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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

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Hi to Everyone :wave: !

It's been about a month since I've checked in. I started PT last week, and am glad for it. I think the muscles in my neck, shoulder, upper back and arm deteriorated, no, [I]atrophied[/I]d over the years, so I appreciate help rehabilitating them. Since the surgery, I'm having fewer neck pains, no foot drop, no problems with weak sphincter control, and my hands seem to work better. My gait and balance seem better, though I'm still sometimes off balance when I stand from sitting, walking straight is easier. I had kinda begun to weave a bit from side-to-side when walking before the surgery. Do these symptoms resonate with anyone? My diagnosis has never mentioned myelopathy (that I know of) but isn't that what the pre-surgery symptoms indicate, along, of course, with the stenosis due to a giant bone spur that was flattening and distorting my spinal cord?

I have had some continuing and some new symptoms since the surgery, and these are another reason for my thread today. I hope anyone who can share their experience or opinion, will! I'm sorry for such a lengthy post, but I wanted to include details that may or may not be pertinent. :confused:

Last summer (surgery was Thanksgiving) I started having problems with stumbling/foot drop, intermittent, but aggravated by prolonged sitting. By September, I developed a large area of paresthesia over the left third of my mid-to-upper back. The sensation, which remains since surgery, feels like a combination of numb and tingly, not painful. In fact, now that I've started having electrical muscle stimulation treatment at PT, the paresthesia feels a lot like that, at a low level. The sensation now doesn't seem like muscle spasms, so I think it is a true paresthesia.

1. I've noticed the sensation is often stronger right after I do a physical therapy exercise. What i'm wondering is, what's causing it Is it due to cord compression, nerves that are repairing themselves, or residual nerve damage? Any input is appreciated here! :bouncing:

My second question is about the recent development of heart palpitations/fluttering sensations and my chest (in sternum area) feeling tight and uncomfortable. Background health relates here: I use Advair (a steriod)twice daily, and my NS's PA prescribed medrol (steriod) dose pack which I had been on about 4-5 days when the palpitations started last week. I have also had a sinus infection for going on two months (not treated at first, then 1st antibiotic failed...), and I'm still taking 1-2 Vicodin a day and augmentin for sinus.

Back to the symptom, after days of palpitations, feeling weak & shaky--like a mild bilateral tremor, and chest uncomfortable, I [B]did [/B] go to the dr. There's no indication of a heart issue, per se, which confirmed my belief that my heart isn't the problem (my cholesterol, lipids and blood pressure are enviable, my genetic good fortune.) Dr's not sure what's causing the palps. They are getting better, but they aren't gone, and it's been a week now. I still have an physical sensation of being trembly, a little jittery, and my chest still feels tight and somewhat pressured with occasional mild pain.

2. Has anyone had any problems like this they thought were caused by steriods or after acdf?

3. My third question is about physical therapy. Maybe that's causing the chest sensations. I've had more muscle spasms in general since I began the therapy, which has included ultrasound, stretches, pulling against resistance, isometrics, weight lifting and electrical muscle stimulation. The treatments are strictly arm, neck and upper back/chest, including a pectoral stretch.

Besides an increase in upper body muscle spasms, I've had some weird sensations after therapy too, for example, the back of my left heel feeling prickly numb for a while, and twice suddenly painful spots on my hand or finger. Is this from weak hand muscles? I seem to be injuring them from doing the exercises! I don't push it during therapy, and it's starting to feel kinda good, though my arms are so weak!

Any input on PT is encouraged! :)

4. When should I be looking for signs of fusion, and what procedures show this? Dr. ordered a cat scan at about 4 weeks, and an xray at 10 weeks. How does one know if one is having problems with a failed fusion, and when do they show up?

5. I'm annoyed with my surgeon. I've had two follow-up appointments since the surgery, and both were with his PAs, not my surgeon. Is it asking too much for him to answer some of the questions above? I've seen this man, when I was conscious, that is, about 10 minutes out of my life! My initial, brief visit with him turned out to be my pre-op consultation (his was my second opinion, and I wanted to proceed quickly to surgery.) He "popped" in and out of the hospital room the morning after my surgery and spoke to me for about 20 seconds, and I've seen neither hide nor hair of him since.

6. [U]New [/U] symptom since surgery is what I believe are called radicular symptoms, those due to nerve root, not cord, compression. Pain on top of my shoulders and arms, arm pains, pain across clavicle areas. My first surgeon was planning 3 level acdf, and felt my upper back pain (I usually get in evenings if I stand while cooking, etc.) and headaches were due to multiple level cord compression, besides the bone spur at C4-5. Myelogram/ct last october showed a loss of disc height at C3-4, and bilateral foraminal narrowing at C3-4, worse on left I think. It seems my problem at C3-4 has developed symptoms since surgery, but maybe this is normal part of recovery.

The surgery I had was removal of disc and bone spur only at C4-5 with plating and autograft.
I would so appreciate any information about #6. :rolleyes:

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help, and I hope we all keep improving. :angel:


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