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Symptoms following ACDF C5-C6-C7

Hey all, very new to the forums but much of my pre-op information came from meaningful discussions had on this website (so thank you all for that). I again would like to call upon your collective wisdom. I had ACDF on 12-1-2017, C5-C6-C7 and the recovery has been pretty tough at times though altogether not too bad. I've had some rather serious surgeries related to my Crohn's disease so while this is no walk in the park, I am no stranger to buckling up and going for a long, rough recover ride. In any case. I was discharged Saturday 12-2-17 and on the morning of Sunday 12-3-17 I developed partial numbness in my right thumb that continues to persist. I reported this to my neuro and he said it, along with other odd ball sensations, are to be expected as the nerves, previously compressed, begin to 'wake up' and activate. The numbness has continued to persist and is a little bit concerning. I know it's still so very early in my recovery but wondering if others have experienced this or similar as well? What has been most troublesome is numbness was never a symptom of mine prior to the surgery.

Onr final question while I have your all's attention - I do and have continued to vape (e-sig) with ZERO nicotine. With there being no nicotine I don't think there should be issue but wanted to also get some thoughts from the group here. Thank you very much in advance and if you're in the recovery boat I am in, I pray that your recovery goes well and you achieve the quality of life you want and deserve. I am so grateful for a community like this where others who have undergone these types of surgeries can lean on one another



  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 3,437

    Welcome to Spine-Health

    You have only been home 5 days so you are still very early in recovery. While you are waiting on other members to reply, below is some very good reading material that might help you.

    Reading material about ACDF

    My personal opinion on the vaping is don't do it. But that's my opinion. Please click on the Welcome link below for more information on the forum
    Welcome to Spine Health

    Take care and please keep us updated on your recovery. Just keep posting to this same discussion.

    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my Medical History
  • Hi, I had ACDF c5/6 June 2017 - and I got random nerve pains for a long time (well over a year) after surgery (that were totally new to me). So your surgeon's comment would definitely describe me. You are very, very early still. Try not to worry too much - so long as your surgeon is not worried. I would also check with your surgeon about the vaping. I'm not sure if nicotine is the only problem with smoking... You want to do everything you can to give yourself the best possible recovery. Good luck!

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  • Volfan4life, As Sandra mentioned, it’s only been a week so you still have a long road ahead. You will see new symptoms come and go as well as old ones go and come back or you’ll be pain free which I pray in your case. I had C-5 through C-7 fused ( unsuccessfully) 3 years ago and was left with more pain then I went in with. Every case is different! As far a vaping goes, stop! A positive fusion needs the most oxygen enriched blood to help the fusion fuse! Good luck and keep us posted! If you ever have a question feel free to ask!

  • @nz1025 I think if I ask the surgeon he will say, simply for sake of being conservative, not to vape. Vaping is so new I don't think they have any data to show it does or doesn't have an impact on fusion success and my surgeon is a very data-driven guy. Any literature I can find though is very nicotine centered. I guess it's better to be safe than sorry.

    On another note, my recovery is going well. I'm exactly one week post-op. I can eat normal foods just fine and my throat isn't sore. I have random pains in my right arm and my right thumb is still numb, but this is all 'to be expected' per my nurse. I have slept ALOT and I think it's mostly due to my medicine knocking me out but I would attribute most of my success thus far in recovery to getting ample rest. Anyone reading this - you almost can't get too much rest following this procedure. My neck is pretty stiff but overall I have decent movement without pain. My incision is raised, which feels really weird. I'm told its from the sutures being on the inside of the skin (weird right?). Follow up is on the 28th. Right now I'm planning on going back to work on the 18th but we'll see.

  • Hang in there my friend and keep us posted!

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  • Right arm pain is killing me lately. I don't think it has necessarily increased in severity, it is just relentless and as I'm sure you all know well any pain that is simply always there reaches extreme points where you just don't think you can take it any more. It's in my right bicep/tricep region and feels like Barry Bonds beat my arm with a baseball bat. Really, REALLY hope this pain is some how associated with nerve regeneration/healing

  • Again volfan ( should have been a gator lol) hang in there! You’ll see different symptoms come and go!

  • volfan4life87vvolfan4life87 Posts: 20
    edited 12/10/2017 - 9:23 PM
    I know everyone is saying this is normal and to hang in there but I was unable to sleep hardly a wink last night because my arm was in so much pain. No amount of Oxy would touch the pain either. It felt like my arm was frostbitten or something; burning like the fires of hell but a cold burning - just from elbow to shoulder. Also same feeling in my right thumb and right index finger. The skin on my right tricep was painful to the touch. I like to think I'm a pretty tough guy. I've had ~13 or so surgeries, even woke up during one. I have crohn's and I've had some pretty painful things happen to me I don't care to go into detail. I also played football; played through broken toes, fingers, etc. This pain...last night, was unlike anything I have ever felt. I don't have words for its severity. I was shaking with pain; sweating from pain; wanted to cry but didn't have a voice to cry with pain. It came on out of nowhere in the night and at some point all the drugs kicked in I guess because I finally slept (from like ~6am 9am). I'm calling the doctor in the morning because there's no way this is normal - and if it is, I should have just dealt with muscle atrophy and weakness because I didn't have numbness or pain like this prior to surgery.
  • Call your surgeon, sounds like nerve pain. They can give you Neurontin or one of the other meds that help with nerves. Are you taking muscle relaxers?

    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • I called today but I was blessed by a pain free moment. I seized the opportunity and slept virtually all day, through phone calls and pain medication alarms etc. I hadn’t slept worth a flip in days as the verve pain was (and is) mysteriously 10 times worse at night. I plan on calling the surgeon back in the morning. Is this nerve pain permanent? I don’t know if I could handle this for life. I knew being stiff/loss of ROM was something I’d have to deal with, I didn’t know nerve pain of this magnitude was also in the cards. I guess I should’ve read more...I’m young, pray to God I can recover from this and not be another statistic of life long pain management...

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