tricep pain due to C5/C6 partly relieved by surgery


Hello,

I have arm pain, mainly tricep pain due to C5/C6. I had an anterior cervical discectomy with fusion on 7/15/16 which helped, but still have residual pain. My everyday life is greatly affected - pushing a grocery cart is painful, sleeping on my side impossible (due to arm pain) and lifting even light objects, hurts my arms. The pain radiates down through the radius to my ring and pinky fingers on both arms, but is worse on the right.

I also have tennis and golfer's elbow on both sides. Basically, my arm pain is multifactorial.

Walking often worsens my symptoms, making my arms feel like they are turning into wood. Stiffness in my hands is also a problem. I started taking 40mg of Nortriptyline which has helped. I have tried many other medications without success. I have also tried icing, heat, acupuncture, stretching, you name it, I've done it. Raising my arms over my head helps but doesn't last.

I would like some advice on what to do for my arms. I don't expect a miracle, but would like to be able to return to work and hug people without fear of hurting later.

Thank you


Hello,
It would seem that the pinched nerve has affected your shoulder too, if lifting and sleeping on your side hurts.

The triceps is the most commonly affected muscle in the arm after a neck injury; then your shoulder becomes weak.

What's interesting though is that the pinkie and ring finger nerve do not come from C5/C6 but lower in the neck; you may have another nerve affected, or even the surgery was done at the wrong level; unlikely as you received some relief of pain.

Relief from raising your arms points to the nerve still be affected in your neck; one rarely gets complete relief from any treatment for a bad neck, and you may have to live with some of these symptoms.

I would recommend a careful and thorough examination of your shoulders; ask them also to do the upper limb tension test, and Adson's. Is there also irritation of the C8 nerve root?

Some gentle chiropractic treatment, using an activator, below the level of the surgery may help. Another MRI may even be indicated, or another look at the original set; what does the C7/T1 level look like?

I wish I should suggest more.

Dr B


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