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Any help for C5 Palsy / Arm Palsy?

After multi-level cervical fusion, my mother was left with C5 Palsy or Arm Palsy. She lacks mobility in her shoulder and it constantly hurts, sometimes quite severely. It has been 3 months since her surgery. What little there is to read about this condition suggests that it often can works itself out "over time" with "conservative treatment." (Annoyingly vague terms).

* How long does this take? (3 months is getting exhausting.)
* Is there any physical therapy, massage, stretching, or other treatment that can speed up the process? If so, what?
* Is there anything to treat the pain besides narcotics and Tylenol? (Anti-inflammatory meds are still out since the fusion is still healing).

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!


  • livinthedreamllivinthedream Posts: 19
    edited 06/24/2015 - 4:59 AM
    I'm 2 weeks post opp (ACDF C/5,6 and 2 large spur clump at 2 levels). About 5 days after surgery I started to experience sudden paralysis and the most intense pain I have ever had in my right arm/shoulder/neck. The doc ordered an MRI immediately as they thought this condition was the cause. They said it wasn't. I just have a lot of damage from compression. I am not completely convinced. When I did try to research, I too found almost no info. I am curious; Is her arm completely paralyzed or can she use it? Does it come and go or is it 24/7? The doc told me it would be total immobility and constant. My doc put me on a steroid pack (7 days). It worked like a charm to increase my mobility for the first 4 but did nothing for the pain. I'm on the second to last day and it's starting to come back. Can you tell me more of her symptoms?

    Mine are: Intense pain running down nerve path of arm. Starts at the top of the shoulder. Severer pain on right side of neck/shoulder blade. Total arm weakness. Sometimes I can't grasp anything. I have had 4 episodes of my arm locking up completely and when my husband is able to get my arm loosened up and out of what ever position it was in. I am unable to move it at all for 1 - 3 hours. I can not stress enough how bad the pain is and the pain meds barley touch it. I have found nothing to relieve the pain and feel like it may be un-relivable. I have an Orthopedic Surgeon.

    Have you been able to get much out of the doctor? Is she seeing a neurologist or ortho?
  • livinthedream

    My left arm felt that way,just as my surgeon warned..C-5 palsy he called it..Hurt very badly..From the neck to my finger tips..Mostly at night,the days were ok..But if I walked,pulled on the nerve,that evening,i had pain from my shoulder,down the tricep in the elbow and wrist..With killer pain in the index finger and thumb..The next morning,it was fine again..From a 1 to a 8..Terribly painful..But as the nerve healed,the pain got lighter,but still nightly..Now after 5 months,as the surgeon warned the palsy would last,its getting better..No weakness or pain more so than any other times of the day..he was on the money,except the "palsy' wasn't 24/7..it was nightly..I could always move it,yet at night,it felt like a led weight..Like it was dead,unless I purposely moved it,and very painful..So much so I kept it still..
  • JonpsJJonps Posts: 1
    edited 08/16/2015 - 8:27 AM
    I had surgery done back in March 2015, I now have plates from c-4 to c-7 when I came to after surgery I couldn't lift my left arm. Doctor told me that it would come back after about 2 weeks, but it didn't so I went back in for another surgery going into the back of my neck to open the nerve Chanel's from c-3 to c-7, I did have a very small improvement, I have been doing physical therapy 2 times a week now for 12 weeks, I have been getting a little more movement but I mean a little more, I'm talking very small amount of movement . The Doctor and the physical therapist ordered me a EMPI ( Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulator ) it seems to be helping a lot more then just exercising, they seem to think that by December I should have about 50% of my movement by. I hope it will be better then that. I try to stay positive, that's the best thing I can do for myself.

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  • PopgirlPPopgirl Posts: 1
    edited 08/29/2015 - 8:46 AM
    So sorry to hear all of your stories. I suffered C5 Palsy in both arms after a C2-C-7 fusion a few years ago. I know how horrible the pain can be. I had the top docs at [edits] and they said it just takes time and lots of it. After 2 months, my pain management Dr recommended acupuncture. The first one I went to had no effect, but the 2nd got my arms moving (albeit slightly) within the first 5 minutes. Within 2 weeks and 6 sessions later, I could lift both over my head and my strength had nearly returned.

    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    ~ spine-health moderator, savage
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