Hi, I'm new here! I had a four level ACDF on August 17, (c3-7, plate and screws) came home August 18 and my recovery seems to be going fine. I'm eating solid food, walking and just hanging out around the house. I have 5 and 6 year old boys so there's always some type of action!
My neuro said I only need to wear my collar in the car or around small kids and pets, crowds etc so I'm barely wearing it at all.
I actually feel pretty great but I wonder how much movement I will get back in my neck after four levels. I can't look up down or to either side very much.
I know I'm only a few days out but would love to hear opinions about long term range of motion.
Valerie...you need to change your name as you are 5 levels, not 4(the actual vertebrae fused together are C3,4,5,6 and 7). When they do things like MRI's they classify them by the area in between such as C3-4, C4-5, C5-6 and C6-7 so it appears to be 4 levels but in fact, you had 5 vertebrae fused together, with 4 disks spaces fused.
Having said tha, I am 6 levels...C3 to T1. Your range of motion will get better but not that much better. I have lost at least 50% of my ROM. I can't get my chin to my shoulders nor can I touch my chin to my chest or look up. But you will slowly learn how to move your torso to make up for the movements. When I drive, I have to turn my entire body to see over my shoulder but I can see. Over-sized mirrors for the car can help you see the blind spot as you can't see that either.
There really isn't anything I can't do now that I did before with a some alterations. I want to go star gazing at night, I do it in a reclining chair.....that's about all. Some new car mirrors helped too. It may take time for the muscles to get used to the new neck as they hurt from lack of movement but that too will go down. PT and massages help.
Thanks Jenny, I know I'm only 5 days out of surgery but I can't believe how little neck mobility I have! At this point I don't think I'm supposed to mess around with trying to move it a lot but it's nearly impossible to look left or right.
It's nice to be over the arm pain and numbness but this is really freaking me out.
Thanks for your help, any suggestions on regaining neck mobility would be appreciated. So far I don't like my new neck!
Don't try to move your neck at this point. All you'll do is mess up the fusion. It takes a good 6 months for the bone to grow and fuse the vertebrae. You try to force movement and you'll have a failed fusion and that is the beginning of BIG trouble and more surgery.
Once you are fully fused, you can try twisting your head to the maximum point as an exercise to get the muscles used to what your limits are. But the fact it, you are screwed together and soon, solid bone will reinforce the plates and screws and you won't move that neck...unless you break it. Nothing you can do will make it move further. About all that happens is that you get more of the muscles to function better and that allows you some tiny amounts of further motion.
You are still early in healing so just from swelling going down you'll move further than right now but not by much. Sorry.....it's the price for getting rid of the pain. Guess the doc didn't tell you....amazing how often that happens.
I spoke with the Spine Center Nurse this morning to makes sure I wasn't moving around too much and for general questions about mobility.
She said I'm only 6 days out and will regain more mobility, especially side to side, which is my concern for driving.
She also told me it's okay to move my head around to the point that I can, but just to not force it. She said moving it would actually be good for the muscles, similar to what you said, and she also said it's fine I'm not wearing the collar around the house.
Pre-surgery the doctor said C1 and 2 are the important one for neck movement and is expected me to lose some mobility but not 40 or 40 percent. Hard to believe though, with all those little vertebra turning into one!
Had a great walk in a beautiful Atlanta day today so maybe I'm a big more optimistic!!
Hi I had ACDF on 2 levels C5-6 C6-7 with fusion on Aug 9th and am HALF way done with 6 week recovery. My kids all older 20 and 17....hubby doing pretty much everything. I have hard collar and have been ordered to wear it 24/7 for 6 weeks. I am counting the days till it comes off. Just returned to work (stock broker at small firm) last Friday for a half day...2 1/2 days this week and then 3 1/2 days next week. Besides going a little stir crazy I am amazed to feel so good. I did a little too much reaching, and moving things around and pulled a muscle in my back the 2nd week. I have to say that hurt more than the entire surgery. after a week of icepacks and literally doing NOTHING except walking around the block once a day it is better. I was off all pain meds after 3 days and only taking tylenol every 6 hours. I have to admit that having platinum plates and screws in your body is weird feeling and I think I can NOTICE them now that the swelling has subsided as it just feels weird when I swallow. This is a new thing as of yesterday...Incision is healing great I barely even know it's there, but touching it makes me feel queasy! After 2 cesareans a hysterectomy and appendix removal I have to say this surgery was a piece of cake. I got feeling back in 3 of 5 fingers immediately and my foot pain (which podiatrist thought was plantar faciitis) is all but gone. I definitely think it was worth it and hope after several more weeks my lifting, reaching abilities increase.
I had 4 levels (C4-C7) fused Jan 2011. I lost a large amount of ROM. It's to be expected when you have a big fusion like we have had. Jenny is right about making sure that fusion heals. In fact, that is the most important task you have right now...making sure you do everything in your power to get a good fusion, because if one of the levels fails to fuse, you are in for a lot of pain and suffering and more surgery. I'm 7 months out from my surgery. Mostly recovered. Back to work for 6 weeks now. You are going to have some rehab when your fusion is healed enough to start rehabbing. It's going to hurt a bit and you are going to wonder what the heck happened to you, but it does get better. You can increase ROM through the stretching and exercise they will teach you at rehab. Be careful, however, to not over stress those remaining unfused joints. It's real easy to do. Your body remembers how it used to move and you can hurt yourself without even trying, until you have time to learn your new limits. I'm glad you are feeling better. In a few months you will be better yet!
Last edited by Daner51; 09-01-2011 at 07:57 AM.