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amywood20 (@amywood20)

Still having issues 4 months post op ACDF C4-C6

Spine Health | Last Active: May 15, 2020 | Replies (15)

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In reply to @jenniferhunter. Wow, that was a big surgery too. How are you getting along now. As I told you before I have a bad neck too, but PT seems to help, but my back is a mess.

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Replies to "In reply to @jenniferhunter. Wow, that was a big surgery too. How are you getting along..."

@lindyflock Thank you for asking. I feel great. I don't have pain. I do have some tigthness in my neck, but I have had that for years because of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. If I do something that stresses my neck, like lifting something heavy, I tend to cheat and use my neck muscles to help, then I will get a neck spasm. I know how to take my hands and work the knots out. I asked my surgeon what I could do that would lessen my chances of needing his services again, and he told me to build core strength. Core strength in the entire spine supports everything in the body including the neck.

The best way I have found to do that is horseback riding. I do a lot of trail riding just at a walk, and I have to compensate for every step the horse takes with my back, and I do that with good posture and balance. The more I do that, the less fatigued I get after some miles of riding, and then everything is easier, even walking and climbing stairs because I built the hip, leg and back strength by using all those muscles. This is also how I rehabbed after my spine surgery beginning at 7 months post op with my doctor's permission, but also with the understanding that there is risk with horses. I wear a helmet and make sure I ride in control, or I get off if the horse's mind is somewhere else. You have to think about safety with everything you do with a horse and make sure that the horse trusts and respects you. On Sunday, I rode about 20 miles on hilly terrain and was really exhausted after that because of not riding for months during winter, but now, I feel much stronger.

I can get sciatic pain because of my pelvis alignment shifting and do stretches for that, but after this last ride, it feels fine. I don't feel like I had spine surgery, and I feel much younger than when I was living with the pain from the spine problem. I still have to maintain posture and spine alignment or my TOS will get worse, and I work on my PT exercises at home because I can't go to appointments because of social distancing. As long as I stretch out what gets tight, I feel great and I have to remember not to slouch and stick my neck out. That is bad for spine and shoulder alignment and I want to prevent any future problems that could be caused by wear and tear with poor ergonomics. I have to also say that the physical therapy and myofascial release I did before spine surgery prepared me well for a great recovery, and I had an excellent surgeon. I have normal range of movement of my head, except that I can't touch my chin to my chest, but it is very close. My fusion is at C5/C6 and it doesn't do much at all for head range of motion. Most of head turning is done by C1 & C2, with a little bit of movement from C3 & C4. I do know that I have a bulging lumbar disc that cracks on rotation, and I have less issues with that because of core strength. I think it keeps it aligned instead of allowing it to rotate and shift at that point. I know without cervical spine surgery, my quality of life would have suffered a lot, but I got my life back and I can do most anything I want to do and have no pain except for normal muscle aches because I just rode 20 miles on a horse. That was the 3rd ride in a week and both other rides were about 6 miles each.

I prepared myself mentally for a great surgical recovery and worked a lot on deprogramming my fears and it all worked. I didn't even take any pain medication at home after my surgery because it was tolerable and I just rested and took my time in healing. I knew the pain was temporary healing pain, and for awhile, I was tired because my muscles had atrophied, but gradually muscle came back because I was using it. I didn't get all the muscle back in my arms and shoulders yet, but there should be some more tomorrow since I just scrubbed my horse's winter blankets outside. I do know that what you believe makes a big difference, so don't think that your back is a mess. PT, and myofascial release can help a lot, and when there is a structural problem to correct, look for the best surgeon you can find because that helps you have a successful procedure and recovery.