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C4-C5 symptoms?
Jul 3, 2007
I had a C5-C7 fusion in Jan. I wrote about this set back before in another post. I went on a trip and pulled alot of luggage and also got jerked around in NYC (literally) in taxis.
So now the surgeon's nurse practitioner gave me a Medrol dose pack for 6 days. I am done with this med tomorrow. I do feel better, but I am still feeling alot of shoulder blade pain. I may have to have another MRI and see if something new is happening. My C4-C5 area had a mild bulge, some spurs, and some arthritis on the MRI I did before my surgery. I guess they didnt think it was bad enough to fuse at that point. Now I am totally paranoid that I am going to end up with ANOTHER fusion. Could ADJACENT DISK syndrome (or whatever you call it) ALREADY be happening???????????? Anyone know what the symptoms of C4-C5 nerve irritation or pinching are?
You are starting to sound like you have the same neck problem as I do - I had four discs (C4/5/6/7/T1) that had DDD, and so far have had ACDF first on C5/6/7, and a year later another ACDF on C4/5.

The main symptom from the C4/5 that I experienced was a deep burning pain in the muscles used when you shrug your shoulders - worse on the left side for me, but it could be either or both. Here is a general overview:

A cervical herniated disc will typically cause pain patterns and neurological deficits as follows:

C4 - C5 (C5 nerve root) - Can cause weakness in the deltoid muscle in the upper arm. Does not usually cause numbness or tingling. Can cause shoulder pain.

C5 - C6 (C6 nerve root) - Can cause weakness in the biceps (muscles in the front of the upper arms) and wrist extensor muscles. Numbness and tingling along with pain can radiate to the thumb side of the hand. This is one of the most common levels for a cervical disc herniation to occur.

C6 - C7 (C7 nerve root) - Can cause weakness in the triceps (muscles in the back of the upper arm and extending to the forearm) and the finger extensor muscles. Numbness and tingling along with pain can radiate down the triceps and into the middle finger. This is also one of the most common levels for a cervical disc herniation

People can be wired differently, and there is typcially some overlap between the different levels, but this is a good overview.

I can relate to your feelings about this problem - and I wish I could offer some encouraging words. From what I read, something like 95% of people who ever experience neck & shoulder pain do NOT have to have surgery, so we're in a minority. Of all those that do have surgery, most do not ever have to have a second. Of all those that do have multiple surgeries, most have a long period of time between the first and second. So it is a very, very small % that have repeat surgery so soon after the first. If I could take this kind of odds with me to Las Vegas (in a positie way!) I would be rich....

My last surgery was March 2005, and an MRI this last January showed that my C3/C4 disc is now showing signs of degeneration, where before it was 'normal'. I am 56 now, so I'll more than likely be in for another fusion down the road.

I think one of the keys to dealing with this is to have the courage to accept a 'new normal', and to learn to live within limits we'd rather not have to. It is difficult because family & friends 'expect' us to be as we were - they can have no idea how this is always on my mind, and how much it affects me every day, and changes my expectations for the future. I get comfort from sharing with others on this forum, who can relate to this experience, because people who don't have to deal with this have no idea.

I am thankful that treatments are available for this - I read that the first cervical discectomy & fusion was in the 1950s - I had lost the use of my left arm & hand by the time my problem was diagnosed. So the trick is to hang in there and be thankful, and hope that new treatments become available before we need them. So easy to say, so hard to do!

I hope your current problem resolves without the need for additional surgery.

Best wishes
C4-5 can can also cause pain on the arm pathway. Especially on the forearm. Look up dermatome chart. When I had nerve root compression, I had the most intense burning I ever felt in my forearm. After my first surgery at 4-6 this completely resolved.

When you say last January, do you mean 2007 or 2006? It would be a little soon for Jan 2007 to have it go bad, but I guess it could happen if it were already degenerating.
Thanks Bob and NeckPatient for the posts. My surgery was this past Jan. , 2007. I took a look at my 3 MRIs and it said that I had a small bulging disk, arthritis, and spurs at C4-5. I had C5-7 done 6 months ago. I kept asking why they werent going to do C4-5 in Jan. and they all seemed to think I didnt need it. I have no arm pain at this point. All I have is shoulder blade pain and general thoracic pain and tightness. (and of course the usual trapezius spasms). I tend to have anxiety issues my whole life, so I am struggling with that, which I realize only makes things worse. I think what frustrates me the most is that I finally was feeling pretty decent for a few months and really was LOVING it. I was hoping it would last a couple of years not months. I need to work and starting in August I have to substitute teach in the elem. schools. I just want to feel good enough so that I can do this without taking any drugs, so I can think straight. Also, its a hard job to do when you are in pain. It can tend to make a person on the cranky side. Maybe I will be lucky and its just a flare-up. Thanks for all the words!
I wish I had more encouraging news for you. I had problems at all levels, I am fused C4-7. I was better after surgery #1 (C4-6) for 9 months, then got really bad and they decided I needed surgey 2 (C6-7). It is one year post-op of #2, and although my arm symptoms are more controlled, I am left with significant spasms, pain in blades and chest as you describe, a general buzzing and thoracic pain. I had perm EMG confirmed damage at C5, but only one set of nerve fibre, so it doesn't explain the widespread issues. I have stenosis, but it isnt that bad after surgeries, although I am really short and they say the short pedicles make it more pronounced even though it is mild. Also the sternum, do you feel this? It is constant and nagging and I have to control my activities so I stay stable and keep it below 7-8 pain level.

It feels like a big pressure and it is constant, I have no heart issues, etc. I am starting to see a new specialist, but so far everyone thinks that this is just part of the permament DDD disease and that after suffering such bad pain attacks prior to surgery (that I continued to work through), I am now left with chronic pain symdrome of stabbing, shooting, sharp and some burning pain.

My own theory is that my central space is narrow and although not compressed any more, somehow through movement I may continuously be "touching" my spinal cord to the sides of the canal and continuing to cause inflammation. I feel these little shocks here and there that make me feel this is going on. Some even at rest, and if I change my position they go away.

I keep looking for some new doctor that may actually find a way to make me better, but so far everyone says the same thing. Sorry so long, but I was hoping you might find something in common here.
I dont have any sternum pain or arm pain. Mostly the shoulder blade stabbing pain when I move my neck in certain positions. I noticed that when I was doing my exercise where you put your ear to your shoulder (sideways), if I did this to the left side, my right shoulder blade would really kill. Then I would get stuck and couldnt get my head back up. I took like a minute to get it back. Needless to say, I have stopped doing those.:rolleyes:
As soon as I stopped doing my upper body exercises, the pain has diminished. I am wondering if I should just never do those damn things again! But how do you strengthen your neck muscles if you dont do the exercises? Wont it be bad if the upper body gets weak again??? I am CONFUSED!
Re: C4-C5 symptoms?
Jul 10, 2007
You basically have to start over from scratch again..... I know that's really crappy. It [B][SIZE="4"]is[/SIZE][/B] important to strengthen the neck muscles again, but it's going to take a long time, before they do become strong again.

I try (real hard) to stay positive and just say "oh well, I'll just have to start over with some stretches and then maybe 5-10 minutes of yoga or walking on treadmill". I added some more ideas under your last reply in [B]Payton02's[/B] post for [I]3-months post-op new pain[/I].

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