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Muscle twitches and arm weakness after ACDF

Hello,
I am a 39 yo male. I underwent a c5-c6-c7 ACDF 10 weeks ago.
Prior to surgery my symptoms were numbness in fingers and neck pain.
I woke up from the surgery with completely numb index and thumb of my left hand that were ok prior the surgery.
My left arm was also extremely weak. I barely could lift it above my head. It has been so week that I have been using almost only my right arm lately. I also experience twitches in my biceps, triceps, shoulder and chest muscles. It looks like the whole muscle is jumping without telling it to do so. I first felt the twitches the night after my surgery when the morphine stopped working.
Is this twitching related to nerve regeneration/irritation?
Is it a common symptom here? Has anyone experienced this?
How long should I wait for it to calm down?

The strength in my arm is about 80% now, the numbness is almost gone.
If not the twitching I am worried about I would say the surgery was successful.
Can anyone relate?

PS. Im not wearing a collar since 7th week post op.
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Comments

  • Just wanted to add that all of the symptoms that I had before the surgery were in my right arm and are gone now.
  • LizLiz Posts: 9,665
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
    Here are just some of the highlights:

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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
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  • Hi Andman,

    My case seems very similar to yours. I am a 36 year old male who also had a two level procedure - a c6/7 ACDF and a c5/6 artificial disc replacement. I woke up with increased numbness in my fingers on both sides and significant soreness/weakness in my left arm/ shoulder that wasn't there prior to surgery. No twitching though. Surgeon says that this is from swelling/agitation and should settle over next few weeks. I only had the procedure 4 days ago so it is early days.

    I was just wondering how your recovery went and whether the symptoms you describe have subsided further or gone completely? As you can understand it is a time of apprehension.
  • Many of your nerves were not firing due to the compression befor the surgery. If the nerve root at C7 was compressed this would be the regeneration of those nerves. Have you talked to your surgeon about it? I had the same surgery back in 2011 and I had an EMG afterward because I had tingling and numbness in my left hand. I found permanent damage at the root at C7 and I will always have this pain unless they come up with some new treatment.
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  • Jules27JJules27 Posts: 64
    edited 07/20/2014 - 6:19 PM
    I had a single level ACDF on April 10th. Since then, I have experienced lots of weird nerve impulses, along with weakness, tingling, twitching, etc. All are signs of nerve healing/regeneration. While I was under anesthesia, my surgeon and his team performed nerve conduction studies to assess the health of my newly un-impinged nerve. Based on what they found, he expects full recovery. He indicated it may take up to 18 months, however. I've had many ups and downs during these 13 weeks, oftentimes because I overdid it or had a mishap. Each time, I've had a return of symptoms or increase in symptoms. The severity of the symptoms gets less over time, however. Most of the pain and disability I had pre-op is gone. In the past few days, the remaining symptoms (primarily with my hands) have improved markedly.

    It's hard, but we must be patient. Nerves are temperamental, especially so soon after being freed. They are quick to anger and flare up, but assuming they weren't permanently damaged prior to your surgery, you should recover very well in time.

    Jules
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 1,025
    Hi andman,
    I remember back about 7 years ago when I had a major rebuild of C4 thru C7 with a lot of hardware installed I had a lot of weird symptoms. Learned to just weather it out and all turned out just fine. Now I am about 14 weeks post-op of a posterior fusion from C2 all the way down to T3 and I'm not having a lot of pain, just some finger weakness and a lot of spasms thru my mid back/shoulder area. Since I know somewhat what to expect and being my follow-up appt. reveals fusion has begun and all the hardware stayed where it belongs, I feel confident I should do just fine.

    Like Jules said in the post above, patience is a virtue, that was not my forte years ago but now I've learned how. Once you have that mastered you will do a lot better, trust me.
    Good luck on your recovery.
    Ranger
  • gerrilynnggerrilynn West palm beach floridaPosts: 2

    andman said:
    1. Hello,
      I am a 39 yo male. I underwent a c5-c6-c7 ACDF 10 weeks ago.
      Prior to surgery my symptoms were numbness in fingers and neck pain.
      I woke up from the surgery with completely numb index and thumb of my left hand that were ok prior the surgery.
      My left arm was also extremely weak. I barely could lift it above my head. It has been so week that I have been using almost only my right arm lately. I also experience twitches in my biceps, triceps, shoulder and chest muscles. It looks like the whole muscle is jumping without telling it to do so. I first felt the twitches the night after my surgery when the morphine stopped working.
      Is this twitching related to nerve regeneration/irritation?
      Is it a common symptom here? Has anyone experienced this?
      How long should I wait for it to calm down?

      The strength in my arm is about 80% now, the numbness is almost gone.
      If not the twitching I am worried about I would say the surgery was successful.
      Can anyone relate?

      PS. Im not wearing a collar since 7th week post op.      "
    2. I am not sure this is first time commenting but I also have had same surgery and experiencing same right and left arm problems. I can't even barely bring glass to my lips and brush my teeth with two hands. It's obeyed to feel so weak. If u have any info to give me I would appreciate it as well but I will let u know what it is I find out. I'm looking at p.t. Hopefully soon. I'm tired of being in able to feel my hands and my right arm feels like dead weight all day
  • gerrilynnggerrilynn West palm beach floridaPosts: 2

    andman said:

    Hello,
    I am a 39 yo male. I underwent a c5-c6-c7 ACDF 10 weeks ago.
    Prior to surgery my symptoms were numbness in fingers and neck pain.
    I woke up from the surgery with completely numb index and thumb of my left hand that were ok prior the surgery.
    My left arm was also extremely weak. I barely could lift it above my head. It has been so week that I have been using almost only my right arm lately. I also experience twitches in my biceps, triceps, shoulder and chest muscles. It looks like the whole muscle is jumping without telling it to do so. I first felt the twitches the night after my surgery when the morphine stopped working.
    Is this twitching related to nerve regeneration/irritation?
    Is it a common symptom here? Has anyone experienced this?
    How long should I wait for it to calm down?

    The strength in my arm is about 80% now, the numbness is almost gone.
    If not the twitching I am worried about I would say the surgery was successful.
    Can anyone relate?

    PS. Im not wearing a collar since 7th week post op.

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