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Bicep tendonitis again---one year two months post C5/6 fusion

I had a C5/6 fusion 1 year and 2 months ago. I thought I would be over all this muscle pain by now. I had terrible little knots in my forearms and my shoulders felt like they were glued together at 8 months post surgery. Now, my forearms have no knots, though I can easily get tennis elbow in one arm if I do not wear a brace. I started rebuilding a bit and decreasing my Lyrica. I was so thrilled to get down to 25 mg. of Lyrica per day, and then, all at once, the pain was incredible. I felt as if I were on fire and my muscles all got sore again. My biceps got tendonitis and my pectorals hurt a lot. Just misery. So I panicked and increased the Lyrica back to 100 mg per day. Unfortunately, it takes as long as a month to re-stabilize on that drug, so my recovery has been slow. I am still not as good as I was before I nose-dived. So now, I am trying to stabilize again and rebuild. I had injections in my bicep tendons (again) and find it so frustrating that I cannot recover! If I lift much or do much out of the ordinary, my arms will hurt. My shoulders are not all glued together anymore-- it's as if I got unlocked, but with natural movement, I have a rawness. I have had a new MRI and all is well. The level above the fusion is bulged, but not pinching nerves according to the MRI. The fusion is good. An EMG says I have no permanent damage on my nerves. My neurologist said it can take two years for nerves to recover. I HOPE.

Has anyone else gone through this? Has anyone else TRIED to get off Lyrica, but found that the withdrawal pain is four times worse than the original pain? I have gotten off Gabapentin since my surgery and I was uncomfortable. That was at 6 months post surgery, but I never felt as if I were on fire!!! But Lyrica withdrawal is like setting a match to oneself. I wish someone had warned me! I have read that many do a water titration method to get off Lyrica---creeping off of it for MONTHS to avoid the hellish withdrawal.

I just want my arms back---I want to walk my dogs again. It's so discouraging. Anyone else relate? Anyone else recover?


  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 552
    I listened to my doctors for 2 years when they told me my shoulder & arm pain was coming from my neck. After 2 neck surgeries, my shoulder/arm symptoms were getting worse.
    I found a new ortho doctor & he ordered an mri/arthrogram. It showed a full tear in my rotator cuff. I am now 5 weeks out of rotator cuff surgery.
    Before my shoulder surgery, I was on a lot of pain meds including gabapentin, but none of it was touching the pain I was having.
    I would suggest to find an ortho shoulder doctor & see what they say? Hopefully they can order you the test you need to diagnose your issues.
    Good luck & keep us posted.
  • Are you sure that you have Biceps Tendonitis? An injury to the cervical nerves can certainly cause radiating pain down through the arm but there is no reason for it to cause inflammation on the Biceps Tendon. When a cervical nerve is the culprit it is the Median or Ulnar nerve that is irritated and sending pain signals through them. The pain signals burn like tendonitis would. Sometimes a name like "Double Crush Syndrome" is applied to it. I know a person that had this on the right side of their body. The burning went right through the Biceps tendon and down in to the hand but it was due to a cervical herniation.

    Why is this important, pain is pain right? Well, when the arm pain is being caused by an injury to a cervical nerve then steroid injections in the arm do not provide lasting relief and have the potential to cause serious damage. The Biceps Tendon can fray and even rupture. In this case steroids are best done for diagnostics purposes only and the diagnosis would not be tendonitis because that is not the origination of the inflammation.

    So the problem is the neck right? Not necessarily. You could indeed have Tendonitis and if the steroid injections are not providing lasting relief, say beyond three days, then you may have a more significant injury to the tendon or its connecting tissue than you realize. If I am not mistaken the Biceps Tendon connects to the Labrum. Here again if the originating cause is torn connectivity tissue then the diagnosis would still not be Biceps Tendonitis but that is a bit moot for your next step. The same person that I mentioned above had pain on the right side due to cervical nerves but the culprit of the left arm was a torn labrum which then caused the clavicle and acromion to collapse on each other. The fact that using the arm seems to make your condition worse makes me think that you are in the camp of Double Injury, one in the neck and a separate one in the shoulder.

    Increasing Lyrica is unlikely to help. Unfortunately steroids are also unlikely to provide lasting relief because what you really need is for the tissue to heal. You should think about getting an MRI with Arthrogram of the shoulder. As for the concern about Lyrica induced pain, I suspect that was more happenstance than anything else.

    Best wishes,

  • Hi everyone.
    Thanks so much for responding. I had two recent MRI's on my shoulders and they are perfect. I did not have an arthrogram, though. The injections took two weeks to begin working. I also had soft tissue issues with the neck, too. I did my neck herniation and then a chiropractor told me it was rotator cuff problems and gave me some exercises with stretch bands. I spasmed every muscle in both arms. My biceps were terrible. I THINK I may be coming out of being frozen up due to the herniation and all the spasms. The spasms are all gone now (1 year and two months post surgery on my neck), but the muscles are so sore from being knotted for 2 years! I had the worst situation because doctors did not care enough to see what was REALLY on my neck MRI. Has anyone else had sore muscles between the shoulder blades? I know my posture is terrible because I have been so painful for so long. I also wish I could have a boob reduction which would save my neck from too much stress. I cannot find a bra that helps me. They either cause pain on my shoulders, or let me sag, which then makes the rhomboid area sore. I am a mess. I also have that horrid hypersensitivity on my skin. Clothing almost hurts sometimes! Thanks so much for replying!!! I think my muscles were so ceased up in spasms for so long, that I am thawing out and my muscles and tendons hurt.
  • You need an MRI w Arthrogram to see the shoulder well. It is an expensive procedure so the doctors won't order it unless there continues to be unexplained pain. Mine had to be done at the hospital by a Radioloigst that specializes in it and cost about $10,000.

    I had two standard MRIs of the shoulder that showed nothing but bliss and a bit of arthritis. I finally went to a high end sports place and they ordered the MRI w Arthrogram after they suspected a Labrum tear. The report came back with four findings and the Labrum tear was confirmed.
  • Thanks so much for caring enough to respond. Getting something like that would be a miracle. When I had screaming pain down both arms for months, NO one would order an MRI. I went to the ER over and over and over. I went to an orthopedic surgeon for injections on my shoulders and he would not do an MRI on my shoulders. He did a bunch of pushing, pressing and yanking on my head to test my neck and it was deemed fine!!! IT WAS MY NECK!!! One year and a half later, I had neck surgery. In between that, I had two opinions on my neck MRI (finally) and both were WRONG! It's been a nightmare to get help. Currently, I have tennis elbow, bicep tendonitis and ulnar pain in my wrist. The EMG says I am fine. I have involuntary twitching in my forearms and my fingers move around. It's subtle. No answers. They mentioned another EMG. WHY? All seems well!!!??? But something is causing this soft tissue misery. I may need to find a different orthopedic surgeon to take me seriously. it's so hard to get help as a middle aged woman. I have never been a feminist, but I have had one heck of a time to get help even with good insurance!! Thanks so much for your advice. When your labrum was torn, was it torn on both heads of the bicep? I had HORRIBLE spasms in my biceps in the early stages of my injury. It took months of a PT rubbing the spasms out. Now, I am trying to recover from this neck thing and my muscles have been spasmed for so long that they don't want to work like they used to! I have pain on the backside of my shoulder, too. Rawness. Wonder if that is similar to your pain? Thanks again!!!
  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 552
    edited 07/19/2015 - 1:34 AM
    I would try to find a new orthopedic doctor. Maybe talk to your therapist & get some recommendations. That's how I found my new doctor.
    My situation was a lot like yours. My neck surgeon, ortho doctor & pain management doctor all said my shoulder pain was coming from my neck. After 2 neck surgeries, the pain was getting worse & I could no longer use my left arm. My pain doctor kept telling me that this is my new life! He also was trying to convince me into letting him put a spinal cord stimulator in my neck! I said no way! Needless to say, I found a new pain doctor also.
    I know it's frustrating, but if you feel that there's something wrong, try to find a new doctor who will listen to your concerns. Have all of your records transferred to him. Show him what all you have tried & that it didn't work.
    If you do have a rotator cuff tear, the longer it goes untreated, the worse it can get. It was over 2 years from my injury that I finally got my shoulder fixed. My doctor also diagnosed me with frozen shoulder. I am 6 weeks into my surgery recovery, and let me tell you, it's been brutal!
    I hope you can find a new doctor that will order an Arthrogram for you.
  • It's not a bad idea. I had frozen shoulders after my neck injury, too. So painful. I have had a real hard time to get anyone to help me. My scalene muscles on my right side (the pinched nerve side) are very sore ALWAYS and never get better. I have never had muscles that did not stop being sore. It's really tiresome. I will be seeing a neurosurgeon for a second opinion. At that time, maybe I can see if he will consider the shoulder issue and refer me elsewhere. I am very sore in the Teres major and minor area on one shoulder.

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