hello! I had acdf surgery (C5-C7) last January. I had suffered from neck pain, migraines, etc. for at least 10 years. I hit the windshield twice in my teen years and I think that did it. My surgeon first had me take care of my carpal tunnel surgery. My right hand came out perfect but the left was still not normal. I could feel the nerve if I touched my palm or wrist. Use of my thumb was not good. I went to many months of therapy. They did another MRI and saw that my neck was worst-DDD through the whole neck, but C5-C7 was very bad-on the verge of collapse. Surgery was rough-4+ hours and post op pain was way worst than I had imagined. After a few months-my arm was still hurting (it hurt really bad when I woke up) and I couldn't straighten it, nor lift it -it shook, hurt, and I had no control.
I started therapy in March and the surgeon said it would just take time. By June, he was surprised it was still so bad. He said the nerve was just compressed too long so he ordered another nerve conduction. Nerve conduction showed no permanent damage (although first nerve conduction didn't even show my neck was that bad) but that I was in the early stages of nerve recovery. Back to therapy. By August, the therapist didn't think it was helping much and then my insurance denied coverage for it (only get so many sessions per calendar year). I have continued to pay out of pocket for therapy 1-2 times a week, but I would say the arm is maybe only 10% better...maybe. Neck pain is still in pain every day (maybe only 25% reduction from pre op), still can't straighten arm, wrist is very weak, can't lift over my head, shakes because of lack of control, it hurts badly some days, etc. I exercise, take vitamins, eat well, I have seen a chiro for non adjustment therapy.
The Medical Assistants are now acting like I am asking for pure morphine when I get my refill for Tylenol 3. I take 2-3 a day, which barely touches the constant nagging pain, but I deal with it. I asked for a lower dose than Vicodin because I thought I should see how I do without it. I am allergic to all NSAIDS, so that is off the table. I stopped taking Flexiril 5 mg because they were treating me like a druggie and I was only taking 1--maybe 2 a day.
Has anyone had this outcome with their arm (or anything else!) and it wasn't permanent damage? I have lost my job due to how long I was out and my arm still isn't working. I am frustrated. I know I waited too long but when do they just say, this is as good as it gets. I won't do pain management, I will try alternative pain control (not through pharmacy, etc).
ACDF c5-c7 and degenerative disc disease in whole neck