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Left shoulder pain weeks after ACDF surgery

As of right now, I'm 12 weeks postop. I had ACDF surgery on C5/C6 with hardware in October. I see my doctor next week for a follow-up.

Before surgery I had a lot of pain in the right side of my neck and right shoulder. At my last appt which was approximately 7 weeks postop. I was feeling much better with minimal pain and was feeling really good about my recovery. My headaches were gone and the pain in my right shoulder was also gone.

Since then, I've started PT and have had a lot of soreness which I expected since I haven't used most of those muscles in quite sometime. Within the last couple weeks the soreness has gotten really bad. But instead of having pain in my right shoulder, it's now in my left shoulder and left side of my neck. I've also started having headaches again but not as often as before surgery. The pain is really bad at night with very sharp pains in that shoulder and I've even lost strength in that arm a few times and occassionally have a little bit of numbness in my arm and fingers. My therapist says she can feel how tight those muscles are on that left side just like they were on the right before surgery.

The extent of the damage in my neck prior to surgery did not show up on X-ray or even MRI but only on the discogram. The doctor told my husband after surgery that it was worse than he had thought once he got in there. Knowing that, I'm just worried that, once again, whatever is going on now may not be simple to diagnose.

Of course I will discuss this with my doctor at my appt next week but I was just wondering if anyone else has had an issue like this occur. It's really frustrating that I was feeling so much better right after surgery than I do now.
ACDF surgery on C5/C6 Oct 2015
Carpal & Cubital tunnel surgeries 2015


  • LizLiz Posts: 9,745
    please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 606
    When I was injured, I immediatly was complaining of neck & left shoulder pain. The doctors all told me that my shoulder pain was coming from my herniated disc in my neck. I had MRI of both neck & shoulder. Doctor told me my shoulder was fine.
    Over a year later, my shoulder was getting worse. I went to a new ortho Doctor. He looked at my old MRI & read the report. It stated right on the report that it was suspicious of a rotator cuff tear? He sent me for an MRI/Arthogram & it was discovered that I had a full tear. I had surgery last June for it.
    I guess what I'm getting at is neck issues & shoulder issues are very simular.
    From what I've researched & been told by my doctor, getting an Arthrogram is the best way to look for tears in the rotator cuff.
    Good luck to both of you. I really hope you guys don't have rotator cuff tears. That surgery is one of the worst I've ever had. It is very painful & rehab is brutal!
    Take care.
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