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2 years - Chronic pain in thumb, weakness in arm

barryco68bbarryco68 Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Spinal Stenosis


I've had chronic thumb pain & weakness on my left side for the last 2 years. After seeing a neurosurgeon it was discovered that I had spinal cord compression at C4-C5. Whilst the pain I have is normally associated with the C6 level I went ahead and had ACDF (July 09) @ C4-5 relieving the pressure at the cord but also hoping to relieve the pain. Unfortunately the pain in the thumb & weakness in the arm (outer bicep)still persists.
I've since had the injection at C6 root which has done nothing to improve my situation.
After going back to my neuro surgeon & consulting a 2nd, we are now considering a foraminotomy. Whilst narrowing of the foramin unfortunately is not obvious on the MRI, CT & Myelograph they say that clinically, my symptoms are such that it must be coming from there...I'm prepared to have the op but would hate to have it & come out of it with no improvement...so
1) Has anyone experienced this or been in a similar predicament?
2) Can anyone comment on a foraminotomy ?
3) Has anyone seen a neurologist & had opinions from them??
Hoping for some adive ...



  • Hi,

    Yes -- I had these same symptoms, as well as having had other symptoms. I had the thumb pain and weakness that gradually caused me to be almost unable to use my arm, but then it gradually went away, though I continued to have other symptoms.

    I was found to have multi-level spinal stenosis and foriminal stenosis in my neck, with large bone spurs and disc deterioration. My problems were found nearly everywhere in my neck except C1-C2, so I'm not sure which level caused the thumb pain. I think it was caused by nerve root compression, which might indeed be relieved by a foraminotomy. My spinal cord was also being severely compressed at C4-C5.

    I had fusion surgery of C4-C5-C6 to relieve pressure on my spinal cord and take out a couple of bad discs, and the surgeon also removed bone spurs that were compressing the nerve roots. It took many months for my hands to become useful afterward, but now I can type again, sign my name, chop vegetables, etc.

    But my problems went on for a very long time, so I seem to have some permanent (or new) issues that continue to cause neck, shoulder, arm, and hand pain. Just not as bad as it was in the past. I also had lumbar fusion this year, for similar problems in my lower back and legs.

    I should think that before you have more surgery, your doctors should try to determine the exact cause of the problem so that the surgery is not just "hit and miss."
  • Thanks for your reply RockFish..it's so frustrating!! Having an op to realize that the problem still persists or there are new issues to deal with.
    I've yet to see my NS since the myelogram (I'm just going off the report) but can't wait to hear his views.
    Last week I was eager to get going with the foraminotomy thinking we had allocated the cause but now I'm doubtful.
    Damn ..this is a nightmare. I'm hoping to speak to him or see in the coming days
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