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ACDF 3-5 choking feeling

Hi, all, I'm back. I had C5/6 fused in February of 2016, but never was completely pain free. Improved, livable, but not all better.

Then in July this year (2017) it got worse, a bunch worse. Tried all the self care approaches, nada. Finally went back to the NS, who didn't initially see anything on the X-ray or MRI, so sent me to PT again. Nada. Then he sent me for a bone scan, which showed a problem at c3/4 and c4/5. He flipped back through the MRI images, and realized what was going on. After a delay and hassle with the insurance (of course, right?), finally got authorization. Had surgery Monday, came home Tuesday.

I have had some swallowing difficulties, which I had been warned about, and aren't as bad as I feared. However, I also keep feeling like I am periodically being mildly strangled. Not that it completely shits off the air, or I would have called about this, but much of the day, I feel like I am being choked a bit.

Has anyone else had this, and did it go away on its own for you? (When I go for my two week post op, I will mention it if it isn't gone.)




  • LeaRN - yes I was experiencing choking feeling as well and sorry your dealing with that! I had c5-c7 fused on Halloween and experienced hard to swallow and feeling like I was being choked until about 2-1/2 weeks post op. Doing better now, swallowing is still tough at times and the choking has subsided as well, would speak to your doc about it as well. Good luck with the healing process!


  • Thanks, Michael. Good to know yours subsided.

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  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 274

    @LeaRN - If you care to share, wondering what the surgeon is planning to do in this latest surgery. Did you by chance have osteophytes grow after your ACDF 3-5.

  • Hi, I came back from having surgery Friday/Saturday - three level ACDF C6-7 and C4-7. I'm sore in a lot of places, but the worse is not being able to swallow and when I try to swallow, I start choking. It makes it difficult to take pills, which I haven't been able to do yet. I was prescribed Oxycontin and Valium, don't know how I am going to take those pills. My husband called the doctor's office and he is going to prescribe a spray that will numb my throat so that I can take my pills and maybe eat at some point. I gather others went through this and am wondering realistically how long the throat soreness is going to last.

  • LeaRN, I’m 3 years post op C-5 through C-7 with failed fusion, and I’ll be woken up with spasms through out my neck all but my trachea. During this time, I’ll just breathe through my nose until the muscle spasms stop. Hope this helps!

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  • Hi, after my three level cervical, I have this sore throat and start choking. I have some spray medicine, diazepam for the spasm and oxycontin for the general pain which I am just starting today. So I am hoping that will help me get liquids down, as well as being able to eat.

  • OMG yes!! I had surgery Dec 15th. I'm having the same issue and that's why I started researching this. It's been hard to find others that have had C3-C4, as it seems like a more rare surgery compared to other levels lower in the neck. I am 6 days Post Op C3-C4.

    My throat was SO sore the first three days after surgery and like someone was cutting off my air supply. Like someone was sitting on my chest (a lot of pressure) choking me. That has somewhat subsided but now it just feels like I have an air bubble constantly in my throat and at times when I laugh I can't catch my breath. I have to get food down with drinking a lot of water. My chin is numb but I'm sure that will go away at some point.

    Is anybody else's incision site right under their chin, almost on top of your throat where you swallow?

  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 274

    @Seethreeseefour - I had an ACDF carbon fiber cage implant at C3/C4 three years ago. I ended back in the hospital five days later because I could not swallow anything. I was also having problems moving significant air. I was put on IV prednisone and also feed via IV. I'd highly suggest that you include in your diet pureed foods until the swelling goes down.

    I ten years ago had an ACDF fusion at C6/C7. That fusion was a piece of cake compared to C3/C4.

  • I am just a few days out of surgery. I have been taking different prescriptions that are supposed to help, but I hurt. I have been using a straw to drink water and really haven't eaten yet. There are too many times when I just start choking and it is hard to catch my breath again. My neck still hurts, the bandage that was supposed to fall off on its own is still there. I still have headaches, but thankfully no longer the blinding headaches. I am really starting to get feeling back in my arms and legs, which is a really good thing. I hope everyone has a successful upcoming surgery and has very happy holidays.

  • Yes seethree my incision is just under my chin to the left and that is where I experience the swallow problem. I had C4-6 fused. My operation was dec 19 so I am 4 days into it. Are you still taking the pain meds?

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