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Still have some bilateral arm pain with numbness, neck/shoulder pain and tension headaches after C6-C7 ACDF. What to do ?

Hi, I am 5 weeks post C6-C7 acdf with bone spur removal. I did not have to wear a collar. I am still having some bilateral arm pain off and on, with numbness, and neck/ shoulder pain, and tension headaches. It is worse if I am more active during the day, with washing dishes or doing laundry. I do have hydrocodone for the pain along with cyclobenzaprine for a muscle relaxant . I do residential housekeeping for a living, (scrubbing floors on my hands and knees, deep cleaning,ect.). I am afraid the arm pain will not subside. Last week I had my 4 week post-op check up with my surgeon. He said I was right on track, and I didn t need to come and see him again, he doesn t feel I will need any physical therapy , because he doesn t feel it does anything that daily living movement can t do. No x-rays were taken, and he said I could possibly return to work at 8 weeks out, but I should probably wait the full 12 weeks, and I should beable to do my job. My question is, does the pain get better??? Is it always going to flare up with physical activity? Will I really beable to do my job without the excruciating arm pain that I had prior to the surgery? Honestly when my arms hurt that bad I just cry. I am just having alot of anxiety about this. AAA
Asked On : Sun, 3 Mar 2013
Answers:  2 Views:  131
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Spine Surgeon 's  Response
Thank you for your question.

The pain from cervical nerve compression usually responds well to decompression. Sometimes it may take longer time upto 6-8 weeks to experience significant pain relief.

You are 5 weeks from the surgery which is a recovery period. You can do daily household activities like cooking and lightwork but avoid doing dishes and definitely curtail activities like getting on the floor for scrubbing. Too early and too much work can delay pain relief.

Wish you the best.
Answered: Tue, 27 Aug 2013
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Orthopaedic Surgeon, Joint Replacement Dr. K. Naga Ravi Prasad's  Response
Jul 2013
Hi, thanks for writing to HCM.

In general, the pain after ACDF is supposed to get better as the time pass on (within a few weeks). A Hard cervical collar is a must for atleast 2 months till the time the graft gets incorporated.

After completion of 8 weeks after surgery, you are supposed to carryout all activities without any issues. All the radicular pains (shooting pains) in the arms should get supposedly reduced within 8 weeks.

Hope this information is helpful. Good day
Answered: Wed, 28 Aug 2013
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