Recovering from Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF)
There is usually some pain and discomfort in the days and weeks following an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery. Most commonly, the recovering patient has some pain and soreness at the incision site at the front of the neck. Other symptoms may also be present, such as trouble with swallowing.
What kind of recovery can I expect after surgery?
Recovery from an ACDF surgery takes 3-6 months, but patients continue to heal for up to a year after surgery.
When can I return to work and/or activities?
Walking is highly encouraged immediately after surgery and throughout your post-operative period. Most patients can return to a light desk job or household activities by 1-2 days after surgery. Patients with jobs that require heavy lifting or strenuous labor will not be allowed to return until Dr. Singh ensures your implant is stable and growing into the bones solidly. In addition, activities such as biking, skiing, or running will not be allowed until Dr. Singh ensures your implants have grown into place.
When will my neck or arm pain go away?
If you can imagine putting your elbow on a hard surface for a long time, what happens? Your fingers start to go to sleep. Why? Because the nerves in these fingers are compressed, they are asleep and are irritable. Once you realize this, you pick up your elbow (to remove the pressure off the nerve) and shake your fingers until they wake up. This is a similar concept in spine surgery. Depending on how long your nerves and spinal cord have been compressed will determine how long it takes for the nerve to wake up after the surgery. If you have had compression of your nerves and spinal cord for months to years, then it may take some time before the nerve recovers and wakes up. Most patients wake up from surgery with arm pain relief, meaning that the debilitating arm pain they had before surgery has gone away.
At A Glance
Dr. Kern Singh
- Minimally invasive and endoscopic spine surgeon
- Inventor and surgeon innovator with multiple patents in spinal surgery and instrumentation
- Author of more than 10 textbooks in minimally invasive spinal surgery
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