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    Old 01-14-2006, 01:11 PM   #1
    JJMAN1
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    Acdf Success-painfree!

    I just found this board and thought I would share my story. Sorry its so long.

    On Dec. 16th 2005, I had ACDF of the C4,5,6 with donor bone and a metal plate with 6 screws at Depaul hospital in Norfolk, VA. Dr. Byrd was my OS. I am 44 year old father of 2.

    For decades I had upper neck pain, was always looking for some relief whether it be painkillers, icepacks, bought a hot tub, chiropractors, fancy pillows, expensive matresses, you name it I tried it but nothing would make it go away. It made me grumpy and affected my outlook on life, the only thing I wanted to do was lie down to get some relief.

    About a year ago, sometimes I would move the wrong way and I would then have trouble turning my head to the left or I would feel a shooting pain down my left arm. Also, my arms and hands would sometimes fall asleep when motionless, this would wake me at night.

    I am not one to complain and I am very healthy otherwise but my wife convinced me to go see our doctor about it. I felt like a sniveling complainer telling my doctor my symtoms, after all, I'm a tough guy right. Luckily, my doctor did not see it that way and decided something was wrong and set about a plan to fix it.

    First, I was put on steroids and did physical therapy for 2 months. This did not help me much and in fact was somewhat painful at times. After a couple more doctor visits and some other drugs that did not help, my doctor ordered a MRI and referred me to an Orthopedic Surgeon (OS).

    I saw 3 of these OS, I did not like the first one and the second didnt seem to have enough experience for my needs. They all said basically the same thing, I had a disc protrusion onto my spinal cord and some other technical nerve compression and all recommended surgery.

    The 3rd OS (Dr. Byrd) seemed very experienced with this exact proceedure, he recommeded I have ACDF with donor bone and a metal plate. After stalling for a couple more months and talking to everyone I could find, and suffering, I decided to have it done.

    I decided I could take several weeks off over the Xmas holidays to recover, so I scheduled my surgery for Dec. 16th.

    After the surgery on the 16th, I felt terrible, I was in alot of pain and was not able to stand up to go to the bathroom, I could not swallow even a drink of water. The next day, the gave me drugs and sent me home. For the next several days I did nothing but lay in bed and sleep. After about 3 days, I was able to slowly walk around to house with my soft collar on. The swallowing was getting better also. I continued to take the Tylox they prescribed for the pain for about a week.

    At about a week and a half, I noticed something! The continued nagging ache and pain in my neck was gone! Yes, I was still sore from the surgery, but I could tell the pain I was having was gone, along with the numbness.

    I went back to work full time and drove after 3 weeks, still a little sore if I move too fast and not able to do any lifting for about another month according to my doctor. I also was able to stop wearing the collar with the doctors permission.

    I'm now at 4 weeks since my surgery and I feel great. Just a little pain left now from the surgery, the scar on my neck is about 3 inches long and healing nicely, doctor says it will be barely noticeable in several months.

    I do notice a little less range of motion, especially when I look up, but I think my body will adjust to that over time. Also, my neck gets a little tired at the end of the day but seems to be getting better.

    So, I think although I am only 1 month out, I am so far a SUCCESS STORY! I feel much better and I am no longer a slave to tylenol or aspirin.

    There is hope thanks to this wonderful operation and not everyone has a bad outcome. I think those, like me, who have success, no longer post here because they have moved on.

    I will continue to update on my progress over the next several months for the benefit of others suffering from this same problem.

    Good luck to you all!

    JJMAN1

     
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    Old 01-14-2006, 06:12 PM   #2
    Backinthesaddle
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    Re: Acdf Success-painfree!

    JJ thanks for the story. I will be having ACDF C4/5 next month. I have all the symptoms and more that you mentioned. I hope for a great outcome as well. I cannot wait to be able to sleep without a pain in the neck and arms. I really want my fingers to stop hurting. Hope you continue your pain free days.

     
    Old 01-18-2006, 07:53 AM   #3
    dennisgb
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    Re: Acdf Success-painfree!

    Hi JJ,

    You are still rather early in the recovery process.

    It takes a year for full fusion to occur.

    I had ACDF on 2 levels in June 2004 and improved through out the first 6-8 months.

    I actually feel better today than I can remember through much of my life before the surgery...I'm 53

    Dennis

     
    Old 01-19-2006, 01:46 AM   #4
    JackieH
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    Re: Acdf Success-painfree!

    Dear JJMan1,

    I just want to thank you so much for taking the time to tell your story. As someone about to have a dbl. acdf on the 30th the more good news I can hear the better!

    It's especially good to know that it helped you with decades old pain. I've suffered since the mid 80s & thought maybe it was too late.

    Please continue to encourage others who have no choice but to under-go this surgery.
    Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to do the same with MY success story in the near future.

    Blessings,
    JackieH

     
    Old 01-19-2006, 05:01 AM   #5
    whackedback
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    Re: Acdf Success-painfree!

    This rocks!! I am glad that your surgery turned out so well. I would like to encourage you to not do more than your doctor recommends. It's easy to try things now that you are pain free. Be careful, and go to PT for good ideas about keeping your neck in great shape.

    wb

     
    Old 01-19-2006, 10:14 PM   #6
    JANE1950
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    Re: Acdf Success-painfree!

    Hi

    I enjoyed reading your story. I had my surgery a day before you did and only at one level. (c6-7).

    I woke up in recovery room totally pain free. No pain pills since before surgery. It was like someone had removed an ice pick from my shoulder blade.

    I guess it has to do with doctors or maybe the number of screws? I had a neurosurgeon and I am not allowed to drive until 6 weeks. I am just now weaning myself of a hard collar. I have been told no golf until 3 months at the earliest. I didn't have the heart to ask about tennis.

    Hopefully we can compare notes at 3 months.

    Continued healing to you.

    Jane

     
    Old 03-09-2006, 08:09 PM   #7
    JJMAN1
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    Talking Re: Acdf Success-painfree!

    Hello!

    Well its been almost 3 months since my surgery and I'm happy to report all is well. I had my final follow-up visit with my doctor and he released me from his care. I have resumed most all of my normal activities but still take it easy when lifting things a certain way. Have not taken a pain pill since the first week after surgery. Still some soreness if I move the wrong way too fast.

    The one activity I have yet to resume is riding my motorcycle, I want to be sure its not going to cause any problems so I'm waiting another month or two. Its been cold here so that has helped keep me off it. But as the weather gets warmer I'm sure I wont be able to resist.

    My scar has healed fine and I do not even notice it except when shaving, I got to watch I dont cut it.

    I wish everyone here good luck, happy surgery and a blessed recovery

    JJMAN1

     
    Old 03-10-2006, 06:48 PM   #8
    ember919
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    Re: Acdf Success-painfree!

    jjman1, your original message was a ray of hope for me. i've been planning (i.e., stallling) a 2-level acdf for a couple of months now, but the pain has just gotten too bad and i finally gave in and scheduled for early next month.

    i sound kind of like you did in that i've been "interviewing" surgeons and reading everything i can find about the procedure. i really did not like the first one i met with and he, in turn, told me i had a "bad attitude" when i started asking a gazillion questions about the procedure.

    i decided to go with a neurological surgeon rather than a straight ortho surgeon, mostly because i convinced myself that i'd reduce the risk of nerve-damage complications that way. this one still gets annoyed at all my questions, but at least he tries to be polite and is better at hiding his irritation.

    almost 3 years of pain ranging from simply annoying to nothing-provides-relief. textbook list of symptoms down the right arm/hand. i've been taking a progressively increasing dose of pain meds along with anti-neurologics for that time. several stints of PT. a steroid injection 18 months ago (helped), one in january (made pain worse) and another this past tuesday (seems to have helped a little). this most recent one was just an attempt to make the pain more bearable for the next month until surgery. doc had been talking about surgery but i kept saying i didn't want to consider it. when, this past christmas, things took a sudden turn for the worse, i said 'ok, let's talk', expecting laminotomy or something. i was utterly stunned when he said acdf.

    i was pretty freaked out, but have calmed a bit now that i've managed to educate myself more about the procedure. even watched part of one online. i'm still not completely embracing the idea, something each surgeon has emphasized that i need to do, but at least i'm closer to that point.

    i've been told that i may have a longer recovery period because i've had symptoms for so long, and - nothing i can do about this - they keep commenting on the 'small space to work in' because of my long, skinny neck. i'm most worried about permanent nerve damage and the trouble swallowing.

    anyway, it's been hard finding post-surgical comments, especially those talking about the days/weeks immediately after surgery. i'd love to here of experiences from anyone who's gone through this. what was pain like, life in the collar, trouble swallowing, any residual numbness in the extremities, regaining movement and mobility, etc.

    my surgeon has said i'll be in a soft collar for a couple of weeks and is acting like i'll be up and around in no time. i'm skeptical.

    i'm in my early 40s, my problems are just a result of progressive degeneration, i've had neck/other arthritic difficulties since i was in my early 20s.

    so thanks, jjman1, and all you others, please let me know about your post-surgical recoveries!

     
    Old 03-14-2006, 07:28 AM   #9
    dennisgb
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    Re: Acdf Success-painfree!

    Ember,

    I was first diagnosed with cervical/disk problems in the late 80's.

    I had two level ACDF in June of 2004. I figure I lived with this for 20 years.

    The only residual effect is a tingle in my left index finger, and that only happens occassionally. I would think that you could see a full recovery from this surgery, given the history you describe.

    Dennis

     
    Old 03-18-2006, 02:25 PM   #10
    ember919
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    Re: Acdf Success-painfree!

    the one good thing i've read over and over again is that almost everyone who has this surgery says they "woke up with no pain". that part sounds really good to me!

    thanks for the good words. i'm trying better accept this whole surgery idea and every positive comment helps take me in the right direction.

     
    Old 03-18-2006, 05:48 PM   #11
    ThoreauFan
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    Re: Acdf Success-painfree!

    I'm 12 days out - double ACDF - and can golf (with my collar on).

    Everyone and every body is different, though.

    I had post op pain, but, geez, I'd say having my tonsils out was a worse experience.

    Be healthy!

     
    Old 03-18-2006, 09:21 PM   #12
    JANE1950
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    Re: Acdf Success-painfree!

    Funymony

    Wow, I'm impressed that you are out on the golf course 12 days post op. I guess each person's neurosurgeon is different. I am 90 days post op for C 6-c-7 and just am starting to play golf. I have taken no pain pills since surgery but my neck is a little stiff when I turn to look over my shoulder when pulling out of a parking place.

    Jane

     
    Old 03-19-2006, 02:33 PM   #13
    ThoreauFan
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    Re: Acdf Success-painfree!

    Jane- I wonder if part of it is just the mental aspect to healing. I don't think my Dr. wants to restrict me physically if I feel okay to do it (and if I can do it safely).

    The allograft is precision machined to fit, includes BMP sponges, and the whole thing is held together by a titanium plate and five screws. I have the sense that a bomb could go off, the rest of me would be gone, and they'd find this chunk of my neck still held together.

    Coordination/motor function was my biggest issue pre-surgery (spinal cord damage), so I'm pretty excited to again be able to get back on a treadmill, swing golf clubs, etc.

    I did have my bouts with post op pain, though - swollen nerve root.

    Off to the driving range...

    P-

     
    Old 03-20-2006, 12:19 PM   #14
    JANE1950
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    Re: Acdf Success-painfree!

    P

    Yep, the exuberance of being able to resume your old life is an amazing feeling isn't it?

    I swore I would never again let a bad round of golf ruin my day. Just to be able to play again is heaven. And of course I had a bad round on Saturday which put my new found exuberance to the test.

    Last edited by JANE1950; 03-20-2006 at 12:22 PM.

     
    Old 03-20-2006, 06:12 PM   #15
    wimpette
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    Re: Acdf Success-painfree!

    funny4mony
    PLEASE slow down, made the same mistake and somewhat overdid things after my first surgery because I felt so good and paid for it with increasing pain a few months later and a three level posterior fusion just over a year later. I was allowed to progress as I felt like and as a result I did more than (only in retrospect) I should have.

    So, take it easy, it's early days yet.
    W

     
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