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c6-7 herniation - Would numbness and weak resolve after surgery

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
A chiropractor ruptured my C6-7 disk on 9/4/2009. The immediate result was excruciating pain from right should blade to wrist. The pain resolved after two days leaving me with numbness in the index and middle finger, and extreme weakness in the tricep. I have been going under the belief that the longer I avoid surgery, the higher the chances that the numbness in the finger and the tricep weakness will be permanent, even after surgery. The neurosurgeon has been wanting me to avoid surgery even though the disk is ruptured and blown out like a MFer. I would be curious to hear back from people who lived with the numbness and weakness for months or years, then had surgery. Did the numbness and weakness go away after surgery. Is it right to assume that leaving a nerve even slightly impinged could lead to permanent nerve damage? Thanks all!


  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hi khickey,

    I started having tingling/numbess in my left hand about a year or so pre-op,
    I thought it may have been related to severe damage to that hand due to an
    industrial accident 30 years prior or carpal tunnel syndrome. After an EMG was ordered it was found my cervical spine was collapsing due to severe OA that I have throughout my body. After a major rebuild of C3 thru C6 which involved a corpectomy, discectomy, installation of a strut, cage, plates, rods,
    and screws both anterior and posterior I have permanent numbness of that
    hand. It is something that I have gotten used to and learned to function and move on with my daily activities.

  • Is the numbness in your dominate hand? I am affected in my dominate hand. I am a artist (graphic), as well as a pianist. I am considering whether I want to continue to live, as I am no longer able to use the hand for art or music.
  • Welcome to Spine-Health. You'll find a lot of info and great members on this site.

    I had pins and needles and some numbness in my right arm and weakness and muscle pain in my left arm before surgery. I had the right arm symptoms for about four months and left arm symptoms for about three months before surgery. In September 08 I made an appointment to have surgery in October 08 and my left arm symptoms progressed very rapidly during that time.

    They were all gone immediately following surgery. As you can tell by what Ranger said, nerve damage can certainly become permanent without proper treatment quickly.

    If I were you, I'd find another surgeon, a fellowship-trained spine surgeon that only works on spines and see what s/he has to say. If you have severe symptoms, they need to be taken care of as soon as possible.

  • How was a full nights sleep. I haven't had one in so long.

    Also I think your surgery was 10/19 (not 9/19):O)

    The same day mine was scheduled for....

    I am so glad you are feeling better.

  • When my C6/7 disk herniated I felt a solid "pop." In the space of a few minutes I had incredible burning in the right shoulder blade, and moderate burning at the bottom of my triceps. A few minutes after that I lost virtually all strength in the triceps area - pictorial for loss - I couldn't even pull the towel over my shoulder to dry my back after a shower!

    I had surgery 5 weeks later. After the surgery and for about 5 weeks, most of the strength came back, the numbness was gone as was the pain. At around the 5 week mark is where things changed. Fortunately the majority of the pain is still gone, but on the palm side I pretty much have no feeling and the strength I regained after surgery is regressing fast. Just having my arms in front of me to type this...my right triceps feels tired (similar to the tired when you overwork a muscle when working out). My surgeon has me using a bone growth stimulator now along with putting me back in the hard collar.

    The bummer? He had me go through another MRI to "see if anything else is going on in there", and there really wasn't anything remarkable according to the radiologist. On one of the views (my hubby found it of all things) the C7 vertebral body is cracked in 2 places below the instrumentation! My surgeon hasn't seen that yet. Is that causing this regression? I don't know. My surgeon mentioned my damage might be permanent, but he hasn't raised that as the final "diagnosis" flag at this stage. I am big on being positively optimistic, and am hoping this is just one of those healing set backs. I am now 8.5 weeks post op. Keep the faith!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I am seeing a microsurgeon who treats these by just removing the loose or bulging portion of the disk. I cannot (and will not) have a fusion for two reasons: One is that I need to undergo MEG scans, then possible undergo brain surgery depending on what results show. I cannot risk any metal in my body, particularly anywhere near my brain because it may throw off the brain scan. The second reason is that my C4-5 and C5-6 are bulging, and I believe based on left hand symptoms that my C8-T1 may also be compromised (MRI stopped mid-C8 vertebrae). If I allow fusion of C6-7, I might as well kiss any type of active lifestyle goodbye, as the extra load on the surrounding compromised disks from a C6-7 fusion would mean almost certain failure of all the other problems disks. I can already see it: They fuse C6-7, I heal and a year later C5-6 herniates, is fused, and so on and so on.

    Someone here mentioned finding another doctor. This is absolutely on my mind. My doctor was featured in the Detroit Hour magazine, in 2006 and 2008, as being voted in the top 10 in his specialty by other doctors. I was also referred to him by one of his patients, whom is a sixty-five year old farmer whom now throws bales of hay like a 20 year old (the best recommendation I can imagine). The reason I have considered finding another doctor is that he is swapped and never has time to answer all of my questions, which is why I am so dissatisfied with our office visits. It is also why I am here asking questions that he should be providing the answers to (Prognosis!). At this point I am wondering if he is knowingly sacrificing my fingers and tricep strength (without telling me) because he feels the level of my deficit outweighs the surgical risk. My tricep strength has improved some since the injury but is nowhere near were it was. The numbness in my fingers however is not changed at all. The other dilemma I am having is that I don't know if the numbness I feel today is from disk material sitting on the disk or if there is nothing pressing on the disk today, but the numbness is from damage to the nerve when the disk popped back in September. Any thoughts on anything I mentioned here?
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    Hi khickey,
    I am right handed and my left hand is the worst. My finger tips on my right hand are starting to go numb and I also have Raynauds disease so when the weather gets cold both hands are numb. I am a professional automotive technician and my work involves using both hands that involves very small components and fasteners. The disability incurred to my left hand and all
    the other physical impairments that have surfaced have not made me desire to discontinue living. Sometimes it's frustrating and wears on your patience but we must move on and adjust to our inconvienience.
  • I am a novice on the spine forum, but I have been dealing with neuropathy in my arms for a while now. I can tell you from my experience that nerves heal at a very slow rate, but numbness is not necessarily permanent. It all depends … the doc and father time will have to determine that. The numbness I had from my original neuropathy in my arm is gone and my hands were back to normal from that. Then I hurt my neck and started all over again.

    I have similar issues with my neck and have also been dealing with it since the first part of September. In patient thought, that’s a long time. In doctor thought, it is a short time. I am having an EMG scheduled to determine more about what is going on. My NS told me a pinched nerve will not show on an EMG until after a certain period of time. He said 6 weeks post injury as the least. I have been pressing for an EMG for a while, but it wouldn’t have done any good. Now it probably will. The best thing for you is to make sure you are in capable hands and that you make sure the right thing is addressed. That’s the standing order I have with my NS…”whatever you do, make sure it is the right thing for my problem. No practice runs” :)

    This is a long, hard, life altering process. One day at a time and it will be history soon enough.
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