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Muscle atrophy: has anyone recovered?

lthspinellthspine Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
hi all,

i've been diagnosed with moderate acute superimposed on chronic left c7 radiculopathy, as well as low-grade c6 impingement. i also have osteophytes & ddd at c4-c5, c5-c6, and c6-c7, as well as moderate to severe left and bilateral foraminal stenosis at those sites. confirmed by mri, emg, and clinical examination. i have some (not debilitating) pain, left hand numbness, and left tricep weakness. my most severe symptom, though, and the one that has the surgeon anxious, is severe atrophy of my left pectoral muscle. the acute injury happened on 8/11/10, the result of a chiropractic adjustment, but i've had chronic chest weakening for about 5 years.

my question is this: has anyone here ever recovered from muscle atrophy?

skimming the forums i see plenty of people have had pain relief, but i haven't seen anyone yet get muscle back. the emg doc postulated since nerves only grow 1mm/day it might be a year before my pec is innervated again, if i have the surgery. all the docs have told me the nerve is damaged & that surgery should be soon to avoid it being permanent. but i don't want it unless there's a very good chance of that muscle coming back. i'd be more inclined to do it if it were just c6-c7, but the surgeon recommends c4-c7 fusion.

i'll try to attach an mri slice at c6-c7:



  • I have lost two muscles completely from denervation. Short of a muscle and nerve graft, I have no hope of ever regaining these muscles.

    If I had known before these muscles were gone, that I stood the chance to lose them and surgery could have averted it, I would have had surgery.

    There's no going back once something becomes permanent.

    Welcome to Spine Health.

  • I was reading your story and though i would add my insight.. I have never had a mucle atrophy from a back situation but i have had one atrophy after a surgery i had done in my leg.. A atrophyed muscle is a atrophyed muscle no mater where it is located at...I had a knee surgery back in 2008 and went through all the PT, over a year as a matter of fact, and i lost 45% of my ROM in that leg.. My body rejected the surgery, which in turn caused all these other problems..But i have a very atrophyed quad muscle, which i got after that surgery..and was told by many specialists that once a muscle has started to do that there usually is no going back...it has been almost 3yrs now and no change.. I will have to live with the pain, weakness, loss of ROM and hardly no quad muscle for the rest of my life. and that surgery in turn also caused the 2 herniated disc's in my back. B/c i tend to favor my left side and dont even know that i am doing it.so needless to say everything was shifted and not alined right anymore...but as for your question i would say once it has started no matter where it is at there is no going back.. at least like i said that is what i was told..i hope your not upset with my reply being the muscle in question is different from mine. Just was giving you some of my story and what i was told.. best of luck to you and hope you get it figured out soon...
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  • Getting the muscles back depends on "the nerve" - is it permanently damaged, or recovering after being released by surgery is the key. My C6 and C7 nerves were permanently damaged on the right side. Where my triceps where is a deep groove, the top of my forearm is now developing an elongated divot, same on the wrist. If the nerves are such that they are not giving information to the muscle, it will atrophy. If the messages are restored after surgery, you could get it back. 1mm a day sounds about right. I hope it all works out for you.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,745
    I was on the table a long time. and somehow from not moving me my right hand was badly effected. the surgeon took a measurement. Multiplied it out and came up with 18 mo. to become fully operational. He was very close to being right! Although I still get numbness in my hand from time to time. I do have full use. And the muscle atrophy has not been much of a issue to me.
    good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • My right calf shrank in the 8 or 9 months that my L4-L5 disc was herniated and compressing the right nerve root. I hadn't noticed until my surgeon mentioned it.

    My micro-d surgery was/is successful, and I have no current weakness there, but I have not tried to build the muscle back to its previous size.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
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  • I have nerve damage in my right leg. I too have dealt with some atrophy as a result.

    My right leg used to be 1" larger, now it's almost 2" smaller.

    I don't notice any weakness though - not anymore. I do a lot of weight lifting now - squats on a leg press and other leg movements on machines. I really think it helps to train the muscles to work, even though I can't really feel them.

    As for the nerve damage, I got some of the feeling back, only to lose it again. I've notified the NS, but he only wants to presecribe Neurontin. I didn't call for meds, I called to see if the increased numbness was anything to worry about.
  • I got muscle atrophy in my glutes and am currently trying a muscle stimulator to try to fire up the nerves in the area. My pt recommended that I try this for I was still in the "window of opportunity" that the nerves might recover. My nerve damage happened during surgery and it has been just over a year. I have been in pt a lot and I have exercised a lot but the muscles have failed to develop so far. The electic stimulation has brought new meaning to being a "pain in the butt". I am using an Emmpi stimulator.
  • At age 48, fit jogger and weight lifter. Got a nasty numbing sciatica shot of pain hip to foot when I just picked up my foot to wash it in the shower. Bottom of foot went numb and half of my calf in simply stopped working. I continued to weight lift and jog and concentrate on calf raises for years. However, now 14 years later, the foot numbness is 95% gone, but that half of the calf is still nonresponsive and atrophied down to nothing. Just so if things don't work out, you don't feel like the Lone Ranger....
  • mickster74mmickster74 Sheffield Posts: 1
    I had a lumbar operation about 17 years ago, l5 s1 area,.crushed 3 disks but only had the worst one operated on but the scar tissue has built up round the nerve,slowly stopping the signal to my left leg but the atrophy is mainly in my left lower leg, its 2 thirds the size of my right leg, I have had physio to try and strengthen the remainder of the muscle but its not working, I have also tried tens machines and muscle toners to no avail, just wondering if any body has got any other ideas I could try
  • HI I also had 2 lumbar fusions S1- L4 and I had no signal to my left quad. This over the years has caught terrible weakness and gait issues. I am now 60 and my left thigh is much smaller than my right. My walking in impaired. I have trouble getting up and down from chairs and stairs being the most scary and dangerous. Ive also taken some falls because of this. I too have had tens, PT and no avail either. I am very worried how this is effecting my life. Obviously no dancing, skiing, mostly all activities. I don't trust my balance. Please let me know.
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