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Parasthesia after surgery

PerseusPPerseus Posts: 17
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:59 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
My previous post was shortened and all of the pertinent info was removed, so here I go again. I am new to spine-health and forums and blogs so I am learning and hope that I don't break too many rules. It is also very difficult to type this due to numbness.

I am in the hospital having just had a posterior cervical foraminotomy with fusion of C4-5 and revision of C5-6. My only symptoms were mild constand numbness in half of my right finger and sometimes about 1/2 if my thumb.

In recovery after surgery I noticed most of my right arm was now numb, but what is more concerning is that my right arm has about 50% or less pre-op strength and my right arm and hand don't respond appropriately to my commands and when I reach for something my hand could about a foot away. I cannot raise my arm above my head.

I have told the nurse and the PA but have not seen my doc yet. This is now disabling and not just a little problem. I am also right handed.


  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    And welcome to S.H. Forums. During my first fusion surgery I came out of it with my right hand and arm numb and not responding to my commands. Which was strange because I had lumbar surgery, not cervical, or thoratic.
    I asked my Surgeon why this would happen. He said someone left me in 1 position too long. And a nerve in my upper arm was damaged due to that.
    He got a tape measure and measured from where the numbness started and the tip of my fingers in centimeters did some math and said it would slowly repair itself and in 7 mo.s it would be totally repaired. And good as new. And he was right.
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • I had a c4-c6 fusion and woke up with total weakness of my left arm and hand. I did regain normal strength in it after a few months as the doc. said would happen. I did spend some time in physical therapy though.
    Take care and don't worry, I'm sure it will be fine.
  • Thank you for your reassuring messages. I saw my doc yesterday and he too made me feel better. Apparently my C4-5 and C5-6 were so "tight" and he had to really work hard to decompress them. He told me that it was so bad that he thought there would be more damage. He also told me that it would take about 6-8 weeks before I return to my pre-op strength. It also helped me to be released on Christmas eve day.

    So now I will try to focus on recovery and getting better. And I also plan to read the c-spine recovery blogs. This posterior cervical surgery is certainly not as easy as my anterior fusion had been but it was what I needed.

    It was so helpful to be able to reach out to others on this blog who have had the same scary experience.

    Thanks again!

  • Hello!

    I just wanted to take a minute to tell you that I had a similar thing happen to me after my recent L4-S1 fusion. I woke up and my right hand was totally numb as well as a large portion of my left thigh/groin. My hand stayed totally numb and weak for 3 full days after surgery. I was told it was a common complication from the position they had me in for the ALIF. As for the thigh/groin numbness, I was told that was related to the irritated nerves that had to be manipulated to get to my disc area and clean it out. It is my understanding that it can take anywhere from 6-12 months before I find out it if it permanent or just a result of the nerves being irritated.

    I know our surgeries were different but I think that the healing process is quite similar in that the nerves get irritated and take time to heal.

    You are still really fresh post op, it takes time and I didn't understand that at first but now i'm 6 weeks post op and getting back into my "right mind", LOL. I am starting to understand better what is going on and what it entails. At this point, the right hand is totally back to normal, no problems however I do still have the numbness and nerve pain in my left leg that persists. The numb area has begun to ease though and is not as intense as it was immediately post op. I can still feel it, it feels like i've been to a dentist, LOL. The area has gotten a little smaller and the Lyrica they started me on has helped tremendously with my nerve pain and increased my mobility. Prior to the Lyrica I was really weak in that leg and my strength has since increased .

    Stay positive and as hard as it is, try not to let yourself think about the what if's. I know it isn't easy, it took me awhile to get to that point. I still have one more surgery to go in a couple weeks, a PLIF to complete a 360 fusion so hopefully that will resolve the issues on the left now.

    Best of luck to you! i am SO glad you got to come home for Christmas! What a blessing! Just remember that you are not alone and you can post here anytime that you need help or support! This is an awesome place and the help i've received has been priceless. The support has restored my hope, knowing that i'm not alone and can get through this process is an amazing feeling! Our surgeries may be the same but our struggles and issues we deal with may be similar so if you have any questions or I can be of any support, please let me know.

    God bless you, I hope you had a blessed Christmas with our family/friends. I will be praying for you <3

    Hugs and blessings...

    p.s., just remember to take things slow, don't overdue or forget to take your meds on time, they are so important right now freshly post op!
  • First I can't thank everyone enough for the support and encouraging words.

    I saw the PA last week and he was kind of surprised at how weak my deltoid and biceps are and prescribed more steroids. My surgeon is aware of the prob but he is still on vacation and sent me an email telling me how hard he had to work on my neck. He clearly does not understand how profound my limitations are and he wants to see me every 3 weeks. Now they are saying that it may take 4 months before I regain, if I regain use of my arm. I don't think follow up every 3 weeks is soon enough. My orthopedic surgeon doesn't know it but I have a consult with a neurosurgeon this afternoon.

    I somehow feel that when a person suddenly becomes disabled that a casemanager is appropriate. I think that a neuro needs to assess the paralysis, etc like measuring strength, what nerves work and which are deficient. That way in 3 weeks or so we can really tell if there is progress. I am too weak and emotional to be on the phone making calls all day. I need to have an advocate. Any you are so right, I need to rest and give my self a chance to heal.

    I also need to have a counselor to help me deal with my depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. My husband has been an angel and he is the only support. Too much for one person.

    On top of all of this, I was diagnosed with a serious swallowing disorder a couple of weeks before surgery and will meet with the GI surgeon on Friday. At one time, this was my biggest concern but not any longer, not yet anyway.
  • Hi,

    Jim and Trixie Mama gave you some advice that sounds pretty good! I know I was flared up with nerve pain(lumbar) right after surgeries and it took a bit of time. Those nerves were manipulated and had major insult. And they do lay you on those operating tables for a LONG time.

    I think you did the best things by alerting your doctor and seeking a 2nd opinion. The 2nd dr. might say the same thing, but at least you have that. Make sure whomever is prescribing the steroids know that you had a fusion. Normally steroids not given until your are fused, but I know sometimes dr.s prescribe them after weighing risks and benefits, especially during a severe flare-up.

    Please keep posting updates, would like to hear what the 2nd opinion says. Good luck!
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