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Old 03-03-2010, 08:53 PM   #1
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Red face 3 weeks post acdf of c5 c6, is this normal

hello,
i am having some issues post surgery, and i do not know if they are normal, about 5 to 7 days home from surgery i was awakening in the mornings and not able to straighten or raise, lift my left arm without excruciating pain, my family doctor thought it might be bursitis. The pain radiated from the back of the left side of my neck, to the back of scapula into the shoulder, bicep area. The a couple days later the pain radiated into my forearm and fingertips, mostly the left thumb, index and middle finger, and I get what feels like electric shock sensations with movements of the left arm. My family doctor know believes is a nerve compression or maybe nerve inflamation problem, because of these symptoms. I had a repeat MRI at the ER and everything looked in place and normal of the c-spine according to the doctor, but he diagnosed me with cervical radiculopathy and said it may still be a nerve thing. My family doctor said that because of where the pain is radiating that it would be that C6 nerve. I am wonder if this is all nerve inflammation that will go away with time?? Or is there a compression or that nerve somewhere in my body. How can my MRI show my C spine normal but yet im having the C6 nerve symptoms. The mornings i find to be the worse. Yes my neck is irritated where the incison is and stuff, yes it feels rough a little a little and like something is there in my throat, but i feel it is small potatos compared to this left neck, arm, scapula, shoulder, bicep, formarm, hand, fingers, pain. Prior to surgery i had a moderate amount of pain, about a 5 or so on the left and right side and it radiate just to the bicep area, and i was controlling it with ibuprofen and heat, sometimes i took an ultram as well. Now I have days when the pain level is a 10 or beyond, and I am taking flexeril, percocet, valium (cause i was getting only 3 hours of sleep at night), an anti inflmmatory like a prednison. Those meds were not touching the pain and i was put on a stronger anti inflammatory called Dexamethasone, and a pain medicine called Hydromorphone HCL (generic for Dialudid) That or Morphine was the only thing giving me any pain relief. I was to the ER at leat 4 times in the last 3 weeks since the surgery, in tears, in pain. At the ER they injected me with the Dialudid, and I would get relief with that, but only temporary, a few hours maybe. I am hopeing that this is normal pain to be having, but i am not sure, and i dont know why it is taking me these really strong pain meds to get any relief. The med are also wreacking havoc on my stomache, and they prescribed me something for that. I am having serious regrets about ever having this surgery, but with the osteophyte formation at that disc and it causing cord displacement, I was led to believe this was the way to go. 95% chance of being back pain free the surgeon said, and that it was better to have the surgery now at 40 then 10 years down the road, when there may be other health issues. The surgeon said I would also feel "wonderful" by day 10 post-op. I felt nowhere near wonderful at 10 days post op, and still dont 3 weeks post-op. I am afraid I will never be myself again, that i will never be able to work out again, run, or do aerobics. My quality of life right now is extremely bad, and it is leading me into a state of depression. My hands, incidently went from always being cold (prior to the surgery) to being hot since the surgery. Please respond if you could offer any insight into this, or had similiar experience. Estella

 
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Old 03-04-2010, 06:24 AM   #2
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Re: 3 weeks post acdf of c5 c6, is this normal

Dear Estella,
I am so sorry to hear you are going through this pain. I would call the surgeon and demand an appointment asap. It does not sound normal to me. I am 8 days post op and feeling really good. Just a little stiff. I did have a herniation at C-7 and the pain that you are describing was exactly like mine. It was absolutely excruciating. Good luck and keep us posted._

 
Old 03-04-2010, 07:09 AM   #3
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Re: 3 weeks post acdf of c5 c6, is this normal

Estelle, so sorry you're having these pains. I had an 2 level ACDF with Corpectomy on the 5th of Feb. I think we are about at the same time of recovery, I am almost 4 weeks out.. When I had my surgery I awoke in recovery with my left arm numb all the way to my fingertips. I had a 3 day hospital stay and was adament about coming home. Since I came home I have regained my pinky and ring finger but the rest is still asleep. I went through pains much like you. Pains in my neck, shoulder and all the way to my fingertips. That left arm really drove me batty with the pain in it. I called my nuero doc and they prescribed me Nuerontin. I take this along with my Flexeril and I have tapered off my Percocets. The Nuero doc explained to me that nerves take a while to settle down, this was probably a result of nerve inflammation, possibly from scaring as I had extensive scaring that he had to clean up. I also had severe spinal stenosis also. Mine was also C5/6 and C6/7. I was able to call freely to my Neuros office and speak to his PA when I had concerns or questions. I am hoping you can call also and find some peace of mind and or help. Also, when I was in the hospital they did more Xrays to make sure everything looked good to explain my left arm probs. All was clear and looked good. Please call your Neurologist as I don't think this is something your regular family doc can address. I hope you can find answers and some help on this. This is a scarey thing and my heart goes out to you.
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Old 03-04-2010, 08:41 AM   #4
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Re: 3 weeks post acdf of c5 c6, is this normal

Estelle, if there's one thing I've learned from being a spiney, it's that even though some are lucky enough to get back to normal, others aren't so much so. I'm almost 10 wks post-op and I'm no where close to normal yet. As with you, my worse time is when I get out of bed in the mornings and then again late in the evening. And to top my C-spine problems, I had a microdiscetomy in my lumbar L5 in July of 2009. From that I still have the sciatic leg pain and my right leg is showing signs of atrophy. Both my shoulders are numb and to be honest, burn pretty much 24-7. Much like someone is holding a burning cigarette to them. My left arm has a numb streak, from just behind the thumb all the way up my arm. To describe the pain I have in my arm, it varies from a deep ache, to burning or just feels like my whole arm is in a vise ripping it off my body. NS says 5% don't ever get any better and I'm beginning to believe I'm one of that 5%. I've learned that if I use my left arm, I end up paying for it, but to be honest, I can do pretty much anything I want for a few minutes or a little while, but in the end, I lose complete control of this arm with any activity. It becomes so weak that it shakes and have even got the point where I have to take my right hand and place the left where it needs to be. I haven't given up hope on healing and being normal again, but sometimes I really wonder. Hang in there and keep a positive attitude, its the only way to keep your sanity!!

Last edited by justme53; 03-04-2010 at 08:42 AM.

 
Old 03-05-2010, 10:13 AM   #5
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Re: 3 weeks post acdf of c5 c6, is this normal

Estelle, sorry to hear your not good. I had my acdf C5/6-C6/7 with all the hardware on 3-4-2010. My ns said the same thing as Charleyblitz was told that the pain that I get in my left forearm is nerve inflammation and the pain in my shoulder blade is from what the ns said is when they put the new disk in and had to scrap the bones spurs and had severe spinal stenosis he put a plate and screws over the fusion, it straighten and raised the cervical area that in turned stretched the muscles and inflammed the disk area. When I lay down I have to watch putting pressure on my neck area because at C6 being inflammed it pushes on the nerve and gives almost like being hit on the funny bone that doesn't go away. NS says that the morning is the worst( that's if I get a good sleep). I got the ok to drive and just need to be smart. I'm tapering off my Percocets, go for x-rays and returned to ns on the 18th and will go from there. Everybody's body heals differently and deal with pain differently. I agree that you should call you surgeon not your family doctor. Just keep using a heating pad or ice down watch your movements and all should feel better in time. So far after a month of post I don't get any of the pain the I was getting before the surgery. Hope you feel better nobody likes to hear of anybody in pain

 
Old 03-05-2010, 11:10 AM   #6
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Re: 3 weeks post acdf of c5 c6, is this normal

Well put Jaime, you did a good job explaining it. I think maybe you had yours Feb 5th? I think your date said March lol! Did you have a Corpectomy too? I think we had the same surgery. My left arm is still numb and I hope the nerves hurry up and calm down. And yes, the pain does get better with time.
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Old 03-09-2010, 02:29 PM   #7
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Re: 3 weeks post acdf of c5 c6, is this normal

OOPS! I spoke too soon. I am exactly two weeks post op and things are starting to hurt. Pretty bad pain between shoulder blades and the tops of both arms. How is everyone else doing?



Quote:
Originally Posted by elle45 View Post
Dear Estella,
I am so sorry to hear you are going through this pain. I would call the surgeon and demand an appointment asap. It does not sound normal to me. I am 8 days post op and feeling really good. Just a little stiff. I did have a herniation at C-7 and the pain that you are describing was exactly like mine. It was absolutely excruciating. Good luck and keep us posted._

 
Old 03-16-2010, 05:39 PM   #8
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Re: 3 weeks post acdf of c5 c6, is this normal

HI,
I went to my neurosergeon, he said that the MRI images of my back look normal and my x rays looked good too. He is telling me that this radiating pain from the left side of my neck into my shoulder and down my arm to my left thumb and index finger is being caused by muscle spasm and nerve inflammation and that it will pass in time. I am 5 weeks post op and still waiting for this to PASS. I am doing physical therapy as well but getting litttle relief. I dont know if my left arm/hand will ever be the same. Some days the pain is excruciating. The neuro doc said he did all the tests he could do, he even did a CAT scan, which was normal. I am taking neurotin, flexeril, percocet, some type of anti-inflammatory, and valium, when i need it. He also ordered me to get a massage, but my insurance does not cover it. The physical therapist believes this will pass as well. At this time it is excruciating pain to straighten my left arm or raise it. Most movements of that arm are painful, and the left arm is painful even to just touch it. I am hopeing that others out there had this, and just how long does this take to "pass". I hate taking all these medications. Estella

 
Old 03-17-2010, 09:38 AM   #9
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Re: 3 weeks post acdf of c5 c6, is this normal

Dear Estella,
I started having pain across my shoulder blades and down both arms to my elbows. From what I have been reading a lot of people are experiencing the same thing, however it is not excruciating. I am sorry you are feeling so bad. I know how frustrating it is to still feel pain after all you have already been through.
hugs & prayers,
Elle

 
Old 03-18-2010, 09:48 AM   #10
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Re: 3 weeks post acdf of c5 c6, is this normal

went to a licensed massage therapist, paid out of pocket 55 bucks for the session and still have the radiating pain down my left arm, my back and neck muscle do feel relaxed however. I dont know what else to do, i am still in physical therapy also. I hope that this pain is not something that i am going to have to live with. Estella

 
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