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arm weakness

gethealthyggethealthy Posts: 303
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I'm getting concerned. I had my surgery July 27th. I think all went well. I have some concerns about the arm weakness I'm having. I haven't had that for years and it was only in my left arm then.

I"m a fitness instructor and martial artist and my arms reflected that. Now my arms look and feel like wet noodles.

I'm having challenges with the no bending rule. I was told I could bend from my waist just not drop my chin.

I'm also having a really tough time getting in and out of bed. I have a wedge so I am elevated. It feels like I'm hurting my neck when I roll on or off the bed.

I have a jerk reflection when I relax and when I sleep that makes me whence. I also wake up and find my head in a bad position. I use a circle pillow that I thought would help with that but it doesn't.

If anyone can give me some ideas I would greatly appreciate it.


  • why do you use wedge pillow...wouldnt that put your head more forward?
  • I had all the issues you're talking about except the weakness in the arm. That could possibly be your muscle trying to take over command again since you were athletic with it before. I've seen that quite a bit with my running/jogging patients... they're muscles will even convulse for awhile right after surgery. Very normal.

    I have the jimmy leg, too. And I remember that making my neck hurt and waking me up. Not much you can do but walk a little. And hydrate.

    The bending thing. Now do you see why I suggested all the helping aids? The elastic shoestrings and the long shoehorn saved me. And the long "grabber" thing really helped. You have to think of yourself like a rock on top of a broomstick. You balance just fine standing-up, but the minute you sway.... you'll tottle over. It's best to stay in the balance area if you can. Take your time....

    Finally, getting up and down in bed was horrible for me the first 1-1/2 weeks. Even rolling was hard at the very end of a roll. It's hard because the muscles are weak, so they're struggling to lift your head. I eventually relied on my boyfriend to be a runner for me... and tried not to get up too much. I also stayed up once I was up. The soft collar will help, but for me it just got in the way after that (except for walking).

    Bet you took a shower by now. Doesn't it feel good??!!
  • My shower was great. I couldn't wash my hair tho because I was unable to control my arms over head. My husband did that for me. Should I be reaching over head?

    My legs have now joined in with weakness issues. It feels like I've been riding a fat sway back horse all day and have just gotten off.

    I finally started to cry yesterday so my husband called the doctor. No luck there. The on call doctor said to go to the ER. We did but the ER couldn't get ahold of our doctor so we finally just left.

    My husband found a satin nightie I'd forgotten about and it works like butter sliding me into bed. I wish I'd done that from the beginning.

    I'm worried that I hurt something during the "twister game" I had to play dealing with my bed.

    Good news! I am just taking Tylenol during the day and the pain meds at night. I'm not going to take the muscle relaxer because we googled it and one of side effects is weakness.

    You work with spine patients? You're a great inspiration for them I bet. Tell them to get satin sheets LOL

  • The one thing my doctor told me was NOT to reach above my head... especially to put something on a shelf or to take it down. That was hard to keep from doing. But I did wash my own hair, just slowly.

    Since your legs are feeling weak, I think you were good to try to see your doctor. I suspect you've either finally talked with him or the weakness has subsided?

    Like the tip about the satin nighty. Bet your husband doesn't mind it, either. :D
  • Thanks all.

    I did call my doctor and was told to go to the ER. They did a MRI and xray. All looked good. I'm going in this week and next week. They are taking great care of me.

    My arms are getting stronger doing the exercises they gave me. I think my body just hated what happened to it and went on strike! I lost a lot of weight too and I am very thin anyway. My appetite is up and my swallowing and sore throat issues were very minor and are gone now so I'm eating, walking (pretty slow) several times a day then resting. Eat, exercise and sleep.

    I'm only 8 days into this and am getting better fast. My body is like that. It goes "what!" and then ..."okay we can do this".

    I'll keep you posted on the progress.

    The doctor showed me how to get into and out of bed too. And yes the wedge was part of the problem. She taught me to hold the back of my head and roll on to the bed with a pillow that's small. I use a cervical pillow.
  • sounds great and glad wedge is off the bed!!!!
  • Hi all!

    I went to the doctor today. I'm only 10 days out and am doing much better. No pain pills.

    My weight is still low which I'm sure affects my strength. They said I'll get all my strength back when I can start doing weight lifting again. I think that's going to be a month or two. I'm walking 2 a day for 30 minutes. I'm not going to win a trophy but I get it done.

    The doctor has me stretching my neck and shoulders. I am to do over head motion as well. She wants me to be loose and relaxed with my neck muscles. Other than walking and some nerve exercises I'm to take it easy. No housework, yard work for 4 more weeks.

    I think I'm going to do just fine. I can't lift over 3 lbs ...10 lbs at the most and not repeatedly like in exercise.

    I hope to be able to post a GOING GREAT message soon. It's so important for people to see that if surgery is the only option it can workout well.

    It takes sticking up for yourself if things seem wrong (thanks for your support on getting help for the weakness) and doing what the doctors tell you to do.

    I'm off to walk in the sunshine without my collar!

  • My ACDF was the same day as yours! I had two levels done, C5-6 and C6-7. I was feeling so much better a couple of days ago but now am having left arm pain so I'm taking it easy. I do find that taking walks on a sunny day make me feel better. Things can change a lot from minute to minute.
  • Undermountain

    How wild is that. I'm doing really great. I'm bored so that's a good sign. I'm walking a lot and doing the arm exercises I was given. Do they have you doing any neck motion? I've been told to move my neck and then told not to. I'm a bit confused on that point. It hurts to move my neck so I'm just relaxing my shoulders and swinging my arms when I walk.
  • I don't see my surgeon until six weeks after the surgery and I haven't been given any exercises. I was just told to limit forward bending and reaching. Luckily I have perfected my squats from taking fitness classes. That is helping when I need to get something that is low. You must be good at that too as a fitness instructor.

    So are you completely off pain pills? I was weaning off but had nerve pain running down my arm and had to take them again.
  • Yeah I use those squats LOL

    I'm off the pain pills and walking morning and evening for 30 minutes each. I don't go fast just was told that would help the fusion. They gave me some exercises for my arms to help with nerve issues. Here's the sheet

    Wrists: with your palms facing up, bend wrists up and down
    with palms facing down, bend wrists up and down
    move wrists in circles

    Elbows: with your elbows at your sides
    with palms facing each other, waist high move your lower arms away from your body just wider than your body then back to in front of your body

    with your palms facing up bend your elbows up so that your finger tips touch your shoulders and back down to waist level

    with your palms facing down bend your elbows up so that your finger tips touch your shoulders and back down to waist level

    They tell us to do it 4 times per day

    My arms are doing so much better since I started these. I do 2 sets of 10 of each 4 times a day as they said. I also do isometrics with a squeeze ball.
  • I think you have had some great advise. I also think that the best thing you have going for you is that you were in tip top shape before surgery. That as well as your outlook, is going to be showing in a speedy recovery. Follow Drs' orders. Follow Drs orders, Follow DRs' orders.
    Your doing great!!! Keep us posted.
    Best Wishes, BTDT
    PS I like the satin nighty & sheet idea.;-)
  • The exercises sound good. I will try those. Thanks for giving us all the detail. I'll let you know how it goes.
  • I love the exercises! My arms are coming back a live. They were really weak. I have a lot of pay back to do to this forum. I've been learning from all of you for a few months. I have lots of time on my hands right now LOL My doctor won't even let me do laundry! Eat, walk, sleep and do my little exercises is all I got for about 4 more weeks!
  • I've been doing the exercises for the past few days and showing some progress. Also taking walks. Everything I do takes a lot longer these days. I've been in the car a couple of times also. Hope you are continuing to do well and thanks again for the exercises.
  • Were you driving the car? I'm avoiding that. I so want to heal and get back to life. I can't move my neck much so I can't imagine driving. I couldn't move my neck for a few months before the surgery and had to do the big body turn.

    It takes me a long time to do things too. I have to do laundry in small bites. They don't want me lifting over 3 lbs until 6 weeks.

    Have your steri stripes come off yet? Mine are on good! I've taken showers daily since my 5th day. Yesterday was 2 weeks for us!
  • after my acdf surgery in nov'08 i too had the arm weakness. until i was allowed to take the collar off i didnt do any exercising except walking to stay in some kind of shape. at about 10 weeks i started using my arms. they hurt pretty bad and weak after a small work out. its only been the last few weeks has my shoulders and arms felt no weakness. i still dont dead lift anything over 40 lbs without help and probably never will.even after 9 months my shoulders get stiff and farms fall asleep sometimes at night. so i figure in time it might get better.
    i think ive recovered pretty good. i had gained 30 lbs and 6 inches on my waist, before i went back to work. i have now lost that 30 lbs and 7 inches off my waist.and ive been checking my %fat every few weeks and im at 16% body fat. and by the way i really started getting back into shape when i started using the billy blanks tae bo dvd i bought. your pretty fresh out of surgery so take it slow and easy. i did and i feel great now!with you being a fitness instructor you should understand. take care.

  • I have driven a short distance each of the past two days. I can look left and right although it's somewhat uncomfortable. Maybe it's harder for you since you had three levels done (I had two). I also didn't have problems turning my neck before the surgery. My main issue was arm numbness.

    I didn't have steri strips. When I took off the bandage, there was just a scar so I'm not sure how they sewed my up. It looks like there might be a light plastic layer over the scar.
  • Billy Blanks LOL Check out www.getrealfit.org I make fitness DVDs too. I specialize in kickboxing and strength training. I won't be doing any more for at least a year or two ugggg!

    Umm that's great that you just had a scar. Amazing really. I have the steri strips and it looks like stitches? I'm going to call my docs nurse if the steri strips aren't off by Monday.

  • Your website looks great. It must have been hard for you to have surgery with all the fitness that you do. I'm sure you'll get up to speed soon though with the kickboxing etc. Keep walking!
  • Yeah it was a shocker. I was right in the middle of filming a DVD when my neck decided to do it's thing. Looks like we got enough to make the project fly. We were going to have some fun special effects but those are a no go.

    I'm walking like crazy! Rode my stationary bike yesterday and am dong isometric moves to keep some muscle alive.

    We get to check off 3 weeks Monday! I go to the doctor August 31st. I hope my xray shows fusion occurring. I started wearing a bone stimulator this monday. I hope it works. Three months is the record on fusing. It would be great to meet or top that.
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