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  • Queen Mush
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    Post count: 4

    In February of 2005 I was playing rec volleyball and after several serves felt twinging in my upper back between the shoulder blades and chalked it up to a pulled muscle. The pain/irritation never really got worse so I continued to play. One day as I was getting out of bed to get my son, I felt excruciating pain as if someone has stuck a knife in my back. I got into the shower to see if that would help, which it did not. I went to my doctor who referred me to a pain specialist and I ended up with two cortisone shots in my upper back, both which didn’t do anything. I saw a neurosurgeon and we did physical therapy (neck harness, some exercises). The pain was so intense that I wore a TENS unit to just control the pain I had. Finally, in July of 2005 I had ACDF surgery at the C6-7 level with bone graft (donor) and plate with screws. Unknown to the doctor at the time, when I had risen to get my sone (he was 5 at the time), I had broken a fragment from the herniated disk and it had lodged in my spinal nerves. I’m told it was about the size of a thumbnail. I wore a soft collar for a month and couldn’t drive. I don’t remember doing any physical therapy afterwards. Three fingers on my right hand are numb and tingly like something is rubbing against them all the time. My neurosurgeon at the time informed me that if that didn’t go away after a years’ time, then it was permanent nerve damage. Today, my fingers get really cold and I drop things. As far as the neck pain goes, in the beginning I didn’t notice it much but between my shoulder blades it feels as if someone has their hand against me all the time. I get really achy and burning sensation which varies. Some days it’s really bad and others not too bad, but it’s always there. I know I have lost some range of motion as I can’t look up without it hurting nor down very far or to the left/right. I’ve also been noticing that it’s starting to hurt when I turn in my car to look behind me when driving. I’ve been seeing a licensed medical massage therapist for some time to help with the achiness. The muscles from my neck, to the middle of my back, across my shoulders get very tight and very achy. Some days I get pounding headaches. My temples are also tight and tender. I am curious to know if what I am feeling is permanent nerve damage. Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

    Queen Mush
    Member
    Post count: 4

    I should also mention that I’ve been sleeping on a posure pillow since surgery. As far as exercising goes, I can’t do things above my head with my arms for very long because the achiness/tightness between my shoulder blades gets very intense. I saw the neurosurgeon after a year and she released me to full activity. I don’t have any tingling, shooting pain, etc. that goes down either arm. I have noticed that if I put my arms against the wall (to do exercises) that after 30 sec or so I will get a tingling feeling running from the middle of my upper back down both arms. Sleeping is starting to become an issue because I can’t stay comfortable. I sleep on my side most of the time but after a while, my neck starts to hurt. Sleeping on my stomach is a huge no-no and impossible, and after a while, sleeping on my back causes issues. Most mornings I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck until I get in the shower, which helps the achiness some. I am a secretary and after my surgery I had a headset to quit from cradling my neck against my shoulder which I’m told is very bad for someone with my neck issues. Now, I have a headset again. Sometimes it also feels like someone’s hands are ‘pushing’ against my shoulders which also makes them ache and tight. I am continually shifting my weight during the day at work and will get up to ‘stretch’. The massage does help but it doesn’t hold for very long.

    Queen Mush
    Member
    Post count: 4

    As additional information to this, I obtained a copy of my surgical report and the surgery was a C6-7 anterior cervical diskectomy with iliac crest allograft and Danek venture plating. It was a large herniated disc with significant canal compromise. The disc fragment I had spoken of had ruptured to and through a ligament though it did not specify which one.

    Donald Corenman, MD, DC
    Moderator
    Post count: 8468

    You might have had permanent nerve injury as the neurosurgeon has indicated but that diagnosis is one of exclusion (you need to rule of anything else that can cause these symptoms before this diagnosis is made).

    In my opinion, X-rays and a new MRI are warranted to see what the canal, nerves and fusion look like. You could possibly have a non-union (pseudoarthrosis), a remaining bone spur, a new level of injury (C5-6 or C7-T1) or something else.

    Pain and tingling in the arms with overhead work could also be thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). I an currently writing a section on this but it won’t be on the website for another month. You will have to research this yourself and see if the symptoms of TOS fit your complaints.

    Dr. Corenman

    Queen Mush
    Member
    Post count: 4

    Dr. Corenman – Thank you so much for your reply to my inquiry. I have definitely considered having new x-rays and an MRI performed since it’s been nearly 8 years since my surgery. I will definitely research TOS and the other issues you mentioned. I will check back on your website your article on TOS. Thank you again!

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