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Ulnar issues after acdf

CharliJCCharliJ Posts: 15
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:56 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hi again,
I last posted at 11 weeks post my c6 c7 acdf, complaining of pains in my hands. Well I'm now 7 months post the op and following an EMG test at 5 months I've been diagnosed with "mild ulnar neuropathy" in both elbows. I had no ulnar issues before the op and my neuro physio thinks the peripheral neuropathy is directly linked to the surgery. I'm wondering if anyone else had such issues and whether they had to resort to further surgery? My surgeon is telling me to wait and see if it gets worse at the moment- I feel as though the pain is worse but I think I am focussing on it too much. My neck is ok if I don't try and stretch it too much- stretching causes it to stiffen up- but I've been assured that my issues in my hands aren't coming from my neck. Did anyone else have nerve pain that lasted this long after the op?


  • Charlie,

    Sorry you're still having issues. I know ..it bites! I started having a lot of issues as I passed 4 or so months post op. I of course now know it is/was due to my fusion failing to fuse, additional to that, stated having more bilateral issues to include along the Ulnar. I've since found my C8 is a mess.

    Have you had an updated EMG study to see what is going on, or an updated MRI? Unfortunately unless and until they look you over, you can only guess what is going on, and guessing too bites! Hopefully you will have answers soon my friend. *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hi Brenda,
    Thanks for your reply- I'm sorry you've had ulnar issues too. Did you have decompression surgery for it? Acccording to my EMG in June there is nothing coming from my neck- although I suspected C8- the slowing in the nerve conduction test is happening at my elbows. My neuro physio is urging me to hold on before having ulnar surgery- she thinks since I am still less than a year post acdf that things might settle- my nerves could still be inflamed. I have good days when I can cope with the pain ...and then there are the bad days. Unfortunately I don't tolerate the gaba drugs- lyrica and neurontin. I take amitryptoline (may be called something different in US) at night to help me sleep and I've also been prescribed an anti-depressant- Sertroline- I think zoloft in US which has really helped my anxiety. I see a pain consultant mid October and I have to wait on our good old National Health Service till Jan to see my surgeon again. I keep checking for motor weakness in the meantime- some in my little fingers but doesn't seem to be getting any worse- and trying to hope for the best. I will be pleased when my acdf recovery is not my dominant thought! The good news is my neck is pain free pretty much and I am exercising every day. I really hope I don't have to have more surgery...
  • Charli,

    From years of flying helicopters, my Ulnar ended up trapped in my right elbow and wrist. I had my ACDF for C5/6, and three weeks later had a "Subcutaneous transposition" done in the elbow, and my ulnar released in my hand and wrist. At around 4 weeks post op on the elbow I started 6 weeks (3x a week) of PT for my hand and arm. It took almost a year for my ulnar to recover.

    Nerves recover very slowly - about 1mm a day! That might be why your doctor wants to wait a bit more on you. Please keep us posted on how it turns out.

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