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possible cervical 6-7 posterior decompression surgery

LouiseFLLouiseF Posts: 6
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:43 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had severe right arm pain and finger numbness, tingling in the beginning of January. With anti inflamitories the major arm pain is gone, but the finger numbness and tingling still persists and my tricep is weakened.
My surgeon recommends surgery, but I am nervous. Are most people in severe pain going into surgery or do you have the muscle weakness with the numbness and tingling without the severe pain? How long before the muscle doesn't bounce back?
Or how long does it take for the numbness and weakness to go away without surgery?


  • Hello Louise,

    Welcome to Spine Health! Take a look around and use the search box at the top - lots of great info on here!

    Now to try and answer your questions. I had the surgery for the C6/7, so I do not know if the symptoms would have gone away without surgery. In my particular case, I would venture, NO, it would have just gotten worse. Don't forget, we are all different and different in how our disks failed, so reactions with or without surgery will be different.

    I underwent an ACDF, which is an "Anterior (from the front) Cervical Diskectomy & Fusion." In basic, they go in the front of the neck, remove most of the disk that went bad, clean up any bone spurs then input a bone graph with a cage...finish it up with a plate and screws. On this fusion most of my symptoms (except the burning in the shoulder blade) came back just passing 6 weeks. I only got back a little of my strength in the triceps and related muscles, but theory has it with mine, when the disk failed it "smacked" into the right side exit nerve root - and as such, I won't be getting much of my strength back and muscle wasting is continuing. The finger pain and most of the numbness was gone as I awoke from the surgery, and that symptom as well did not return.

    For me, surgery was offered due to the weakness and pain. He didn't consider numbness to be as important in the grand scheme of things. I think of most concern was that I had instant weakness when the disk failed, followed by the following morning with searing pain in the shoulder blade, triceps and part of my forearm.

    If your disk is failing slowly, and too not crushing the nerves, you might fair well. Most doctors will tell you that the relief of pain isn't guaranteed however. Then again, no surgery is guaranteed right? Please keep us posted on how it goes for you. Take care, and again Welcome to the site!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Hi Louis,

    First let me say welcome to spine-health. Have a look around and be sure to check out the video section. I think you might want to look at the posterior frominatomy video as that sound something like what is being offered. Whatever types of treatments have you tried? What is the diagnoses for them to do the surgery?

    The muscle weakness is concerning but it depends on to what degree you are in. Did you get multiple opinions regarding surgery? I always strongly suggest that members do that. Some times you will get varying degree of opinions and you have to be the educated consumer in this process. Remember spine surgery will forever alter the mechanics of the spine, so there is no going back. I am not trying to scare you just do your research on your specific condition. In the neck many of the surgeries look similar but are done for many different reasons. Was there any mention of myelopathy?

    Many go into surgery and awake and the numbness is gone instantly on waking and some it takes sometime for that to happen as the nerve heals. So it is hard to speculate how it will work out for you. The most important thing is to have faith in your surgeon and all your questions answered. I have had posterior surgery and it harder to recover from than the anterior surgery, due largely to the muscles they need to go through.

    Anyway just thought I would stop by and welcome you to spine-health. If there is anything I can do don't hesitate to pm me. Keep us posted on what you do and how you get along. Take care.
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  • Thanks Brenda for responding. I appreciate your comments. How did your injury become obvious?
    I woke up one morning with weakness in my hand, then the pain came later in the weeks following. I don't know if it was quick or if it was building up. I am worried that nothing will change as a result of surgery.....
  • Thanks Tamtam,
    No myelopathy, the right nerve at the 6-7 is closed off. The 5-6 is looking bad, but not causing a problem at the moment.
    I keep going back and forth, my weakness isn't severe yet, the finger pain is manageable, but I worry that the longer it goes, the less recoup to the nerve there will be, but because I'm not in severe pain, I hesitate to have surgery.
  • LouiseF said:
    Thanks Brenda for responding. I appreciate your comments. How did your injury become obvious?
    I woke up one morning with weakness in my hand, then the pain came later in the weeks following. I don't know if it was quick or if it was building up. I am worried that nothing will change as a result of surgery.....
    Howdy Louise,

    You're Welcome. :-) My injury was odd in that I was just past a year post op from my C5/6 fusion, and I was enjoying a nice deep yawn (back arched, arms fully up, nice yawn), and my husband to my left asked me something. I turned my head left to answer him and felt a sharp "rubber band like" snap - no real pain felt at that time. About 15 minutes later I was changing out a DVD, and when I raised my left hand to remove the old disk, my right arm fully collapsed! My index and middle fingers started feeling weird (numb, weak) shortly after that. This was on a Sunday afternoon, so I had already decided I was going to call my NS the next day. When I awoke the next morning, the burning pain through my shoulder, shoulder blade and triceps was almost unbearable. My NS office got me in the next day.

    My C5/6 was a slow and building issue - years of flying helicopters and flying wearing night vision goggles (mounted on my helmet), arresting bad guys, rough life in general. (G) Wouldn't change a thing! My C6/7 was instant - though pain issues took overnight to reveal themselves. I will have my fingers crossed that you fare well when you wake up! Positive thoughts Louise, positive thoughts. :---) Please keep us posted. *hug*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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  • Welcome to Spine-Health. Like Tamtam said, look around the site at the various articles and videos concerning cervical surgery. This is a great place to research any upcoming procedures and surgeries.

    I had a 3-lvl ACDF in Oct. 08 and all my arm symptoms were gone immediately afterwards when I woke up. My symptoms were very severe, pain, tingling and numbness in my right arm 24/7, muscle spasms in my back and shoulders and I had severe tennis-elbow-type pain in my left arm, along with severe weakness where I couldn't even lift a glass of water.

    I had no choice but surgery due to the severity of my cervical problems, but choosing surgery is a very personal choice. It's a last resort and like tamtam said, will forever change the dynamics of your spine.

    I'm very glad I had mine done and if I suffered the same symptoms would do it again in a heartbeat.

    I'd agree that you should get multiple opinions regarding surgery. Many here will tell you to go with your gut and you seem like you're just not sure what to do. Consulting a few more doctors could very well help you decide what to do.

    Take care and keep us posted.
  • Hello Louise!
    I am now in recovery from a 2 level ACDF. I had surgery 11 days ago. I had symptoms very similar to yours but I did have compression of my spinal cord so I really did not have a choice in surgery or not. I can tell you that surgery is very scaring and the most scary part about it is not knowing how your body is going to handle it. I am 11 days out and I actually feel really good. I am taking 2 1/2 weeks off work and then I will be back in action. I am even off pain medication as of yesterday, yes I take 1 vicodin here and there and yes I have a long road ahead of me but I have no regrets on surgery. All my pain and numbness was gone when I woke up from surgery, yes there was pain but mostly from the surgery itself.

    Now I did have Anterior surgery, which is more common I believe than posterior so it is a different surgery. I was told that medication, physical therapy nor chiropractic care was not going to help and would actually make my situation worse. Each situation is different and making the decision between surgery and not is defiantly only a decision that you and your doctors can make. I looked at it in the light that I am only 29 yrs old and I had the risk of being paralyzed if I did nothing, so my decision was easy to me.

    Good luck in your decision and keep us updated. I looked at this site every day leading up to my surgery and have continued during my recovery. Best of Luck!
  • Hi Louise,
    I also am considering surgery, and actually finally decided to schedule already. I've realized that although I am probably trying to push it off, since I am afraid, I should just do it because of the pain I've been in. I tried telling myself to just deal with the pain, and I have tried, but it's either surgery or pills, pills, pills.
    I am grateful for all the support here, and just wanted to stop in and say hi, and let you know that you are not alone.
    Take care!
  • Thanks for the comments, Janna, good luck to you!
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