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Post Op Pain in shoulder after C5 C6 anterior disectomy with fusion

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Hello everyone I am new to the site and please forgive my spelling. Just had surgery on Nov 6th C5 C6 anterior disectomy with bone graft and fusion. My MRI and pain was mostly on my left side before surgery went into shoulder and down arm into hand. MRI showed a mild case on right but no symptoms of pain. Had two cortisone injections prior to surgery and tried many different medications and nerve test showed damage due to bone spur. After surgery I woke with some pain in my left arm and shoulder but noticed my right shoulder and arm was in horrible pain !! Thinking it may have been due to surgery and moving me since I am a bigger woman. I went home the next morning still in pain but figured it would get better but it just got worse and ended up in ER on Tuesday morning since doctor was on vacation. All they did at ER was give me Diladed not sure of spelling for pain and said I would need to follow up with my doctor of course no help. My doctor came back on the 11th and gave me a script for cortisone and it at least has helped to make the pain tolerable because prior to that two percocet's was not touching the pain and I felt like a zombie ! Doctor said he did not even look at my right side during since I had no pain. I was just wondering if this has possibly happened to anyone else and what did they do ? Thanks Corina


  • I have read another recent post regarding the same problem. Some speculated the arm pain might be because of the position they placed you in during the surgery. I had the same surgery as you did about 4 weeks ago and this didn't happen to me. I think you should however contact your NS Monday. I hope its a passing problem for you and the pain gets less and less.
  • Hi Corina,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. You will find many members here who have or are going through the same medical issues as yourself.

    I have seen some members need the steriods following surgery and some even to need injections. When you seen the surgeon did they take x-rays? It is possible while they were in there the right side nerve was disturbed a bit. Also as yankee eluded to the positioning during surgery is a bit hard on you. Hopefully in a few weeks things will calm down for you. Just be sure to keep your surgeon informed. Once again welcome to spine-health. Look forward to reading more of your post. Take care.
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  • When I woke up I had pain in my right wrist but that went away. Most of my pain prior to surgery was on the left side. I did notice that the other night when I tried to lay on my left side I could not I got a pain in the shoulder and my arm went numb again. I go back to the Doctor on Dec 2nd so I'm going to ask him about that. If your pain is still going on I would ask your doctor about it or have another doctor in the same group look at you. Hope it gets better.
  • Thank you all so much for your help so far I am hoping to get an earlier appt with my doctor this week to see about the ongoing pain and will keep you up to date.
    Thanks again, Corina
  • I am glad you are trying to see your surgeon or someone in the group sooner. It is hard to deal with new pain after surgery. I had an ACDF C5-6 Aug 24, I had myelopathy, but even though my reflexes were off in other places, my pain was worse on the rt side. Since surgery my left leg and foot became weaker. Hopefully your surgeon will be able to help you with your new symptoms.

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  • Hi Rena,
    I had the same surgery as you on Aug 5th and have had the same post op pain on my right side which had not bothered me before surgery.
    I have been to therapy 14 times so far for this problem and had EMG nerve test and MRI today, so if I find out exactly what happened I will let you know as to what has caused my similar problems.
    Stay patient and determined, and don't quit asking questions until you are satisfied
  • I still have it too. Had surgery over 6 mos ago & have been to countless therapies to get this "locked muscle" what they say, resolved. I am going to a new neuro today to see what he thinks. This muscle keeps wanting to stay stuck for some reason. Like it still wants to guard the neck. Once it's released, it feels good, only for awhile though. I'll let ya'll know tomorrow. I'm anxious to hear what they tell Jeff.
  • I don't want you to think that your pain may be like what happened to me, but just to let you know that it can happen. I had ACDF on C5/6 in June and my right arm was aching like crazy. About 2 weeks after surgery, my left arm started up. At a month after, I was in horrible pain that just kept increasing. In August, I had to have another ACDF on C4/5 where they joined C4 thru C6 with one plate. This cleared up my left arm pain. I still have a bone spur at C5/6 that is minimally impacting my right side nerve root and my C6/7 is severely degenerated to where it's bone on bone. I'm having horrible pain in my shoulders, blades, and up my neck with that cat claw feeling. My arms seem to be fine so my NS isn't too concerned. He said at the 6mo. mark, he'd considered adding C6/7 to the fusion. I'm like what? Why is everything dominoing on me? and why didn't he just fuse everything at once? He is ultra conservative, but it's causing me extra surgeries. I'm making it on Lortab 7.5 and Zanaflex for the spasms but have been unable to return to work.

    I hope that your pain is truly recovery pain and will resolve, but be aware that fusions can make other things crop up. Stay on your surgeon to find out what is going on with you, insist in new tests to see if you're now having nerve compression on the other side. You'd like to think that surgery will fix you though. :)
  • I had C5/6 fusion 1/08. That night, had horrible left shoulder to hand pain. Was readmitted two days later for pain control and lost the function of left hand. I was on IV Dilaudid for 3 days then put on Lyrica for the pain, which worked remarkably well. My NS said it was my nerve had been compressed for so long then when it was released it "woke up". Did you ask your NS for something for nerve pain?

    Best to you,

  • I was finally contacted by my doctor today and advised him the pain has decreased but is still there and gets worse the more I move my arm. The doctor seems to think it is more of a joint issue than my neck and will see him on the 23rd was hoping to see him sooner but oh well. I am currently now taking nuerontin have been for about three months taking 1800mg since they have seen nerve damage at the end July and take feldene for anti inflamatory and percocet as needed. I also forgot to mention when they did EMG had seen nerve damage on left hand for carpal tunnel. Went for surgery on Sept 4th for that and has been getting better !! I keep trying to stay positive and it is good to know other people out there can share their experiences becuase unfortunately with my DDD I do not forsee myself being completely pain free but hope to have some relief and go back to work !
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