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  • Sdc1213
    Post count: 8

    Hello Doctor,

    I’d like to thank you for having such a great resource on your website and the ability of asking questions. This has helped me tremendously with my pre and post op fears of what to expect.

    On Oct 7th, I had ACDF surgery on my C6/C7. The reason for this surgery was due to severe disc herniation causing spinal stenosis and myelopathy. My surgeon stated he was able to get all the bone spurs out and no complications during surgery. Tomorrow will mark 4 weeks post-op. I have to say my surgeon as been wonderful and has been answering plenty of my questions, but I just wanted a second opinion on my current issue. Around the third week mark, I pushed my body a little hard and started developing excruciating pain in the shoulders and tightness around the back of the neck, along with a choking sensation.

    My issue that I’m currently facing is a of a “choking sensation” around the incision area down to my collar bone. It feels like someone is taking their fingers and pushing on the front of my neck which is causing a sensation of tightness that I’m being choked. It’s kind of hard to explain. I reached out to my surgeon and he thinks it could either be inflammation of the incision or delayed dysphagia. I’m just curious as to why it would show up 3 weeks after fact? He has prescribed me a Medrol Steroid pack in the meantime to see if it helps. The incision goes from about where my jaw starts to over my Adam’s apple. I was able to eat solid foods same day as surgery without issue. Under the incision itself still feels tender and somewhat “bruised” (especially around the Adam’s apple), over top the incision is pretty much numb which I was told should come back given time.

    Do you think the incision is still swollen that it could be pushing up against my neck, giving me a feeling of choking @ 4 weeks post-op? Also is it normal to still have excruciating pain in the shoulders and traps 4 weeks out from surgery? The Flexiril that I’ve been prescribed hasn’t done much to combat the shoulder pain and I’ve only been taking Oxycodone 5mg here and there. I’m prescribed 10mg of Oxycodone every 4-6 hours as needed, but worry about dependency as well. I’m only 32 years old and didn’t think I’ve be having this many issues with recovery.

    Thank You!

    Donald Corenman, MD, DC
    Post count: 8660

    It is unusual but not unheard of to develop delayed sensation of choking after an ACDF. Does this sensation occur when you try to swallow? Do you have dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)?

    One of the important things to do is to get a side view X-ray of the neck. Make sure the graft or plate has not displaced. If not, what is the measurement of the retro-pharyngeal space? This is a shadow measurement that can give an indication of swelling of the surgical area.

    Steroid is a good treatment. If there is no physical mass causing this sensation, the it is just a matter of time to allow this symptom to calm down.

    “Around the third week mark, I pushed my body a little hard and started developing excruciating pain in the shoulders and tightness around the back of the neck”. Not a good idea. Make sure the X-rays don’t show any graft or plate malposition.

    Dr. Corenman

    Donald Corenman, MD, DC is a highly-regarded spine surgeon, considered an expert in the area of neck and back pain. Trained as both a Medical Doctor and Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Corenman earned academic appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and his research on spine surgery and rehabilitation has resulted in the publication of multiple peer-reviewed articles and two books.
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