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Nerve damage questions

Hello: I posted previously but had not replies. I find it hard to believe no one has had residual issues with their arm after acdf.

I had surgery (C5-C7) in January. It was rough, as has been my recovery. My left arm when I woke up was in a lot of pain. It felt a bit better when I got home, but I couldn't lift it past my stomach area to the front nor side of my body. I can't extend my elbow either. My left side of my neck still hurts, quite a bit. I have twitches in the arm/hand, pain in the arm, and I drop things. My Dr. finally ordered another MRI after 7 months of therapy didn't help much.

The MRI was yesterday and the doctor saw me right after (no report ready, just the images). He said the spine looked ok (Aside from moderate herniations at C3 and C4 & DDD in the neck) and that there weren't major impingements. He said the xray of my neck showed the fusion fine. I had an EMG and NCV study in June. It was VERY fast and I was leery of the results. Results basically said I was still in very early stages of nerve recovery. Well, yesterday my surgeon said he stopped using that EMG office, because his results have been faulty. So, I have another test scheduled this month. He also scheduled a CT scan to see if the fusion is in fact, ok.

My surgeon seems stumped-really stumped. There HAS to be a reason my arm isn't working right. I keep thinking permanent damage, so maybe my last test was faulty.

How soon does Nerve damage show up on an EMG/NCV after acdf surgery? Anyone have any thoughts? He has not real information on why my left side of my neck is still so painful and having spasms, since the MRI looked ok.

Thank you!

ACDF c5-c7 and degenerative disc disease in whole neck


  • I know that nerve recovery takes a LONG time, I had an ACDF done and caught the issue before it became a bigger problem. I also had a lumbar fusion done at L5/S1 and wasn't so lucky. Re-herniated at L5 and had severe compression of my nerve root, lost strength and feeling all down my right leg into my foot. Extremely painful, and recovery has taken a long time. I still walk with a limp and can't do calf raises on my right foot, but nerves re-grow at 1mm per day and I'm almost 1 year post op...so I hear it could take up to 2 years to fully recover. In your case I would get another EMG done, especially if the previous tests may not be accurate. Good news is that your MRI sounds like it's ok, but might want to get a 2nd opinion just in case. Hopefully the nerve is still in "recovery" and it's just taking a long time. I've had numerous Ortho's look at my MRI's just for my own piece of mind. Best of luck and keep us posted.
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