Surgery on Thursday what to expect? - Pain Concern

Pain Concern
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Surgery on Thursday what to expect?


So quite unexpectedly the hospital contacted me today offering me ACDF surgery on my neck on Thursday. I had a pre op a few months back so I understand the operation etc It's what happens after that I'm trying to find out.

If you have had neck or any similar spinal surgery what was your experience? What would you have changed or avoided? How was your pain and recovery afterwards?

I already have pain, weakness and numbness in my neck, left shoulder, arm and left leg. It's been like that for 18 / 19 months and has progressively got worse. I have been waiting for the surgery now for 14 months. Whilst I don't envisage ever being 'normal' again I'm hopeful that long term it will help at least reduce pain and my reliance on painkillers so I can work back to some level of health / fitness - is that realistic?


16 Replies

I haven't had spinal surgery so I can't help you there, but I have had foot surgery, three lots in the last few years and one thing that they often don't talk about that often happens post opp is what I call the one week post op blues. So many people find that about a week in they start to feel down and sometimes quite despondent. You are better, but not better.

Recently they have made a connection between inflammation and depression, and I suspect it takes about a week for the inflammation from the surgery to get to the brain and the effect is a bit of depression.

But don't worry about that, it will pass. And it can help to know that that is what is going on, because then you can embrace that, understanding what is happening, and move on looking forward to the post op blues to pass.

I always found it funny that people would say good luck before I had surgery; it isn't luck you want, you want precision and expertise!

So I wish you all precision and expertise from your surgeons!

Hi. I can't help you with your question, but wish you well. Your symptoms sound absolutely identical to mine! I am 62, male in the UK (using the NHS)

Currently on 2400mg Gabapentin per day , and although I can tolerate it, I'm not convinced in does much good. I also wear a lidocaine patch.

In constant pain with very restricted neck movement and a very weak left arm. Cant tolerate much, if any, physical activity.

Currently waiting for diagnostic facet joint injections - but its all been delayed due to COVID - so no idea when I might be offered them.

Hi there I have had 4 spinal surgeries the past 3 years (last one just before lockdown) but all of the lower spine. Most important thing to remember afterwards is to take it very steady. Listen to your body and never rush it to get stronger faster. However don’t do nothing either, steady does it. Wishing you all the best for your surgery and the time afterwards.

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RonSton7 in reply to Hidden

C5/C6 and C6/C7. From what I can remember from speaking to the surgeon in November, they mentioned about some widening of the canal to help with the cord compression at C6 and the stenosis in general.

Came as quite a surprise when the hospital called at 9pm on Monday. Even though I have been waiting nearly 18 months I still don't feel ready for it, but then I guess you never can be. It will be my first op under general anaesthetic

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RonSton7 in reply to Hidden

Thanks mate, probably going into theatre at Derriford in Plymouth about 10 this morning.

Ron, good luck on Thursday. I had ACDF surgery (fusion C5 /C6) 2 years ago after a freak sporting accident. Surgery went fine and I was back on my feet later that evening (had my surgery at 8.00am). Expect to have a very sore throat and difficulty swallowing for a few days but that passes fairly quickly after a few days. I was allowed home the day after surgery. You will probably feel a little weak and sore for a while. I was able to go for short walks in a few days. The pain from the neck was quite severe (especially at night) for about 4 / 6 weeks and I had to take some sleeping tablets to get some sleep. Gradually the pain eases. I had experienced severe pain in my upper and lower arms prior to the surgery, and to be honest, 2 years later, although the pain is not as severe as it used to be, I still have issues. Some days are better than others. I find taking exercise good for relieving pain and sitting for long periods on a computer or look at TV brings on the arm pain more, so I try to stay active. I am now taking 10g amytryptline (don't know if I spelt that correctly) at night for the arm pain. I think I am gradually improving and am trying to keep a positive attitude. Good luck again!!! JH

Hi mate, hope everything went well yesterday and you are up and about , you will probably a sore throat for a few days it's normal and hope the water works have started back up . Clive.

Hi. I do hope it went well yesterday. Do let us know when you feel able. All best wishes. Steve

Thank you all for the replies and well wishes.

Got home yesterday afternoon after the surgery which was at 12noon on Thursday. It took two hours, and I came around about half 5 I think.

The first few hours after were very uncomfortable, the back of my neck really ached and I needed a few doses of oxycodone after the op. But I noticed some strength and feeling in my left hand and arm that wasn't there before the op. The surgeon told me after that there were a number of large bone spurs that had been removed and were probably the cause of the pain. I have a spacer cage drilled in where the discs were removed.

I was up and walking around after a couple of hours and was able to eat quite soon after. Swallowing is a little uncomfortable but not too bad.

Quite sore this morning, getting out of bed is interesting, but all in all it appears to have gone better than expected. Certainly seems to have reduced the neuropathic pain already, so cautiously optimistic

Hi Ron, glad everything went well with your operation and that was good that you noticed you got some strength back in your arm , hopefully you will make a good recovery . Clive

RonSton7 in reply to Longsider

Cheers Clive. Been a rough couple of days feeling very sore, but I can eat and speak OK. Trying to remain positive as there do seem to be an improvement in some of my symptoms particularly the neuropathic pain. Haven't had to wear my wrist splints so far so am hopeful

Hi Ron, just seeing how you are getting on after your fusion hopefully the pain will be easing now. Clive

RonSton7 in reply to Longsider

Thanks for checking in Clive, it hasn't been an easy week but perhaps not quite as hard as I expected.

So had to contact the GP as the incision was occasionally bleeding and it looked a little red and inflamed, so to be on the safe side they have given me some antibiotics. I have struggled with the pain, but it is new pain I think post operative swelling and aching. I have been given some morphine which I have used sparingly and is helping. I don't seem to have anywhere near as much neuropathic pain - so no tingly hands, and there is certainly an improvement in strength in my left arm and leg. But sometimes the back of my neck really aches.

Making sure that I do my neck exercises, keep good posture, and I try not to sit down for long periods getting up to walk around and stretch regularly. I'm also eating pretty healthy with plenty of calcium, vit d etc all the things that you need to help the bones fuse.

I've also been shattered, usually I take at least one daytime nap. I have sleep apnea and have a cpap machine. There's an app with the cpap and it's telling me that my sleep hasn't been as good quality as it was pre op, I think that's down to the swelling in my neck and the morphine, hopefully it will improve in the next week or two.

Did you get given a neck collar Clive for any of your op's? I wasn't given one but wondered if it would help

It was C5/C6 and c6/C7. I had heard that c4 upwards is harder particularly in relation to the swallowing / sore throat issues after. I have been able to eat without too much discomfort at all.

The surgeon told me after that there were some significant bone spurs which were filled off and the canal was widened (a foraminotomy I think) in addition to the fusion. He told me a titanium spacer cage had also been inserted into the gap where the discs were removed. I guess it's not surprising it aches when they tell what's gone on.

Have to say that the cpap machine has been a life saver for me, had it for a year now and wouldn't be without it. I think quality Sleep makes a huge difference in my ability to tolerate pain. I'd recommend a cpap machine to anyone if they needed it. (plus the Mrs doesn't need earplugs anymore as I'd snore like a tractor before lol)

I haven’t had spinal surgery for some years but the fact they are offering you surgery means they think they can improve your situation. I really hope that’s right and in a couple of months you will be feeling much better and mostly getting yourself drug-free. Good luck.

Let's hope the operation as done the job for you , I would give anything to be like I was before I never thought that what I have could effect my bladder and bowel I just have to except it is what it is ,I'm still waiting for the scan results but if there's anything a miss I don't think that I could go through a 3rd operation I can't turn my neck properly as it is but I just hope that you get going again . Clive

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