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I had ACDF C4-C6 on December 19th. I would say recovery is going pretty good, so much so that during my six week follow-up the surgeon's PA said I did not need to come back for another appointment unless I had an issue come up or physical therapy didn't help. Most of my symptoms involved the left arm/hand/shoulder. That's what I am going to PT for. I will say this surgery is not cookie-cutter in terms of the healing process. Everyone is different in how they heal, which is based on what needs to be done, how long the issue was there before surgery, age, health, physical activity level, smoker vs non-smoker, etc. Also, it seems that the surgeons have their own preference in terms of having to wear a collar/neck brace after surgery, bending restrictions, lifting restrictions, etc. Post op I only had to wear a soft collar when riding in a vehicle and that was just to protect the neck in the case of an accident. Some have to wear them nearly 24/7 for various amounts of time, which could be three months. My surgeon doesn't like patients wearing a collar/brace because the neck muscles weaken, but other surgeons require it. Like I said, it really varies. I had mine done by a spine specialist. Some go to an orthopedic doctor. It takes a long time for the nerves to heal after surgery, as they regenerate at a very slow rate. I'm not talking weeks, but months…even up to a year. Pain that isn't nerve-related goes away much faster though. I know your friend is scared but she really needs to get this taken care of. The longer she goes the higher the risk of the nerves not healing. I don't know if it's allowed to mention a Facebook group in these forums, but there is one for ACDF. I am in it and there is a lot to be learned there from others. Having said that, if she were to join that group it needs to be taken for what it is. Those with good outcomes don't stick around that much after healing, as they move on with their lives. Those that are struggling tend to post more, as they are seeking support from others. But like I said, I have found it helpful. It sounds like your friend's cervical spine is in worse shape than mine. I don't want her going into surgery and then being disappointed if she doesn't recover at the rate I am going at. I had very high expectations for how I thought I would feel immediately after surgery. Some wake up and the nerve pain is gone. I know a few like that. But, those tend to be the exceptions…which I didn't realize. When I woke up and had the same pain in the upper left shoulder blade and other areas, I was pretty frustrated. I had new pain that I did not have before surgery. So, she really needs to go into it without expectations since again, it is going to vary. One thing I did not know about before surgery was how the surgeon pins the arms down to help access the cervical spine. The arms get pulled and pinned tightly. That can cause quite a bit of post op pain. Also, when the cervical spine has discs replaced it causes the height to go back to where it should be. This stretches a lot of muscles connected to the neck. Again, this can cause pain, spasms, etc. I hope what I have mentioned is helpful. If she wants to join that Facebook group let me know and I will post the title of it.

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Replies to "I had ACDF C4-C6 on December 19th. I would say recovery is going pretty good, so..."

I’m interested in finding out from you any complications you might have had. I had a Corpectomy on C5/C4,C5 disc removal,with a titanium cage put in for the fusion. I’m doing pretty well except my legs are still bothering me (that’s what happened that brought me to the clinic to begin with.) I never had much as far as arms or shoulders but it was my legs. I’m three months out and I’m almost done wearing my neck brace which I had to wear for 12 weeks. I get x-rayed next week but it bothers me…Every day is different… And today I could barely walk. I noticed I was having problems for 3 to 4 months before they did the cervical MRI. When you said the nerves take time to heal you’re talking months not weeks… How long did yours take to heal? Right now I can’t do much during the day I’m a fairly ‘young 63 year old’….Who never has had much wrong with them in the past. Then two years ago I had a ruptured brain aneurysm, (Which I healed completely from… )Then I had a femoral bleed after an angiogram (which I also healed completely from) and then about three weeks after being cleared that my clip in my brain was OK, I started not being able to walk… And then they finally found my spinal cord was like a ‘Z’. Anything you can tell me about healing or positive things that have happened to You. Some days I get so tired and frustrated by the time I go to bed I am very depressed. I live along with a bunch of dogs (thank God for them). …And I have a lot of friends that stopped and I’m grateful for that. I would just like to know when I will be able to go back to a normal life or a ‘new life’ and what that will be like. Thank you for anything you can help me with. ~ Connie

I’m almost at 12 weeks now….And I am starting to get a little concerned because I still haven’t gotten my normal ability to walk back… Did you ever have any problems walking ….and if you did, did they resolve themselves or are you still having any residual problems? I go to the doctor on Tuesday for an X-ray, etc…. but I’m just concerned that something must still be wrong since I can’t walk very well…..and I still have some swelling (bilaterally) in my legs and feet. Do you EVER feel like you’re back to ‘normal’???