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After ACDF, Unrelated Symptoms?

Jules27JJules27 Posts: 64
edited 06/06/2014 - 9:07 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I had a C5/C6 ACDF on April 10th. Most of the pain I had across my chest, under my arms and down my arms passing through the elbows is either gone or greatly reduced. (It may return in a lesser form, but never gets as bad as pre-surgically.) Other nerve pain I had for several months leading up to my surgery, including horrible jaw and tooth pain, is now gone, so apparently it was caused by the herniation/bone spurs, too. My right thumb was fairly numb going into the surgery. A few days after the surgery, it twitched uncontrollably for about five days, then stopped. It was no longer numb. Since then, the numbness comes and goes, but the thumb no longer gets super-cold like a Reynaud's Syndrome.

My dilemma: Since my surgery, I have had odd sensations in other areas that are not listed as being innervated by the C6 nerve. They include the back of my arm a little lower than the elbow. My MRI did not show any problem at the C6/C7 or C7/C8 level, so I assume they are not the cause. I also feel like my ring and pinkie fingers are not quite right some of the time. I've read some people's comments that the nerves, muscles and tendons are all in flux post-surgery and need to find a new harmony. Also, I still have a lot of muscle spasms in my back and neck due to the fact that my muscles were shortened for years prior to my surgery. Does the disharmony following an ACDF affect supposedly-unrelated nerves and muscles? Could that explain my symptoms? Thank you for anyone who can help me out.



  • sandisandi Posts: 6,342
    edited 06/06/2014 - 10:00 AM
    the trauma from the surgery, is not limited to just the area of the level of surgery involved. It is also the muscles and ligaments, tendons in the surrounding tissue as well. The incision for the surgery is generally a bit larger than it needs to be so as to allow easy access to the level of the spine involved.
    Are you leaning on your elbow more now? Especially when working on a computer, or leaning on the counter tops more? If the pinky and elbow are still being effected in a few weeks, you may find that you are bending your elbow a lot more than previously and it can impinge the ulnar nerve which runs through your elbow on the outside.....
  • Jules27JJules27 Posts: 64
    edited 06/07/2014 - 7:04 AM
    I'm careful not to lean on my elbows, but I think the computer does have something to do with it. My terrible pre-surgical elbow pain (the inside of the elbow, maybe I should just say down the arm passing through the inside of the elbows) is very nearly gone, although I do have some different elbow discomfort (more on the outside now). My problem is primarily with the ring fingers. They are not numb, but it feels like the tendons are tight, with my right ring finger being worse. I think it may be from the way I hold the mouse and the funky way I type. I also suspect the trauma of the surgery, as you stated, is at least partly to blame. For a while, starting a few weeks after the surgery, I had tingling on the backs of my hands, especially in the pinky and ring finger region, which suggests to me the trauma of the surgery was putting pressure on another nerve. I never had the (back of the) forearm tightness or nerve sensations until after the surgery, so it seems to be a direct result of all the irritation to the surrounding tissues, muscles, nerves, etc. I hope so anyway. How long would you expect post-surgical irritation to affect nearby nerves? I start physical therapy in a week and a half, so hopefully that will help. Thanks so much for your response!
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