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Post fusion(s) symptoms - Big change?

Aviatrix36440Aviatrix36440 Posts: 5,904
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Howdy all!

I guess we all get here...*my* turn to ask for you alls' advice. My first fusion (C5/6) went great, the second initially seemed real good, then at 7 weeks started having the return of some of my pre-op symptoms. X-Ray/MRI didn't reveal anything striking. Okay, so around 4 months lose the voice - told by ENT hardware is moving (or bones) and irritating them. No damage occurring. X-Ray taken and crack noted below first fusion hardware screw. Was told not to worry as it should heal on its own. Around that same time I lost most of the feeling and function concerning my Ulnar from the neck down (C7/T1), so I am set for an NCV/EMG this coming Tuesday.

2 days ago I was at work and we were watching a "breaking news" clip on the oil rig. One of my co-workers gently bumped my arm to advise me to watch it (the clip). I felt a pang of pain, but sort of forgot about it. I bumped my arm softly a little later and it hurt again. I explored my arms (triceps regions) and found the right side could barely handle being touched and pressed on was really painful, same for the left short of the skin sensitivity, and for both could follow this pain trail up to the rear part of the shoulder, and same to the base of the neck. I've had issues with this last fusion, so I figured "Okay more stuff to show maybe the fusion isn't stable, okay have an EMG next week, no biggie."

Today...I woke up and could not feel most of my right arm! Now I've had that happen twice before, but the feeling came back within minutes, and never before today did it also fully numb everything concerning the Median nerve and related muscles. I and only feel the Radial portions of my forearm. From just above my elbow to the tips of my fingers, the arm feels pretty dead and heavy. No hand control, strength or feeling in any fingers, thumb or palm (top and bottom), top and side (ulnar) of the forearm to just past the elbow, pain in the triceps all the way to the neck, and too pain in the muscle forward of the triceps (before you reach the biceps).

From what I could figure from the Dermatome Map, these areas are directly from the C6/7/8 nerve roots. My C5/6 is a solid fusion (issues pre-fusion were to the right), C6/7 still has issues, and C7/T1 moderate bone spurs and bulging disk (no nerve impingement so far?). I know we can re-herniate, but to the same side again? And 3 levels? Needless to say I am not a happy camper today, and I think it is beginning to give me a bit of a scare. The *only* reason I haven't called my NS's emergency number is I already have an NCV/EMG Tuesday for the upper spine and arms. ER? Naw...all they seem to do from what I see on here is x-ray (maybe) give you pills and send you on your way to see your doctor...ooh and $800+ bucks down the toilet! No Thanks!

My next NS appt. is the 13th, and that was were we where going to decide neck fix or back. Hummm... beginning to think my body took the lead vote there? Grrrr...What do you all think? I am asking as a fellow spiney of course, I just am so frustrated and at a loss on this, and it keeps stacking on for Pete's sake! Thanks in advance guys. *hug*

PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.


  • So that some of this makes more pictorial sense...

    Have some pinch strength in my thumb, none for any fingers.
    1. Ambidextrous - Can not write with right hand
    2. Can't hold a hairbrush horizontal and rearward to brush. - wrist just folds in.
    3. Can't pick up say a glass - wrist folds 90 degrees limp.
    4. Can't tie a shoe
    5. Can't open jars or the milk container
    6. Dexterity - What's that anymore?
    7. With this change today, can't spread fingers or cross fingers.
    8. Can't snap fingers.

    I guess there are more, but I think this is good for pictionary. Thanks for reading, sorry to whine...

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I just wanted to let you know I am so sorry to hear about the development of these new symptoms. I have no personal experience with cervical issues so will not try to comment...but I just wanted to let you know I will be thinking about you and hope you get some answers soon.

  • gwennie17 said:
    I just wanted to let you know I am so sorry to hear about the development of these new symptoms. I have no personal experience with cervical issues so will not try to comment...but I just wanted to let you know I will be thinking about you and hope you get some answers soon.

    Thanks very much Gwennie, that means a LOT to me. :-) For the first time in a long time with all this stuff that keeps popping up, I scooted to the back bedroom and let the waterworks go! It is like I am slowly watching parts of me stop working, and too fearing surgery won't bring it back. *HUG* back to you, as I know you are going through a lot too!! Thanks again!! :-)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I'm sorry to hear of your wrist,hand and finger numbness. I hope it's only inflammation from your surgery and they can treat it maybe with steriod injections? I have numbness in my left hand but can't imagine it being on the dominant hand to do things. There are physiotherapy exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles and help with dexterity but hope the nerves will regenerate and you will get your strength back with time. I hope the Neurologist gives you the results right away from your EMG/NCV test. Thinking of you with prayers for you. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Brenda,
    I am thinking and praying for you. I really don't have any experience in cervical issue either but loss of use in an extremity is scary stuff.

    I understand not wanting to run to ER because of the outlandish bills and the fact that they truly won't do much of anything. I hate to think of you doing nothing until Tuesday. Maybe you should call your Emergency number for your Neuro and just make sure you are not doing more damage by letting this go...
    Just a thought.

    Hang in there. Thinking, praying, sending positive vibes.
  • One thing that I have found, with any spine issue and for the most part with any medical issue ... stressing over it can create other symptoms to appear. Not stressing over this stuff is difficult, but is something I have to consider all the time. The changes in blood pressure, muscle tension and mental awareness, all can lead a person to believe that something else is wrong or something existing is far worse than it really is.

    Do you have any outlet for stress reduction at all?

    I hope your docs can get to the bottom of this quickly for you. Being miserable is not any fun and when it interferes with our ability to "have a life", well it just isn't fair.

  • Actually I am left handed, but have always been very ambidextrous to the degree that most can't tell which hand I wrote something in! :-) Before all this, throwing, shooting, playing pool etc. for activities, almost equal use between them. Bowling 10 pin - left handed and candle pins (the little balls) right handed.

    Before yesterday I just had some numbness, but the fingers, hand, arm all worked "normal" and with normal strength and such. This is different in that the strength is close to zero! When my C6/7 went I lost probably 80% of my triceps strength in an instant, this has a similar feel but almost no strength, and can't even control it - as soon as I bring my hand up, it just flops over! I can type a bit with this hand if I concentrate and go slow.

    The Neurologist is excellent (my new one) on the EMG side of the house in that he gives me not only a full brief on what he found, but shows me the various "wavy" screens and what they mean. :-) This morning there is no real difference except that the fingers though look normal, feel fat?

    Thanks for your kind and supportive words Charry, they mean tons to me! *HUG* Thanks again!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Howdy Frog,

    My hubby is starting to "hint" at me to call the emergency office contact number for pretty much what you are saying. He is normally the one that drags me off kicking and screaming to the ER, but this time agrees with me in that they really won't do anything at this point. ER was great for me when years ago I had a strangulating large tumor that I didn't know about. Something must have clicked as they sent me straight to CT and Ultrasound and then emergency surgery! It breaks my heart when I see really good folks on here in ridiculous pain - they go to the ER, maybe get an x-ray, some pills and like a little kid, patted on their butts and sent on their way! I see the ER anymore is "Brenda gets creamed in an auto accident, they take you to the hospital, fix you and off you go." :-)

    My NS does the "Sunday routine" (church, brunch etc.) so I will wait till around 2pm and call to see what he says. He actually does call his patients! I have a feeling he is going to basically tell me to wait on the NCV/EMG which is scheduled for Tuesday. I know, I could be wrong and he decides on a "Plan B" instead.

    So Frog (G) you and my hubby feel pretty much the same! *HUG* Thanks so much, appreciate!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Well what do you know? Somebody agrees with me. Put that one in the record books. LOL! If you get to talk to him great.

    I just don't like the fact that it went from just a little numb to useless in a day. I'm with "C." Sometimes our stress level makes things worse. I could be a prime example of that myself but I would certainly feel better if my doctor told me I was ok to wait it out. (Now if he sent me to the ER and they inturn did the whole pat on the head routine I'd be pretty PO'd.)

    It's just a shame we are always second guessing our every move.

    Keep us posted Brenda. IN THE MEANTIME FIND YOURSELF A GOOD STRESS RELIEVER YOURSELF. Not sure what that would be for you. Music, a good book, This site, chocolate, (oh that sounds good) But find something to take your mind off it until you can make that call.

  • Howdy C,

    Stress levels for me of late haven't been all that bad believe it or not. Waiting with "baited breath" for my new pool to be installed, my retirement should be right around the corner etc. The Lyrica has been keeping my cervical related symptoms (till yesterday) almost transparent in my day to day. The back is a bi***, but only waiting on the "plans" for it, so been pretty mellow. :-) I fully agree with you in that stress or being depressed (say...due to worry) can and does exasperate our issues. With the quick onset of this, I am pretty sure it is physical do to something changing verses my emotions or thoughts making things feel worse. I think I worded that right? :--)

    Like you C, I too look at changes first to see if I am focusing too much on a worry and thus it is worse than it really is for pretty much the same reasons. Thanks for bringing it forward for me to 're-look' to be sure. Sadly this I feel is a change yet again. *HUG* I hope this day finds you pain free and able to enjoy the day off! :-)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Great minds definitely think alike - see? My hubby many times is my "rational thought" on things. Or better stated, he centers me when the ole gray matter goes on a "what if" spree! (G) Each time I have a "critical" appointment with my doctors (therapy, surgery, change in meds) I take him with me so he not only knows what is going on, but is part of the recovery process. He also listens to the doctor with less emotion than I the patient! Lots of us have been where as soon as "I recommend surgery..." we don't hear much of the rest of it? My hubby takes it all in and briefs me on things I heard but didn't hear?

    I agree with you too that even hearing Dr. Pxx tell me "it won't get worse", or "this or that is probably going on"...would help. With him (again, love this surgeon) I suspect *if* he were to send me to the ER, he would call ahead for specific tests to be conducted.

    Stress reliever today? My chick flick channel (Lifetime) and my kitty cats for lap cushions! That works right? Thanks Frog! *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Got a return call later this afternoon. He wants to stay on plan "A" for now since the NCV/EMG is day after tomorrow. This Neurologist is 1 floor down from his office. If the results are worse than we are figuring, I will be "fit in" this week after the test. If the test doesn't show immediate treatment is needed, I will stay with the original appointment on the 13th. This in part came about since 24 hours have past and no searing pain (like the last time - the burn!). I feel a bit better about this, but still not thrilled at this happening.

    I should have a pretty good idea Tuesday afternoon as the Neurologist does the testing, and briefs me after it is done. Wish me luck guys, and thanks again for the continued support!! *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Phhew!
    *Got to watch chick flicks and cuddle with the cat
    *Actually got to talk to the doctor.
    *Avoided that whole x-rays, pills, pat on the butt here's your $1000+ ER bill.
    *Can sleep tonight knowing you are making the right decision. (I didn't say anything about sleeping through the pain.)
    *FROG and your HUBBY were right.


    Sleep tight!

    I wish you weren't having these new problems but I am glad you talked to him and have a plan.
  • Psst.. Don't let my hubby know he was right! (G) I love your analogy there Frog!

    In all honesty, this spine stuff bites the big one, but there *IS* a very wonderful "good" that has come out of this for me (and hopefully for most here) you can't find a better bunch of people! We all have all manner of problems with spines/nerves/surgeries etc., but here we are NORMAL!!! Does that make sense?

    Plagiarizing from you Ming - Spineys Rule!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • In response to this in your blog "I woke up and could not feel most of my right arm! Now I've had that happen twice before, but the feeling came back within minutes, and never before today did it also fully numb everything concerning the Median nerve and related muscles."
    Last saturday night I woke up in the middle of the night and my brain was saying Danger Danger and I was kinda sleepy fog because I take soma/pain med to sleep and then I realized it was I had loss use of my right arm completely. I froze then I tried to raise both of my arms and only my left went up and I tried again and again, then I picked up my right arm and it fell dead to the bed. I woke my husband flipping out and he said squeeze my hand and I could but could not lift my arm and I felt the worse pain inside my shoulder blade. Then I got up tried to grab my gatorade bottle and no arm and then I knew it was not a dream. I went to little girls room and swung my arm to the paper no can do. I was full tilt panick. I have been dealing with neck and lumbar painn for 15 years and had many surgeries, injections, etc. etc. and was freaked. I am post op 4.5 months to fix a failed c6/c7 fusion and have been suffering from tingling fingers and pain all the way down my arm since I took off my hard brace of 15 weeks. But then after 10 mins it came back. I have been home since just laying here trying to heal something??????????? Scared to do anything and I got an MRI yesterday will see my surgeon on Friday to see whats' what if it shows nothing then he said EMG and a neuro??? I will keep you in my prayers........
  • Brenda,

    Did I miss something? Did you post and I missed it?

    It is certainly possible.

    How did the EMG go? Are we on Plan A, B or C?

    What's UP? How are you?

    Let me guess. You are out there hoisting a margarita in each hand celebrating a miraculous healing.

    Hey, It could happen!

    Check in if you get a chance.
  • I wish I had a margarita in each hand.

    Have a great day....
  • I had similiar feelings at my 8 mos post op. Totally freaked out too! Went to ER got an MRI, blah blah blah, only to discover it was more of the post op pain going on. After that incident I only had very few set backs that were also pretty scary.
    04/09 posterior cervical foraminotomy C56 & C67
    who da thought it would be so painful
    you'll be ok donna
  • Someone else said maybe my hardware moved and I about passed out because I just can't bear the thought of another posterior I could handle an anterior but not posterior............I hope and pray you are right but my fingers are still tingling, were yours?
  • Howdy Frog,

    I am hoisting a beer - but because my retirement was approved for the 22nd. :------) Neck/EMG wise, verbally what I was told - not good. The radiculopathy not only is back, but now moderate to severe! See my post to Freaked. Each day something new with the arm and such. I couldn't get my report today as the Neuro's staff didn't fax it to my doctor until right at my doctor's office closing for the day! I will have it faxed to me in the morning. Honestly of late, there is a part of me that doesn't want to know, but the logic part of me NEEDS to see it for myself.

    Since I know my NS didn't see it yet, I am still on plan "A", that being to see him next Thursday! I think what gets me on this is that I can't connect it to anything I have done [to cause it] this time! Most times when things get weird, or I hurt, I can look in the mirror and yell at myself for overdoing something. All I did was sleep for an hour and blamo, what arm?!?! I think that is more than anything what is getting to me this go around. As an experiment last night, I slept with my arm in a brace to see if maaaayyybee there was some off chance I was sleeping funny on my arm, or folding it or something - no difference. I kind of knew I wouldn't see a change, but it was more a psychological thing really. So, still on plan "A" Frog...:-)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Greetings! I now won't have my NCV/EMG report in hand until tomorrow morning, but pretty well know what it is going to say as I was given a bit of a brief from the Neuro after the test was completed. The EMG portion included a detailed study along my cervical spine as well (I don't care for the needles in the spine!). The loss (let me restate actually) very much reduced use and function of my medial motor nerve is directly from my C6/7. I was told that via symptoms, exam and EMG, I am bordering between moderate and severe radiculopathy.

    Prior to my C6/7 surgery, I had "chronic moderate radiculopathy" and it didn't extend (weakness wise) below the bottom of my triceps! In the time of like an hour and a half, it went past my elbow to the tips of my fingers. I am now 1 day short of a week, and now the pinch/grip/extension/finger motor skills are pretty well useless! The forearm feels major tired and now I am getting occasional burning! In the last 2 mornings as I wash my hair, I have to stop "mid wash" because my arm is so tired, I can barely hold it up - same happens as I try to towel dry my hair! Anything it seems for when my arms are more then chest high. :-(

    The EMG also revealed that there are now issues (moderate) related to my prior (C5/6) fusion! Dandy...he told me (he is also a NS by the way), that while he can't say what "should" be done, he said I will probably have a very interesting appointment with my NS! He told me that he wouldn't be surprised if I am told a full revision of both fusions is recommended! Since he isn't my surgeon, he told me that he would only say what he felt, and that ultimately it will be between me and my NS. True, but it was sort of good to get another's "read" on this. The other scary part to this is that I was 1 week short of the 9 month post op mark when this latest thing started!

    Thanks very much for your prayers, I can feel the energy, thanks!! *HUG* I will send mutual prayers your way. I am sorry to see you too might be going through this. I hope your MRI and EMG comes back showing good. At a minimum, I hope that it can reveal for you and your doctor what is going on. Please let us know how the tests go. *hug*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • oh yesssssssss - my little finger was tingling big time & thats why I had the surgery, so you immediately you think "somethings wrong"
    the nerves are finally calming down after a year & the muscle tissue is healing, but only time can mend this,,, no quick fix,,,, horrible procedure posterior, but it is what it is - it is so scary recovering with the pain so intense & for so long
    you'll have alot of ups & downs & when you are down, get the ice pack & heat packs out & try to remain calm - just think of it as a storm that'll soon pass & you will be ok,,,,,,,,,,, part of healing,,,,,,,
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