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Creepy Crawly feeling in arm after ACDF with metal plate surgery

kelly1027kkelly1027 Posts: 5
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I did a Search of the forumns but didn't find anything on this subject. I am female, 51 years old. I had ACDF with metal plate surgery on June 24th. The areas operated on were the C5 & C6, C6 & C7 areas.

Prior to surgery, I had severe pain in my neck, my left shoulder and should blade area, my left arm and into my left hand. At times, my hand would paralyze. I also had weakness in my legs.

I went to a surgeon in 2005 - 2007 and was told that I had 2 herniated discs that were pressing onto my spine. Surgery was recommended but I decided not to have it, knowing that putting it off could cause nerve damage.

But by this year, the pain had increased a lot. I finally went to a surgeon that is one of the best for this type of surgery and he had a new MRI done plus several x-rays. He showed me where the discs were herinated and where nerve damage was done because the discs were pinching my spine. So we talked and I agreed to surgery.

As I mentioned above, I had ACDF with metal plate surgery on June 24th and almost all of the pain is gone from the areas effected prior to surgery, plus my legs are getting stronger, not as weak. However, I now have numbness in the inner forearm on my right arm and pain in the wrist area if I move my arm wrong. I cannot straighted it out completely either. My doctor feels that with the discs off of my spine, I might have swelling happening which is causing the new problems with my right arm. He had me start taking medicine for nerve pain, which has helped.

But for the past couple of weeks I have started feeling a creepy crawly feeling in my right arm, in the wrist and inner forearm. I also have pain in that arm even though to tough it, my arm is numb. Has anyone else experienced creepy crawly feelings? I'm wondering if the nerve is being pinched from swelling and as the swelling is going down, is that causing the sensation in my arm? Or if a nerve was somehow damaged during surgery, is it coming back to life and I'm feeling this sensation? My doctor had a company monitor my nerves during surgery so I don't know if that happened or not.

My doctor told me that if my arm is still numb and hurting by my next visit on the 28th of this month, then he will have another MRI done.

I'm just curious if anyone else has experience any of this and what you were told it was causing the symptoms/sensations.



  • I had very similar things for awhile after my surgery in 2006. I attributed it to nerves that were regenerating after being pinched for so long, but please mention it to your doctor on your next visit.
  • First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and you will find there are several whom have had other issues with nerves following ACDF. Sometimes it is just a matter of the nerves got a little pissed off in surgery and are now coming back to life. Other times it can be a symptom of something else. Your doctor is taking the right approach by waiting and seeing how it goes and using the nerve med. It might even take a new EMG to see if there is anything else going on in the arm that might have been hidden by the cervical nerve being compressed.

    I wouldn't be to alarmed yet as you have a long way to go as far as healing goes. Sometimes those nerves can take up to a year to fully heal up, so stay positive and hopefully it will begin to work it's way out. With the surgeon already being proactive to find the cause of it, I think your in good hands, letting him/her investigate what it could be. I know myself I lost the use of arm following surgery and while it took tons of therapy it did come back to some degree. I also though herniated another level, in the middle of it all. But hopefully this will all work out.

    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. Take care and keep us posted.
  • Thank you Gary for your reply. I am thinking it is, as you said, the nerve regenerating after being pinched. It just scared me that it is now the opposite side being effected.

    I guess I need to be more paitient and wait for things to calm down with my nerves and for the fusion to be complete. I go to the doctor on the 28th and will let him know how my arm is doing.

    It helps to talk with people who have gone through the same things. Thank you again for your message.
  • Thank you for the welcome! I love this site, it was recommended by the surgeon who did my surgery. I am very happy with my surgeon, as I mentioned in my post, he is one of the best in this area, for this surgery. I have talked with other patients and they are also happy with him. I agree that he is taking the right approach. My next appointment is on the 28th and I bet I will end up having an EMG done. What is the difference between an EMG and an MRI?

    I guess I need to have more patience and wait for my nerves to calm down. I'm trying to understand why it was my left side effected before surgery and now my right side after surgery. I will keep looking through articles and other posts on this site and see if I can find more information.

    Thank you again for the welcome and for the encouragement!
  • I have tingling in both arms. I had it worse before the surgery. I've been told as was mentioned here that the pain/tingling could continue to get better over time.

    Good luck, and feel better.
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • I have tingling in both arms. I had it worse before the surgery. I've been told as was mentioned here that the pain/tingling could continue to get better over time.

    Good luck, and feel better.
    4 level ACDF C4-C7 5-2-11, laminectomy & discectomy L4-L5 1/26/12, ALIF L4-5, L5-S1 12/10/12.
  • Hi Karen,

    Thank you for your reply! I hope the tingling in your arms continues to improve. I feel so much better having heard from other people who are experiencing the same things, symptoms as I am after surgery. Has your doctor told you what is causing the tingling?

    I guess I need to take it a day at a time. I work at an elementary school as a teacher assistant and really hope that my right arm is better, or has improved enough so it won't give me problems at work - I'm right handed, so who knows? If I use it too much during the day while I am at home, it really hurts at night. But it's about a month a week away before I go back to work so maybe it will improve just enough to not bother me.

    Thanks again for your message.
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