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When to return to work following ACDF???

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Old 03-28-2007, 07:43 PM   #1
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Payton02 HB User
When to return to work following ACDF???

How long is a sufficient amount of time to recover following one level ACDF with donor bone and plate? I had surgery four weeks ago, but my post-op appt. isn't for two more weeks. I haven't even had an x-ray yet to determine if the surgery was a success.

My job consists of alot of computer work and document reviews, so it is pretty sedentary. I am feeling pretty good at this point, but I'm not sure I'm ready for 9-hour days in front of the computer. It's just hard to justify staying home much longer based on how I feel. Plus, I'm getting pretty bored. My fear is that if I go off of short term disability and then realize it was too soon, it will be a royal pain to get approved for more time. Any suggestions?

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Old 03-29-2007, 03:09 AM   #2
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sunshine221 HB User
Re: When to return to work following ACDF???

If you are in front of a computer, the first thing you should do when you go back to work is check your "posture" - make sure your keyboard is at "the right" height and your chair "fits" (rear against the back, feet on the floor) and monitor is at a comfortable position in front of you.

As far as timing, everyone is different - I own my own (computer) business and I had to do payroll two weeks after surgery - I basically went back though at four weeks but with "lay down flat" breaks during the day.

If you can't take breaks though - six weeks is probably better.

Old 03-29-2007, 01:10 PM   #3
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merryish HB User
Smile Re: When to return to work following ACDF???

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 Iíd have to have surgery again and it would be even worse and the pain would never end and Iíd be crippled for life andÖand and.

Itís 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 itís really hard to explain to someone why you canít 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 Ė if you can start at half-days and work your way up from there, Iíd 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...

Old 03-29-2007, 07:47 PM   #4
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poopoopadoop HB User
Re: When to return to work following ACDF???

I have to have one level ACDF (c5-6) and was told I could go back to work in 3 wks.

Old 03-29-2007, 08:34 PM   #5
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Payton02 HB User
Re: When to return to work following ACDF???

I am amazed at the variety of recommendations given by the different surgeons. I've seen anywhere from 2 - 8 weeks for a one level ACDF. I know that I would not have been able to return to work a week ago. I'm questioning if I will be ready for full time after four weeks. I am dreading sitting in that desk chair when I return. I find that my neck gets very tired just sitting at a restaurant for a few hours. This may be a result of wearing a collar for three weeks post-op. I also drove today and my range of motion is very limited. I had a hard time backing out of parking spaces. I'm hoping this will improve with time.

Lisa, best of luck with your surgery, and I hope you have a speedy recovery. Keep us posted on how you are doing.

Old 03-30-2007, 08:25 PM   #6
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rgsmoose HB User
Re: When to return to work following ACDF???

Everybody's different, so don't rely too much on what other's say.

In my case, I've had two surgeries. I had a two level corpectomy, now fused c4-c7 and a year later a c3/c4/c5 laminaplasty. In both cases I was in the hospital for 3 days, home for 1 day and then back to work. I also have a failrly sedentary job (computer analyst), and was in a hard collar for 12 weeks after both surgeries. Luckily I was able to get rides to/from work. Mostly what caused me to get back to work was boredom - I can't stand sitting / laying around doing nothing. If I have a sedentary job, I figured I may as well be at work with something to keep my mind occupied rather than be bored at home. The position would be the same, just a different location.

In any case I'm probably near the extreme for one way, but there are other situations. My insurance company told me they'd cover me for up to 12 weeks. I guess they were happy. You may be different. Go back when you feel capable. Good luck.

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