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Help! Right Arm Weakness

San1662SSan1662 Posts: 28
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:54 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am 10 days out of surgery for C4&C5, C5&C6 bone spur removal. The surgery was done through the back of my neck. I pain in my right arm has all but gone away but I am having arm weakness in my right arm that was not there when I went to surgery.The doctor ordered a MRI to be sure everything was ok and it was. I cant even do a curl with my arm or raise it up at all. My hand strength is good. The doctor told me that I need some PT as my arm needs to be jump started. Has anyone on here heard of this before and do I have a good chance of getting the use of my arm back? How long will it take to regain my strength? I need to return to work really bad.
Thanks for all your help.


  • First let me say welcome. AS to the right arm weakness, it can return but it may take sometime. Your doctor is correct in ordering the PT, as the nerves can get somewhat pissed off during that surgery, so it might take them sometime to get used to the surgery. Your very new out of surgery still for there to be any real concern that it might be permanent. My advice is to go with your surgeons orders and try the PT, after all you trusted him/her to do surgery, so now trust them for the follow-up care, as well. Good luck and keep us posted. Once again welcome to spine-health.
  • Thanks TamTam for your quick reply. I have just been really scared about not havning use of my arm because I make my living with my hands. I just hope the PT helps get me back to where I need to be.
    Thanks again.
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  • San,

    Tamtam gave you great advice! I sustained nerve damage (determined months, and a year plus later) due to the way my neck level went. I never recovered my arm weakness. No, that's not correct, I did get maybe 10% back? At any rate, what I am trying to say, if you didn't have issues (I did) before surgery, it is highly likely that your nerves are (pissed off) and working on recovery. Nerves recover at a rate of approximately 1mm a day!

    Give it time, rest, eat well, walk (oxygen for fusion and surgical recovery), and listen to your body. Hopefully this is just a sign of your nerves being unhappy, and recovering. It takes time. A phrase I hated as a kid..."Patience is a virtue", but WOW is that so dang true!

    Of course let your doctor know of your concerns, but give your body time to recover. Surgery for the spine is very traumatic for the body, and our lovely nerves. Fingers crossed that you will recover really well.!!! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thanks Brenda, I hope to start PT this week and I will update this to let everyone know how its going.
    Thanks again Sandy.
  • Sandy,

    (Nice name). Starting PT, excellent. My surgeon normally didn't prescribe PT after cervical fusion, but like you on my second one, he did. Unfortunately for me (already had damage), it didn't help. What your describing, I will keep my fingers crossed that IT DOES work for you. :)

    Looking forward to a positive update woman!! Gentle support *HUGZ*

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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  • Doctors office called and my PT is setup to start next Thursday. They couldnt get me in this week because they are full. I kinda went off about it sence the Doctor wanted me to start this week. This arm weakness is really tearing me apart. Im not use to being limited on my movement and I dont understand how it was working before the surgery and now not. (Sorry had to vent) I guess I will get through this and hopefully my job will still be there. Thats another worry.
  • Sandy,

    *HUG* I can feel your frustration. When you have cervical surgery, many times you are positioned supine, and your head in place in some sort of tongs. This way they can extend your neck, and too allow more access to your spine. That position can irritate other nerves.

    Question, is the arm weakness in line with the level they worked on, or a different level? My guess is if the PT doesn't work, your surgeon will have you get an MRI to be sure nothing else is going on. Regardless, other nerves can be upset, so your arm may take a while to come back. Try not to be sad, and for sure don't give up that it won't come back.

    Granted we are neck spiney's for surgery, but I've seen on here folks that have back surgery, and they have all manner of pain, weakness and numbness totally contrary to what they had before surgery - and it ultimately goes away. Try to stay positive. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I been doing alot of arm exercises on my own the last few days and it seems my arm weakness is improving some but real slow. As of now I am 17 days out of surgery. I have one question, why is it that when I lay down on the bed I can move my arm pretty much anyway I want to but when Im standing or setting it doesnt want to bend or move like when laying down. I trying to keep my hopes up till I can start PT Thursday.
  • I had fusion of 3 vertebrae in my neck due to stenosis and I had an impinged spinal cord and the pinching of one nerve coming off the spinal cord. The symptoms I had were an inability to bend my right thumb at the middle joint which is still present and a feeling of my forearm being crushed. The surgery was 2 weeks ago today and was done as outpatient surgery. I have to wear the neck collar for six weeks. I want to know if I can expect to get the proper use of my right thumb and full strength in my hand back eventually and how long can I expect this to take. My throat no longer hurts and the surgery was done in 2 1/2 hours. I went in at 12:30pm and had surgery at 2 pm and was back at home by 7:45pm. The pain from surgery has been minimal except for the sore throat which went away after 7 days. They had to move my voicebox to do the surgery but it had very little effect on my voice. They said I shouldn't lift more than ten pounds. I can physically move my thumb with the other hand but I cannot move it past straight at the middle joint on its own. I am just curious how long I can expect this to take. Thank You, Gregory Russ
  • Hi Gregory,
    Its hard for me to tell you how long it will take sence im not a doctor but my doctor told me it just takes time for the nerve to heal and I needed to be patient. The nerves dont like to be messed with and it takes time for them to calm down. I woke up with my right arm not working and I kinda flipped out for awhile. I am now going on 4 weeks after surgery. I have been doing some arm exercises and going to PT. My right arm seems to be coming back around because I can move it some but its not all better. The best advice I can give you is to hang in there. It will come in time and if you need PT it helps alot. Im sorry I couldnt be more help to you but keep checking posts on here and read what others are going through, thats what I have been doing to ease the pain.

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