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Post ACDF Arm Ache

wgilwwgil Posts: 10
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone. First time poster here. I wish I had found this forum before my surgery.

I had a two level ACDF on 5/6 and 6/7 three weeks ago. Prior to surgery I had horrible nerve pain in my tricep muscle. My surgeon described my tricep muscle in his initial report as "severely wasted". Upon waking from surgery all nerve pain was gone. Over the past week I have been noticing an ache in my tricep muscle. It is definitely not nerve pain but it is definitely noticeable. It feels like I have been lifting weights but only using that one muscle. Is this my muscle waking up from years of wasting? Anyone else experience this? Thanks!


  • Wgil,

    First off, Welcome to Spine Health! You will find tons of information on here. :)

    As to your triceps and the aching you are feeling. Having had similar in the past, wasted muscles, some are able to come back, some aren't. Since it seems that your surgery did clear the nerve issues, the nerves in your arm that were affected by this might be starting to contract and work properly again, and as such, that muscle is weak, and tires easily.

    With all that stated, if your nerve signals are now getting to that muscle, it might come back. You can try some heat (gets the blood flowing better), and ice (takes down inflammation and some of the ache), and maybe some gentle massage of the area. Did your surgeon tell you if you would have PT since you had wasting, to maybe aid in getting that muscle back? In PT many times they use TENS stimulation to help as well. I hope you're feeling better soon.

    Again too, Welcome aboard!!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thank you so much for your response Brenda. :)))

    My surgeon did advise me to start PT for the triceps at 6 weeks post-surgery. He told me that the muscle may never come back due to the length of time the nerve was compressed but that my best chance was PT. I think I was just so surprised to feel something after three weeks of blissfully feeling nothing at all.

    I'll try some ice tonight. For some reason this never occurred to me. It's so nice to be able to get information from someone who's been in a similar situation. I really do appreciate it.

    Helicopter crash? All I've got is a measly rear-end accident. Yours sounds so much cooler. I told my husband that I wish this had happened mountain biking or something interesting like that. ;))
  • You're very Welcome Wgil. :) My triceps never really came back, but when that level went, the disk material slapped hard into the right exit nerve root - so it was damaged permanently. When you described yours, it reminded me of how my biceps responded. Hopefully you will be able to get a lot of it back.

    Any numbness below the elbow? I have a bunch of things going on in my neck, so the only finger of the 5 I can feel anything worth a darn is the top half of my middle finger.

    Yeah, Lol! Try not to crash a helicopter, all kinds of ills will follow years later! (G) It took years for me to get over "what if'ing" myself on that crash. In my job, one of my collateral duties was that of aircraft accident investigator. When I went through the training for it, I got that monkey off my back. I couldn't have done anything different in the given circumstances. Whew!! Okay, I also did have one drunk jerk rear end me, and another quarter T me through an intersection! (G)

    Fingers crossed you fair well as you recover. *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • "When you described yours, it reminded me of how my biceps responded."

    I am so happy you posted this. :) My main concern was that the nerve pain going to come back along with the ache. I'm pretty sure that's not happening but it's a fear I have. Great to know that you've experienced this as well.

    The only remaining numbness I have is a "dead spot" on the pad of my index finger. It looks like a large blister way under the skin. Surgeon said this may or may not come back. If it doesn't I'm not too concerned. Sounds like we had the same type of compression (fast and severe) except mine was on the left. I hope you're not right-handed!

    Thanks again for such helpful responses. My worry was starting to kick into overdrive.

    Oh, and I'm pretty sure I will not be crashing a helicopter anytime soon. ;)
  • Yeah, crashing a helicopter creates a LOT of paperwork and answers to the FAA and NTSB - not to mention the boss! (G)

    I know it is hard, but try and stay positive! Nerves do not regenerate that fast, and we get frustrated. Basically if entrapped, they can be known to heal at a rate of 1mm a day! Most times from spinal surgery, it isn't that bad. I had my Ulnar nerve moved in my elbow, wrist and fingers, and it took a year + to get my feeling back. C7/8 blew all that out! (G) At any rate, until you go past a year, don't give up, okay?

    Again, it is frustrating, but not a 'done deal' till the fat lady sings - okay? *HUGZ*

    I am ambidextrous... I write left handed, but (used) to draw right handed. Can't do that anymore. Just a lefty now. :) My issues have been to the right in the past, now moving to the left. Grrrrr..... 8>

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