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Upcoming surgery-last chance for questions

L-DoggLL-Dogg Posts: 101
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I apologize for the long post but I need advice so I have gone into detail.

Next week I have neck surgery scheduled. Fusion at C4/5, C5/6. It has been a 4 month battle with Work Comp since my injury but now that the time is here, I am worried about having the surgery.

In 2007 I had a spine fusion at L3/4, two operations a day apart and then hardware removal surgery in 2008. So I am no stranger to spine surgery.

In March this year I got injured again. I got clobbered when my head hit a concrete support beam and supposedly the impact, that caused my head to snap back harshly, pushed two discs out that are pushing into my spinal cord. It SEEMS since then, that I have been getting this buzzing and tingling in my fingers? It moves around to different areas of the hands and sometimes I get pain in my forearm although that seems to have become less. Mostly my fingers though and fingertips especially. Sometimes it feels like a tens unit is attached and running at high frequency especially after doing work with lifting or impact like hammering nails. Sometimes I get short pain stabs like a needle prick. Most often they throb a little...not too severely, but constant low intensity throbbing.

Having been a guitar player for about 40yrs, professional for much of it, I am really in tune with my hands and fingers down to minute details. The slightest flaw in my playing and I notice it immediately. I am accutely aware of my hand and finger performance you might say.

The main symptoms are pronounced in my thumb tips and 1st fingers it seems but sometimes also seems on the tops of my fingers. I won't call it out and out pain but I am aware of it all the time. What bothers me is that, while it does not seem like pain, it is enough to make playing guitar unpleasant as the action of pushing down on the strings is weird......it is like a loss of sensation or a slight disconnect in sensation. I have my dexterity intact, from years of staying on top of it, but I sometimes make silly mistakes or miss notes when running fast passages..... and I cannot figure out why. Lately I also might get fatigued sooner than usual when practicing guitar. My forearm muscles sometimes seem affected and the numbness in my fingertips affects things big time.

This is all frightening for me! I have embarked on a journey to record and write music for film and I would hate to find myself unable to do this, not only for the years of time invested in my music, but also the financial outlay getting my studio up and running and all the hardware and software

My spine surgeon, who did my fusion at L3/4 in 2007 for an unrelated work injury, tells me the problems in my hands are due to my latest injury. He says the discs pushing into the spinal cord is the culprit. I have seen the MRI's and CT's, you can clearly see the discs pushing into the cord. I asked him about carpal tunnel/tendonitis but he says it affects the hands differently. The problem is, he is very confident and has written medical papers on spine surgery and is very well known in these circles.He has pioneered some procedures....so it is hard to make suggestions to him as to what might be the issue. It would be like someone who does not play guitar at all, trying to tell me why my guitar is going out of tune or something. He may have a good point, but my years of experience and confidence in my knowledge, might lead me to brush off his input.

Look,my spine Doc is a genius....I'd have nobody else work on me. He is highly in demand and whether he does a surgery on me or not is not all that much of a big deal to him financially.....there will be others trust me. BUT.....I have never been tested for anything else and I fear the surgery since all the nerves that affect my ability to play, are right there.......and, once again,....I will be altering my spine forever! I also fear doing nothing.....such a lousy place to be. Darned if you do, darned if you don't....a huge gamble.

Here is what I am concerned about.[/u]

I use a laptop 24/7 and it is a MacBook Pro with a very sharp front edge that the edge of my hands rest on....the heel of my hands. It really seems to cut into my hands and I can pinpoint the spot where they rest on the laptop. If not that I am on my desktop in my recording studio and here is the second problem...... I have terrible typing" technique" .........I type [u]hunt and peck
. I use the first fingers and thumb for the spacebar and I come straight down on the keyboard with my 1st fingers, not at an angle.....funny, they are the one's most affected.

I also use my second finger, right hand on the trackpad and it has numbness in that contact spot. My last job was on the show "24" where I was for almost 7 years. I was on the computer a lot as I ran the admin part of a department as well as doing a ton of physical and extreme work. My poor typing technique has been in play for about 8 years.

Is it possible this is what has caused my hand issues and that is is coincidental that it appeared right after my injury? Maybe the hand problems are both...due to the injury and the typing method/computer edge. I am so confused...out of touch with what my body/mind is telling me.

Could my hands be having a circulation or nerve impingement issue caused by the edge of my laptop, leading to some sort of tendonitis or carpal tunnel and my fingertips slamming down on the keys leading to numbness? Could this have been exaggerated or brought to the forefront, by my neck injury?

Has anyone had this sort of issue due to repetitive motion injury like using a computer so much? Has anyone come out of neck surgery to find the pain and tingling symptoms gone? Has it become worse for anyone?

I really appreciate you taking the time out your day to read this and perhaps respond.




  • I read your post in its entirety two times, just so you know. I truly, truly believe that what you're experiencing in your hands is caused by your spinal cord compression. I had three spine compressions and you wouldn't believe the problems I experienced in my arms and hands - right: numbness and tingling 24/7; left: weakness (to the point of not being able to pick up a glass of water), what felt like tennis elbow and an extreme amount of pain.

    The good news? The minute I woke up from surgery, all of that was gone. Now, the neck pain and spasms in my shoulders and back were another story, but I've never had any further problems with radiculopathy (which is what you're having in your hands and arms). My hubby said that when he saw me come out of recovery (I don't remember this) I was clapping my hands and giggling that all my arm symptoms were gone. I was very excited and, honestly, surprised. But you'll hear the exact same thing from many others here.

    Yes, spine surgery will alter your spine forever, but getting those discs off of your nerves will relieve the arm symptoms, if not immediately like so many of us here, then within a short period of time. I know how difficult it is to fathom the fact that a neck problem can cause problems with the tips of your fingers, but it's true.

    As for the computer, get yourself a wireless mouse to lessen the chance of getting carpal tunnel, especially since you do a lot of repetative motions on your guitar. The hunt and peck method of typing shouldn't be a problem for you - my father did it for many years with no residual effects.

    Lastly, try not to worry. This surgery could be the best thing that ever happened to you since your accident. I've been where you are and it's the best thing I did and I'd do it again if the situation came up. I think the best thing is that you're having surgery so soon so that the chance of permanent nerve damage is very low. My cervical problems were severe enough that my surgeon was surprised I hadn't lost bladder and bowel function in addition to all the arm problems and pain, but I had surgery within six months of the onset of my symptoms and have no lasting nerve effects in my arms or fingers.

    So, believe in your surgeon. I really think you'll be fine and will be grateful you had it done, and had it done quickly.

    Feel free to PM me if I can help you in any way.
  • Thank you Cathie, I really appreciate you having taken the time to share your experience. Most helpful and inspiring. I am glad to hear you had a good experience.

    Does anyone else here play guitar more than casually?
  • Cathie pretty well hit all the points. The index finger goes to the C5/6 for example. Like Cathie when I awoke from surgery, I too was wiggling and squirming and laughing and enjoying "happy tears!" The nurses thought I was writhing in pain! (G)

    I agree with her too that your symptoms sound more like radicular from your neck then sudden issues with Carpal or Cubital Tunnel (different fingers with them). I will send you positive energy for a successful surgery! *HUGZ*

    Ps.. do a search on here for "Dermatome Map" and you can then see what areas are "normally" affected with your levels. Might ease your mind a bit!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thanks Brenda, I am off to check that out. I appreciate the good thoughts.
  • No problem, glad to help! Hey, if you don't get on before your surgery, please let us know (as we call it) when you are back with us on "the other side." *HUG*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I had nerve compression at C6 and C7 for almost three years. For the past 2 1/2 years I have had what I thought were carpal tunnel symptoms. I am an admin assistant and type all day long so this is just what I attributed it to. I never mentioned these carpal tunnel-like symptoms to my neurosurgeon but simply told him about the severe shoulder and triceps pain I was experiencing.

    I had an ACDF at C5/6 and C6/7 just over a month ago and when I woke up from surgery the carpal tunnel symptoms were gone! I was totally astonished as I was 100% certain in my mind that there was no way those symptoms were connected with my neck.

    Also, in the months just before surgery I noticed a spot on the pad of my index finger - sort of like a blister but not raised. It was just a white spot of dead skin. I had no feeling there except extreme itchiness which would wake me from a dead sleep every single night. The itching was so bad I wanted to cut my finger off. It hasn't itched once since the surgery and after 4 1/2 weeks I now have all feeling back in that finger. Again, I thought there was no way this could be from my neck issues. I even had my surgeon inspect this minutes before surgery. He confirmed it was from the nerve root compression in my neck.

    My awakening from surgery was similar to Cathie and Brenda's. I remember all these faces looking down at me and me bursting into tears because I immediately recognized that all my pain was gone. A nurse told me that it was a refreshing change from those patients that tried to assault her upon waking up :))(

    You are not alone in finding it hard to rectify in your head that hand and finger problems can be caused by your neck issues. I still can't believe it.

    Good luck with your surgery. I hope you are very pleasantly surprised just as I was.
  • Thank you wgil..... very encouraging. Also, I am really glad to hear you are doing well after your surgery.

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