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C6/7 Nerve Damage During C4/5 Surgery

BarbPBBarbP Posts: 1
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I had ACDF with metal plate surgery on C4/5 in July of
2010,because of a herniated disc discovered on my MRI I
was referred to have,because of chronic right arm pain,
I was having.
The first second that I woke up from the anesthesia,from
this procedure,I immediately noticed something very dif-
ferent and wrong with my middle and ring fingers on my
right hand.(my surgeon was made aware of this twice dur-
ing my overnight stay)
I felt numbness,burning and tingling all at the same
time,which I had never experienced before!
My fingers now continuously get worse with use of my hand,
and these sensations work their way down into the webbing
of the next fingers and the front of my fingers become
extremely itchy.I can't even get through writing out my
monthly bills or finish cutting coupons,before I need to
stop,because of these problems.(not to mention many oth-
er activities I can no longer enjoy!)
Two different nerve medications have not made a differ-
The surgeons that I have been referred to have no expla-
nation for my problem and insist,according to my test
results,that it has nothing to do with the area where
my doctor performed the ACDF surgery,because the nerves
related to those two specific fingers are located at the
C6/7 level.
But in the meantime,I've had other surgeons,occupational
and physical therapists suggest that a nerve may have
been cut or damaged during the ACDF surgery.I even ques-
tioned a radiologist about any type of testing that would
be available to show damage of that nature,and his re-
sponse was "no".
I also have constant pain in the base of my skull and se-
vere cracking in my neck with certain movements,and the
arm pain,that my surgeon was so certain would disappear
with this procedure,is still occuring.(I am now doing 90%
of my activities with my left hand)
I am desperately searching for anyone with a story,simi-
liar to mine,to please share it with me,so I don't feel
as I'm going nuts!
I would like to,once and for all,tell these profession-
als that damage could have occurred to my fingers at the
C6/7 level,even though my procedure was performed at the
level above it!


  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find a few whom surgery just didn't do what it was supposed, and who had to go back for more surgery, including myself. The pain and symptoms you are explaining are very close to those I had when we added my c6-c7 into my fusions. When they do surgery, the surgeon only access the area, he/she will be performing surgery. So for example doing surgery on your c4-c5, they would have not been in that area. Now what could have happened very easily is that level was already weakened and the surgery and stress of mounting the hardware caused a nerve impingement. Not really anyone's fault just a risk of surgery. As someone whom has had 6 cervical spine surgeries none of the issues were the surgeons fault, but rather a risk of surgery. One of the surgeries I literally lost the use of the left arm, but that is a risk you take, through lots of therapy it did come back to a degree.

    Like you for a long time I was angry and thought the surgeon did something to me. As I began to learn more about the spine the surgeries and how they are done, I had a clearer understanding it was just a risk of surgery. It doesn't make any easier to deal with.

    The question is sense this is all started what testing have they done to find the source of it. As you say that does relate to the c6/c7, have you had a MRI, post surgery to look at those levels? Have you had a new EMG study? That would be where to start, as it is very possible you have another herniated disc or stenosis and it is on the nerve, again.

    Just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. If there is anything I can do, don't hesitate to pm me.
  • Oh my, there seems to be a lot of this going around lately... I also just had surgery, C4/5/6, not fusion though, foraminotomy. When I woke up, I had no use of my left arm. That was about 6 weeks ago, and I do now have limited movement of my forearm, but still can't lift my arm from my shoulder. Upon EMG, and post-op MRI, we found out that my C6/7 stenosis is almost completely impinging the C6 nerve root. So, not the fault of the surgeon, probably just the trauma of the surgery irritated the nerves a little. As Tammy said, one of the risks we take when we go for surgery. Answer for me? Physio, and now ns wants to go back in to clean up C6/7.

    I would suggest, as Tammy did, some extra tests, like MRI and EMG to figure out what's going on in there. As the radiologist told you, they can't tell what kind of damage is there, be it permanent or non, just if there is some sort of damage. They also can't tell how long it will take to heal up, it just depends on the person, and how quickly their nerves regenerate. I know, not the greatest answer in the world is it...

    I wish you luck, and just wanted to let you know that it does happen to others, you are not alone!!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
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