C5-C6, C6-C7 spinal fusion. Woke up without use of right Arm. Movement returning but no strength

2004 Had C4-C5 spinal fusion from a 1998 race car accident where I had broken my neck.  Woke up in 11/04 both arm numb.  Tried injections but had surgery.  Great results following recover.  Dr said in 5 yr would need addtl surgery to repair C5 to C7 but new technology it would  best to wait.  I had limited mobility looking up but returned to my carpentry work. I had more numbness in my right arm & fingers if I worked to long or worked over head to much needing to rest for a couple of days afterwards but all in all I have remained very active & have had very good muscle strength outworking much younger men. 

June 2016 I fell in my livingrm & hit my head on wall. I had tingling, felt like things crawling across my face/down my arm/ numbness in face & down my right arm. I had muscle spasms from behind my ear down to jaw/ hand.    I could only use rt middle & pointer finger in unison (not independently).  Dr said I had a small spinal bleed.  We hoped as the bruising went away things were return to my normal. They did not the pain increased, muscle weakness increased, waking up w/ one /both arms numb. During the process I had xrays, mri, ctscans & saw drs /surgeon.  We tried epidurals which for me just increased the pressure & gave me bad headache. I opted for surgery.

11/22/16 surgery. TUES:I worked nearly 7 days a wk for 8 wks straight trying to get everything done for winter coming, & all I had promised to my clients including the day before my surgery. I was exhausted but knew I had time to recover after my surgery & didn't want stuff hanging over my head so I know I pushed it really hard.

My surgery schedule 1 hour, lasted 2hrs +.  There was more damage, bone fragments & arthritis that had to been cleaned up. All the nerve tests during surgery & the new placement everything was going great. The surgeon told my wife I was in recovery & the surgery went excellent although he took longer just to make sure it was all done. Time passed slow.  As I came out of anesthesia they ask can you move your toes, etc... when they got to my right arm... there was nothing.  I could feel them touch me but I could not respond.  An hour later they called my wife & said I was still in recovery having "muscle weakness" & later they let her come in.  She stood by my bed & held my hand & stood in faith & prayer & as she did, my finger moved.  A few hrs pasted I could move ea finger.  I was moved to a  room, stayed the night. I saw specialists/drs incl a physical therapists before left hospital.  I know the rules are we can't mention drs/ hosp but I want to give a shout out to drs/nurses & say I had top notch care... CARE!!! They all were caring  & loving.

Released WED  My hand was swollen, cold, my blood pressure was nearly 200 in my rt arm/ 128 in my left.  I couldn't lift or move my rt arm but could by then move my wrist.  The drs said it could've been blood clot that resolved itself so quickly during surgery there was nothing to do about it now, it was already healing,  It could've I was mis~wired for so long that now that the signals are going the rt way brain & muscles are fighting to figure it out & now have to wait to heal, for the swelling to go down/recover.

Excited to go home/ recover in at home.  Then at home realized w/o an arm to assist you/ neck & throat soar from surgery you can't get in/ out of bed.  Even w/ recliner chair getting in/out is difficult. At first you are just living moment to moment looking for little signs, it was Thanksgiving weekend we didn't want to drive 2 hours back to the hosp, we wanted to be patient, we kept praying we would wake up and it would all be okay.    (It was days before we even thought about getting a lift chair/ hospital bed, fortunately by then things had started to get better.) THURS was Thanksgiving, we were giving Thanks the doctors hadn't called it a stroke, or even paralysis just "muscle weakness", "nerve bruising" .   I couldn't fed myself or hold my plate it is really hard to eat left handed when you are rt handed & you can't even hold plate still.  

We were doing the pt exercises they showed us @ hosp.  Alot of massage, tracing down the tendons/ nerve pathways my wife massaging out what felt like chicken bone gristle & trying to get the muscles to length ea time.  My arm initially looked like someone who had been paralyzed for years not hours, flat hanging on the bone.  But as each hr, each exercise, each massage passed the muscles started to round & respond. I didn't necessary feel like I was doing anything but my wife kept telling me she could feel the muscles getting thicker & strong.  

SAT.  Massage & therapy in the hot shower.  I got out & pushed w/ everything I could & I touched my nose.  My no pain arm, came alive w/ electricity few seconds I thought its coming back alive!  I decided I would lay in my bed & got my arm stuck under me.  Half in/ half out of bed, I was stuck good we heard something pop. I managed to get to my stomach/ to my back & eventually back out of the bed & wouldn't try that again for a few more days.  The color returned nearly instantly to my arm, the warmth returned to my hand & as the rest of the day progressed the swelling decreased (not fully I still have some minor swelling but before it was nearly 2x the size of the other hand). Now the electric shock began.   The discharge papers said if you have pain beyond what the medicine is handling you should call.  It was Thanksgiving weekend so we didn't call.  At this point I would suggest calling.  They have nerve medicine that immediately helped this electrical shock which I didn't call & get until Monday, I thought the pain was a sign it was all coming back alive/ good thing/ I would just work my way through it.  The drs have different medicines for different things.  I would definitely say don't torture yourself call & at least let them know what is going on and let them decide how to help you. By Sat nite we were watching movies & eating popcorn & now I was eating popcorn, bowl to mouth w/ coordination & repetitive motion w/ rt hand.

11/28 My primary care/ chiropractor did home visit & range of motion base line.  He said I was doing excellent & all indications are from the nerve tests during surgery, to the progress he was seeing & the reflex test he did that I will make a full recovery.  It may take longer than I will want because he knows I am impatient & that will be my biggest obstacle . Try have patience & keep doing what we are doing I have made leaps & bounds. 

TUES 12/5 follow up w/ surgeon, he thinks I am doing excellent.  I am only taking pain medicine as needed abt 1x a day, muscle relaxers help if I have muscle spasm they really helped w/ the throat & choking thing following surgery (much healed & I was able to shave for appt).  I have no neck pain & can move my head side to side with a little more restriction than before to the rt, less to the left than b4 surgery but doc says it will cont to increase as swelling goes down.  I still have abt the same looking up as I didn't b4 surgery but get better as swelling goes down.  I can lift a plate & carry it to the sink, I can feed myself, I can hold a cup for a few, I can lift my arm in the shower to soap so I can shower on my own. Released to drive today. 

THURS 12/8 saw primary doc. I picked my wife up for lunch date My doctor gave me some new exercises, one with a broom to lengthen & stretch my tricep & the other for resistance training w/ band. I was having pain & a "hitch" in shoulder, I got shot in bursa & it was great relief.  Not having that constant pain there seemed to allow the knot in my tricep to relax & I had more extention last night.  Truthfully I get discouraged.  It doesn't feel like I am doing anything w/ that muscle.  I look at my other arm & I have a nice big muscle, I look at my right arm & I can't feel it doing anything.  I tell it to & I can barely lift that rubber band.  I can extend my hand forward & back repetitively chest to full extension.  I can touch my nose to full extension but I put any resistance & I have to struggle it is like it gets stuck.  I am a very active person who is used to working 10 to 12 hours a day on a hundred different things & I have watched everything on tv & I am tired of sitting in the house.  

FRI Taking an outing w a friend .Not sure if this is how the discussion should work.  When I woke up w/o my arm, as a carpenter craftsman I searched for info.  I would like to know why this happened to me but at this point that isn't the important thing it is where I go from here.  I see posts that I am better at 60 days/struggling at 1 yr.  But I know for me I feel like "nothing is happening" but my wife is quick to point out ~ you used your right arm to lift and put your truck in gear, you carried in a dead weight of 4 lbs of sugar from the car, you could not touch your nose without extreme concentration 2 weeks ago & now you can do it repeatedly w/o thinking abt it, you will be able to do it w/ resistance & then w/ weight... it will come.  

Every mountain climb starts w/ a first step!  I would like to continue this discussion & post in hopes maybe my journey can help someone else know they are not alone & maybe someone else will help me in my journey to wellness as well. 



  • Art1947AArt1947 Holywell, UKPosts: 105

    Hi, How is your mobility? are you able to stand and walk normally? I had a Laminectomy at C5/ C6 and my problems are my hands and my walking. I hope you continue to improve. God Bless and Regards, Art1947

  • kaus360kkaus360 san diegoPosts: 2
    Praying for both you and your wife. If you get a moment, google "Bill Walton's surgery story". I think that you will be inspired. I was. All the best. Everyday we have something to be thankful for. Sometimes, it's just the fact that we are alive. 
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