What Is ACDF Surgery?
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion or ACDF is a popular procedure for chronic back pain. The reasons for surgery include damaged spinal discs or symptoms like sciatica or pinched nerves. During ACDF, the surgeon removes the damaged disc and installs an artificial replacement. Over time, the bones will fuse over the artificial disc and strengthen the spine. The success of surgery depends on recovery techniques like exercise.
Get recovery started with simple movements.
Most ACDF procedures take about 3 months to heal. From there, fusion can take several more months. Exercise through physical therapy and home routines speed up this process. Exercise helps with circulation, strengthens the back and core, and prevents further injury. For starters, the patient will do simple activities such as calf raises, ankle flexion, leg raises, and leg sweeps. Hamstring stretches and pelvic tilts are great lower body exercises. Recovery will also include massage, medication for pain, and inflammation.
Getting to the core of recovery
As the weeks go on, the exercises for chronic back pain intensify. Core and hip exercises help support the spine. These exercises will be modified for safety, as twisting and bending are still limited. Eventually, the patient can move on to light sessions of exercise biking, swimming, or using the elliptical machines. Exercise is only one part of a holistic approach all ACDF patients should take for recovery. These 4 added tips can make the process faster, smoother, and help results last longer.
1. Eat your way to a more robust back
A healthy diet can speed up repair and recovery. For starters, eat fewer processed foods and refined sugars. Focus on consuming more protein, the building blocks of muscle growth. A balanced diet that also includes healthy fats and greens provides much-needed vitamins and minerals. Speak with a doctor for help with dietary changes.
2. Don’t overdo it
For surgery to work, the spine must stay in a neutral position as long as possible. Initial exercises and physical therapy improve strength without excess flexibility. Make sure to reduce bending, twisting, or playing with large pets. Simple tasks like sitting for long periods, driving long distances, and climbing stairs can compromise repair. Even several months after recovery, patients should avoid high-contact sports to prevent re-injury.
3. Sleep it off
A good night’s sleep helps with tissue repair, energy, hormone production, and rejuvenation. The problem most patients face is that spinal surgery makes sleep difficult. Aim for a minimum of 8 hours of sleep after surgery. Follow the doctor’s instructions on the proper sleeping positions to minimize pain. If sleep is not restful or becomes too painful, let the doctor know immediately.
4. Follow spine care instructions
After surgery, the doctor will give strict guidelines to help with healing. These steps cover tasks like getting out of bed, lifting objects, and using the bathroom. There are days where the pain will feel better than others. Reduced pain will tempt patients to do things that can slow down recovery. Stay consistent, and healing will be better and faster.
Get the right help
Exercise helps with chronic back pain before and after surgery. After surgery, make sure to start slow, gradually increasing intensity. Exercising alone is not enough. A holistic approach, including diet and sleep, improves the quality of recovery. Talk to a doctor for any recovery concerns after an ACDF procedure.