I just had a one-level ACDF (C5/C6) on Monday 1/20. My pain started a few months ago in August of 2019 and I went through PT without success. My surgeon said I had a "very large" herniated disc that was causing spinal cord compression. Prior to surgery, I had neck pain that turned into left shoulder pain, that eventually turned into left arm and left hand pain. I had occasional tingling in my shoulder and in my hand, but I got into treatment pretty quickly, so it was mostly pain. Everything my doctors said and that I've read seemed to suggest that I would have immediate pain relief after surgery. I know that I'm only a few days out, but my pre-op pain feels worse! I know that the nerves can be inflamed and take time to heal, but what's concerning me is that I'm realizing belatedly that my pain pattern/doesn't perfectly map onto C5/C6; it seems like it's my ulnar nerve because my pinky/ring fingers hurt the most, which maps to C8-T1, but my CT shows nothing wrong there. I'm now panicking wondering if my arm/hand pain is unrelated to the herniation, even though that seems like an unlikely coincidence. I guess my main two questions are:
1) Is it normal for pre-op pain to flare up worse post-op and then get better over time? Has anyone here had this experience?
2) Can spinal cord compression cause symptoms that "map" to unaffected discs? Has anyone here had pain that didn't directly correspond to the affected discs, but was relieved by surgery?
Thank you for your help!