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  • vinda-lou
    Post count: 1

    I had an ACDF back in February 2012 due to a bad herniation (c6-c7? I don’t remember off the top of my head). I had terrible pain in my right upper arm for months leading up to the surgery.

    For the weeks following the surgery I had intense arm pain (right arm) in the bicep/triceps area, at times worse than before surgery. Certain fingers would go numb – more of a painful tingling really – and sometimes pain would go up my forearm.

    I went to PT, but it was so painful I was told to stop.

    An MRI weeks later showed scarring. My doc said that usually around the six month mark the pain due to scarring kicks in. But by then the pain was pretty much gone by then.

    However, it keeps coming and going in the same area – my right upper arm. The tingling is long gone – I was prescribed neurontin for a while and it helped, but I seemed to have side effects. I was also on hydrocodone which I stopped taking back in August.

    So now there are days when there is no pain at all, but then other days the pain kills. It is like someone is wringing my upper arm but worse than a person could do. I was rubbing my wife’s shoulders last night while watching tv and I had to stop every few minutes due to the arm pain.

    Is this normal? Even 8 months after the ACDF, is this sporadic pain normal? Is it even related to the surgery? I’m 40 years old and used to be more active than I am now – but every time I seem to get more active the pain returns. Any advice is welcome!

    Donald Corenman, MD, DC
    Post count: 8455

    After an ACDF, what is typical is significant relief of pain and possibly motor strength return (if there was weakness present initially). However, there is a small subset of patients that have permanent injury to their nerve root from the compression that induced the surgery in the first place. Removal of this compression by surgery does not guarantee return of all function. That is up to Mother Nature.

    WIth continued pain at eight months, if you were my patient, I would order a new MRI. It is not impossible that some residual compression remains. It is not impossible that a level above or below can also be symptomatic.

    If the nerve was well decompressed surgically, then you might be a candidate for epidural steroid injections (in spite of a bad mom and pop company contaminating some injectable steroid, these injections remain safe if the physician uses a large drug manufacturer).

    Pain does not start at six months from scarring.

    Dr. Corenman

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