Metal hypersensitivity post acdf surgery. Anyone else?

Posted by web28 @web28, May 12 10:46am

I had acdf c3-c6 for cervical spondylitis with myelopathy five months ago. Going into surgery I had lost the use of my hands along with having many other symptoms. My nerve compression was pretty severe. Post surgery I’ve developed a hypersensitivity to metal used in iPhones/iPads, silverware and kitchen pans and utensils/machines,etc. More and more though it’s including most furniture, especially those covered in krypton-type fabric. My hands are most affected with hypersensitivity but also affects other parts of my body that come in contact with the metal. I’m taking 1800mg of gabapentin daily but if it’s helping it’s minimal. My neurosurgeon has said he’s had other patients develop it after surgery and it’s an indication that my nerves aren’t dead and should slowly recover. He recommended I desensitize daily by holding various metals such as coins and he did recommend that my GP double my original RX. Anyone else experienced this and if so what helped?

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I am 12 weeks post C4-7 ACDF. While I didn't develop a specific metal sensitivity, I experienced extreme sensitivity to many outside stimuli. I vividly recall one day a few weeks post, and as I gazed out the window I felt as if all the natural outdoors colors were amazingly vivid. Food tasted differently. Sound was more intense (in fact, I have almost stopped wearing my hearing aids). I have assumed that – since my neck spinal cord was tightly restricted for years (and years and years) – the sudden "release" created by the ACDF produced an explosion of pent-up sensory input. But I'm just surmising as I'm no scientist or doctor. In the passing weeks, the over-sensitivity has slowly moderated to the point where now – either sensory input has reverted to "normal" or my brain has fully (almost) adjusted to "more intense". Summary: Have patience. The brain is complex and it takes time for it to adjust to your new normal…

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@web28 I have had metal sensitivity after receiving surgical implants, but not for spine surgery. I had developed problems with sensitivity to pierced earrings, and had to give them up, so I had concerns. I asked for an ACDF with no hardware, so mine (C5/C6) was done with just a bone spacer disc, and I stayed in a hard collar until fused. I had dental work with metals, and all my old silver fillings had been replaced, but I had old crowns and root canals that were failing. I did have all that removed and got ceramic dental implants. As soon as all that metal was out of my body, my health improved and so did my asthma, until I broke my ankle and became the owner of titanium plates. My asthma got worse again, and I had pain, throbbing, and I was getting hives all over my body. I had to stay on antihistamines all the time, and after a year and a half of healing my ankle, I had the metal removed and improved again. With spine surgery, it isn't always easy or possible to remove hardware. I think it just ads to total allergy burden of my body.

There is a practice that treats metal sensitivity from surgical implants in Texas, and part of that is treating other allergies to lower inflammation. Here is a link for information: https://www.ehcd.com/

Has your spine generated pain and function improved since your surgery?

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My metal hypersensitivity doesn’t seem to be based in my spine but is primarily in my hands where the cervical compression symptoms had originally started. The nerve damage there becomes really accentuated there by contact withe metal and will radiate in bands up my arms, especially the left arm which was affected more by the compression. The muscles throughout the body will stiffen too. If the metal is near another part of the body such as my back it is more of an uncomfortable tingly sensation. I had an 11” rod with screws placed in the humerus of the right arm after shattering it about three years before of which I’m wondering helped cause metal overload on the badly damaged nerves. I realize it’s still early days post surgery and I just need to be patient but am hoping someone else has had, and recovered from, a similar symptom.

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@web28

My metal hypersensitivity doesn’t seem to be based in my spine but is primarily in my hands where the cervical compression symptoms had originally started. The nerve damage there becomes really accentuated there by contact withe metal and will radiate in bands up my arms, especially the left arm which was affected more by the compression. The muscles throughout the body will stiffen too. If the metal is near another part of the body such as my back it is more of an uncomfortable tingly sensation. I had an 11” rod with screws placed in the humerus of the right arm after shattering it about three years before of which I’m wondering helped cause metal overload on the badly damaged nerves. I realize it’s still early days post surgery and I just need to be patient but am hoping someone else has had, and recovered from, a similar symptom.

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Hi web28:
I had an unusual case.
My symptom was excruciating pain in the thumb, severe on the left side.
I was diagnosed with Myelomalacia and went through ACDF at HSS in NY.
After the surgery, my symptoms got worse and it didn't get better even after 3 months.
My surgeon wanted me to see a hand surgeon. I went to a hand surgeon in Miami and was told there are no problems whatsoever – no tendonitis, no carpal tunnel syndrome, and maybe very slight arthritis. There is nothing he could do surgically to help me.
I decided to go to a different hospital and a different neurosurgeon and he ordered a nerve conduction study and EMG again. The doctor who did these tests said I have severe carpal tunnel syndrome more severe on the left. I told him why they didn't do the carpal tunnel syndrome surgery as my main symptoms were hand and especially thumbs. He said that there is something called double crush syndrome. A nerve can pinch two places at the same time. It might have pinched in the neck and also in the hands. Finally, when I saw my hand surgeon, she said I had severe carpal tunnel syndrome on both hands ranked 6/6. I went through carpal tunnel surgery on both hands at the same time and after the surgery, the pain became more excruciating. I couldn't lift my cell phone. My hand surgeon assured me that it will take 6 months to 2 years. She also said I have arthritis that has damaged my CMC joint in the thumb, and without the trapeziometacarpal joint surgery, I will never be relieved of pain. Now after 6 months, the pain has considerably reduced and I manage with Aleeve when the pain increases otherwise I just ignore the pain. I'm not sure of wanting to go through TMC as it takes longer to recover.

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I’m so happy for you that your carpal tunnel symptoms are receding and hoping that you won’t have to have the tmj surgery. Also admire you for persisting until you got a diagnosis that made sense. I’ve heard of double crush syndrome but doesn’t seem to apply to my post acdf surgery. The MRI’s show that I’ve had multilevel disc disease for at least twenty years(all levels) but had developed myelomalacia at c4 with severe canal stenosis. Also pretty severe kyphosis with foraminal narrowing. Most of my symptoms developed very quickly within about 4 months prior to surgery with extreme sensation sensitivity but extreme weakness too where I couldn’t pick anything up or hold anything. That’s gone but the sensation sensitivity remains 24/7 and is aggravated by contact with metal. I know I need to practice patience in that I’m only 6 months post surgery and my surgeon(he’s both a neurosurgeon and orthopedic spinal surgeon)never thought I’d walk again. Need to stay offline but find it hard to do regardless of the pain it causes!

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