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What To Expect From ACDF Surgery

Does your neck hurt? You’re not alone. Up to 50% of Americans suffer neck pain annually, and for some, that pain lasts for weeks, months, or longer.

Chronic neck pain can feel like stiffness, aching, tingling, burning, and more. Pain may start in your neck, but radiate out to your arms or upper back - and untreated neck pain can limit your quality of life.

If these symptoms sound familiar, you could have a condition like a cervical herniated disc or bone spurs. George Kakoulides, MD specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery, and our team is here to help you find relief. When conservative treatment isn’t enough for your neck pain, it might be time to consider anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) surgery.

The benefits of ACDF surgery

Neck pain is common, and there are lots of conservative treatment options to address that pain, stiffness, and tingling. Anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and other treatments can make a difference for some people, but they’re not always enough.

ACDF is a minimally invasive spine surgery to treat a variety of conditions affecting the cervical spine. It involves removing damaged portions of your spinal disc and reinforcing your cervical spine for lasting pain relief.

Dr. Kakoulides may recommend ACDF surgery to treat a cervical herniated disc or degenerative disc disease. If you have bone spurs from arthritis or cervical spinal stenosis, ACDF could also be a treatment option for you.

What happens during ACDF surgery

On the day of your surgery, we administer general anesthesia and move you to the operating room. Dr. Kakoulides makes a small incision on the front (anterior) of your neck. By taking an anterior approach, he only needs to move one thin muscle to see all the cervical vertebrae in your neck. ACDF is minimally invasive, but Dr. Kakoulides has uncomplicated access to the affected vertebrae. 

In the discectomy portion of the procedure, Dr. Kakoulides removes the damaged disc or bone spurs in your neck. He then moves to the fusion portion, in which he grafts bone between the affected vertebrae. He may add implants, like metal pins or plates, for extra stability in your neck.

He closes your incision with stitches, and you’re moved to a post-operative recovery room. Some people can go home the same day, but others may need to stay in the hospital for a few days for observation.

Recovering from ACDF surgery

Soon after you wake up from surgery, our team encourages you to sit up and start walking around. We may give you a supportive neck collar to wear early in your recovery, and you should avoid sharp head movements.

Once you’re fully healed, you should notice a significant decrease in neck pain and other symptoms. ACDF is a safe, effective procedure for a number of cervical spinal conditions, and up to 93% of people who have ACDF surgery report positive results long-term.

Most people can care for themselves within a few days after ACDF surgery. Light activity is generally safe, but you may need some help around the house for a few days after you come home. 

It’s normal to feel some pain following ACDF surgery. Symptoms can include neck pain, sore throat, hoarseness, and difficulty swallowing. Dr. Kakoulides prescribes pain medication for the first few 2-4 weeks to keep you as comfortable as possible.

Expect to start feeling better as the weeks go on. Most people feel much better 3-4 weeks after surgery, and Dr. Kakoulides and our team maintain contact with you throughout your follow up appointments.

When your neck pain becomes chronic, it’s time to turn to a professional. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Kakoulides to get a diagnosis and treatment plan that’s right for you. Contact us online or call today at 631-358-2589.

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