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Numbness after ACDF looking for feedback from others who had this

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,899
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi folks,
I had ACDF three level C3>C6 on Sept 17th. Neck is healing well and I feel fairly decent but I still have a lot of numbness in my hands and I wondered if others have had this happen. Before surgery I had numb fingertips on my left hand and also my right hand. My right hand also had numbness and pain up the arm and into the shoulder at times. After surgery the numbness in my left hand has retreated all the way to the very tips of my fingers but my right hand is still about as bad as it was and still has pain at times in the hand/arm/shoulder. Yesterday I had quite painful muscle spasms in my right shoulder. I know from things I have read and that the docter said that it can take time for this to improve. Its also possible that some of it may be permanent. I just wanted to hear what kind of experiances other have had with this time of numbness and pain after surgery. I am slightly concerned with the fact that my NS decided not to include C6/C7 in the fusion because he felt that disc was not too bad and that 4 level would be much more serious then 3 level. I am hoping that none of this numbness is coming from C6/C7.
LJ
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Comments

  • You certainly have gone through a major surgery in the past several weeks. with that being said it understandable why you still have some discomfort. These surgeries are not easy and take the body sometime to heal. Give yourself sometime to heal and try to measure yourself on a weekly basis and not a daily basis as far as recovery goes. The surgeon can only take you so far and then it is up to the bodies own healing as well as things we can do to help ourselves along. You should trust in the confidence of your surgeon who performed the surgery and why he choose not to perform the other level. Here is a link to a article that may help understanding the healing of nerves. http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/pain/spinal-cord-and-spinal-nerve-roots. When you see your surgeon next be sure to inquire as to how long he feels it will take the nerves to heal and wether he say any impingement in the adjacent level while he was performing the surgery. I do hope things start improving for you and your stimulator helps with the fusion process. Keep us posted.
  • hi lj, i hope your recovery is speedy and for me i still have numbness after 13 months. i think each person is alittle different in the recovery process and what they go through. for me i am glad the problems i have are not getting worst and my goal is to advoid a revision surgery. time will tell? my numbness really concerned me right after surgery, but as time goes by, i dont fret about it much anymore as long as it comes and goes and expecially goes. i know for me with a 4 level acdf, i have limited rom in my neck, but i have learned to deal with that also.
    God bless all
    kc
  • I agree with tamtam. It can take a long time for the inflammation to go down in your neck after such an extensive surgery. That swelling can put pressure on the nerves and cause the numbness. If your surgeon isn't overly concerned about it then it may be best to wait and see if time will resolve the issue.

    That being said...LOL....if you feel that anything is WRONG with your neck don't feel embarassed to speak out to your surgeon about it. That's what you just paid them the huge bucks for. I had an instant change in symptoms after my first surgery (not normal inflammation changes) and had a surgeon that simply ignored me. Fortunately I was able to get help from my neurologist and find another surgeon to see me.

    Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself but try not to be an alarmist either. Healing is a long process. Eat well, get plenty of sleep and exercise and follow doc's orders to the letter about limitations. It's hard not to dwell on every pain when we're at home with nothing to do!

    Please keep us posted on your progress, okay?

    Griff
  • tamtam said:
    try to measure yourself on a weekly basis and not a daily basis as far as recovery goes. The surgeon can only take you so far and then it is up to the bodies own healing as well as things we can do to help ourselves along. When you see your surgeon next be sure to inquire as to how long he feels it will take the nerves to heal and wether he say any impingement in the adjacent level while he was performing the surgery. I do hope things start improving for you and your stimulator helps with the fusion process. Keep us posted.
    Hi Tamtam,
    Thanks for the feedback and some excellent information. I guess I am just very impatient to be 100%. It was the problems with my hands that pused me into surgery more then anything. I wanted to be one of those folks who woke up after surgery and said the pain and numbness was gone but I guess for me that was not realistic. I am hopeful that over time my right hand will improve and my left hand actually is better then before surgery. When I next see my surgeon I will take your advice and ask him if he saw any impingement in the C6/C7 level while he was doing the surgery. He thought that level was not bad based on the MRI but he also told me that he found a lot more arthritic stuff then he expected based on the MRI.
    Again, thanks,
    LJ
  • 24-7 stiff neck said:
    for me i still have numbness after 13 months. for me i am glad the problems i have are not getting worst and my goal is to advoid a revision surgery. time will tell? my numbness really concerned me right after surgery, but as time goes by, i dont fret about it much anymore as long as it comes and goes and expecially goes. i know for me with a 4 level acdf, i have limited rom in my neck, but i have learned to deal with that also.
    God bless all
    kc
    Hi KC,
    Thanks for the feedback. I hope that your numbness will go away over time. You said in your message that it comes and goes? Mine does not go, it just stays all the time. I guess a lot of the result must depend on how long the nerves were pinched/crushed and to what extent. While the numbness only started about 6 or 7 months before surgery, I had been having issues at night with the weird falling asleep systems for my right arm (and sometimes my left). Once the numbness in my fingers started it never stopped. Additionally the first disc actually herniated 8 years ago and I put off surgery until the whole numbness/pain in hands and arms started this year. My NS said that I should have had surgery 8 years ago but you can't go back.
    Again thanks for the feedback and good luck to you,
    LJ
  • Hi Griff,
    Thanks for the feedback. Looks like you have gone through a lot this year with two surgeries. I hope that this last one is the charm for you and you get a good result. All the multiple surgery stuff on here is very scary. This was my first time in the hosptial in 26 years and 26 years ago I got to go home with a cute little baby and not a stiff neck LOL. All things considered I am feeling pretty good. Finally started sleeping in my own bed this week although getting up and down is quite a chore. Walking everyday with my older son after he gets off work. Eating solid food (and that is a very big deal) although very carefully. Starting PT in a few weeks and planning on maybe going back to work sometime in November.
    Thanks again for the feedback,
    LJ
  • I had a single level ACDF in early Sept. Just did a follow-up with NS the other day. I too have numb fingers and the surface of my arm. I also have numbness from the tip of my chin down through the incision site. He says only time will tell if it resolves.

    He said that his spine center usually will not do surgury for numbness alone because there is no telling if it will fix the problem. He also gave me two examples.

    Patient one can have an acute herniation, go in and have surgery, come out and have long term nerve issues.

    Patient two can have a chronic herniation that was delt with over time with meds and PT and goes in to have surgery and come out with no issues at all. It all just depends...
  • LJ, the reason you see so many people on here with multiple surgeries and such is that we're still in the healing process and still utilize the support and information we find here on SH. Most of the people who have surgeries go on to lead very happy normal lives and are hardly heard from again!

    My cervical problems aren't over yet, unfortunately. I have a fantastic team of health professionals now and know that they're going to do whatever is needed to get me as active as possible. I just keep plugging along!

    Eating wasn't a problem for me the first time but the second surgery made it rough. I tried all the conventional foods, pudding, jello, soups etc., and found that I choked on SOFT food LOL! All I ate were nachos for a couple of weeks...at least I got calcium :)))

    Keep up that walking! It's the best exercise you can do for yourself right now and will get you moving.

    Best,

    Griff

  • griff said:
    LJ, the reason you see so many people on here with multiple surgeries and such is that we're still in the healing process and still utilize the support and information we find here on SH. Most of the people who have surgeries go on to lead very happy normal lives and are hardly heard from again!


    Hi Griff,
    I guess it makes sense that the folks who stay on are the ones who still need support. It would be nice if the ones who are doing well also stayed on to let the rest of us know there is success out there.
    LJ
  • Frustrated2008 said:
    I had a single level ACDF in early Sept. Just did a follow-up with NS the other day. I too have numb fingers and the surface of my arm. I also have numbness from the tip of my chin down through the incision site. He says only time will tell if it resolves.

    Thanks for the follow up and the surgeon's two examples. It all makes sense to me and I know that the numbness was not the underlying reason for my surgery, however it was what sent me to the doctor in the first place. I hope for both of us that the numbness will resolve in time.
    LJ
  • Hi
    I am going to have ACDF C3-C7 on 11/17/08. Do you have any words of advice or warning? I am scared but have been in pain for so long. I am glad you are doing well and will heed TamTam's advice. It is nice to find some people going through the same thing.
    Di
  • CbartonsandiegoCCbartonsandiego Posts: 1
    edited 01/31/2016 - 8:36 PM
    Looking for input here - I've been in regular pain and discomfort for years -manageable with Tramadol 150mg/day -recently fingertips and toes going numb -Upper traps feel like poured concrete -
    Scared to death I might end up worse w surgery- but afraid I'm damaging my spine by holding off -
    What suggestions are out there on choosing 3 level ACDF -?

    Cord getting pinched slightly due to 3 herniations -C5-6-7
    Surgeon recommending I get it done - as no action is also risky--getting second opinion this week etc
    Help in San Diego !

    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Liz, Spine-health Moderator



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