Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

I Need Advice... Possibly Urgent?

dharvellddharvell Posts: 98
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:21 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I have some new developments with my condition... and they scare me.

Two nights ago, I woke up at about 2:30AM to discover that I could not feel my left arm, at all. I attempted to move my arm and I couldn't move it more than 2 inches off the bed. It was like lifting a lead weight. I got out of bed and regained most of the control over my arm, but it has not been "right" ever since. Typing this is difficult as, when I attempted to hit the "E" key, my finger mis-triggers and I end up hitting the "D" key. I also have increased involuntary movements of the right arm and fingers.

Right now, it feels like somebody shoved a red-hot fireplace poker into my wrist and into the crook of my arm, by my elbow.

I called my doctor and all he could do is refer me to the University of Michigan hospital for additional tests. I have not heard back from the doctors.

What do I do? Should I be concerned? I'm left handed, so being without full use of my left arm is life altering.

Any help would be great...



  • Call the surgeon who did your surgery and if he does not care then call your primary doc. If the sensation only gets worse and not better then go to the ER if they will not listen to you. I had those problems and it took a lot of therapy to get my fingers back to the point that did what my brain told them to do. Keep us posted on what the docs tell you.
  • Sounds like you need to see a neuro. I had a similar situation on my right arm. A CT & MRI revealed I had deteriation and spinal straightening in my cervical spine. C-4, C-5...the nerve root actually wraps around your shoulder down your bicep around the elbow and to the hand.

    Weird cycle and sorry your dealing with this...just don't let it go. Have it checked just to make sure your not dealing with a major problem. Good luck & God Bless!!
  • I've never had a surgery for my issues... the doctors I've visited refuse to do one. I need a 2-level disc replacement which the doctors refuse to do, as I'm only 34. He will not do surgery until I'm at least 40. By then, I am sure I will lose use of my arm.

    This is excruciating... I can hardly stand it.

    I have taken my Morphine Sulfate for the night... it didn't do a thing. I'm almost in so much pain (neck and arm) that I'm close to falling into panic. I've never had it like this, before.
  • CATHY - Thanks for the reply. I've seen a neurologist and he just rolled his eyes, nodded his head, and told me to leave. That's the type of treatment I've received from all doctors I've seen, so far. I'm hoping the University of Michigan actually listens to my issues.

    The problem has been found to be in the C5-C7 region, so right in the neighborhood that you mentioned.

    My L hand, right now, is so bad that I cannot form a fist. I am typing this with one hand, right now...

    This is scary stuff... and with no doctors who take me serious... I am actually scared for my health.
  • So, I'm not alone in this... #:S

    I was not too concerned when I woke up with my left arm sleeping. The inability to move the arm was somewhat troubling. The lack of ability to control my muscle movements and fingers REALLY concerned me! Now, this hot feeling in my wrist up my left arm just drove me to wondering what was going on, here. I figured it was nerve related... My, in my panic was afraid that it could lead to perminent loss of full use of my left arm. As I stated, I am left handed... I can't survive without this arm!!!

    One thing that really gets me... if my problems are getting this bad, WHY will my doctors still not entertain the thought of surgery? That is just mind blowing, to me.
  • PAULGLA - Roger, that! I've already "fired" my orthopaedic surgeon. My PCP is really trying to get me the care I need, but it seems to be taking a very long time to get there.

    I often wake up with my L arm sleeping. I've always attributed it to draping my arm over my chest while I sleep. The night I woke up with my arm paralyzed, it was beside me... perfectly straight. No way that a bend in my arm was cutting off blood supply. I'm 100% certain that this is caused by my neck.

    I really appreciate you sharing your experience. This gives me a lot of good information and the urgency I need to get this taken care of... NOW. Thank you for sharing!
  • PAULGLA - Thanks for that. So far, I'm keeping my wits. I hit depression for a couple of days, because of the pain... the reality that I am going to deal with this for the rest of my life. But, then I slapped myself across the face (not literally, of course), and said, "You're breathing... your heart is beating... you're still alive. Sure, you're in pain, but you're still living. Make the most of it." So far, that pep talk has worked. I have very hard days - especially when doctors don't listen. Thankfully, my wife and kids are very supportive. =D>

    I have to return that offer to you... if you need any sort of moral support, PM me.
  • PAULGLA - That would have been great. PT made matters worse (pain wise) and I had a horrible reaction to NSAIDs (seems I had some internal bleeding).

    Dang... I'm a messed up person... 8}
  • I'm glad you canned your ortho... I know doctors would rather not do surgery (always a last resort), but sometimes it is just needed!

    Your being 34 I understand they would want to wait, but get a good neurosurgeon, and like what was already suggested, get a new MRI.

    I'm 39, my doctors said they are normally very reluctant about doing surgery, but they said it wasn't like I was in my 20's.

    Anyway, time to see what is going on now... I know when I woke up and my arm was heavy, numb and tingling, and also had sharp pain a few times, my ortho said that I most likely needed to think about surgery at that point.

    Weird thing, when I would get up from using the toilet... Sometimes my one foot would go numb, once when I stood up my leg bent the other way, scariest thing that ever happened to me, it was like my foot wasn't even attached!

    None of my doctors seemed worried... More worried about loss of bowl control. After my ACDF one night I woke up with numbness in my hand, my neuro said I may have just sleep on it wrong?

    Could be nothing, could be something - Make sure you get a few opinions, as they can never hurt... Best of luck finding out, and of course getting whatever relief you can get!!!
  • I had experiences much like you and Paul. I still, after two surgeries, wake up with my arm(s) dead like that. I know that I have permanent damage and that it doesn't take long for it to happen.

    I urge you to find someone to listen to you! I had a surgeon like yours who just didn't listen even when I had entire muscles atrophy overnight. If I hadn't taken my MRI to my neurologist I don't know where I'd be at this point. The goal here is to be proactive (not that you haven't been) and make sure that they are taking your symptoms seriously. Insist that they do an EMG on your arm. Insist on a new MRI. Insist on a referral to a new neurosurgeon. Don't settle for what they tell you, keep on them until you get what you need.

    I can also tell you, from personal experience, that MRI's don't always tell the whole story. When I got opened up my spine was in much worse shape than showed on the MRI.

    Hang in there Dan. There are a few of us that are traveling down the road you're on and understand what you're going through. It's hard to make others (even docs) understand what it feels like and, if you're like me, I tried very hard to act like things were okay as much as possible. It's like the neck stuff is enough, now we have to deal with arm, leg and bladder crap now too? Great! Don't give up, it can get better!

  • Dan,
    I am not a doctor, but the way you described your arm pain....reminded me of they way my left arm felt when I went to the ER. I woke up with that hot poker in my arm and it never went away until they did surgery 5 days later. I am glad that your family is very supportive, mine also was it makes things a little easier to deal with. I hope your PCP comes through and gets you where you need to be. If you need to vent , feel free to PM me. Things can get better and hope that you will be on your way to recovery soon. Speaking of recovery , off to PT I go, lol it seems that is all I do. Take care.
  • JERSEY - The latest MRIs I have are from March of this year. What really disturbs me is that the ortho glanced at them for barely long enough for his eyes to focus, took them off the light, then said the typical response of, "You're much too young for this. See me in 3 months. Check out at the billing desk." X(

    I'm bringing my MRI copies to University of Michigan with me... whenever I go. My PCP just referred me to the U of M, so I'm afraid it could take several weeks to get in.

    Quick update... I just woke up and got out of bed about an hour ago. It took that long for me to be able to use my hands well enough to type this. 2 Hydrocodone/APAP (10/325) later and I have no pain relief. I can move my fingers, but the pain is very sharp... burning in some places. From what I understand, those are sure signs of nerve pain.

    I'm hoping the U of M will take the time to listen. My hopes are up... they really are.
  • i tried breezing through all the responses everyone made to you.

    so sorry your going through all this crap. your not to young!!!!! lord look at the crappy things i have gone through since the age of 33.
    i have had ppl i know much younger then me have fusions(spinal and cervical) done which of course like paul said and others are the last resort.

    have you gone to the ER???

    i got blown off for about 2 months with mine. i had weakness, horrible headaches , could not turn my head for 2 weeks, but that let up. i ended up having a severe herniated disk in the same region as yourself.

    please do not give up hope . keep up the fight on this one. you should not have to suffer. something is going on thats for dang sure

    it also says in your signature you had a partial fusion at C5-C7?? mabye the partial is causing issues?? guess i am lost on that one

    you do not have to write alot as i know it hurts.
    im in the same boat with my WHOLE body right now from non fusion.

    i just want you to know you have all the support you need here!!! like paul said we are not drs, but we sure can be your bestest of friends through times like this.

    take care!!!! >:D<
  • I cant believe that everyone but your primary doctor is dismissing you!!! I hope and pray that everyone at the University of Michigan not only listens to you but does something to help!!! May God Be With You throughout all of this Dan!!!!
  • It's interesting you say that the MRI may not show the whole story. I was wondering about that. The way my ortho was talking, the MRI is the see-all/know-all of all medical tests. The MRI shows some pretty bad damage.

    I'm hanging in there. Today, the hot feeling is gone in my arm, but there is a lot of weakness in its place. I can barely make a fist. Par for the course. I'm just trying to keep as upbeat of an attitude as I can. It's hard, but I'm trying! :)
  • Thanks, I appreciate that.

    When I woke up, this morning, my arm was on FIRE (it felt like). Since then, the pain has eased, but it left a lot of weakness in its place. There is some obvious nerve happenings going on. I just wish I could get my "specialists" to listen to me. I am wondering what, exactly, they specialize in.
  • About the partial fusion... it's strange. It appears to be from the arthritis forming around the C5-C6 area. The C5 and C6 collapsed to where they were rubbing against one another, the disc bulging. The arthritis fused the C5 and C6 into one painful mess. It really would not be a surprise if a lot of the nerve issues were caused by that very issue.

    The rest of the DDD also contributes to the pain, I'm quite sure... a lot of the same symptoms you mentioned - weakness, HEADACHES!!! Oh the headaches!!! And it seams that mornings are the worst. When I get out of bed, my neck, back, head, and arms just burn. Sometimes the burning goes away, sometimes not.

    Good luck with the Sept surgery coming up!
  • I hear you... I was just at a loss after my last appointment. My ortho didn't even talk to me other than saying, "You're too young for this. Come back in 6 months." Then, in the hallway, I overheard him saying, "Have you gotten rid of him yet? Well why not? I want him out of here!"

    At that point, I decided that the ortho would no longer care for my case.

    The other deciding factor was when the ortho said, "I am 65 years old and work 14 hours a day... there's no excuse why a 34 year old can't work 8!"

    I was just blown away by all of that. :jawdrop:
  • Just a thought...as I was quickly glancing over all the replies you received on MRI info and it being dismissed as not a big deal...get a mylogram? If you stated you have above sorry... I just had to take a muscle relaxer to even move today.(little loopy)

    I just started yesterday going back to water therapy. I pretty much am going this battle alone. I have been in and out of the docs office and hospital so much over the years I feel like I already now what I need to do to get back on track.

    Yes, i know, I am a dumba--. At least my family thinks so. I am just tired of the constant fights with the doc about my ongoing pain situation. I am not one who takes drugs. It takes an act of congress to get me to finish a round of meds to help out with one flare up before another one hits.

    I guess what I am saying is...I am not one who wants to be dependent on medication the rest of my life. I want this *&%*( fixed!!!

    I agree with you all about how so many docs just look at you like "oh well" not my problem. Why can't they get to the bottom of the problem.

    For instance your arm...hello...you need your dam arm to function. Why do you have to be in pain. I get so mad because I get treated like I'm a freak. I have had DDD since 18 and now 32 and 2 surgeries down...you'd think I'd be fixed and back to normal. Well---not so much. I am in more pain and discomfort now than before all the surgeries!! It all was focused on lower back...this past year it spread to neck and thats when I experienced the same as you. A DEAD ARM. Sorry to ramble so much...just wish I could help you out.

    There is something or someone in this world who holds the answers and I'll be damned if I give up without a fight. If I find out info that I can pass along that will help you...I will. In the mean time excuse my frustration and just try and keep a positive outlook. It's hard but your family is your inspiration.

    Gotta keep fighting and you'll make it through. Good luck & GOD BLESS!!
  • Your frustration is justified... believe me, I'm there, too! I know medicine is not an exact science, but with all of the advances in modern times, it would seem that they could do SOMETHING for, at this point. I've dealt with the pain for more than 3 years. Now that my arm is doing what it's doing, I am sure beyond any doubt that there is something that has to be done if I want to maintain usage of my arm. And since I'm left handed, this is even more important to me! If I lose use of my left arm, I'm going to have to retrain myself... how to write, how to do anything that requires fine motor skills... this scares me more than a little.

    A mylogram has not even been brought into discussions with my doctors. I might have to request some things. I've been too trusting with the doctors. It's gotten to the point to where I'm going to have to be a little more forceful with them.

    Odd what you said about you being in more pain AFTER the surgeries... that's the exact reason why my doctors do not want to perform surgical corrections. They are afraid that I will be in worse shape after the surgeries. I'm okay with that reasoning. But, they need to do SOMETHING to get me going. I'm in more pain than I can tolerate. My arm issue... the burning sensations... it's all got to stop. And the doctors ACT like they don't understand that. It really is frustrating.
  • My doctors all told me that the MRI is only a piece of the puzzle... Your symptoms are another piece that they SHOULD be looking at to determine a course of action.

    If you haven't had an EMG, get one, that tells a lot about nerve damage/pinched nerves... Of course, sometimes it takes more than just one, as sometimes things won't always show. That is what I was told.

    You're right, the burn and all sure sounds like nerve damage, and you don't want to wait too long... Nerve damage will not all be corrected, even with surgery, again, so I was told.

    Glad you have an appointment, and like it was pointed out, push until they listen to you... Inform them how bad your symptoms are. Sounds like your quality of life is really being affected, and that is one thing most doctors tell people, when you're not able to live with the problem anymore, then only you can determine if you want surgery.

    Man, wish you best, hope you can get some resolve, and soon.
  • Excellent idea... an EMG would be another piece to the puzzle. One that I think would uncover a lot of information.

    The burn went away after about an hour, this morning. It has since come back... and I'm noticing that my fingers aren't working reliably, again (I am having a heck of a time typing this, I notice...).

    The quality of life has suffered to the point of where I am about to lose everything I have worked for... My house is up for foreclosure, because the doctor put me on such work restrictions that I can't find a job that will support my family. I'm attempting to do photography, but starting a business is a difficult thing to do. You have to build a business - it's not something that happens overnight. I applied for disability, but I know how that goes... ~X(

    There has got to be a silver lining.
  • hi Dan,
    I read thru the posts and understand your frustration. Just two days ago at work I was discussing how we have to be our own medical advocate at times. I don't want to lump drs together because that would be unfair...I am not sure about in other places, but where I live I think the dr/patient ratio is a MAJOR issue. A new dr comes in and starts building his/her practice up and has lots of time for the patient...then boom...he/she has more patients than they can handle. That situation is not fair to anyone. What I cannot understand is WHY a dr can't be upfront with the patient and tell you hey, I can't help you (right like they will ever admit that...lol) or I need to send you to someone else due to...whatever the reason might be...and it seems to be when you mention you are having pain...oh gosh...you must want drugs, right...darn tootin' if it will help my pain and quality of life...THAT seems to be the biggest issue...pain/pain meds...you already feel like crap and now you have to prove you are in pain and need meds...that is the part that I resent...anywho...sorry to go on and on...
    Like the others have stated...YOU are your best advocate and YOU have your best interests at heart...I sure hope you get the proper help you need and soon...there are those that do care...
  • I'm sure there are doctors who care... I've just yet to find them! ;)

    See, one of the problems that I am running into with pain and pain meds is the fact that I seem to be extremely pain medication tolerant. They started me on Darvocet and we've worked up to Hydrocodone/APAP (10/325) and Morphine Sulfate (30mg) at night to help me sleep. Neither medication does the job. The Hydrocodone/APAP does nothing to control the pain and the Morphine Sulphate 30mg is about as effective as a sugar pill.

    Even though the medications are ineffective, I am almost scared to approach my PCP about it. I am afraid that I am going to come across sounding like a drug addict. Truthfully, if I didn't need to take medications, I wouldn't! But with the pain that I am in, I need something to help me live a somewhat normal life.

    Another thing I'm afraid of is running out of pain medication options. I wonder how tolerant I am...? On top of that... do I really want to be in a semi-functional mental state to battle the pain? It just seems like a lose/lose situation.

    Sorry about rambling. I'm having a BAD day, today, painwise. It's days like this that I lose my otherwise sunny attitude... }:) }:) }:)
  • Can't do surgery on you because you are only 34 ? That is rather bizarre. Are you medically compromised and thus a surgical risk ? Narcotic tolerance can develop rather rapidly. Morphine for pain relieve on an outpatient basis is not terribly common for cervical issues I would think. Vicodin HP is rather strong in itself. Asking for an even higher level of pain control will probably set off red flags with the doctors as you suspect. You definitley need to get to the bottom of this soon.

    Greg-- ACDF C5-6 five years ago and still have chronic neck pain
  • I apologize for the scare on surgery. Everyone is different and recover differently. I sometimes let my frustrations overflow and by no means am I in anyway discouraging you on any procedure.

    Although-today I was just told I have another procedure scheduled for August 21st. I am having a RF done. (radiofrequency neurotomy)

    In english that means they are going in and actually freezing/cartarizing my nerves to help with the chronic pain....this may be something you can ask your doc about. I didn't realize you are 34yrs old. Why age has anything to do with a docs decision to do surgery puzzles me.

    I had my first back surgery at 25 and my second at 31. If you want my opinion stay persistant with your doc and don't give up until you get to the bottom of your problem.

    QUESTION: do you have a habit of sleeping with arms above your head? If so-

    SUGGESTION: do not sleep on you
    sides...sleep on your back with pillows under both arms and a pillow under your knees. (This takes the pressure off your lower back)

    I have actually set an alarm to go off every couple of hours just to readjust my sleepin position. NOT ANYMORE!! I finally got my routine down and don't need a reminder on adjusting my sleeping patterns.

    I know this is crazy but I am crazy and I know it actually works. Also---try to sleep at a slight angle for awhile. These little suggestions are just that...suggestions. If you are anything like me...anything is worth a try. GOOD LUCK and keep posting on your progress. Check on the RF PROCEDURE.

    Read up on it...may help you out.

    God Bless!!

  • It appears that the doctor's logic is as follows:

    Surgery stands a fairly good chance of correcting my issues. Or, at least relieving the pain to an acceptable level. However, there is also a risk that surgical procedures could result in additional pain and complications that would result in a further decreased quality of living. Seeing that I am "so young", the doctors do not want to risk it.

    Additionally, since I require 2 levels of disc replacement, and multi-level replacement is not an approved procedure, the doctors do not seem to want to perform 2 surgeries to complete the disc replacements.

    That's the logic, anyway.

    Myself, being the one that is suffering from the constant pain which narcotic pain medications do not even come close to touching, I am willing to take the chance. I'm tired of the pain. I'm tired of the involuntary arm movements. I'm tired of the burning sensation behind my left eye. I'm tired of my arm feeling like a lead weight when I attempt to move it.

    Something can be done - I'm sure of it. I just hope I can locate a doctor who's willing to help me figure out a new plan of attack.
  • Don't worry... no negative views on surgery resulted. At this point, I am aware of the risks, but think that the potential benefits outweigh the risks. Again, right this very minute, my left arm is very heavy and numb, except for a very high frequency tingling feeling in my upper arm. It doesn't HURT in the sense of pain, but it is very discomforting, if that makes any sense. If surgery may help relieve that, I am all for it! :)

    I do not sleep with my arms above my head, at all. I dislocated my shoulder about 14 years ago. Since then, my shoulder tends to lock if I lift my arm above my head. My sleeping habits include laying on my back with my arms flat on either side. I find that laying on my sides tend to irritate the neck. Laying flat on my back seems to be the best position... but I still find that my left arm "disappears" from the scope of my body. It's such a strange sensation.

    I'm calling my PCP, tomorrow, to get the information about the University of Michigan referral... see if it's any time in the NEAR future... :)
This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.