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Old 04-15-2008, 11:29 AM   #1
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Collars for ACDF recovery

Hello- I'm a newbie. I'll be having a two level ACDF next week (C5-C6, C6-C7). My surgeon has already performed three successful lumbar surgeries on me, so I trust her implicitly. However, when we discussed my ACDF surgery, I asked about wearing a collar post-surgery. She said that she typically doesn't have her patients wear them, but after reading the posts here, it sounds like just about everyone has worn one. I feel like I should wear one, but would like some input from those who have paved the way before.

Thanks for any help you can offer.

Nikki

 
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Old 04-15-2008, 11:45 AM   #2
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Re: Collars for ACDF recovery

Hi - and welcome. Collar use is a surgeon preference to use or not. Not everyone wears them. You do find more people with multiple levels wearing them, but there have been lots of people here that didn't.

Your instrumentation will hold your fusion site in place until it fuses so you shouldn't worry. My surgeon said that he prefers them because most patients start feeling so good right after surgery that he likes to slow their activity down by the ball and chain (collar).

If you research you will find studies that show people with instrumentation and no collar fuse as well as people without instrumentation and who wore a collar. If you have any other health problems that would slow or prevent fusion then wearing the collar might be a good thing to ask for. (e.g. smoking, osteoporosis, etc.)

Personally I felt it couldn't hurt and I was willing to put up with it. I have a good solid fusion at 3 levels. If you feel you want it you can ask for it and I bet she will give you one. If you do not wear one, take very good care of yourself, follow the post surgical instructions .

 
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Old 04-15-2008, 11:52 AM   #3
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Re: Collars for ACDF recovery

Thank you so much for such a quick response. Given what you've said, I think I may ask for one because I have a reputation of trying to do too much too soon. I'm actually more nervous about this cervical surgery than I was about my lumbar surgeries. Not sure why, but I am. This is my fourth back surgery in 16 months. That could have something to do with it...lol

 
Old 04-15-2008, 12:23 PM   #4
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Re: Collars for ACDF recovery

Just an anecdotal account. I had a single level ACDF (c4-5) last September. At the time the NS recommended a soft collar for comfort. That is, I only had to wear it if I felt like it was helping. Well, I wore it, on and off, for a few weeks and then stopped. My original, pre-surgery, symptoms persisted but I didn't think that had anything to do with the collar.

Now, 6 months later, I am back in a soft collar. I didn't expect things to quickly get better after surgery, but after 6 months I was still having neck spasms and occasionally I'd feel a little tingly in my legs (the disc was hitting my spinal cord). My neurologist suggested going back in the collar and things do feel a little bit better. I tried to stop wearing it and symptoms came back so I think I need to wait a little while longer. I'm seeing the NS at the end of May. I may need another MRI.

Bottom line is the I would recommend being conservative and wearing the collar as long as you can unless the doctors advise you against it.

Best of luck.

 
Old 04-15-2008, 06:00 PM   #5
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Re: Collars for ACDF recovery

You should at least ask to get one in case you want to wear it for comfort. I would hate for you to get home from surgery and really feel like you need it for comfort, but not have one. I wore mine for two weeks all the time except for showering, and I believe my pain would have been increased if I had not used it. I felt like I could not control the slight movements of my head while doing various things, and the collar forced me to hold my head steady. Long-term use is of course not recommended, but I would at least want to option to wear it. Good luck with the surgery. I can understand being more nervous about the neck that about the lumbar surgeries. The neck is just so close to the head....

 
Old 04-15-2008, 07:04 PM   #6
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Re: Collars for ACDF recovery

Thanks, Toonces1 for the input. I agree with you. I'll be talking to my surgeon on Friday and I'll make the request then. I really appreciate everyone's help. I feel much better about things.

 
Old 04-15-2008, 07:16 PM   #7
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Re: Collars for ACDF recovery

Quote:
Originally Posted by codemonger View Post
Just an anecdotal account. I had a single level ACDF (c4-5) last September. At the time the NS recommended a soft collar for comfort. That is, I only had to wear it if I felt like it was helping. Well, I wore it, on and off, for a few weeks and then stopped. My original, pre-surgery, symptoms persisted but I didn't think that had anything to do with the collar.

Now, 6 months later, I am back in a soft collar. I didn't expect things to quickly get better after surgery, but after 6 months I was still having neck spasms and occasionally I'd feel a little tingly in my legs (the disc was hitting my spinal cord). My neurologist suggested going back in the collar and things do feel a little bit better. I tried to stop wearing it and symptoms came back so I think I need to wait a little while longer. I'm seeing the NS at the end of May. I may need another MRI.

Bottom line is the I would recommend being conservative and wearing the collar as long as you can unless the doctors advise you against it.

Best of luck.
After my L5-S1 fusion last July, I was hopeful that the numbness and tingling in my right leg/ankle/foot would eventually go away. Today, almost 9 months later, it has actually gotten worse. I'm wondering if my C5-C6 bulging disc is the culprit. The MRI showed it pressing on the spinal cord. Hopefully the ACDF will help. I just want the pain to go away, and to get the strength back in my arms. That'd be a great start.

 
Old 04-15-2008, 09:45 PM   #8
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Re: Collars for ACDF recovery

I dreaded the collar - but came to really appreciate it. First, it gave me some support. Second, it reminded me not to move the wrong way. Third, it prevented me from sleeping in a position that would hurt when I woke up (head lagging to the left or right). It was not comfortable but it was a great help. I agree that if you ask for one - you'll be better off - even if you later decide you don't need it. Better to have it an not use it - rather than not have one and wish you did.

I had the Aspen collar and didn't find it confining as I thought I would.
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Rt thumb fusion '13. R&L thumb arthroplasty '12 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS' 11. Fusions: L5-S1('87), L4-S1('93), C5-C7('06), L3-S1('10), C4-C5('13). C5-C7 foraminotomy '08

 
Old 04-15-2008, 10:09 PM   #9
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Re: Collars for ACDF recovery

Okay, here's another question, then. I've seen several different collars mentioned- Aspen, Philadelphia, soft, etc. Is there a website that I could go to so I can become a little more familiar with them? I'm very big into being very informed. My surgeon refers to it as 'Internetitis', but hey, I like being in the know.

 
Old 04-16-2008, 12:45 AM   #10
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Re: Collars for ACDF recovery

Never mind...I found information about the various collars.

 
Old 04-19-2008, 08:48 PM   #11
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Re: Collars for ACDF recovery

My surgeon had me in a Philadelphia collar when I woke up from surgery. I wore it, except for the time in the shower, for a month. I was changed over to a soft collar for the next month. When I started having some pain during the 2nd month, I was told to get back into the hard collar as needed. I hated that thing, but it sure helped! If you have to wear the Philly collar, there is a company that makes terrific liners for them. My hubby found them on the internet (we also have "internetitis"! haha) I'm now at 10 weeks post-surgery and have to still wear the soft collar when I'm in the car as a passenger or driving (still just short distances for now). I'm doing great and following doctor's orders! Good luck and let us know how you make out with surgery!

 
Old 04-19-2008, 10:54 PM   #12
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Re: Collars for ACDF recovery

Thanks SO much!! Thursday is the big day...I'm actually more nervous about having my neck operated on than the three times they worked on my L5-S1 (all three within 8 months!). I'm trying to find a lift chair to rent (can't afford to buy one) and they are very hard to come by. Ugh. But we endeavor... I'll post when I can after my surgery. Thanks again!

 
Old 04-20-2008, 01:41 PM   #13
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Re: Collars for ACDF recovery

I found the ACDF much much much easier than any posterior lumbar surgery I've had. They don't go through muscle so I didn't have nearly as much pain as I did with lumbar.
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Rt thumb fusion '13. R&L thumb arthroplasty '12 ; RT TKR & Bilat CTS' 11. Fusions: L5-S1('87), L4-S1('93), C5-C7('06), L3-S1('10), C4-C5('13). C5-C7 foraminotomy '08

 
Old 04-20-2008, 03:11 PM   #14
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Re: Collars for ACDF recovery

Oh wow! That is so good to know! Thank you. That helps a lot. The pain I had after my L5-S1 fusion was horrible. And I had the hardest time getting around for so long. I'm feeling much better about things now. Thanks again!

 
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