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Arm weakness

Neck of Steel CindyNNeck of Steel Cindy Posts: 1,065
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:22 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
For several weeks I have felt like my left arm is getting weaker again. I am post op about 3 months now, and I was hoping it was just my imagination, but it is becoming more and more obvious that there is a problem.

Some of the exercises I do use hand held weights. I use a 3 pound one right now. When I hold the weight in my hand with my palm down and try to raise my arm in front of me with the arm straight, I can only raise to about shoulder level. No matter how hard I try, it just won't go any higher. It is painful in the crook of my arm on the outer muscles for about a 6 inch span, with the elbow being the middle of the painful area. I don't think it is elbow though,b ecause it isn't joint pain, just more muscle weakness and pain. If I don't have a weight in hand, I can raise the arm all the way, though I do feel a strain in the same area. I get a lot of burning down this arm again too.

My question, have any of you experienced anything like this? There is a slight dent in my arm just below the painful area, where maybe some atrophy is going on. I'll be sure to point this out when I see my surgeon on Tuesday, just wondered if anyone else has experience with this. I am so ready to be done with all of this, and I don't even want to think about it being a problem with my recent revision surgery.
Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!


  • The pain I get is in the arm, so I don't think it is from the shoulder. And the muscle atrophy appears to be in the arm. I suppose anything is possible though. I can move it completely without a weight, although it feels weaker. Strange. however, my right shoulder gives me pain when I raise my arm, feels like a tight muscle coming from my neck.

    Are you still improving on the shoulder thing? I hope that you will one day be able to gain full use of it.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Your arm weakness sounds like a cervical issue. I had left arm weakness before my cervical fusion which ended up being caused by nerve damage from a bulged disk pushing against and narrowing my spinal cord to almost one third of the sixe it was suppose to be.
    You should check with your doctor.

    Best Wishes,
    Christina :)
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  • Christina, I have had so much work done on my neck that I cringe when I think it could be from my neck. It has been a long 2 years, and the thought of it being from my neck scares me to death. But I can't imagine what else it could be. I have wondered about carpel tunnel syndrome, but isn't that on the bottom inside of your forearm, not on top and elbow? I am definitely going to speak with the doctor about it on Tuesday. I had arm weakness prior to surgery, but it was different from this and that has resolved. however, I still drop things all the time, I am the most clumsy person I know! It is as if things just slip through my fingers when I am holding them. So maybe it is all connected to my neck. :''(
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Thats what was happening to me. My left arm started with just a feeling like it was falling asleep all the time. After awhile of being like that I noticed that when I held something like a glass, my hand would start shaking just trying to support the glass. After that, I found that I was dropping things.

    Good luck hun,
    Christina :)
  • Oh dear Cindy....

    We must have had our necks joined at birth or something 8> . I hope and pray that your pain is not your neck but you know that we have had very similar symptoms :W . I have the same pain in my left arm when I raise it with something in my hand, fine with out. I do however, have horrible pain in the arm shoulder and neck if I put my hand at my side and try to raise my arm up from my side. I dont even get the arm as high as my waist and it gets unbearable painful in the arm and neck. Stop raising the arm that way until you get checked from the Dr. We dont realize how our movements effect our spine until something like this happens. I had my emg on Wed, it did confirm that I have atrophy and weakness in bilateral arms with the left more so than the right. It also confirmed that there is a cervical cord compression. As he put the needles in my arm, the higher he got, the quiter the responce and when he got to the shoulder and the neck there was no sound hardly at all. He stopped the test and said there was no need to complete it. I go on Wed to talk to the surgeon that ordered all the tests, he is the 2nd opinion and then I go back to the original surgeon on Thurs.

    Keep me posted on your Dr. appointment and please be careful.... :H

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  • Cindy,
    Sorry to hear this is happening. What are they saying about the fusion itself. The one thing you have to remember is that you have bmp in the neck and it is very possible for the bmp to overgrow and compromise a nerve. My thoughts are that it sounds like the c5 nerve root which would be between c4-c5. Should that bmp over grown would not be a major surgery to clean it up. As far as exercising just keep the rotational movement going as well as all movements don't push the weight issue. A definite due is the shoulder squeeze. Let us know what the doc says on Tuesday.
  • In addition to bmp overgrowth as Tam suggested, maybe you are also getting some scar tissue forming in there that may be causing these recent problems. I say that b/c of the timing - you're coming out of that window 6 weeks-3 months when scar tissue proliferates and so maybe thats causing a problem.

    I hope you are getting at least an Xray on tuesday to check for some bone growth (in the right places!) - that would at least be very encouraging at this point.

    Glad to hear your other stuff has settled down (never PM'd you back). If only you could get that darn neck under control! X(

    Let us know what happens on Tuesday! Best wishes, as always... :)))
  • I had my appointment today with my surgeon and spent quite a bit of time with him discussing all of my symptoms. Overall it went well.

    My arm weakness is most likely permanent nerve damage from the C6 nerve root. He explained how the different muscles work, and when I get to about shoulder level when raising my arm the scapula rotates so that the arm can continue to raise. The C6 nerve root apparently controls this. I'm not sure if this is getting worse or if I have just been noticing it more since I am doing more. Either way, there isn't really much to be done for it. Another surgery is not an option, as he said the C6 nerve root is completely decompressed, and most likely this is a permanent thing. however, I will be monitoring my strength for a few weeks and see if it worsens. I think it has been worsening, but he could be correct that I have just been noticing it more.

    All in all I am healing up well. He doesn't do x-rays at this point. I questioned whether I could have bmp overgrowth. He said that he only used bmp posteriorly on me, and that it would not be causing this type of symptom with my arm. So that theory is shot down.

    He released me to go back to work, so I am going to give it a try. I work in real estate so I'll step that up a bit. However my administrative position is not available for me to go back to. I think I'll start working 2-3 days a week in real estate and see how that goes.

    I told him that my neck still hurts, and I said something like it will probably always be that way. He agreed. With as much work as I had done, I think it will be a lifetime of pain, so I'll just have to learn to deal with it.

    For those of you who have followed my saga, you'll remember that my first surgeon ordered a lumbar mri just to make sure that we weren't missing anything that could be causing my right sided nerve pain (goes from ribs down to toes, used to be from armpit to toes). This is what gives me the most pain, and it drives me nuts. I decided to take my MRI films to have surgeon #2 check them out. He looked at them and explained to me that the disc at L4-5 is completely gone (bone on bone). But since I don't have back pain, he agrees that this isn't what is causing my problems. Also, T12 is protruding into the cord, and this may or may not be the cause of my bladder issues, which have worsened again over the past 3 weeks. I have tried to pretend that the bladder stuff wasn't returning, but after a very humiliating experience a couple of days ago, I have finally decided to face reality and tell him about it. I was so hopeful that that part of this ordeal was over. :''( He called the T12 area the "conus" area and that bladder issues can be a symptom of this area. He is sending me to a neuro-urologist to see if he can give me some help. In the past I have just worked with a regular urologist, so maybe this guy will be able to give me some help.

    So I suppose it is time to get back to work and see how I handle it. I was gone all day today and am totally wiped out. I don't know how I will be able to work if just driving and shopping for school clothes for my kids wiped me out this much. But time will tell.

    Thanks to all of my friends who have been here to encourage me. What do you think about not having x-rays taken again? I asked him when I need the next set and he said that there is no need for further x-rays. Is this because I have so much hardware and there is no way my c-spine will move?

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
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