Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Severe Muscle weakness after ACDF 56/67

cgmccgm Posts: 289
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I'm 16 days post op and I need some feedback here in a huge way. Before surgery, one or both of my arms would go limp without any muscle control for a few minutes. I had chronic tendonitis and most of the pain was/is in my left shoulder/arm and hand. When I woke up after surgery, my left arm was completely useless. No strength, I couldnt lift it to put a pain pill into my mouth. Now its just a tiny bit better, I can bring my arm up to my mouth and I can barely touch my head. My husband has to fix my hair if that tells you anything. Typing on this laptop is a challange.

I confronted my Neuro the evening of my surgery...and he said that he'd stirred a lot of nerves up and to give it time. Well...it's freaking me out...I'm a very independent, athletic ole gal and by gosh this is psychologically damaging. I just need to know if there are others who experienced this weakness and what the outcome was/is? My tendonitis was gone right after surgery, but it too has come back. I'm thinking I'll have to go to PT after my follow up on Dec 3rd to check my fusion. I'm so depressed.


  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    Oh how I remember those days. I couldnt put my make-up on or do my hair for about 2 months. My son would do it for me and trust me it wasnt pretty.lol. You are still in the very early stages of recovery so I wouldnt freak out yet.Myself I found it took around 2 months for total use of my arms to come back. I did not require PT, I just followed all the advise of my surgeon and most of all trusted what he said.
  • Hi Cgm,

    Like you after one of my surgeries, I had severe issues with my left arm and leaving it unusable. I have use of the arm back all though there is some nerve damage to the arm. But it didn't come from the surgeon, really. It had a lot to do with letting the compression go on for so long. I can tell you it took lots of time. Some very simple things you can do to help like picking up change from one container to the next. On you next appointment if they don't put you in therapy yet ask about using a squeeze ball to regain some of the use. It is a process and can take sometime.

    As the other poster said you are very early in your recovery and nerves take a long time to heal, so be patient. Be sure to follow all the restrictions you were given to the T. Hopefully all of this will turn around soon for you. What they said about stirring the nerves up is so very true.
  • I've posted this question in my first post here and I never got any feedback....but this is exactly what I needed to know. That my strength will return and use of my left arm will be back to normal. Thank you both so much for easing my mind..........I feel so so so much better.

    On another note: I've done my best to follow all instructions...but sometimes ya just don't realize your leaning/reaching a bit to much. I've not ever bent over at the waist. But i've gotten off balance while getting in bed and drifted left or right, I've pulled and pushed here and there getting up. of course I stay dizzy from the muscle relaxers I take only at night to sleep.

    What about chronic shoulder aches...almost like muscle fatique...tense,pulsating,burning.?
  • Ok, I don't know if I put that correctly. I'm having a discectomy/fusion on those lvls within the next month or two. My question is, just how difficult is swallowing after this surgery, and for how long?

    Also, to what degree does it relieve arm pain. I've been having this pain around 5 yrs now at least.

    Thanks in advance,

    Ken GreyEagle
  • :) I had c4-c7 done, I had severe right arm weakness. The muscle spasms in the arm did stop after surgery, but the weakness continues. It has gotten better, right after surgery I could not even lift a pot or pan. I started squeezing the ball, then worked up to lifting my 5 lb weight. If I try to lay my right arm over my head, I have to pick it up. The nerve damage is not good, I have a constant throb in the thumb, sometimes I even sit or lay on my hand to not notice the throb so much.

    Positive thoughts and wishing you the very best recovery.
  • Monica...did you have the nerve issues and weakness before your surgery. I too have to lift my left arm in certain positions with my right. I was fine apart that My tendonitus was acute in my elbow, not as bad after surgery but still have pain in my fingers and elbow.

    GreyEagle, not sure what happened to my response...but it disappeared. My throat hurt for 4 days after surgery, each day it got better. I chewed my food well. Everyone heals differently, I will be curious to see whether I'm fusing well on Dec 3rd when I go for my follow and new xrays. I pray i've not stuffed somethihg up. You're going to be fine!

    now my post showed up...too weird.
  • The first 3 days were the worst as far as swallowing...its from the tube down your throat and the stretching of the trachea. I ate solid foods from the get go...I just made sure i chewed very good. Every body is different in the way the respond. Each day there is a difference.....some good, some bad...but it will get better..or so I'm told!!!
  • Yes, I had severe nerve issues and muscle spasms in the right arm and hand prior to the surgery. Actually, my neck hurt somewhat, the right shoulder area was off the pain scale and I felt like my arm was in labor and contracting all the time. I am 8 to 9 months post-op and it is still very painful. The weather is going to get cold next week, so my neck is very tight and having trouble swallowing and the hand/thumb is aching so bad today. I hope you are fused and everything looks GREAT. :)
  • that your still in pain Monica. Hopefully your working that arm and it will come back! May those winter months in your neck of the woods be mild this year!

    I struggled last night, my left arm is spasming as well and I have charlie horse like muscles in my forearms and my triceps. Very sore and strange since i'm not lifting weights.
  • I had a thirty minute massage last Friday, focusing on my upper left side. Muscles are wound up like a banjo string. I've been stretching throughout the day and using my little 2 lb weight. I am seeing some improvement in my range of motion with my arm. Hey I can touch my right ear now! I couldnt do this last week. Improvement is slow, but I am making progress and that is all anyone could ask for yes! I think i'll go get another 30 minute massage today....Although a nice deep cleansing facial sounds much better.
  • sunny1966ssunny1966 VIRGINIAPosts: 1,385
    Here's to progress!! I'm so glad that your weakness is improving. It sometimes takes much longer to recover than we think it should. Keep up the good work!

  • 47 days post op...Range of motion is about the same. Bicep is functioning normal. It's the tricep that is spastic, no strength, no motor control...I'm gonna keep on keeping on with exercises and pray pray pray this comes back. I'm quite distraught...this blows...I'd have rather lived with the neck pain that struggle getting my shirt off, or wash or fix my hair. Funny how we take the little things we do each day for granted. Sorry for the blah blah blah...I just needed to vent. Vent over.

  • Hi CGM,

    I'm 2 1/2 months out of a 2 level ACDF (same levels as you). My major symptom was severe triceps weakness and wasting. Oddly enough I really didn't notice how bad it was as it was happening very gradually over time. I was in a honeymoon phase apparently for the first 2 months after surgery and everything felt wonderfully normal. Very recently I have felt what appeared to be major weakness down my left arm and specifically my triceps as well as a lot of "flickering" of the triceps muscle.

    My physio has been doing strength testing all along and although I am feeling weaker than ever I am actually making progress with my triceps strength, albeit very slowly. She has told me that the nerve (median nerve in my case) is beginning to heal and because it hasn't functioned property for so long and is beginning to do so now, every time I use it now it becomes very fatigued. This seemed to make sense to me. It also took away some fear because it seemed I was going backwards instead of forwards.

    I'm glad you're feeling a little better and I'm glad to hear massage has helped some too. I get insurance coverage for massage in January and am so looking foward to it!
  • stretching definitely helps yes! What I can't get my head around is this: I had normal arm strength in my left arm. Apart from the tendonitis in my elbow. If I had nerve compression from my neck, wouldnt i have had weakness in my triceps before surgery? That is what I don't get. Weakness after the surgery where I didnt have weakness? I can't get my head wrapped around the explanations for this Phenomenom. Maybe I'm just thick in the head. ;) Tis just so frustrating...and well quite frankly psychologically damaging. I just hope that one day....soon...I can post to someone and say to them, your going to get your strength back, it's not permanent.
  • Had ACDF surgery C5-C6 seven months ago and both my arms are extremely weak.. I am in pain every day of my life, spasms in my shoulder blades, any movement of my neck such as looking down at the computer causes me extreme pain. the biggest problem for me is the weakness in my arms, I cannot fully lift my arms because it hurts in the joints of my shoulder, I know that it's not my rotator cuff but that's where it hurts to raise my arms but it's just severe weakness after the surgery and I'm seven months out of surgery anybody else have this type of problem
    Carol german
  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 556
    I had my second neck fusion surgery one year ago & I'm still having major issues with my shoulder & left bicep. I have no strength at all in my left arm. It is just too painful to even use for the slightest little things. My surgeons & ortho shoulder doctor told me the pain was coming from my neck. Now, 2 years after my initial injury, my surgeon just told me it's not coming from my neck. It's coming from my shoulder?! I have an appointment with a new ortho shoulder doctor next week. I really need answers to this problem. I am on 3 different meds, and not one of them can bring this pain level down? I'll let you know if I get any answers soon.
  • When you write that looking down causes pain that is a telling sign. Do me a favor, stand in a quiet room with no one around. Concentrate. Slowly move your head back and and note if you feel any tingling in your shoulders or arms while doing so. Do the same thing while going to the left then tilting to the right and then looking down. Don't lie to yourself about the results. Write them down and go see your neurosurgeon for follow up.

    It may be that the fusion hasn't fully formed, that the nerves got irritated, or the hardware is pinching hopefully due to swelling. And there is always the possibility that you could be headed for double punch, a neck surgery followed by a shoulder surgery. There's nothing wrong with that if both things need fixing. No sense in living in pain go see your PM doctor also.

    Last summer I could do a military press with 315 pounds. When I first started back at the gym this February I was lucky if I could outmuscle the 70-year-old lady doing water hula.

    Best wishes

  • I just had C5/6 and C6/7 disc replacement with the Mobi-C on 5/31 and my left arm/hand are so weak. My hand cannot work properly. I dropped a pill trying to grasp it. I already could not lift my left arm all the way over my head or sleep on it, but my hand worked. I am praying it will calm down. I hope you are feeling better now, too. Step by step!
This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.