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C6/7 Fusion 30 days post op radiating numbness

PrierinPDXPPrierinPDX Posts: 4
edited 09/08/2014 - 5:54 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Due to a trampoline accident nearly 10 years ago I found myself in need of a C6/7 fusion to resolve a significant stenosis. Pre-surgery I was having issues with radiating numbness down my right arm, legs and a “electric shock” when I lowered my chin to my chest.

The surgery went fine and I was pain-free immediately after, resting comfortably on a regimen of ibuprofen with only the occasional endone. I went home 2 days later and recovered remarkable quickly.

However, just over a month later I had to move house. My wife has knee issues so I was motivated to assist. I tried to be careful when lifting/not to life too much, but I had few options. Still, I was fine. Had my 30 day check-up with my specialist and confirmed all was well, I was still recovering magnificently. Saw my PT, got some exercises, yadda yadda.

All this has led to this week where I find myself with the same radiating numbness down my right arm and in my legs. I feel incredibly weak in my dominant (right) arm and have been feeling slight pain in my neck when turning my head. I have an appointment with my GP this afternoon but both my wife and I are concerned. It’s almost as bad, if not worse, than pre-surgery.

Has anyone else with a cervical fusion experienced this and if so, can you shed any light on whether or not this is part of the natural healing process? I know it will take months for the bone to grow over the plate so perhaps this is a residual effect of that regeneration. I’d like some peace of mind if anyone has any to offer.

I am concerned that a GP isn’t going to have the specialised knowledge to give me a definitive answer. If I were back in the states I’d go directly to my Specialist but here in Australia it seems they corral you through the GP first.



  • Hi.
    I had your surgery about 1 1/2 years ago (January 2013)
    I had spent my life being very active: Played soccer, slide tackled opponents, moved heavy furniture, skied, rode rough amusement park rides, involved in minor car accidents, operating table positioning on my neck during a hysterectomy involving the daVinci robot, etc.
    My hands and feet got numb, and my GP thought it was diabetes.
    The specialists were not too bright and this went on for about a a year and a half. The 6-7 doctors that I had thought it was my imagination and I was a hypochondriac.
    Finally, the gastroenterologist asked me to describe my symptoms again...he correctly diagnosed my condition as severe spinal stenosis in my c-spine.

    I had a very slow recovery. I can't believe you moved a month after yours.
    Please don't do that again. You are better off hiring a moving company.
    Think about it. Movers for a few hours or another surgery???
    You will not be perfect after your surgery because the damage has already been done before the surgery and some symptoms are irreversible. The doctor told me that they see improvements after this surgery up to a year. After a year, you are left with what you have. My healing was interesting. I did not get better until after a year, and the improvements did not start until I started to exercise and stretch my body again. Exercising and stretching really re-activated my nerves somehow.
    I still feel tingling in both hands (fingers) and feet (toes). I work part-time and for awhile it really hurt if I sat too much, stood up too much, or laid down to sleep too much. I couldn't sleep. The neurologist prescribed me an antidepressant called Nortryptiline for my pain and sleep. It has worked wonders, but I gained a little weight.

    I am slowly getting better, so "hang in there."
    Good Luck
  • Thanks for your comment, SuziQ.

    I did use movers... even without my neck issues I would use movers. Too much work without them LOL

    I guess it makes sense that my symptoms would come and go. I wish my specialist would have advised me of that in the beginning. Still, to be safe I am getting an MRI this week to ensure there is no re-impingement. My numbness is less of a concern to me than the increased wekness and loss of strength in my dominant (right) hand. I've started dropping things at home and even typing is a chore... hopefuly this too will pass....
  • You are taking ibuprofen after a fusion? You should NOT be doing that, and you certainly should not be lifting or moving household items. Most surgical patients are restricted to no more than a gallon of milk for weight limits, and walking post op, at least until they have seen their surgeon for their post op visit.
    You are probably going to need new imaging to ensure that the hardware is in place, and they may send you for a new MRI.
    It is important that you follow the post op restrictions and limits, no matter how well you feel to ensure that the surgery turns out well.
  • Really? Because when I was in hospital they offered me either endone or ibruprofen, to reduce inflammation. Granted, I could have had NO ibru leading up to my surgery but after, apparently, was fine.

    I have an MRI scheduled of this afternoon to see if there is a re-impingement (I sincerely think there is none). I’d like to think that because the bone is growing over the titanium plate that this may be causing some of the effects but I guess we’ll see. I can handle the numbness but the loss of grip strength in my dominant hand is becoming troublesome. I’ve already dropped a bottle or cup here and there and my typing has gone DOWN as I continuously encounter errors… not good seeing as I am an administrative officer…

    And yes, I know I shouldn’t have lifted anything. Unfortunately a situation was presented where I had no other real choice. I tried to minimize the impact as much as possible and have since avoided lifting pretty much anything heavier than a loaf of bread…
  • may happen after surgery, and may linger for some weeks and even months in some cases. It is a result of the nerves being manipulated during surgery, then if there was impingement of the nerves prior to surgery, it can take some time to resolve.
    That doesn't mean that there won't be improvement, but it can take some time.
    Anti inflammatory medications prior to surgery can prolong bleeding, and post op, in fusion can interfere with the fusion process , so that's why they don't want patients using them.
    I hope that your appointment goes well today and the new imaging doesn't show any problems.
    Best of luck to you,
  • I am somewhat disappointed that I get more informaiton from a community than my own specialist.

    Thanks for that info, Sandi. I'll stop taken IB asap then.

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