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  • anyone had nerve palsy after neck surgery?

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    Old 02-27-2014, 11:32 AM   #1
    CT06405
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    anyone had nerve palsy after neck surgery?

    Yesterday I had my minimally invasive foraminotomy at C5-C6 on the left side of my neck. The doctor said both levels were severly compressed with a lot of bone spurs, and after 4 years of worsening pain and weakness, surgery had become a necessity. Now the tradeoff: I woke up with my left arm weak but still working, with a long, numb streak running from the middle of the forearm down to my first thumb and finger. The doctor said it is C6 and that it usually clears up in about two months. Has anyone else experienced arm weakness or numbness after surgery, and did it clear up?

     
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    Old 01-23-2015, 08:16 PM   #2
    bdcinc
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    Talking Re: anyone had nerve palsy after neck surgery?

    hi I had ACDF surgery and 4 months later my thumb and two fingers next to it are still numb and feel like they were smashed with a hammer. Before surgery both arms and hands were numb and hurt and so I woke up much improved but I didn't know why I still had pain on one side. since this was an injury from an accident I had an MRI done and found to have shoulder tears from the accident and that's why my fingers feel as they do. Now I will have shoulder repaired. Other than that the acdf wasn't too bad but is a slow recovery. I hope this helps.

     
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    Old 01-24-2015, 06:07 AM   #3
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    Re: anyone had nerve palsy after neck surgery?

    If I had it to do over, I would have skipped having surgery in the back of the neck and had a two-level ACDF instead. The posterior surgery is more risky as they have to manipulate the nerves more.

    11 months after the surgery, most of the postop numbness in the C6 nerve is still there. It appears the motor part of the nerve was damaged also, as I had a 20 percent loss of motor strength in some arm muscles which is still present. I was able to strengthen the arm enough for daily use, but weakness is still there despite daily exercises with weights. It's nothing I can't live with, and could have been much worse, but it does illustrate the type of permanent nerve damage associated with even a minor neck operation. None of this numbness and weakness was present in the arm prior to surgery.

     
    Old 01-24-2015, 08:43 PM   #4
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    Re: anyone had nerve palsy after neck surgery?

    I haven't had surgery (yet) but I've read a lot about various nerve problems after surgery. It's pretty common to have continuing problems for quite some time after surgery. Even though the compression may be removed, the nerves need to heal. Less common, though very unfortunate, is new nerve issues stemming from the surgery itself. The good news is that permanent nerve damage is relatively uncommon. Studies suggest that most surgical trauma related nerve damage resolves within 6 months. That's why 6 months to 2+ years is sort of the "sweet spot" when evaluating surgeries as the transient nerve issues have typically gone away and things like adjacent segment disease and pseudoarthrosis (in fusions) haven't really become symptomatic yet.

    One thing about anterior vs. posterior surgical methods is that a lot depends on where the pathology is. If you have bone-spurs in the posterior joints it is often possible to remove them with an anterior surgery like ACDF but there will likely be more trauma to nerve roots and surrounding structures in that case. Similarly with anterior bone-spurs etc; a posterior surgery will require more moving things about to get at the issues. One other issue is that in ACDF, about 29% of patients suffer temporary swallowing and/or speech difficulties due to retraction of the esophagus or trachea as well as the laryngeal nerves. Rarely, permanent function loss can occur. Usually, the main "unique" complaint against posterior surgeries is significant and potentially long-lasting neck pain due to the amount of muscles and other structures that need to be cut to access the spinal lamina.

    I hope that you are in the majority that have their nerve issues go away over a relatively short time. Good Luck!

     
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    Old 02-04-2015, 12:30 AM   #5
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    Re: anyone had nerve palsy after neck surgery?

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CT06405 View Post
    Yesterday I had my minimally invasive foraminotomy at C5-C6 on the left side of my neck. The doctor said both levels were severly compressed with a lot of bone spurs, and after 4 years of worsening pain and weakness, surgery had become a necessity. Now the tradeoff: I woke up with my left arm weak but still working, with a long, numb streak running from the middle of the forearm down to my first thumb and finger. The doctor said it is C6 and that it usually clears up in about two months. Has anyone else experienced arm weakness or numbness after surgery, and did it clear up?
    I had a posterior cervical laminectomy a few years ago and yes I had arm weakness that eventually went away after a few weeks as I recall. I know our procedures and issues are different but yes I did have it. Please ask your doctor though for his input. I hope you are feeling better soon.

     
    Old 02-04-2015, 06:19 AM   #6
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    Re: anyone had nerve palsy after neck surgery?

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Chitown2012 View Post
    I had a posterior cervical laminectomy a few years ago and yes I had arm weakness that eventually went away after a few weeks as I recall. I know our procedures and issues are different but yes I did have it. Please ask your doctor though for his input. I hope you are feeling better soon.
    Thanks - I started therapy to strengthen the arm two weeks postop, and that helped. There is still a 20% loss of strength in most of the muscles innervated by C6, and some partial numbness in the arm and part of the thumb. I am almost a year postop, so I think, and have been told, that what nerve damage I have is probably permanent.

    I did not get a great result, but it could be worse. Mine was considered a very small procedure (no fusion, etc.) so it does illustrate the many risks of cervical spine surgery.

     
    Old 02-04-2015, 11:16 AM   #7
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    Re: anyone had nerve palsy after neck surgery?

    Hi, I had a ACDF in Dec 2011, just over 3 years ago.
    I have numbness, tingling & pain in both arms, wrists, hands & fingers with the left being the worst. Some times the left wrist is very painful and there's a lot of numbness & tingling. I drop things right out of my hands at times because I don't feel what ever I'm holding.
    From what my doctor told me then was that I have nerve damage from before the surgery.
    I did get relief from the pain in my neck and shoulders a few months (I think it was) post op so that was good. But I still have the other issues I had pre-op.

    Also, the level above that fusion needs to be fused. The herniation at C-3, C-4 is pressing on the spinal cord now.
    It's strange because my 2nd opinion was with a Ortho surgeon and he suggested to do a 4 level fusion not the 2 level that the Neuro suggested & did.
    If I could go back, I'd choose the 4 level so I wouldn't have to have more
    surgery!! I knew there was a risk that this might happen but obviously the Ortho surgeon was right.

    So, one day when I get regular health insurance, I will end up having another surgery.

    I hope everything turns out well for you and that you will recover 100% because that does happen as well.
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    ACDF C4-5 & C5-6 Dec 2011
    DLIF L1 to L5 Dec 2013
    Jul 2014 MRI, C3-4 hern/comp, C6-7 disc protr/spurs, Thor T6 cyst, T6-7 disc protr on thecal sac, T7-8 spurs/mild on sac. Oct 2014 Diag-Osteoporosis

     
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