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Weakness in arm muscles

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:31 AM in Alternative Treatments
I am now 62 years old and I suffered cervical damage in a surfing accident 35 years ago. The problem became more evident when I was attempting to paint a ceiling a few years ago. The symptoms were neck pain and mild numbness in both hands. The resulting MRI summary was as follows:

“Degenerative spondylopathy with multi-level degenerative disc disease. There is the impression of bilateral neuroforaminal stenosis C5/6 and left sided C6/7. The respective neuro anatomy could be compromised especially during hyperdynamic circumstances.”

I was subsequently referred for an EMG and the result was “There is evidence of C5/6 and to a lesser degree C6/7 rediculopathy.” My surgeon recommended fusing C5/6 and C6/7 stressing the risk of potential paralysis in the event of a jolt such as car accident. I have decided to use surgery as a last resort. Most mornings I wake up with a mild headache, but I have learned to live with the headaches and I seldom require medication for these headaches. The range of motion of my neck is very limited but, here again, I have learned to live with it.

I am concerned that the nerve damage will soon result in weakness of the arm muscles – I feel that the muscles have weakened in recent years. Being an active person (I play golf, cycle short distances 4 times a week and spend 10 minutes each day on an inversion table) I would like to make an effort to counteract the arm muscle weakness by doing exercises with weights.

Has anyone had similar symptoms and can comment on types of exercise recommended. My questions include what specific exercises should I be doing (such as arm curls) and how often? Is it possible at my age and in my condition to increase arm muscle mass or will the exercises merely maintain the muscle mass and eliminate or delay the muscle weakness? Should I be doing any stretching of neck muscles? Any other advice will be most welcome.


  • Don,

    Welcome to spine-health. My best advice to you is to talk with your surgeon, and let them know that you are holding on surgery for as long as possible. He or she should be able to prescribe some physical therapy, where they can show you the correct exercise for your specific condition. The therapist should be able to give you a home based program. It would be best if a physical therapist shows you how to do these, so you don't get injured doing them the wrong way. Also what may be good for one person may not be the right things for another. Very degrees of issues are so common with neck injuries.

    I guess the other thing I would say, have you gotten a second opinion? Have they explained the consequences for waiting to do surgery? Although I believe in trying all conservative treatments possible first before proceeding with surgery. I think you need to know the risk and or benefits to doing this, in your particular situation. Good luck and keep us posted.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hey Don,
    I would have to agree with tamtam, and a second opinion is a good idea also if it is an option with insurance, etc... I had very similar symptoms and diagnosis as you have, and with the high risk of paralysis and/or incontinence I went ahead and had a major rebuild of my cervical spine 20 months ago. The only problem is I waited a little too long as I was having numbness/tingling in my left hand and arm for some time before I consulted my Dr. Now I have permanent nerve damage to my left hand. I do feel that I made the right decision as I have slipped and fell on ice a few times since.
    I laugh to myself everytime I get back up as if I chose not to have the surgery
    life may be a little different right now. Best of luck to you and take care.
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