Patient Education Library
Cervical Radiculopathy - ACDF
Seven small vertebrae make up the cervical area of your spine. The back part of the vertebra arches to form the lamina. The lamina creates a roof-like cover over the back of the opening in each vertebra. The opening in the center of each vertebra forms the spinal canal.
Your spinal cord, spinal nerves, and arteries that supply blood travel through the protective cervical spinal canal. The spinal cord segments in the neck are indicated as C1-C8. Nerves exit the spine at different levels. Nerves at this level supply the shoulders, arms, and hands.
There are several factors which may increase the risk of cervical radiculopathy, including:
_____ Osteophytes or bone spurs
_____ “Wear and tear” or trauma may affect spinal structures
_____ People with herniated cervical disc, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease
Although the cause of cervical radiculopathy is at the spine, symptoms may occur at locations where the nerves travel, such as the shoulders, arms, and hands. You may experience pain, numbness, or weakness in these areas. You may have neck pain. Headaches may occur at the back of your head. In advanced cases, muscle wasting and symptoms in the legs may occur.
The recovery process is different for everyone. It depends on the particulars of your surgery and the extent of your condition. Your surgeon will let you know what to expect. Generally, the recovery time for ACDF is several weeks. Your arm pain should go away fairly quickly, however, it may take weeks to months for your arm weakness and numbness to resolve.
It is important to adhere to your restrictions and exercise program when you return home. You should use proper body mechanics during all activities. Do not smoke. Smoking increases the risk of surgical complications and may hinder the bone from fusing. If you have difficulty quitting smoking on your own, ask your doctor about medications and resources that may help you.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.