Shoulder Problems after Cervical Surgery

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Anonymous (not verified)
Title: Member
Shoulder Problems after Cervical Surgery

I thought I would see what kind of response I got on this issue as I have seen this mentioned in quite a few posts by folks who have had cervical surgery. Personally I had ACDF with titanium plates and screws on Sept 17th. Before the surgery I was aware of pain in my neck, in my arms, hands and fingers (and some numbness) but I don't remember having pain in my shoulders. Right after surgery I had a lot of shoulder and neck pain but the NS said it was due to positioning during surgery and would go away. However it did not go away and I have been going for Physical Therapy. The PT was supposed to be for my neck but we spend a lot of time working on my right shoulder. The PT says I have "soft tissue disfunction" whatever that is. Bottom line I have some left over nerve pain and numbness in my right arm, hand and fingers that I hope will go away in time and I have a lot of pain and problems with my right shoulder that I am working hard to help improve.

So anyone else with shoulder problems after Cervical surgery and if yes what are you doing about the problems.

LJ

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LJ (not verified)
Title: Member
Hi Eve

Hi Eve,

Thanks for replying. I find it interesting that there seems to be quite a few of us who developed these types of problems after ACDF surgery. I hope that all of us get improvement over time.

LJ

24-7 stiff neck
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Last seen: 1 year 3 months ago
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Joined: 08/12/2008 - 2:26am
hey lj

i didnt have any troubles until i was in an accident and oh well its all in my signature line Whew . i thought maybe something was wrong with me having all this pain after surgery, until i found this forum and also i didnt even know what "acdf" ment. after learning some things and then asking questions at my ns appointments, i now realize the different life i am blessed to live. good luck on your recovery and i will also say a prayer for u and your family.

gulfpearl (not verified)
Title: Member
Like you no shoulder pain before surgery

LJ Like you I do not remember having shoulder pain before surgery. The shoulder pain is always there since my surgery 4 1/2 months ago. It becomes more intense with weather changes especially cold weather & rain, & upon awaking.

tonya42
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Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
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Joined: 10/21/2008 - 7:21am
Never had shoulder pain until ACDF

I thought I was weird. Now I see i'm normal. That's always good to know. I'm in PT now for my neck but called the therapist yesterday to ask if we could focus more on my shoulder pain instead. She told me I have shoulder pain because of my neck. So we continue to work on my neck strengthening exercises and stimulation and heat. It seems like every pain I have down to my toes points all the way back to my neck. I never realized how connected all of these things are. I see that our surgeries were a few days apart. What are you doing in PT for your neck?

LJ (not verified)
Title: Member
Hi KC

Hi KC,
I'm like you, until I found this forum I did not even know what ACDF meant. Of course I went a little crazy researching stuff before surgery to the point my NS said "stay off the internet" LOL. But he was kidding and he was happy that I understood what was going on.
I'm sorry that you still have problems but I am beginning to think that after this type of surgery (at least the multi level ones) that we can't expect to be 100%. I am glad to have recovered most of the feeling in my fingers and hands and hopefully the PT will help with some of the other issues. Some of it I guess I will just live with (not like I haven't lived with it for a awfully long time already). Thanks for the prayer, I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and will say one for you as well.
LJ

24-7 stiff neck wrote:
i didnt have any troubles until i was in an accident and oh well its all in my signature line Whew . i thought maybe something was wrong with me having all this pain after surgery, until i found this forum and also i didnt even know what "acdf" ment. after learning some things and then asking questions at my ns appointments, i now realize the different life i am blessed to live. good luck on your recovery and i will also say a prayer for u and your family.
LJ (not verified)
Title: Member
Hi Gulfpearl

Hi gulfpearl,
I wish the doctors would do a study on the shoulder pain after ACDF.
I hope that your's will improve in time. I know what you mean about the weather. Its raining today and my shoulder is so NOT HAPPY.
LJ

gulfpearl wrote:
LJ Like you I do not remember having shoulder pain before surgery. The shoulder pain is always there since my surgery 4 1/2 months ago. It becomes more intense with weather changes especially cold weather & rain, & upon awaking.
LJ (not verified)
Title: Member
Tonya

Tonya,

....first the disclaimer, I am not in the medical field and the opinions I express are just that my own opinions.

You asked what I am doing in PT for my neck. First they have me put heat or cold packs on my neck for 10 minutes (cold if she wants to use cold lazer). Then the physical therapist works on my neck and shoulder. She does massage type things and sometimes uses cold lazor treatment or once I had a different PT and she used ultra sound. Ultra sound scares me because they have to stay away from the neck because it can effect fusion. The physcial therapist does most of her work on my right shoulder. After the PT is done working on me she will have me do some neck exercises. Most of them are isometric (limited movement). She has me lay on my back, tuck my chin and just barely raise my head off the table and then hold for a count of 2 or 3. She has me do this about 10 times. We did not start this exercise until my 4th week of PT and it is painful to do. I also do chin tucks, which is just tucking your chin in slightly a series of times. I work in the gym also. They have me use pullies that hang from the ceiling (no weight) and you move your arms up and down slowly while turning your neck in the opposite direction. I work with a big ball, holding my hand on the top of the ball with the ball on a table and rolling the ball very slightly back or forward while slightly turning my neck in the other direction. I also do something with a ball behind my back while I sit on a table and the ball is against a wall and I kind of pinch my shoulder blades toward each other. Also work with a hand bike with no weight for 2 minutes forward and 2 back. This is getting awfully long. There are some additional isometric exercise for my neck (limited movements) to strengthen short muscles since the PT says we tend to use long muscles after surgery when we should be using short ones.
Please don't do any of these yourself without doctor and/or PT approval.
Get better soon,
LJ

tonya42 wrote:
I thought I was weird. Now I see i'm normal. That's always good to know. I'm in PT now for my neck but called the therapist yesterday to ask if we could focus more on my shoulder pain instead. She told me I have shoulder pain because of my neck. So we continue to work on my neck strengthening exercises and stimulation and heat. It seems like every pain I have down to my toes points all the way back to my neck. I never realized how connected all of these things are. I see that our surgeries were a few days apart. What are you doing in PT for your neck?
elle37 (not verified)
Title: Member
LJ

I could have written your first post Sad My shoulder was fine until I had a 2-level acdf on 10/30. When I went to see my surgeon for my 2-week follow-up, he said it was probably due to surgical positioning and would resolve quickly. He gave me Voltaren gel that I could apply to my shoulder area only - it did not help it the least. He did mention PT if the pain is not resolved be my appt on 12/9.

The pain, at times, in intolerable. It feels like there is a BP cuff inflated to the maximum level on my upper arm. It is a burning pain.

Keep us posted.

Take care,
Elle

jim863
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Joined: 09/17/2008 - 8:46pm
Shoulder pain

Hi LJ,

I understand completely what you are going through. I had a revision of an ACDF at C5-C6 this past May (I fell on ice in March and sheared it off Sad ) Anyhow, that surgery was great and I felt relief almost immediately. I too had a lot of spasms in my right shoulder and was told the same thing by the orthopedist.

I was only able to do 4 sessions of PT before telling him something was not right. After each session I had to come home and re-apply heat pads and use the TENS unit and take Flexerils just to get through the rest of the day. I knew something wasn't right and thankfully the ortho listened to me and got right on the problem. Turned out there was herniations and compresion in the rear of my neck from the original fall 12 years ago and the spasms I had all these years were related to that Confused eventho the whole world told me it was all in my head. Anyhow, I am just finishing recovery from a foraminotomy (they opened the nerve root pathways from the spinal cord on the rear of the spine) and wired some of the discs together in the back to keep them more stable until the muscles strengthen.

For the first time in YEARS I am pain free, all because I pushed the doc to keep checking things out. I had to tell him I wasn't blaming him for anything right or wrong, I just wanted to be out of pain and stop having migraines.

Nearly two months postop and I haven't had a headache nor migraine, and my arms, hands and fingers don't burn for the first time in 12+years.

Get the doc to check again. Be aggressive and don't do what I did after my first surgery: settle for the standard answer. You're the one who owns the body, and who knows what is happening; the doc goes home at night and gets a good night's sleep. Get an MRI, and I recommend one where you are standing if they have that machine nearby, to replicate the normal position of your head and spine.

Good luck

kathal
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Last seen: 3 years 9 months ago
Title: Member
Joined: 10/02/2008 - 7:04pm
My shoulder pain is finally gone...

LJ,

I also had terrible shoulder pain after my surgery. Before surgery I had pain in my right shoulder only but after surgery the pain was in both shoulders. It was so bad I would wake up up several times each night from the pain. Also, going back to work in front of a computer seemed to make it worse. Until I saw the title of your thread I didn't even realize it was gone! I have been so focused on the things that are still causing me pain I have not taken the time to be grateful for the things that have improved. I had surgery on 7-11-08 and I guess the shoulder pain went away after I went to physical therapy several times...probably about a month ago.

I appreciate you posting the info about your PT. My doctor changed the organization that does my PT because I didn't feel like I was making much progress. After reading all that you do in therapy I'm sure I made the right decision. I went 14 times and we only did the same three or four things each time...not near as much as you do at your session. Hopefully, the new therapist will take a more aggressive approach because I definitely want to get better (but not over-do it)

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