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combined anterior and posterior cervical spine surgery

Spine Health | Last Active: Feb 26 11:19am | Replies (20)

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I have had ACDF at C4-5, C5-6, and posterior decompression with fusion C2-T2 11 months ago. I’m new to this blog. Just wanting to know if it’s normal to still have tightness in my lower neck/upper back and will that ever go away?

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Replies to "I have had ACDF at C4-5, C5-6, and posterior decompression with fusion C2-T2 11 months ago...."

@rico175 Hello and welcome to Connect. I am a spine surgery patient too with a C5-C6 fusion. All surgery creates scar tissue and scar tissue in the fascia which is a cobweb like tissue that encases everything and interweaves through the muscles. It tightens up which restricts movement, traps waste products in the tissue, and can cause pain and body misalignment. On Connect, we are not medical professionals, and what we can do is share our experiences. I have worked on the tightness in my neck before and after spine surgery with my physical therapist who does myofascial release and it helps a lot. I also have thoracic outlet syndrome that makes my neck and shoulders tight and I need to do MFR and stretching on a regular basis to keep my neck moving properly and avoid being locked by muscle spasms and it has helped me a lot, and to keep the incision area on my neck from being tight. There is an emotional component to this as well because stress will just tighten everything more.

You may want to see a physical therapist. At 11 months post op, you may be able to do this, but do ask your surgeon what is best for you. I had to wait until my fusion had begun and couldn't do therapy and MFR until about 5 months postop. I have no spine hardware and was just in a neck brace until it fused. I have normal movement with only one fused level, and surely the number of levels fused will affect how much movement is lost because of spine surgery. I think MFR will help, and for a more definitive answer you can ask a MFR provider. There is a provider search at http://mfrtherapists.com/

Here is our discussion on MFR. Look at the first pages for lots of links to information and videos.

Do you think you may try myofascial release?

Your ACDF and posterior decompression with fusion C2-T2 sounds very similar to what the surgery that I am having a couple weeks from now. Only difference is I am C5-C6, C6-C7 on the ACDF. Can you give me any insight into your experience after surgery and your recovery? I am curious how long before you were able to get off meds....narcotics, never pain meds, muscle relaxers, etc...? how long before you started physical therapy? how long before you were able to return to somewhat normal activity?

I think we may be related ! I do not meet many people who have had almost the same amount of surgery that I did . My surgery was done about a year later than the surgeon wanted , bc I had an infection that was thought to be dessiminated . I was so sick up until surgery ; we hoped the infection was gone or I could be in bigger trouble than I already was .
I had become very weakened prior to surgery / the infection plus several other conditions made me feel so awful that by the time I had my surgeries I really couldn’t cognitively handle even what the details of the surgery entailed . I knew my chances of making it were slim due to all my issues . I had been inactive for so long and had endured so much to get to this point , I was just ready to do it . My biggest concerns post op were that I would be able to walk
better ,that my head and neck would be straightened back to normal placement and my newly developed urinary incontinence would be cured .
I had C3-C5 ACDF done first ; when I became aware of just being awake after surgery , I immediately knew the incontinence problem was over . I also was aware that the positioning of my head and neck was better . I recovered pretty quickly from that it seemed . I was pleased at the progress that had been made . I wore a collar /brace they went to my waist . I was still in a precarious situation until I had the rest of my cervical surgery done a month later. This part was more serious and took around 10 hours I think . I am a nurse practitioner and I was acutely aware of all the things that could go wrong , plus my surgeon had been very blunt that my surgery and /or recovery might kill me. I would say I was just more uncomfortable after the posterior surgery . (C2-T2) Because of my previous problems and still being on IV antibx ; I stayed in the hospital 2 weeks then I went to a rehab facility for two weeks. It was hard to be away from home but I needed the extra security so that I didn’t fall and I received intensive PT /OT . I had pretty extreme weakness of my upper body . Just lifting my toothbrush up and brushing for a decent amount of time was really hard for me . I prob developed some gingivitis during this time . The area around the incision was pretty numb but weakness just plagued me . I guess you could call it tightness too . My upper body would tremor like I was just exhausted when I tried to do anything. And everything involves your upper back and neck . However it just seemed like one day a few months later , I realized the strength was coming back slowly but surely . The tightness and just absolute weirdness that I felt in that area improved . Unfortunate Covid and a hip surgery complicated things and I lost some of the strength i had gained. I felt like I literally had been living under a dark cloud for years by then . Even though my therapy was delayed some , it seemed to be helpful that I went back even though it wasn’t a new problem / I just needed to get stronger and work on my wimpy upper body and just generalized weakness . I really noticed a change then and felt I had become a much stronger person . I remember thinking it had taken me 18 months to recover from they surgery . However I had very complicating factors that made my situation a disaster. But considering eveything going against me ; the surgery was a success . I would have liked to have returned to normal and been the old me , but that will never happen . My surgery was to save my life and prevent paralysis .
I don’t know about you or anyone else reading this , but I was misdiagnosed and looked over for years while I endured terrible pain , brain fog , and proximal weakness of my body . It was like no one would listen to me . My surgeon said it was something like RA had eaten up my spine. My family and I had moved during the start of this nightmare and that also created more confusion and no communication from my caregivers . I remember when I started to realize that I was being tagged as a nutcase - and yes , that description was correct bc by this time I had caused a huge disruption in our family life , lost my career , caused great financial distress with all the medical bills and the lack of my salary . I was also on steroids which was the only thing that touched my pain but it made me less then nice , you might say . I think the hardest thing about this has been the lack of time specialists spent with me and the time that was lost while I was trying to get someone to listen to me . Then I am referred to this orthopedic spine surgeon by accident / I was supposed to see an orthopod who specialized in feet - anyway he became my doctor and was I surprised when he told me how serious my situation was . How I got to that point I do not know how , and I ask myself every day how this happened and here I was a NP and I could not get help .
Could I ask you or anyone reading this ….what kind of shape are you in now ? What activities do you do ? Just fill me in on your story whoever is reading this . I literally have not known a soul who has gone through what I have !