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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index

Jun 17, 2011
Hello Im a newbie I had a C5 C6 fusion 3 weeks ago,had the operation all went well,whilst in ICU still was asked to lift head to adjust pillow next thing I new was my arms legs speech and massive pain in back,everything shut down and was rushed back into surgery.
I was told when I awoke that the stapple had come out causing a haematoma in area of surgery,now when I ask the surgeon what happend I get told,we dont no everything was fine when closed up after first surgery.

Thats not my concern,my left arm no longer works,I can operate my hand and forearm,but not the bicep or back of shoulder ,getting told the nerve on c5 c6 has shut down,and when asking will my arm work again I get told they do not no,could take nine months or may never wake up.

I am very scared at present as I am a typical blokey bloke who is always playing with cars or choppers etc,and love my sport,building things etc as i'm a Mechanical Engineer,my life is my arms and hands,can anyone tell me if there is somthing I should be doing? or will my arm ever work again,or should I be preparing myself for the worst.
any advice would be appreciated please

Had surgery due to numbness in inner left arm and weekness starting also and constant head ache around left eye ,left ear and up back of left side of neck
Re: C5-c6
Jun 17, 2011
Your doc is right in that it may take as long as 9 months before your arm starts to work again. I dislocated 5 vertebrae and broke a bunch of tiny bones at C4-5 and 6 and woke up with similar "incomplete" paralysis. Left hand was very weak but I could move it and I could bend my elbow some but nothing with the upper arm or shoulder.

I did PT pretty regularly for months just to keep the shoulder from freezing up(they moved it) on me while I waited for the nerves to heal...if they did. And they did. Right at 9 months, my shoulder started working again and I did tons of PT to get it strong. Can pick up my 3 1/2 year old granddaughter!

But I've also discovered that I have to keep working on it. It will get weak if I don't keep up the PT. I'm now 4 1/2 years out from surgery and it just keeps doing better.

Sounds like the doc hit a vein with the staple gun and it bled into the area of the nerve, compressing it pretty badly. When you are having surgery to relieve the pressure in that area and it gets hit a second time, they call it "double crush syndrome" and it makes for a long recovery. But like me, you already have some motion of the arm so it sounds like the nerve will recover eventually. If you have killed the nerve completely, you wouldn't have the arm and hand movement.

You can't rush nerve recovery. They heal at the slowest rate of any type of cell in the body. Be patient but keep working on it gently until you start to feel real strength coming back...then give it a good workout but carefully. Nerves can keep regenerating and getting better for years.

Hope this helps.

Re: C5-c6
Jun 17, 2011
Thankyou Jenny sounds positive,My elbow will not bend at all and at this time loosing a bit more movment,but was told it could go backwards before forwards.

With my stapple I was told to lift the head to adjust my pillow whilst in ICU recovery,was only out of surgery for approx half hour,when lifted head the stapple came out,surgeon seems to be avoiding telling me what actualy happend as he just keeps saying not shore but head of ICU had told me what happend and my family when I woke up the second time after haematoma.Not shore why he wont tell me what happend as im greatfull to be alive due to the fast diagnosis ,just worried and frustrated with the arm as I miss being at work and the regular things I enjoy,but early days.

thankyou for reply will help me be more positive
Re: C5-c6
Jun 20, 2011
jen as usual gave you some really great advice here. just was wondering tho, did they even have a spinal collar on you post op when this occured? if not, they should have if they were even ASKING YOU the patient to lift your own head that close out of the OR. the nurse in esp an ICU are supposed to be doing things like that FOR you among other things. but knowing if this was a collared or non collared situation would make a difference too. they themselves simply should have been 'doing' any/all work FOR you,not you, since you JUST HAD A C SPINE SURGERY,ya know what i mean? that is why you were even IN that ICU in part anyways, so YOU were not forced to even have to 'do' anything.

the one HUGE thing i would do right now if this were me is contact that surgical hospital and ask for the medical records dept to obtain every single document in your central file. and specifically ask for the TWO sets of what are called 'op notes' from your surgerys. this should be able to tell you what occured, tho some things can be a bit less than you need/want to see. but this is the transcript of any given sugery that have to be done post op. you in this case, would have TWO sets of op notes. and if they did ANY what is called 'intra operative monitoring' during your surgery, that neurophysiatrist ALSO by law has to make their own copies of op notes too, so there could be three sets there. but just obtaining everything FROM that whole hospital stay is crucial for yopu to even really have a hope of finding out what you may not be being told by anyone.

do you have your pre op and any post op MRI reports in your posession? if not, get those too since if you could at least type out the MRIs it would really allow us to get a much clearer idea of how bad your c spine was pre op, which can determine the possible areas during your surgery that even could have been impacted too. and YOU yourself can finally read thru them yourself and have them for any future problems. these records are all about ypur medical history so you seriously DO need to keep them,and always obtain your very own copies from here on out of esp testing results. but obtain every sinlge record and test result from any place that has seen you or done testing or surgery on you so YOU just have it all.

so sorry this even happened to you. the risks of any surgery can be scarey and things can also happen, but the people actually caring for you ALSO have very specific responsibilitys TO the patients too to also 'do no harm'. i am also wondering just why you were even IN the ICU with this surgery after your initial one? was there a problem or were you at some higher medical risk than average? usually you go in, have the surgery and are placed in the 'main floor areas' and not in an ICU unless your spinal situation also was pretty severe with the potential for cord impact, or they had some pretty impactful levels of real compression upon your spinal cord they were going to have to lift off? and if that were indseed the case, you most definitely would also have had that intra operative monitoring i mentioned above as well in almost any case like that.

hopefully with a good rehab program once you have healed a bit, you will be able to regain what was lost. i had to regain a leg and alot of fine motor function after my cord surgery took them out of comission too. but i was sent directly to a really wonderful rehab facility right out from the surgical hosp too. but therepy in your case i think is rather critical in getting things back right now.

are you IN/doing any PT for that arm? if they have not yet even told you that therepy IS very much needed here soon(mine started right after the two week mark for my leg and arm/hand), you need to bring this up to your sugeon soon. they just do not really wait too long even after some very deep and impactful spinal cord surgerys to get that persons body parts with issues moving and excercising the right ways. time IS muscle. an EMG/NCV would not be a bad idea either simply to really check and see how much real honest to god nerve flow is simply still there and how well your muscle responses are too. this just IS something both you and your surgeon and eventual therepist or physiatrist would be better, should ALL know here very soon. i hope things get better for you sooner vs later. but DO obtain every single record from that hospital and also any and all scan or other testing results too. they can be a huge source of info. marcia
Re: C5-c6
Jun 21, 2011
Thankyou for your info,I do have every MRI,XRAY,angeogram etc done on me to date and will endevour to get a copy of hospital records as you have said.

When I woke up from first surgery I was in the recovery room the first time,I had no collar on when asked to lift my head and no collar when left the hospital as surgeon felt there was no need for one,I thought it was strange at the time and did ? it was told no need neck muscle to work.I was basicly uncomfotable after first op and asked if my pillow could be adjusted and the nurse behind me asked me to lift my head whilst adjusting pillow,at this time luckily the surgeon was at the end of my bed talking to me when I felt a incredible pain in my back between shoulder blades,when asked to move my feet and arms I could not do it then I lost speech and vision ,then woke up second time in ICU were I stayed for four days before going to normal ward.

The MRI I have from after Haematoma says I had a Extensive epidural haematoma filling the anterior aspect of the spinal cord between c2 and t3.This is causing extensive spinal canal stenosis but without flattening of the cervical cord.There is a linear region of increased T2 signal in the loeft anterior horn of grey matter of the cervical cord between c3 and c5.This has the appearance of ischaemia.

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