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Do myelopathy symptoms ever get better after surgery?

So I had two surgeries in the past 5 months to correct a severely herniated disc and cervical stenosis (diagnosis on my military medical referral was cervical spondyliosis with myelopathy). I had an ACDF of C4/5 C5/6 and a posterior laminectomy and decompression with fusion and rods from C3 to T4. I still have many of the nerve symptoms I had prior to the surgery though not nearly as severe and most of the back/neckpain I had is gone (have standard post surgical pain, 8 weeks out from posterior laminectomy). Prior to the surgery I had severe nerve pain in my left forearm, left hand twitches periodically, numbness in my pinky and ring finger on my left hand, loss of strength in left hand, tingling in my pinky and ring finger on right hand, left leg numbness below knee, shooting pains in leg, and numb spots on my sides. Post surgery the only things that are still present are loss of strength in left hand, numbeness in left pinky and ring finger, nerve pain in left forearm, periodic left hand twitching, and numb toes on left foot. So overall I am much better than before but I just wonder if it will ever go away. My NS informed me it may never get better and that the surgery was just to keep things from getting worse so I am prepared for that but I still have hope. Just can't find information on if myelopathy symptoms ever actually go away after surgery. Thanks.


  • Large nerves can regenerate, but do so at the rate of one millimeter per day. If it's any reassurance to you, I had a release of a right brachial nerve compression and rotator cuff repair (shoulder surgery) in 1993, and had many of the arm and hand symptoms that you describe. I, too, was told that the goal of surgery was to prevent deterioration and not to expect much actual improvement. They lasted a good nine months at a fairly miserable level, but did eventually start to improve. At three years my right arm and hand had full range of motion and equal strength to my left arm and hand, but it was with a lot of PT, including doing all the home exercises every single day. At my one year checkup the ortho surgeon told me I had some anterior impingement and should have more surgery to release that, and I told him I'd come back if the New York Yankees offered me a pitching contract--LOL!

    So the short answer to your question is--it might or it might not go away. Only time will tell. It did in my case, but it took a hell of a long time. In fact, that shoulder surgery was way worse than the L 4-5 fusion I had done eight weeks ago.
    I'm not a spinal diagnosis. I'm a human being with a spinal diagnosis.
  • Hi bpreachers,

    I think I have mentioned before that my surgeon has said that there is still time for my symptoms to improve.
    I am 12 weeks post surgery and still have many of my pre-surgery pains and symptoms. I am back on the Gabapentin/Neurontin.

    Right at the beginning, my surgeon told me that the surgery was being done to stop the progression of damage to my cord and that I may be left with my symptoms. He did say that he expects 70% of his patients to get some sort of improvement, but he can't predict how much or how long to get it. He said we won't know how much relief I will get until 6 to 12 months after surgery.

    I am still hopeful that I will get relief. :-)
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  • RickilalasRRickilalas Posts: 558
    edited 02/19/2013 - 7:19 PM
    In Nov 2006 I had my first surgery for a compressed cord. They surgery went very well for how bad I was in.
    In a few months I had new issues with both of my feet and my arm pits plus a few more small issues with bladder and more. Another SCS now showed some pretty good amount of mylopathy. Now started the new information with that. Now when I have trouble with new issue they do not now if its the cord damage or cervicaln nerve damage or lumbar nerve damage. They say rule of thumb is if the problem is only one side its the nerves if the problem is on both side at the same time chances are its the cord damage. I have been told cord damage will not get better but some nerve damage will. Now my problem is which is it and or last thîng I asked is will the cord damage get worse or stay the same. Their answer is nobody knows.

    I wish you luck take care
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