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Bicep and Shoulder Paralysis


I am 29 years I am very healthy, I am  a weight lifter,  never had an injury or back/neck problems. 3 months ago I woke up with a kink in my neck, turning my head side to side was limited and there was a tight and sharp pain in my right trap.  I decided to go to the gym to loosen it up followed by a massage.  That night I began starting to loose movement in my shoulder and bicep and there was swelling in my right trap area. 

The next day I completely lost contraction of my bicep and my shoulder. I lost contraction to which I could not curl my own arm or lift my arm up from my side, but I had grip strength and tricep strength. After seeing 5 different doctors and getting 5 different MRIs two spinal surgeons said that I have a pinched nerve at my c4-c6 and my only option was a spinal fusion.  After seeing a few more specialists and chiropractors nothing was getting better and a month later I decided to get the c4-c6 fusion. 

I'm now 1 month post op. My neck is completely healed. I'm doing all normal movements , and had a X-ray and my neck is already starting to fuse. 

Bad news is I still have paralysis in my bicep and in my shoulder, from surgery it probably realistically approved by 3%. The worst part of this is as well is my right bicep and shoulder have gone through horrific muscle waisting. My right shoulder and bicep are now 50% smaller than my left side. 

I've gone through a complete physical change and lifestyle change. Because of this and my paralysis caused me to not be able to lift weights or go to the gym. I have lost 50lbs and my body looks lop-sided because of the muscle waisting. 

I'm young, again I'm 29, I'm healthy, I heal very fast. Because of all this my spine surgeon said physical therapy will not help you, and that this is a waiting game. Problem with that is how long do I go until I take another route, will it be too late where my nerves will die? Could it be another issue?

What can I expect here? Could it be something else causing my paralysis? Is there anything I can do to get my bicep and shoulder back? Are there any medical treatments I can look into? 

I'm literally willing to do anything at this point as this is affecting my whole life and my relationships. 

Thanks very much to whom ever can help! 


  • joowee40joowee40 Mississippi Posts: 307
    Have you not seen a shoulder specialist? Research slap tears and bicep tears/detachment. I am waiting on my MRI approval to verify it but Dr said he feels like my bicep has detached from the bone or torn and I already had a small tear in my rotator cuff he diagnosed a year ago but I refused surgery because I had just had a 2 level acdf 4 mths before and wanted to see if it would get better...it didn't and it now has gotten worse. I can hardly raise my arm over my head or behind me without significant pain and discomfort and it is disturbing my sleep. I also now wonder if this is why I still hurt so much around the back side of my shoulder and around shoulder blade from adjusting and protecting and compensation for the hurt shoulder. I am probably going to move forward with the surgery if it indeed shows the bicep tendon is detached. What you describe sounds like what I read and saw pictures of so please research it and go see a shoulder ortho Dr. Good luck.
  • joowee40joowee40 Mississippi Posts: 307
    Hey thanks for that dirt! Had mri today so now have to wait on Dr to check it out and get with me. Tech said he saw increases signal where the rotator tear is and said he didn't see a bicep tear but didn't know about detachment at the head so I have been scouring my mri trying to find out what I can like im some tech myself ha but hey i did that with my neck and found my herniated discs myself.
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  • Sounds like you have C5 palsy.  I have the same thing after my 2/21 ACDF.  Bilateral shoulder and bicep weakness. I was sent to inpatient rehab to learn how to do daily living tasks, and I now attend PT/OT for 4 hours a week. Had an EMG last week and the nerves have not started to regrow.  Can take up to 24 months.  Research C5 palsy.  
  • After my ACDF surgery, I was continually told it takes 1 year for the nerves to heal and regenerate.  But I knew something else was going on.  You are your own best advocate, so definitely keep looking for answers if you aren't getting them with your doctors.

    Do you per chance have the MRI reports?  If so, please do attach them for reference.
  • Hey guys, thanks for comments.. it's been 1month and 2 weeks since I have had surgery. I can now lift my arm over my head but it's very weak only can lift it about 5 times.... my bicep is shrinking still along with my shoulder I probably have lost 60% muscle now.. my bicep strength I can lift a water bottle and that's about it for 5 times... 

    is this all normal? When will I get my muscle back? When will strength come? I can not do anything active as I have a useless arm so trying to move it won't really help.. 

    again in I'm not sure where to go from here. 

    I had a brachial plexus MRI and a shoulder MRI and both have came back normal...

    thanks to anyone that can help. 
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  • Hello, going through the exact situation. Started with a knot, turned into excrutiating pain, into paralysis of bicep and shoulder (left arm) 2 days later. Please if you are reading this send an update or reach out.

  • LizLiz Posts: 9,748

    This is an old discussion created by a member no longer on the forum so I have to close it. If they return we can reopen the discussion.


    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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