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nerve damage from AC Separation?

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Old 06-11-2011, 02:42 AM   #1
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snowjeenyus HB User
nerve damage from AC Separation?

I separated right shoulder about a year ago (grade 3) and since it healed I have had considerable pain in my entire right arm and neck/shoulder area. Is it possible that I have damaged the nerve because of my injury?

I have tried to mask the pain with OTC medicines like tylenol but with no relief. I have seen urgent care twice (shortly after the injury) when spiking pain made me miserable. They would prescribe hydrocodone to relieve the pain, which helped mask it very well. The pain as increased over the last year, and I have gone through depression, sleep issues and poor quality of life in the past 6 months. I never could have imagined that pain could cause such issues in my daily life. I am finally going to see an Orthopedic specialist in 2 weeks, can they do testing to determine if I have nerve damage?

I am also going to ask for a referral to a Pain Specialist. After reading many experiences of others, I want to talk about narcotic pain medication to help my daily pain relief. In the past I refused to ever try pain medication because I have never liked the groggy feeling it gives me. Online searches and posts in this site have given me insight that Pain medication can be managed if you follow your doctors orders and addiction is not a risk. I am willing to try anything at this point.

Has anyone else suffered from similar situations? Would a strong narcotic pain reliever be a good option for helping with my constant stinging, sharp pain? I also experience weakness in my right arm (very obvious as it is considerably smaller than my left arm). I have learned to write left handed and do many things left handed because of this injury.

Any insight/info would be helpful. Thank you!

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Old 06-12-2011, 07:12 AM   #2
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Re: nerve damage from AC Separation?

Welcome to the board.
So unfortunately you had a grade 3, a complete tear of both of the ligaments of the A/C joint, and the clavicle to the coracoid of the shoulder blade. Therefore you must have some deformity compared to the other shoulder. At one time these were operated on but the results were no better than leaving them as they were. The A/C joint seems to be the only joint that you can leave dislocated. It is innervated by C4 so should only give pain in that area around the top of the shoulder. Tell us how you injured the joint, for instance did you fall to the gound depressing your shoulder down and protecting your head by lifting it away from the injured side? If this was the action that took place the brachial plexus could have been stretched, anything from the 5th Cervical to the 1st thoracic. Has anyone examined your neck and checked for muscle strength. It may be that you have some weakness and some joint dysfunction in the cervical spine. An EMG could be in order. Have your Doc or PT test you and compare the neck and shoulder ranges and strength on either side and also check for skin colour and texture. Let us know what happens. Final thought, did your eye on the painfull side look any different at the time or soon after?

Last edited by james079; 06-12-2011 at 07:13 AM. Reason: Spelling!

Old 06-13-2011, 02:14 AM   #3
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Re: nerve damage from AC Separation?

How was your AC separation diagnosed? And by what kind of physician?

I can only relate what happened to me......ortho x-rayed my shoulder and found ac separation. After a year and 3 cortisone shots, he told me I needed to have the end resected. The arm and shoulder pain was getting much worse and by the time I could have the surgery I had significant bursitis. I had full range of motion after the surgery but still had the arm pain. No neck pain at all. He felt it was coming from my neck and sent me back to my spine surgeon (I'd had an ACDF 5-6 two years before.) Flexion and extension x-rays showed significant slippage of vertebrae, EMG showed problems C3 & 4. I ended up having surgery and am now fused C3-6. Arm pain fully resolved.

Now I am having similar problems in left shoulder and am seeing ortho doc today.

My point to you is that you should have your cervical spine evaluated. Not everyone presents with 'typical' cervical pain. Your fall could have damaged your cervical spine. I too did not want to believe pain was from my neck and researched brachial nerve injury etc, etc. But it was what it was.....

Ask your ortho doc to do flexion and extension x-rays of your neck! You may need an MRI and EMG study as well. The longer you fuss with this (and sound like you are in significant distress) the more permanent damge you can do to the nerves feeding your arm.

Let us know what the ortho doc says. As you know, pain meds only mask the problem. You need to find out the cause.

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chronic pain, nerve damage, shoulder separation

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