I find it a little troubling that this forum has caused you to lose your objectivity with regard to ACDF's. There are a couple things you need to keep in mind. There are many people that have had great success from this surgery, and they for the most part don't post on boards like these.They are able to move on with their lives, so you don't hear a lot of the good stories. People like myself who aren't so lucky, are here searching for answers and sharing experiences. Do a search on ACDF's here at Medhelp and you'll find a lot of negative posts, but you will also find many positive stories of people who have had single and multi-level surgeries with great results.
Sometimes these surgeries have to be done, for neurological reasons. As far as success rates, I've never heard of 90%, usually the numbers are in the 70's.A successful outcome to a lot of Surgeons means fusion. Once the x-rays show that you're fused,its considered a success.It has nothing to do with the amount of pain your in, many studies have shown that there is no correlation between a successful fusion and pain relief. The fact is that there's a lot Doctors don't know about the spine. You'll never get one to admit it, but its a fact.They have good results with certain radiculopathies, when I had my L4/5 done several years ago, the leg pain was gone instantly, and the cervical fusion got rid of the arm pain right away, but it didn't help the neck, shoulder and scapular pain.
I think you could flip a coin to determine the outcome of one of these surgeries. I have a friend whose procedure went so well that she didn't need pain meds after wards. I had horrible pain. Next month will be 5 years since I had my ACDF, and I have not had 1 day without pain.Not just because of the surgery, but because I was also miss-diagnosed. I have other levels of degeneration that should have been addressed at that time as well.
I made a couple of critical mistakes with regard to my treatment. First of all, I didn't get a second opinion. I asked my primary if I should get one and she told me not to worry about it. Secondly, after surgery when my surgeon wouldn't help me anymore, I continued to see various Doctors within the same network.Such as an Osteopath, a Physiatrist and a Neurologist.These Doctors all knew each other and there was no way one was going to step on the other ones toes. It wasn't till I saw a Neurologist in another area, that I was able to get an accurate diagnosis, and found out that I need another surgery. I haven't decided what to do yet. We're kind of in the same boat.
As far as the muscle spasms, you could try methocarbamol (Robaxin) Its a lot stronger than flexeral, and valium is sometimes used too, although Doctors don't like prescribing it. Headaches, maybe Fiorinal or Imitrex.
Try to remain objective when researching ACDF's, I'm not saying you should have one, surgery should only be used as a last resort.Hopefully you'll get better and you won't have to worry about it. Just know that some of these stories do have happy endings.
Kalvin says it all. I too had ACDF a year ago and it did not help with the pain one bit. I was promised by the surgeon that I would be 100% healed after the surgery with no pain. In fact, he wrote it in my chart that I was 100% healed and better and dismissed me after the first xray and follow up, which was 6 weeks after. I could not believe it. He dismissed me before I was totally fused. I called and called to complain about the pain and he didn't want to hear it! He prescribed vistrail(I'm allergic to it) and kept telling me I was fine. My pain was off the charts severe!!!!! I went to my PCP and he precribed my pain medicines and muscle relaxers until I found a decent pain management. I've had several injections since the surgery and they've made the pain worse.
The surgeon gave me 10 days pain meds for the spinal fusion and refused muscle relaxers. He said they were not necessary. I will never in my life go back to him. What a jerk! Luckily I had some left over zanaflex to get me through until I was strong enough to make it to the PCP.
Zanafex is a wonderful muscle relaxer! It is short acting and has very few side effects. I'm on it now, as I still have muscle spasms in my shoulders. I take maxalt for the migraines and also fiornial. The maxalt works wonders!
I'm looking for another surgeon to fix the disc below the fusion, as I believe this is causing a great deal of my pain. Who knows. Good luck and I wish you the best.
Hi--Please try to find an osteopath that does manipulations before you go for surgery. My husband had a horrible lower back disc problem. Tried massage, chiropractic, NASAIDS, whirlpools. Nothing gave him more than temp. relief. Finally his massuse referred him to an osteopath. He diagnosed him right away with only a physical exam, told him it may take one visit every 2 weeks to fix him, but he could and then he did. Your skeleton gets out of alignment just like a car and needs to get re-aligned every so often, just like a car. He does chiropratic- like adjustment, but not quite like them. My MD gave me an antibiotic for "probable" pnemonia cuz it was friday. Saw my osteo. he adjusted me for 2 ribs being out of alignment! Fixed, no antibiotics. TRY IT!! Surgery should be a total LAST resort! And BTW, MD's will say you're crazy to try it, but don't listen!!
I'd like to say THANK YOU to Kalvin, RunningMom and Mare49 for taking the time to try to help me. I got some good advice from each of you that will definitely be of help. I'm going to look into the muscle relaxers you mentioned as well as the spinal manipulation from an Osteopath.
I heard something about Botox used for muscle spasms also. Have any of you tried it?
I was like you in the since of reading all the stories, I myself had cervical surgery in 2001 C4C5C6.it was a failed fusion and with a small fender bender it broke the 2 screws. 2003 the same surgeon replaced the 2 screws with three more screws and left in the broken tips in C4 and C6.The surgeon said it was surgery, it was a good fusion but the pain in my shoulders up the back of my neck were intense but the surgeon released me. I've been on pain management since the first surgery. Now with a new PCP I took a myelogram and it shows another screw C4 broke and the fusion between C5 and C6 is broke.It could have been from one of my falls but either way one doc said there wasn't enough screws put in for the type of plate. So here I am searching for a better surgeon and hospital. But I agree with finding a second opinion even a third, do all your research, and surgery for the very last thing. Surgeons don't tell you that when you get fused the vertebral above and below take all the blunt of movement and will eventually wear out. When you have surgery your muscles have to re-adjust that causes muscle spasms(at least that is what they told me). I've tried meds that didn't work and I was lucky that my older son is a message therapist and a good back rub really helps,hot and cold therapy helps, some times for migran I have to take Imitrex tabs.
The doc told me if it's a good fusion and you just have pain, its considered a good surgery. I'm trying to stay positive but realistic in my quest to find a Surgeon that will do a third surgery. Good luck and stay in touch,I'll keep you in my prayers
You might look into Botox for neck/upper back muscle spasm. Check out www.botoxmedical.com. Most people associate it with cosmetic use, but it is used to treat other conditions as well, as it effectively "paralyzes" the muscle treated for approx. 3 months. Good luck.
Thanks, I'll look into it!