advertisement
advertisement

torn rotator cuff after 2 level ACDF

So after my 2 level ACDF in Dec, I continued with the same pain as before surgery (behind the shoulder blade, in shoulder and front of shoulder and neck) so my NS sent me to a shoulder ortho. I had the MRI and it came back as a small tear in the rotator cuff that didn't need surgery and rotator cuff tendonitis. He gave me a cortisone shot in the back of my shoulder in the hopes that it would relieve some of the discomfort but it seemed to only make it worse and made my neck flare back up so that I am favoring it again and all my muscles are screaming at me all day long and I'm back to hitting the bed after work and ice packing it. PT only irritates it so that is not an option so I am feeling all hopeless again. Does anyone have any similar stories and can provide me with some tidbits of helpful direction? Dr seems to think the tear will eventually mend with time but I was thinking gee how much time does it take because its been a looonngg time even before surgery that it has bothered me. You can definitely see a difference in the slope of my shoulder dropping lower on the hurting side than the normal side. It would have to be dangling and severed before I would opt for another surgery ever again after the heck I went through with my ACDF and emergency ruptured appendectomy 4 months after...I never want to see a hospital again. ha

Any stories would be appreciated for comparison sake please!


advertisement
1

Comments

  • I don't have any words of wisdom to share, but I have a somewhat similar problem after one-level ACDF in January. Immediately after surgery, I was pain-free and had a rather blissful two months.

    By three months, my shoulder on my left side (where I had had the radiculapathy) froze and I had limited movement and my neck started hurting more.. NS sent me to shoulder ortho.  Took x-rays, which revealed nothing, but decided to try a cortisone shot.  Had it in the top of my shoulder. One of the worst experiences of my life. Immediately felt worse after the shot, which was a month ago, and I have had horrible pain in the shoulder ever since.  After the cortisone shot, my fingers also started becoming numb (which hadn't been the case since before ACDF) and I had burning pain in upper arm.

    Got a MRI, which revealed a posterior labrum tear between 7 o clock. and 8 o clock (also known as a reverse Bankart tear) and a delaminating tear of the distal supraspinatus. Going to see tomorrow the evil ortho who gave me the cortisone injection to see what the MRI means in terms of surgery, and also looking to get in to see other orthos because I'm not sure I trust the one who gave me the injection.

    Somehow I believe my shoulder tears are related to my ACDF and are not a random occurrence, since I had great shoulder mobility pre-surgery.  I have also found that when I tried PT, it flared me up.. I don't have any answers, but will be looking for some. I saw a lot of spine surgeons before choosing one for my ACDF and now I feel like I will be on the same shoulder ortho merry-go-round.

  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 593
    When I was injured at work, I immediately complained of neck & left shoulder pain. 
    All the doctors told me that my shoulder pain was coming from my neck. One doctor even gave me a shot in my shoulder, which was very painful! 
    I had 2 neck surgeries & my shoulder pain was getting worse. I was in therapy for both my neck & shoulder, but I had to stop therapy because of how much pain my shoulder gave me. 
    I finally went to a new ortho Doctor, who did a very thorough exam & he said he was almost positive that I had a rotator cuff tear. He ordered me an MRI/Arthrogram & it confirmed I had a full tear. 
    I ended up having shoulder surgery last June. It was not an easy surgery to recover from. Therapy was brutal. 
    How long ago was your shoulder MRI? From what I researched, an MRI/Arthogram is the best way to determine a rotator cuff tear. 

  • advertisement

  • Motor1 said:
     He ordered me an MRI/Arthrogram & it confirmed I had a full tear. 
    I ended up having shoulder surgery last June.

    Motor1, where was your shoulder pain?  I saw the shoulder doctor today and he said he thought my shoulder pain was coming from my neck, not from my small tears in the rotator cuff because my pain is centered in my scapula. He said he would expect rotator cuff pain to be centered in the outside upper arm on the affected side. He said I would be a candidate for rotator cuff surgery if I didn't improve following 8 weeks of physical therapy, but he seemed dubious about doing a surgery given that I have been advised that I need another neck surgery. He said I could have the surgery and still have the same pain, so his opinion is that I should have the neck surgery first.


  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 593
    My pain was mainly in the outside, upper part of my arm. And in the upper front part of shoulder. My pain got so bad during the night. My doctor told me that when the pain wakes you up at night, that's another indication of a tear? I also had a frozen shoulder. 
    The shoulder surgery did help with those pains, but I still have pain & numbness going down that arm because I still have neck issues going on. 

  • Motor1 said:
    My pain was mainly in the outside, upper part of my arm. And in the upper front part of shoulder. My pain got so bad during the night. My doctor told me that when the pain wakes you up at night, that's another indication of a tear? I also had a frozen shoulder. 
    The shoulder surgery did help with those pains, but I still have pain & numbness going down that arm because I still have neck issues going on. 
    Yes, I was also told that if the pain is really bad at night, that is a symptom of a rotator cuff tear.  My pain is not any worse at night and the upper part of my arm and upper part of front shoulder don't hurt.  You must have had an anterior tear.  I have a small tear in the posterior area.  I am going to another shoulder doctor to get a second opinion.

    Did your frozen shoulder go away after rotator cuff surgery?  My frozen shoulder is driving me crazy.
  • advertisement
  • I had ACDF in 2009 and now have a rotator cuff tear that didn't show on MRI but ortho said I have all the symptoms. Pain is in top of shoulder and down upper arm. Impingement Syndrome.PT did worsen my symptoms too! Now I aggravated it and get very deep aches through out arm. I will not have that surgery unless my arm is falling off as  talked to peeps and was told up to a year of recovery and basically a last ditch type of surgery! Don't think I will ever consider steroid injections because of more neck injuries after surgery and these stories! I use Voltaren gel, Naprosyn and heat and am careful/limited with my arm.
  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 593
    My frozen shoulder did go away. It took 11 months of therapy & a great therapist to get it back to normal. 
    Have you tried doing therapy for your frozen shoulder? I have a friend that is doing her own therapy at home & her shoulder is improving. 

    Kay, 
    You are absolutely right about the recovery period for shoulder surgery. It was a very long process. And the pain was unbearable at times. Had me in tears many times. But, I definitely don't regret doing it & I pray that I never have to go through that again! 
  • Motor 1 tell me what you mean by frozen shoulder? Sounds like you had to do the surgery. Mine is my dominant arm and I live alone. I can't go without my arm for a year! Plus older we get the more surprises surgeon finds when they go in there. I am almost 55. UGH.

  • Motor1 said:
    My frozen shoulder did go away. It took 11 months of therapy & a great therapist to get it back to normal. 
    Have you tried doing therapy for your frozen shoulder?

    Thanks. I'm starting physical therapy tomorrow. It's been difficult finding a good physical therapist, but hopefully tomorrow is the one. The shoulder ortho I saw said he wouldn't even consider rotator cuff therapy until I had done 8 weeks of PT and even then he seemed dubious. 

    So I'm hoping to rehab my shoulder through PT, have my second neck surgery and avoid rotator cuff surgery. I don't have a full tear, only a partial tear (another radiologist didn't even classify it as a tear, said it was just "degenerative fraying.")

    I think it is true that full tears need surgery.  Not sure about partial surgeries. I called the office of the top shoulder surgeon in town and when they heard I only had a partial tear, they wouldn't even give me an appointment. Referred me to a psychiatrist who works with the shoulder ortho.  I already have a psychiatrist for my spine, but since this one specializes in shoulders, I thought I would go see him as well and get his opinion. 
  • Motor1MMotor1 Pittsburgh, PaPosts: 593
    Kay, 
    A frozen shoulder is when you have no range of motion in your shoulder, or very limited motion. I couldn't raise my arm up very high. I basically stopped using it because of the pain, and that's what caused it to lock up. 
    I am also 55 & this was my 3rd surgery from my work injury. 

    L.A.Spiney,
    I hope you do well in your therapy. 

advertisement
Sign In or Join Us to comment.