told you he was wonderful!)
I'm doing great, but still am not doing much of anything other than holding down my recliner and the tv remote, and I take a daily walk when the mosquitoes aren't so bad. (I'm in the deep south!) I wish I'd had this surgery done years ago!!
Good luck and let us know how you are doing! Sorry this post was so long!!