back to work after 3 level acdf

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longneck
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 11/13/2012 6:35 AM (GMT -6)   
Just now 4wks out from 3 level acdf c4-c8. Two questions. I know time varies for everyone on back to work and improvement of pain but....
I'm currently down to Oxycodone 5mg 2 tabs every 12 hours and Methocarbamol 750mg 1 tab 2-3 times daily. Tylenol ES in between. Not up to much other than walking, short bouts of food prep, light cleaning. Really in pain after being upright for more than 3-4 hours. I'm thinking about going back to work part time next week. I work in a clinic, mostly typing, checking in pt's. I've been told I will have an ergonomic work station placed. My surgeon is ok with level of meds at present. My FMLA runs out in less than 2 wks so that is sort of a rush otherwise I might wait just a bit longer as I still do not have full dexterity in R hand and R ankle/foot. Any thoughts?

straydog
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 11065
   Posted 11/13/2012 2:23 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Longneck and welcome to the forum. A 3 level and you are considering going back to work, wow, you really need to rethink this. It may be sedentary work but I am betting after about 2 hours you are going to be out of your mind in pain and then its going to take a lot to get that pain level back down. You may look healed on the outside but you are not completely healed on the inside, not by a long shot. After what you have been through I sure would not risk moving forward to quickly and chancing a huge setback. A good 6 months off is not uncommon at all. Of course its your decision but I think its a mistake. Drs throw the old text book theory out every time surgery like this is discussed & many say oh you will be back to work in 6 weeks. I would love to see one of them have the same surgery & be back to work in 6 weeks.

Again welcome aboard. I do hope you will think about this and give yourself proper time to recover from this major surgery. Take care....Susie
Moderator, Chronic Pain Forum & Psoriasis Forum

LivingColor
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2012
Total Posts : 467
   Posted 11/13/2012 3:08 PM (GMT -6)   
If you are having dexterity problems, you should wait, and you should contact your doctor if you haven't already about this.

If your job description includes typing, you can practice that at least, either here, or there are some online typing test "games" you can play to help get your speed and dexterity back. If you can play those games for 4 hours straight and not have tears in your eyes, you may be able to do something part time. I'm assuming part-time is 4 hours, and by upright, I'm assuming not lying down. If you get a break at work going part time, do you have a place to lie down? Or get to a comfortable position?

In other words, if you can't simulate your work conditions at home, I would be very cautious. But you can practice, kind of like occupational therapy.
Short version; Osteoarthritis, scoliosis, lumbar spondylolisthesis, sciatica, hip dysplasia, bipolar disorder, migraines, macular degeneration, TIA's (they think), insomnia, and a rogue's gallery of other things...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.

Kaely
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2012
Total Posts : 619
   Posted 11/13/2012 4:55 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Long,

I have to agree that it's a bit early. I had just a one level and was out of work for 6 weeks. I wanted to go back much earlier but the doctor refused to let me. Have you talked to your doctor about going back to work?
Chronic pain, Depression, Fibromyalgia, Tennis Elbow (both arms), Arthritis, Diabetes. Ruptured disk L4-L5, Severe degenerative damage L5-S1, L5 Nerve root displacement, ACDF C5-C6

longneck
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 11/13/2012 5:27 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank so much for the speedy replies. Hmmm, consensus is sounding like this is rushing it a bit. Boy do I want to kick myself for not electing to sign up for short term disability during open enrollment!!!! Well, I'll get busy with my "OT" like exercises and see where I am in another week or 2. Thanks again👍

Angeleyes13
Veteran Member


Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 597
   Posted 11/14/2012 3:42 PM (GMT -6)   
You need to take care of yourself! I had a C5-C6 fusion and was home for one week, then did one week of 4 hour days before I went back full time. I was an activity director at an assisted living facility, so it was mostly desk work. I was comfortable with my return, but mine was only one level. You are right everyone heals differently and has a different tolorance for their pain levels. You had alot more work done than I did. Although the fusion itself is very hard to actually damage those muscles and nerve endings are still working overtime at healing and getting strong again. My dr told me that I would need to fall from a two story window in order to damage the actuall hardware. BTW, I am an OT and I think we make one of the worst patients for orthopedic issues,lol.

I hope you continue to have a good speedy recovery!

Hugs,
Shell
DX: CRPS, Fibro, CP, DDD, DJD, Syringomyelia, Arachnoiditis, failed fusion. Fusions C5-6, L5-S1, hardware removal and removal of scar tissue. Gastric Bypass 8/11, SCS implantation 7/12

Snowbunny21
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 3557
   Posted 11/14/2012 5:58 PM (GMT -6)   
Hopefully your work will be flexible in your hours starting back up and let you go home if you are not doing well.

I have had three, two-level, cervical fusions and was back to work in a month with the first surgery. The last one was a much longer recovery as it was anterior and posterior.

Just take it one day at a time...it sounds like it's not too physical of a job so that is good.

I would bring in (or buy one if you don't have one) a neck brace to wear as this will make sure you are in a proper position the whole time as we can tend to look down too far at the keyboard or the computer...

The key is just listening to your body!!
SB (Snowbunny) and the pup that snores (my yellow lab:))

3, two-level, cervical fusions over the past 11 years. The last one was anterior and posterior with lots of fun titanium!
Still have active herniations along with knee problems and another Morton's neuroma in left foot.
I try to find joy in each day even with chronic pain:)

longneck
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 11/14/2012 7:18 PM (GMT -6)   
You all are great, interesting to hear all your stories. I am in a Miami J collar for 8 more weeks per surgeon. Not fun to go back in but yes, it does keep me in check. I notice when I'm trying to do dishes. It's harder than you think doing dishes while looking straight ahead 😋

Snowbunny21
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 3557
   Posted 11/14/2012 7:22 PM (GMT -6)   
Wow...they are keeping you in the collar for 3 months? Have you been having to wear this all day and night? And if so..how will you get to and from work? I think it's dangerous to be wearing that while driving as you can't turn your neck properly to see other cars.

Did you not have any hardware (titanium) placed in to help the fusion. Like rods, plates, and screws?

Sorry for the questions...lol...I've just not heard of someone having to wear a collar for more than a few weeks (if that) after a fusion these days.

The only reason I had to wear mine all the time (same one as you) was when they didn't use any hardware in my first fusion and didn't use any BMP either.

And yes...some things are definitely more difficult when looking straight..:)
SB (Snowbunny) and the pup that snores (my yellow lab:))

3, two-level, cervical fusions over the past 11 years. The last one was anterior and posterior with lots of fun titanium!
Still have active herniations along with knee problems and another Morton's neuroma in left foot.
I try to find joy in each day even with chronic pain:)

Chartreux
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 8023
   Posted 11/14/2012 8:00 PM (GMT -6)   
I agree with the others in saying that you still need to rest and not to push this. we here do understand how hard it can be to do dishes, I can't do them, it takes all I have to come up with and make meals, can you call any type of social services for help with dishes or churches that might be able to help.
When you do go back to work ask for half days, for 3-4 weeks...
Prayers and many well wishes...keep us posted as we really do care!
**********************************************
* So many dx's I could write a book* "It would be nice if we could use the edit button in real life"...
********>^..^<********>^..^<*******

Purgatory
Elite Member


Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 23871
   Posted 11/14/2012 10:43 PM (GMT -6)   
i agree with charteaux and some of the others. understand the reason to be back at work, but if you push it too fast and too hard, it may come back to bit you. got to be some kind of balance there, listen to your body closely.

please keep us reported on what is happening with you, glad you joined our happy but painful family here

david
Age: 60, 56 at PC dx, PSA 16.3
3rd Biopsy: 9/8 7 of 7 Positive, 40-90%, 4+3
open RP: 11/8, Catheter in 63 days
Path Rpt: 3+4, pT2c, 42g, 20% tumor, 1 pos margin
Incont & ED: None
Surgery Failed, recurrence within 9 months
Salvage Radiation 10/9-11/9, SRT failed within 9 months, PSA 4/12 = 37.x
Spent total of 1 ½ years on 21 catheters, Ileal Conduit Surgery 9/10,
7 other PC-related surgeries
Member of Prostate Cancer & Chronic Pain HW Communities since 10/2008
“I live in the weak and the wounded” – Session Nine (Movie)

White Beard
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3229
   Posted 11/15/2012 12:38 AM (GMT -6)   
Welcome to Healing Well Chronic Pain Forum Longneck! Wow you got allot fused! I have had minde done one at a time. I am in agreement with the rest of the folks, especially since you have had so many fused right together! You have had a major surgery done with allot of trauma to the tissues in your neck. Be gentle with your self and take time to heal, I will tell you from experience, you let your self heal up properly and you will most likely not have any problems later on, but with everything you have had done you do not want to strain or put undo stress on your neck, till the tissues have healed and you fusions have time to start growing. Anyway I am glad you found us, I do hope that you will be come an active member of our CP family here! I think and hope that you will find that the folks on this forum are a really caring and compassionate lot, we of course can't really cure anything but we can lend you our ears, and listen and give what advice that we may have. But you are assured of getting caring and compassionate support, and when your here your never alone with your pain.
 
I will tell you that your dexterity problem in your right hand and right foot is of some concern, have you talked to your doctor about it? Was this part of the reason that you had to have your surgery? Was this a problem before you had the surgery? Anyway I would definitely talk with your surgeon and doctor about it. When they did your fusions did they put allot of hardware in to help hold it together? I was just curious, because when I had my first ACDF they used the bone from my pelvis and I had no hardware at all and I had to wear the cervical collar for at least four months, but then when I had my other one, they used donnor bone and a hardware to hold the whole thing together, and I only had to wear the cervical collar for a couple of weeks. Anyway with so many levels being fused at the same time it is no wonder that you have to wear the collar so long!
 
Again I Welcome you to the CP Forum, and our family here, I do hope you keep us informed on your progress and become a part of our family here!
 
I wish you well!
 
White Beard
Moderator Chronic Pain
I retired from the USAF, in Sept, 1991. I went back to school and became a licensed RN in 1994, I worked on Oncology and Med Surg , I became disabled in late 1999 and was approved SSD in early 2002! Diagnosed with: DDD, herniated Disk at T12, L3/4; C3/4 Posterior Articular Joint fusion Nov 2010; C5/6 ACDF Sep 2009; C6/7 ACDF Mar 1985; Ulcerative colitis; Chronic Pain; Complex Sleep Apnea; and host of other things! I am White Beard with a White Beard!

longneck
New Member


Date Joined Nov 2012
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 11/15/2012 12:47 AM (GMT -6)   
Omg, I feel another thread coming on!! Length of time in collars haha! I do have plating/screws but NS had that 12 wk timeframe. Hopefully when I'm back for 2nd post op he'll let me know total 12 not needed :-) BTW, I sure didn't mean to sound like a whiner about the dishes, I was just being amazed as I am daily at how much we need to use our neck!

White Beard
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Feb 2009
Total Posts : 3229
   Posted 11/15/2012 1:20 AM (GMT -6)   
I don't think your whinning at all longneck with what you have had done, I am amazed that you can stand up at the sink and do the dishes, I know for me standing up and using my hands out in front of me was a very difficult task, especially so soon after surgery. Yes it is amazing how much we rely on using our neck, wait till you get your collar off and find out how much you have lost in the ability of looking up and to some extend looking down and turingin your head from side to side. For me looking up at the moon in the night time sky is very difficult because of the limited mobility due to the fusinons. I have C3/4 fused in the back at the articular joints, have rods and pins back there, and then I have the ACDF at C5/6 and the other at C6/7. Anyway just try and take it easy and if you start hurting really bad when doing the dishes, then take a break and rest a while and then go back to finishing them up!

When your here at this forum you are never ever a whiner! This is the place to vent your frustrations, we all do it, and people here are empathic, they really do understand!

White Beard

Matt-man&little-boy
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2012
Total Posts : 788
   Posted 11/15/2012 7:01 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi longneck, welcome aboard! I also am still in my brace after a one level 360 lumbar fusion, doc says I have to wear it until the fusion is at least 75% healed, going to be a long time I think, since I had my 8 week check up on October 29th, and he said we're barely at 20% or so. I also am amazed that you would consider working this soon, but every one is different, I'm still very high on the pain scale, and am averaging around a 7-8 without medication, but I also know a few people who were off all meds by there 2nd or 3rd week after surgery.

Just one concern that I have, most people do not have the training or the equipment in order to rely on their mirrors when they drive. I personally have put a bit of money into setting the mirrors on my car up to similar set up of a big rig truck, and I have almost 1/2 a million miles behind the wheel of a big truck, but I still won't drive right now, I know I just don't have safe enough reflexes for it, especially considering the road out of my house always has some kids running out into it.

I hope you're taking your condition and everything else into consideration before driving, I know my mom had no choice but to start driving again pretty early after her neck fusion, sometimes life doesn't give you options. But please be very careful if you do have to drive, I've seen some car accidents that would make a Marine lose his lunch. Also, in a few states, you can possibly be charged with a dui if you have an accident while taking pain medication, which, in my state, is a felony.

Keep us posted on how you're doing. Good luck, and I hope you continue to improve with your recovery.
Matt
dx: just had L3-4 XLIF and ILIF, gotta see what happens. Disc bulge in T12-L1, ddd through rest of lumbar region. Gastric Bypass 2003, bleeding ulcer in pouch 2005, full small bowel obstruction 2011. Left shoulder has Bursitis, tendonitus, separated bicep muscle (I was told all the muscles look like string cheese lol, or a frayed rope), and arthritis of the Glenoid and humeral head.

LivingColor
Regular Member


Date Joined Sep 2012
Total Posts : 467
   Posted 11/15/2012 7:55 AM (GMT -6)   
As with any injury, I don't care if it's your pinky finger, or your middle toe, you don't realize how often you use it until there is pain involved. When I was a lot more active in my youth, I tweaked a pectoral muscle. Man, that felt like it took forever to heal.

There's this myth, that just because it feels better, it doesn't need to be treated anymore. That's why people don't finish taking antibiotics, they want casts removed early, they stop using splints, they stop using other medication before the entire round is finished (steroids are the worst offenders on that list,) and so forth. You had SURGERY. ON YOUR SPINE. If something goes wrong up where those vertebrae are, it could affect the spinal cord further down, then you are in real trouble. You are having trouble with your dexterity now on one side of your body, Find out what that is first if all.

For driving with the collar/neck immobilizer, realize they are the only people who don't have to turn their head while driving are race car drivers, and they have spotters around the track to tell them what is around them.

I could give you 25 more reasons not to push it, but the most important one is your doctor's orders. If he hasn't medically cleared you to work, you put the company at risk. And no company, if they are in their right mind, is going to let someone put themselves at higher risk for a workman's comp case for complications from a fresh neck surgery that isn't at least 90% yet, with no complications. And even with your doctor's clearance to return to work, don't be surprised if the company asks their doctor to clear you as well. CYA, know what I mean?
Short version; Osteoarthritis, scoliosis, lumbar spondylolisthesis, sciatica, hip dysplasia, bipolar disorder, migraines, macular degeneration, TIA's (they think), insomnia, and a rogue's gallery of other things...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.

Snowbunny21
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jan 2010
Total Posts : 3557
   Posted 11/15/2012 12:12 PM (GMT -6)   
I don't think any of us think you are whining at all!!...Many of us who have gone through cervical spine surgeries can empathize with your situation...

And yes..I guess it varies from Dr. to Dr. with the collar...but as WB said..the more/longer it is worn...the more painful and difficult it will be once it is taken off as the muscles have atrophied and the nerves will be waking up.

So...I'm not trying to say that I know more than your Dr. and what is best for you by any stretch!! LOL...I was just very surprised as many of the Board Certified Neurosurgeons these days don't have a patient wearing a collar for that long of a period if there is hardware implanted..

I just empathize with you as you are just trying to follow your Drs. orders...

You are certainly doing really great on only needing a small amount of pain medication after a 3 level fusion...So that is a great thing to be positive about that you are doing well enough to do this!

You may have to work with the Dr. and speak with him BEFORE you start any work and realize that you may need to tweak the prescription because your pain levels will probably rise a bit and it's best to stay ahead of the pain...Make sure you find out how long this Dr. is willing to continue prescribing to you or if he is thinking you should be off all meds by a certain date..

So now that we know you are still in the collar...may we ask what your plan would be for getting to/from work? I would think your Dr. is not going to advise driving this way as we mentioned it is unsafe ...same thing for taking medication and driving as that could cause issues depending on how the medication affects you...

Not trying to overwhelm you with questions....just wanting to make sure you have all the details set out with your Dr. for going back to work..
SB (Snowbunny) and the pup that snores (my yellow lab:))

3, two-level, cervical fusions over the past 11 years. The last one was anterior and posterior with lots of fun titanium!
Still have active herniations along with knee problems and another Morton's neuroma in left foot.
I try to find joy in each day even with chronic pain:)

Gecarpenter1
New Member


Date Joined May 2013
Total Posts : 8
   Posted 6/5/2013 3:32 PM (GMT -6)   
So I talked to my PA who tells me to limit the rom for my neck at 5 weeks postoperative ACDF and did not seem too concerned about the degree of pain I am sill having in neck and upper back and clavicle . I thought surgery would improve the pain. Very discouraged!! I am to be out of brace unless I am very tired. And not PT yet . She does say I can start anti inflamatory meds in a few days and then should help.

charlie6017
New Member


Date Joined May 2013
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 6/5/2013 3:52 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi GECarpenter,

How many levels did you have fused?

I know it's 5 weeks post-op, but everyone heals differently. It's still kinda early......have they done any x-rays post-op yet? Try to hang in there and give yourself time......still a long ways to go before solid fusion.

Charlie
~Charlie

ALIF L5-S1 Feb 2006 - Revision via Posterior to add screws/rods Nov 2006

ACDF C5 thru C7 Sept 2007

PLIF L4-L5 and extend hardware from L5-S1 July 2009

ACDF C3 thru C5 and remove plate from C5 thru C7 July 2011

Draka
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2009
Total Posts : 256
   Posted 6/5/2013 4:44 PM (GMT -6)   

Hello Longneck,

I'm just over a year post-op also from a 3 level ACDF... two years post-op from a 3 level from the back!

WAIT, to go back- you may think you feel good but it's way too easy to over do it and set yourself back-

All Dr's are different and all give different advise- listen to your body is most important

Best wishes on recovery


Posterior cervicothoracic decompression and instrumented fusion (three level fusion) for spondylosis and stenosis with severe radiculopathy.. surgery performed 3/31/11

ACDF... (three level fusion) 5/1/12

Cervical Dystonia/Spasmodic Torticollis

Sumoblei
New Member


Date Joined Mar 2014
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 3/26/2014 4:57 PM (GMT -6)   
I haven't read all the posts here but i will tonight......i just had this surgery 3 lvls, c4-5 5-6 6-7, and I am recovering fast it seems, I am back at work 8 days later, and use minimal pain killers, I am a construction btw as a superintendent and i'm 52 yrs old. plus 10 days prior I had surgery on my shoulder...super spanitus reattached and lateral bicep ligament....is it just me or is this a normal recovery? Granted I'm sore but I feel fine :)
what should I look for in the near future?

nvrthesame98
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 4102
   Posted 3/27/2014 5:42 AM (GMT -6)   
Welcome Sum to the CP forum and if you would please go to the top of the page and click "post new topic" and start a kind of introductory thread for yoursel. Tell us about your recovery as this is an awesome story that will lend hope to many deciding to do the surgery or not. Far too many times we see or hear from those with complications and long recovery times. Your like a breath of fresh air here.

Your post on an old thread will likely get missed and we like to welcome new members.

Thanks and again what an awesome story of a great
recovery!!
Vickie
CHRONIC PAIN MODERATOR
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