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NEWBIE with 2-Level ACDF Arm Pain and Ice cold Hand

Yes , I am new. I am 60 years old and had my very first surgery on 11/21/2014, which was an ACDF of C 4/5 and C 5/6. Chronic disc degeneration, herniation and stenosis. The NS said that I could go about another year, but I would need to have fusion. After the Chiropractor made it so much worse, I reluctantly chose to have surgery. Believe it or not, I almost cancelled it as I was going into the operating room. My gut still tells me I should have done so.

I am beginning to wonder if I did the right thing. My pain before surgery was always in my left arm, very uncomfortable, but I was managing with Acupuncture 2x per week. Rarely did I experience any right arm issues. My acupuncturist suddenly ran into a brick wall, as the treatments were no longer working. Could not do injections; I am allergic to steroids used in these. Chiropractor made it worse, trigger point a waste of money.

12 weeks out from my surgery my neck still pains on both sides and I have pain in my left shoulder that does come and go. Intermittently I experience pain at the base of the skull on the right side that runs up behind my right ear and wraps forward to around my right eye and cheekbone. My right shoulder is painful/burning and it extends into upper right arm, down into the lower arm. Strangely my right hand feels a bit numb, and the hand stays very cold but it too comes and goes. It does sometimes last for hours or the entire day. Has anyone had this Cold Hand Problem post-op?

From what I have been reading, I guess I will have to live with the pain. Very frustrated and discouraged! I was an artist and I worked with horses. I do have Lumbar issues and a herniated disc at the T 9/10 level. I do not do well on pain meds or muscle relaxants as I get every, and I mean every, side effect of these drugs. I have always been extremely sensitive o medications. Recovery from cervical fusion was a bear! Doctors could not find pain meds that my body could tolerate.


  • I get the cold hands and feet (I am wrapped in an electric throw as I type...), and I get the pain in the neck, but not up the side of the face. I am 9 weeks out of a C3-6 including a corpectomy of C5, and I can say recently my neck has gotten more muscle pain, probably because of return to work. It's no worse than before surgery, and surgery is only to stop progression, not necessarily to eleviate pain. This is a pretty invasive surgery, so I'm not surprised you have issues on the right side too, but you'd have to ask the doc how long til that's better.
    BtW - LOVE your avatar, did you do that?

    ACDF w/Corpectomy C3-6 12/8/14 ; Laminectomy C3-6  5/19/2016

  • My avatar, was painted by a Canadian artist, Gail Bayes, that was very taken by the blue-eyed Paint horse I used in my lectures. She sent me the painting and this is just a closeup of the eye area. The Painting is entitled "Sacred Wisdom Keeper." I am sure she would be pleased that you enjoyed it.

    Just came from the NS. It was my 12 week post-op appointment. Basically he said what I expected him to say. Basically he did not answer my questions. He said it could take up to a year for recovery, just what a patient wants to hear, especially when in pain. He said that X-rays looked good. In other words It is all a game of wait and see with no guarantees. My neurosurgeon did not refer me to Physical Therapist, gave me some neck exercises to do, at my request. His part is over. He said call him if I need him.
    The whole process is rather like playing Russian Roulette with one bullet in a 2 chamber gun.
    I might consider going back to my Acupuncturist. He did help me with my muscle problems and pain for two years, until the neck became too unstable that his treatments no longer controlled the muscle spasms. The discs were too degenerated and herniated .
    As I am learning from this forum, yes my neck is stabilized, but do not expect it to help with pain. I did not think that I would be pain free, but I did not ever think that I would be so much worse.
    Pilamaye (Thanks)
  • My NS did not tell me I needed to go to a Physical Therapist at my 12 week point. He said that they will really work you hard. I still don't know if I am doing the right thing by not going considering the pain issues I have.
    Are you planning on PT?
  • My PA said at my 2 week check up that I wouldn't get PT - but I was doing fantastic back then. At about the 2.5 week mark I started going downhill, and still am not back to the point I was 2 week post op.
    At my 6 week check up, I wasn't doing well (he said, "is it really THAT bad??!!"). He then said I may get PT.
    I think what it comes down at the clinic I go to is that if you're recovering well, no PT; if you're not - they send you to PT to start retraining you how to use muscles you can't necessarily use well.
    This week is not a good week for me - but it's better than two weeks ago.

    ACDF w/Corpectomy C3-6 12/8/14 ; Laminectomy C3-6  5/19/2016

  • Well, I am truly sorry that you are experiencing such problems. I do hope my tales of woe and frustration will not cause you to become discouraged. We all have different circumstances; we all heal differently.
    My problem is that I have never really been ill, so I am not a very good patient. Maybe I am expecting way too much at 12 weeks. I just wish my NS had been totally up front and honest. Perhaps, I would have made a different decision.
    Well to late for that.

    I keep checking on you to see how you are doing via this thread or send me a personal message.
    Thanks for sharing
    Be well
  • I am 18 months post op from a ACDF C5-6, C6-7. I have not seen much improvement and in fact have gotten worse. Yet at all post op visits with the Dr he insists that the procedure went well and was a success. Pre surgery symptoms were fingers/hands and feet and part of my legs were numb to different degrees. I would lose balance occasionally and hands were cold often. I had none of the tell tale signs of the normal issues. My neck and shoulder/arms did not have any pain. Shortly after surgery I started having all of the issues. Extreme pain radiating from my trap muscle on the right side into my shoulder.... still have numbing in lower extremities along with cold hands etc etc etc. And I am experiencing extreme strength loss......feel very weak in legs, arms, hand grip etc. PT has done no good all.
    The Dr. has continued to say I suffered a spinal cord injury.......although I cannot remember when it happened. Probably football related. He has stated that the nerve re-generation would take anywhere from 18 months to 2 years. I wish it would hurry up
  • SAWSSAW Posts: 1
    edited 02/24/2015 - 3:18 PM
    Hello I am 48 years of age.
    I have some diffcult decisions to make, and need pointed in the right direction.
    I have limmited options because of a failed Drug test while on pain meds. Marijuana. I dont really want to discuss this because , I Know this test is not correct and can probably be over turned, but this doctor is a good doctor he takes care of many poor people , I am one person I will not open the door up for shady characters to exploit the system thats why we are here. I was over industrial type testing as a supervisor I know what I am talking about There wasnt a contract signed for starters .. I have always been the one that falls through cracks fine. The meds norcos 7,5 where not helping much It was keeping me working not for long I can tell ,I will not get into a oxy ramp up. I fell 50 ft 30 yrs ago was on meds for 2 yrs withdrawls was awful. To the point c6 Its in my neck, shoulder specialist is hoping the neck will cure shoulder pain,, He is a top notch surgeon . next move is mri of the neck. He says if the pain is caused by arthritis thier is not much than can be done pain wise ps he is not in the loop of testing .. So his comments are not shaped by this. Options is my goal here, these test are a hurdle drug pos test. But for me given the choice of living on narcotics or amputation of the arm and shoulder to me If can be pain free for just 7 to 10 yrs to get my daughter raised is my goal.. My whole family is riddle with arthritis, my mother bent over at the waist my anunt is chair bound my brother committed suicide 7 yrs.. ago. pills and couch bound during weather changes or removal ,the later seems harsh but, I have had this ten years Oct was my first pain pill,,, The pill route will not even be an option because I will not sacrifice my diginty and confess sins that are false.. I have whatched many of my family members eat crap hoop after hoop for pain meds, I dont know why this is happening to me God will see me through. The Afliction the med problem the doctor would not even give me a level of the results .. I am not without means I could get meds illegal I refuse! comes back to diginty, I will keep it as long as I can. It makes me sick how meds are passed in the work place , This not a blanket statement so many are addicts the others get them and sell them.. I do not look down on these people I am an alcoholic.. I have been sober 15 months and proud, I can count on one hand the times I used pot. I know this very early diagnois here but with surgery looming and just a test or two left How does one go about amputation for pain? is it possible? My quality of life even with narcotics is hardly barable. I know this was the long way to the barn door but foundation needed to be set for a question like that thanks Scott
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