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  • Neck fusion now have weak hand - C6 radiculopathy -need advice

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    Old 11-29-2010, 04:22 PM   #1
    mary goodrich
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    Neck fusion now have weak hand - C6 radiculopathy -need advice

    I had fusion of C5-C7 done recently. I've had spasms in the right shoulder area ever since surgery. Didn't think much of it until after something else happened a few months post-op. My right hand began having difficulties with weakness and fine motor abilities. I have trouble opening bottles and turning the key in locks as well as writing and all kinds of daily things that I've always been able to do. At times, it is better than others, but mostly I have difficulties all the time now. Had an EMG a month ago. It mostly points to right C6 radiculopathy. It also talked about the right Ulnar nerve at the elbow, but didn't emphasis a major issue there. Had a CT Scan done with a myleogram. This is where I need help. It says:

    - Effacement of the ventral thecal sac at the C5-C6 but especially C6-C7 level with perhaps some contact with the ventral cord. (Earlier it states, "Lateral view demonstrates effacement of ventral thecal sac at the C5-C6 but especially C6-C7 level consistent with extradural compression with perhaps some contact with the ventral cord identified.")

    It also says, "The nerve root sleeves appear to fill normally with attention to the right side with no definite nerve root sleeve impingement."

    My neurosurgeon says this doesn't indicate that I need to have a surgery to fix something. He ordered physical therapy, as my right shoulder area spasms and hurts a lot. He said something about the hole being a little smaller on the right side where the nerve root is in my neck. He doesn't want to think about surgery to fix this, but if that was something that needed to be looked at, he said it would be from the back rather than the front. He also said that the CT Scan doesn't at all support difficulty with the hand related to the neck.

    I'm confused. What do the results above mean? Should I get a second opinion? I definitely don't want another surgery, but I'm also afraid that something must be fixed for my hand to work right again. I can't live this way. I couldn't even make a turkey for Thanksgiving because of this. Please give me an idea about what the CT Scan is saying, because I think it really does point to something possibly touching the nerve. Is that what it means when it says, "...perhaps some contact with the ventral cord"?

     
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    Old 12-01-2010, 11:40 AM   #2
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    Re: Neck fusion now have weak hand - C6 radiculopathy -need advice

    10 yrs ago my husband had same surgery, 3 days post op, his arms became weak. doc said he had c6 nerve root tethering....since surgery gave room to the spinal cord, it allowed the nerve root to move as it hadn't been able to before-with him-he lost bicept function...this lasted 6 weeks, it resolved on its own....

     
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    Old 12-01-2010, 02:22 PM   #3
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    Re: Neck fusion now have weak hand - C6 radiculopathy -need advice

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I am going to start physical therapy, but I'm not sure it is going to fix it. The EMG says I have C6 root injury going on post-surgery. It's a new thing since surgery. The CT Scan says there may be some contact with my nerve. Since it's unclear, my neurosurgeon wants to believe there's nothing wrong with my nerve. It's hard, because my right hand is weak and I've never had that problem before. I'm going to give physical therapy a chance, but I'm skeptical that it will fix the problem with my hand. Thanks again!!

     
    Old 12-01-2010, 04:35 PM   #4
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    Re: Neck fusion now have weak hand - C6 radiculopathy -need advice

    Mary...how far out are you from your surgery? Weeks, months, years? a

    And what I see in your CT report says that you may have some contact with the spinal cord and the sac around the spinal cord(thecal sac) but not the nerve itself. I know after my first surgery my doc told me that once you make space for the cord to move, it pulls on the spinal nerve and can irritate the daylights out of it and give those symptoms.....sounds a lot like your doc's explanation. They call it radiculitis....inflammation of the nerve causing trouble down the nerve, like in your hand.

    I had a ton of it after my second surgery because I broke my neck that time and I found by accident that vitamin B complex really helps. Worth trying. Nerves need the B's to heal.

    If it does turn out that they have to go in and widen the hole(foramina) they can do this by punching through the bone and just enlarging the hole. But they risk damaging the nerve in doing it, so PT and vitamins and anything you can do to get things working helps. And time.

    Jenny

     
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    Old 12-01-2010, 04:57 PM   #5
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    Re: Neck fusion now have weak hand - C6 radiculopathy -need advice

    Hi Jenny, Thank you for your reply. It has been about four and a half months since surgery. You give me some hope that maybe I really don't have to have another surgery. I have been taking some B vitamins as well as magnesium and calcium. I haven't been as faithful with them as I should be, but I will be now!! I am going to give PT and vitamins a shot and hope, hope, hope that additional surgery isn't needed. I so hope you're right about this, because the symptom with the hand didn't start up for a few months. However, the nerve was having problems immediately after surgery, but the only indication was muscle spasms and some pain in my shoulder area near my neck. And that pain has gotten worse in addition to the new symptom. Thanks again for the suggestions. My surgeon didn't explain it like that. I feel bad for your situation - breaking your neck. That had to be very painful. I'm hoping that your situation is close enough to mine to be a similar solution. I have patience, but I also want to be sure my nerve isn't getting worse by being pinched, which is what the EMG seems to be saying.

     
    Old 12-01-2010, 06:11 PM   #6
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    Re: Neck fusion now have weak hand - C6 radiculopathy -need advice

    Your surgeon also didn't tell you that most nerves need 8-10 months to heal after surgery. It takes that long for new cells to form....that is why they used to say once a nerve was damaged it couldn't grow back...it took so long!

    I wouldn't do anything but allow yourself to heal for at least 1 year. You aren't even at the point where most pain disappears except the nerve pain....that's at 6 months. They've played with bones and nerves and all sorts of tissues and you need time to really heal.

    I started with a C3-to C7 laminoplasty where they rebuild the bones on the back of the vertebrae to give the spinal cord room...I had bad cord compression at multiple levels along with 3 herniated disks. It was a chance at getting it fixed without fusion. But I had major soft tissue problems that no one knew about and 3 months after the first surgery, the ligaments snapped causing the 5 vertebrae to dislocate and 3 of my 4 bone grafts to break, one of then falling into the spinal canal and slightly impaling my cord. So it was back in for a 6 level fusion from the back. I've had all the radiculopathy and myelopathy and the healing issues. It took me 9 months just to get the use of my left arm back enough to carry anything. Nerves take a long time to heal.

    Overall, it took me 3 years to get to a stable point where I had nothing new happening. No new nerve pain, no new zaps or weakness. The nerve damage I incurred left me with joints in my left arm that dislocate with little provocation and a left leg that I drag when I'm tired. And a stiff neck. But I can pick up my 3 year old granddaughter and for that I am thankful.

    Give it time. You are still in the early stages of recovery. You will get a lot better over time. Nerves are the slowest healing of all tissues in the body. In the brain, brain cells can keep healing for 10 years+ after a stroke, if not for a lifetime. The brain and spinal cord have a property called "plasticity", meaning that even if a nerve or brain cell is damaged beyond repair, other nerve cells or brain cells can be taught to take over that function with time. So even if you can't do something or are in pain at 2 years post-op, that doesn't mean it won't stop eventually. Our nervous system is amazing.

    I was supposed to be paralyzed on my left side and unless I'm tired or you are jerking my arm around and it dislocates, you'd never know. I just saw a new neurologist and he didn't know I had a problem until he saw the scar on the back of my neck. And then he tested me and found nothing...I wasn't tired! And I was supposed to be paralyzed...and I was for a while but I slowly recovered.

    Give it time. You'll be surprised how much better you'll be in a year or 2.

    hugs..............Jenny

     
    Old 05-17-2011, 05:39 PM   #7
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    Talking Re: Neck fusion now have weak hand - C6 radiculopathy -need advice

    OMG Mary, I had surgery on Nov. 9, 2010 and now have the exact same thing going on with me. I've been telling every doctor this is nerve related, and was told I was crazy. I've been seeing barrows doctors since Feb. and today was told it was radiculopathy at C-7 and bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. I pray that you didn't do the nerve block shots........

    Last edited by moderator2; 05-19-2011 at 07:55 AM.

     
    Old 05-18-2011, 03:02 PM   #8
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    Re: Neck fusion now have weak hand - C6 radiculopathy -need advice

    Hi Mary,

    Did you or do you get dizzy after your spinal fusion? I had mine 11/9/10 and still am not right. It's the nerve and they want me to do nerve blockers but the risks outweigh the pros and the blockers are only a temporary relief. I have to see another specialist. I'm not to keen on my other option which is to remove the back of the spinal bone at C6 and C7. Replaced with nothing. Leaving the spinal cord vulnerable. What have you done? Please let me know. I have been disabled since 8/3/10. I just want my life back. Thanks for any help you can give me. Judi

    Last edited by moderator2; 05-19-2011 at 07:53 AM.

     
    Old 05-18-2011, 04:35 PM   #9
    mary goodrich
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    Re: Neck fusion now have weak hand - C6 radiculopathy -need advice

    Hi Judi.

    I tried to get a second opinion, but no one wanted to look at it since the surgery had been so recent. I did have the most experienced doctor in town, so I knew he was good. He wasn't happy that I was having issues, because he just never has problems with his surgeries. But, since I was having problems, he ordered physical therapy once I went back to him about 5 months after surgery. I was skeptical about whether or not it would help. I hurt like crazy during the treatments, which I tried hard to fit in during the month of December so I could get it paid for from my insurance - because I was in the 100% bracket until Jan. 1st!

    I think we fit in about 9 visits. Each visit, they gave me exercises to do. They weren't hard to do, I just needed to do them. On my last visit, they told me I needed to do them twice a day for several months, and then maybe once or twice a week for a year. I was faithful with the exercises for a while, and I used moist heat when I needed it for pain, and it actually worked. In fact, the loss of strength in my hand went away before I left therapy. I still had a lot of pain and spasms in the shoulder area, and that is what the on-going exercises helped with. The moist heat pad is something you can buy at Walmart -- it allows you to put water on the pad and then plug it in. It really helped. The exercises were the rest of the key. They concentrated on stretching - just slightly. One of the exercises involved a one pound weight that I used with each hand. It strengthened my muscles and the pain went away.

    I then decided (even while in pain still) to go back to school in January. After a while, I wasn't able to do exercises because I worked full-time and went to school full-time. After a while, since I was up literally the entire day, my neck adjusted and strengthened by being up as opposed to lying down, which I liked to do when I hurt. I got through the semester, and just before it ended, the spasms started up again -- probably to remind me that I had been ignoring it! So now I will go back and start doing exercises again, because I don't want it to get real bad again.

    You'd want to have your water heat pad available, because you won't get anywhere without loosening up your muscles in the beginning.

    Now I don't know exactly your situation, but if this is even possible to work for you, I highly recommend it. I thought it wouldn't get better for months, but within a month I was in much better shape and not in pain anymore. Let me know if I can help. I am still finishing up one class, and I hope to have it done next week sometime.

    I hope this helps - at least to give you hope. I thought mine was hopeless, but now I'm going forward and very pleased with the operation. Your nerves need to heal. Do you take magnesium everyday? You'll want to be sure to do that - it promotes nerve health.

    Last edited by moderator2; 05-19-2011 at 07:53 AM.

     
    Old 05-18-2011, 06:28 PM   #10
    mary goodrich
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    Re: Neck fusion now have weak hand - C6 radiculopathy -need advice

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by frostyac View Post
    Hi Mary, I got a link sent to my email. Did you or do you get dizzy after your spinal fusion? I had mine 11/9/10 and still am not right. It's the nerve and they want me to do nerve blockers but the risks outweigh the pros and the blockers are only a temporary relief. I have to see another specialist. I'm not to keen on my other option which is to remove the back of the spinal bone at C6 and C7. Replaced with nothing. Leaving the spinal cord vulnerable. What have you done? Please let me know. I have been disabled since 8/3/10. I just want my life back. Thanks for any help you can give me. Judi

    I forgot to answer you about the dizziness. Yes, I had dizziness until the physical therapy started working. I just went back and read your previous post. I think you may have what I had, although they did rule out carpal tunnel with me. They did indicate there was something going on in that area, but not enough to say it was carpal tunnel. I think it's your nerve trying to heal, just like mine -- but it does need your help. It will only get worse if you don't do the physical therapy. At least that's how it was with me. I wouldn't do that other surgery until you try this first. And make sure if you go to therapy yourself (instead of doing it yourself in the beginning) that you go to a place that has good results. The physical therapist that worked with me had been doing it for a long time and he was very good.

     
    Old 05-19-2011, 07:44 AM   #11
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    Re: Neck fusion now have weak hand - C6 radiculopathy -need advice

    Hi Mary,
    I think my situation is a bit different but not that much. I had woken up 1 morning in agony. It turned out they said to be a compressed spinal cord. But let me back up a minute. In April of 2010 I woke up 1 morning with electricity, not tingles or pins and needles but electricity in both my arms. Only thing I can compare it to is the bionic womans arms when they showed them on t.v. My chiro was awesome and after 2 months he had me back to normal. Prior to seeing him I saw a woman who used the activator thing and for 2 months did nothing. But I've had pinched nerves on and off for about 10 years. Although it's not his practice my chiro did recommend surgery. My surgeon I thought was wonderful until after 3 months he blamed the fact that I was still in pain from smoking. I still have a stitch in my neck that he said would dissolve. I've had problems in the past with stitches and told him, he chose to ignore me. I believe my spinal cord was pinching my nerve root also. They all think I am crazy, but I feel the metal plates. I believe the nerve is somehow touching the plates. That's all I can think of. I can feel metal in my head (weird) but I do. I feel the path of pain up my tricept area, thru the back under the shoulder blade and up my neck and into my head. I don't want to do the nerve block thing. Risks are too high. I do have a moist heat pad that I had my doctor write a script for so I could deduct it from taxes.

    Are you still in pain? Did you have any dizzy spells after? I haven't been able to work since August. I am a waitress and with the liability issues my job won't let me work.......good thing I was anal about saving money....

    Last edited by moderator2; 05-19-2011 at 07:52 AM.

     
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