Pain in shoulder after cervical surgery

Posted by Harvey @purdy, May 10 10:50am

Anyone have cervical surgery in areas if C4 through C7 and have had permanent pain in your shoulder? Have tried injections and ting unit, but no relief.

I also started having right shoulder pain 4 months post operatively for anterior C4-C7 allograft fusion/corpectomy. I had spinal cord compression/arthropathy, myelopathy. A rotator cuff tear is suspect, supraspinatus muscle. No prior history. Now I have to see an Orthopedic provider, Pain Management for facet blocks. I have trouble sleeping also, I am a side sleeper, but have not been given any medication so I take Tylenol PM. I don't feel so alone after reading these comments.

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@muttwoman

I also started having right shoulder pain 4 months post operatively for anterior C4-C7 allograft fusion/corpectomy. I had spinal cord compression/arthropathy, myelopathy. A rotator cuff tear is suspect, supraspinatus muscle. No prior history. Now I have to see an Orthopedic provider, Pain Management for facet blocks. I have trouble sleeping also, I am a side sleeper, but have not been given any medication so I take Tylenol PM. I don't feel so alone after reading these comments.

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@muttwoman Welcome to Mayo Connect. I am curious how you found us, but very glad you did! We are not medical professionals, so we cannot diagnose, but we do offer support and share experiences to help others on their journeys. You see ample testament to that here! May I suggest you keep some type of a journal that will help you list your discomfort, perhaps including time of day and activity, pain level and relief sought, so your orthopedic Dr will have some information to go on. Can you do that?
Ginger

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Hello Ginger, Thank you for your response. I was searching for additional information on the internet, and selected the Mayo Clinic as a trusted source of information. The shared responses were of great interest to me. My surgery was complicated, and I ultimately retired so I could take care of my health. I certainly would describe myself as one who is an excellent historian, and keeping details of this journey would be quite easy. I wondered if the surgical positioning of the shoulder (and learned during a Post-Op visit from a Nurse Practitioner that the shoulder is pressed to better access the spine) caused my subsequent injury. Elizabeth

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Molly is my rescue dog and comfort companion!

0421201519[1314]

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@muttwoman

I also started having right shoulder pain 4 months post operatively for anterior C4-C7 allograft fusion/corpectomy. I had spinal cord compression/arthropathy, myelopathy. A rotator cuff tear is suspect, supraspinatus muscle. No prior history. Now I have to see an Orthopedic provider, Pain Management for facet blocks. I have trouble sleeping also, I am a side sleeper, but have not been given any medication so I take Tylenol PM. I don't feel so alone after reading these comments.

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@muttwoman Welcome, you came to a good place. I'm sorry you are in so much pain. May I tell you about my pain? I will anyway. For a year I had to wait to have a fusion surgery on my back from T10 to my pelvis. I was in a lot of sciatic pain before the surgery. I had the surgery on June 9th. Recovering has been hard. I had to stay in the hospital longer because I had a low BP. They finally discovered it was the valium they were giving me for pain. I was so confused after the 9 hour surgery from the anesthesia. Then they took me down t he next day, we for got our surgeon had told us. They were asking me questions, but I was still out of it. They went in another room and I thought they didn't know what they were doing. Well they called my surgeon to find out exactly. I was given anesthesia again and they/ injected cement in my L-10 and L-11. I still don't know why they had to do it so I need to ask the surgeon the next time we see him in October. I have to be very careful because I have soft bones. No bending, or twisting and only 10 pound lifting. I could pull out a screw or break a rod. I am giving myself infections to get my bones stronger. Have to do it for 2 years and then still have to go on another one.
I'm sorry for all your pain, at least I sleep good now, just have trouble getting to sleep. I wish they would give you something for your pain. At least Tramadol. Ask them about that one. Maybe your orthopedic will give you something. I will think about you and say a prayer. Take care and I hope you get some relief soon.

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I found a study in England that found a 95 percent reduction in right shoulder pain when 25-30% less CO2 was used. My doctor tried it and I had no shoulder pain.

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@jwest3sons

I wanted to respond to the above text for the pain after surgery of cervical fusion 4,5,6,7. I had surgery because I continued to fall, was losing function of 1 hand, foot and could no longer feel temperature. Didn’t have much pain until after surgery. After surgery had shoulder pain, headaches, neck pain and difficulty swallowing, the pain for 2 years was quite difficult. Now the GOOD news! After many docs I have a wonderful treatment plan. I elected Not to have a second surgery. I now get facet joint ablations in 2,3,4 every 7 months and Botox injections for my headaches, muscle spasms in shoulders, neck and mid back. I get them every 3 months and they work wonders! I do still take muscle relaxers at night and Neurontin for neuropathy. The swallowing I live with but changed diet. Don’t give up looking for a plan that works. I tried them all, tens unit, 2 years physical therapy land and pool. Everyone is different but there is a plan for you! Hang in there. I now have good quality of life. It was long process, just don’t get stuck in a plan that doesn’t work. Will be praying you find the best for you. Sending my best

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Hi. Thank you for your post. I had cervical spine fusion Nov 2019..I have titanium cage w 4 screws. The pain level is so bad in both shoulders now I was put on Morphine..which was also not good. Now I am on Oxy/Acemataphine..I cant work, need serious help. The pain wakes me up every night. I see you take muscle relaxers and Neurontin. Woukd you mind sharing what kind of muscle relaxers you take and what type of doctor I could get the botox..I will try anything to get out of pain, go to work and have my life back. Muscle relaxers seem more appropriate than pain medicine. It makes sense. Thank you for sharing with us.

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@jryan6220

Hi. Thank you for your post. I had cervical spine fusion Nov 2019..I have titanium cage w 4 screws. The pain level is so bad in both shoulders now I was put on Morphine..which was also not good. Now I am on Oxy/Acemataphine..I cant work, need serious help. The pain wakes me up every night. I see you take muscle relaxers and Neurontin. Woukd you mind sharing what kind of muscle relaxers you take and what type of doctor I could get the botox..I will try anything to get out of pain, go to work and have my life back. Muscle relaxers seem more appropriate than pain medicine. It makes sense. Thank you for sharing with us.

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jryan6220 I know I am new to you, but thought if would tell you the muscle relaxant I am on Flexeril and my primary doctor gives it to me. You poor guy, I can't imagine having all the pain you are having. I feel a muscle relaxant might help, but you may still need the pain med.

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@jryan6220

Hi. Thank you for your post. I had cervical spine fusion Nov 2019..I have titanium cage w 4 screws. The pain level is so bad in both shoulders now I was put on Morphine..which was also not good. Now I am on Oxy/Acemataphine..I cant work, need serious help. The pain wakes me up every night. I see you take muscle relaxers and Neurontin. Woukd you mind sharing what kind of muscle relaxers you take and what type of doctor I could get the botox..I will try anything to get out of pain, go to work and have my life back. Muscle relaxers seem more appropriate than pain medicine. It makes sense. Thank you for sharing with us.

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Hi, I wanted to respond to you. I am so sorry you are in so much pain after your fusion. It can be tough stuff. The spine is so complicated with so many parts and nerves. I can only speak to my process, the first step for me was to find out the why I was in pain. Your pain doc or your spinal surgeon can order a MRI or better yet CT scan using dye. It will tell the complete picture. If your pain is from muscle spasms due to complications perhaps Botox will help. It basically puts the muscle to sleep. I had bad headaches and spasms since surgery so I went to a Neurologist. I looked for a woman that specializes in MS. She has more practice with spasms. Turned out the spasms in neck and shoulder were my headache cause. She is the one that put in the Botox. After a year of treatment I just tried not having the shots, and now the spasms are back. So I’m scheduled again. The muscle relaxer I’m on is Methocarbamol, it is marginal but worth a try. The best for me was Baclofen but had other complications from it that most people don’t have. You could ask. The best about Botox is you aren’t medicated so you can work drive and have a life. I think it will be used more in the future, hang in there, keep working towards a plan that works best for you. Each person is different but there will be something to help. My prayers are with you.

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@jwest3sons

Hi, I wanted to respond to you. I am so sorry you are in so much pain after your fusion. It can be tough stuff. The spine is so complicated with so many parts and nerves. I can only speak to my process, the first step for me was to find out the why I was in pain. Your pain doc or your spinal surgeon can order a MRI or better yet CT scan using dye. It will tell the complete picture. If your pain is from muscle spasms due to complications perhaps Botox will help. It basically puts the muscle to sleep. I had bad headaches and spasms since surgery so I went to a Neurologist. I looked for a woman that specializes in MS. She has more practice with spasms. Turned out the spasms in neck and shoulder were my headache cause. She is the one that put in the Botox. After a year of treatment I just tried not having the shots, and now the spasms are back. So I’m scheduled again. The muscle relaxer I’m on is Methocarbamol, it is marginal but worth a try. The best for me was Baclofen but had other complications from it that most people don’t have. You could ask. The best about Botox is you aren’t medicated so you can work drive and have a life. I think it will be used more in the future, hang in there, keep working towards a plan that works best for you. Each person is different but there will be something to help. My prayers are with you.

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@ryan6220 I didn't tell you on my last message that I had a fusion on my back from T10 to my pelvis. It was in June 9th. I had degeneration that caused a scoliosis and had stenosis in my L-4 & 5. I am healing quite well and wearing a brace. My bones are soft so I have to do Tymlos, an injection into my stomach daily. the needle is so small you can hardly see it. I am so sad you are having so much pain. What did you have done? I was in the hospital for 7 days. Blessing and healing sent your way.

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I have not had cervical cervical, but I have had a Fusion on my back from T10 t0 my pelvis. It was a nine hour surgery. Yours would be much easier. So don't be afraid to have the surgery.

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@purdy I am so sorry, you have all ready had to surgery (cervical) So your shoulders are in pain. Have you asked your surgeon or primary care. I'm not a doctor. I had a fusion on my back from T 10 to my pelvis and doing well. It has been almost 3 months post=op. Take care I hope you get better.

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@lilypaws

I have not had cervical cervical, but I have had a Fusion on my back from T10 t0 my pelvis. It was a nine hour surgery. Yours would be much easier. So don't be afraid to have the surgery.

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I have had 3 spinal surgeries and they will not do more because I am 83 years old.

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@muttwoman

Hello Ginger, Thank you for your response. I was searching for additional information on the internet, and selected the Mayo Clinic as a trusted source of information. The shared responses were of great interest to me. My surgery was complicated, and I ultimately retired so I could take care of my health. I certainly would describe myself as one who is an excellent historian, and keeping details of this journey would be quite easy. I wondered if the surgical positioning of the shoulder (and learned during a Post-Op visit from a Nurse Practitioner that the shoulder is pressed to better access the spine) caused my subsequent injury. Elizabeth

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Hello Elizabeth, I have been searching for information about what caused injury to my shoulders during multi-level ACDF surgery several years ago. Immediately following the surgery, I had a 3 to 4 inch circular bruised area located between my collarbone and shoulder on the soft skin tissue on each shoulder. I wish I had taken pictures! I won't go over every detail between then and now, suffice it to say, I concluded it was caused by something used for positioning the patient during the surgery. I have never located anything online indicating a device or even that this may be done during this surgery, but common sense and injury location led me to conclude this. The result was a brachial plexus injury, which occurs when the shoulder is forced down while the neck is stretched upwards and away from the shoulder. I was thrilled to see that you actually were told about learned about the surgical positioning by a medical professional. The surgeon who performed my ACDF actually denied any knowledge of such an injury. Can you imagine? Thank goodness my husband was there with me to hear the doctor's denial, because I don't know if anyone would really believe me. I suppose he was concerned about some kind of liability, although that wasn't my reason for asking him about it. I just wanted him to tell me what could be done about it. To date, I've had some self-referred PT to address some of the problem and now, two years later, I've reinjured the injury in a fall. The symptoms and decrease in ADL are the same now as then: restricted range of motion with my arms, cannot lift them above my shoulders or use them behind my back. I also have nerve pain run down my arms and very intense pain in my hands and lower arms. I have about a 50% decrease in my physical ability to do housework and gardening tasks such as carrying anything like clothes, or reaching inside the washer and dryer. Forget cleaning floors with vacuums, dust mops, brooms or wet mops, they result in setbacks and more pain. I take Tylenol when the aching and burning get bad, but of course, nothing helps the sharp nerve pain. Because I have stage 3 kidney disease, there are very few pain meds I can take. I'm sorry I don't have a specific remedy for you, but it sounds as if you were questioning whether the positioning during surgery had caused your shoulder injury, to which I say, yes, I absolutely do. I wish you the very best in your search for relief from pain and injury. I cannot tell you how overjoyed and relieved I am that you posted real information about this. By the way, when the surgeon denied any knowledge of my injury resulting from a procedure, I was crushed, it was such a let down from someone I had admired and relied on to perform this complex surgery. I never returned for any follow up care.
My best regards,
Nan
P.S. Dylan and Hope, both doggie rescues who are now part of our family, send doggie hugs to you and Molly!

Liked by lorirenee1, Hank

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@nkd123

Hello Elizabeth, I have been searching for information about what caused injury to my shoulders during multi-level ACDF surgery several years ago. Immediately following the surgery, I had a 3 to 4 inch circular bruised area located between my collarbone and shoulder on the soft skin tissue on each shoulder. I wish I had taken pictures! I won't go over every detail between then and now, suffice it to say, I concluded it was caused by something used for positioning the patient during the surgery. I have never located anything online indicating a device or even that this may be done during this surgery, but common sense and injury location led me to conclude this. The result was a brachial plexus injury, which occurs when the shoulder is forced down while the neck is stretched upwards and away from the shoulder. I was thrilled to see that you actually were told about learned about the surgical positioning by a medical professional. The surgeon who performed my ACDF actually denied any knowledge of such an injury. Can you imagine? Thank goodness my husband was there with me to hear the doctor's denial, because I don't know if anyone would really believe me. I suppose he was concerned about some kind of liability, although that wasn't my reason for asking him about it. I just wanted him to tell me what could be done about it. To date, I've had some self-referred PT to address some of the problem and now, two years later, I've reinjured the injury in a fall. The symptoms and decrease in ADL are the same now as then: restricted range of motion with my arms, cannot lift them above my shoulders or use them behind my back. I also have nerve pain run down my arms and very intense pain in my hands and lower arms. I have about a 50% decrease in my physical ability to do housework and gardening tasks such as carrying anything like clothes, or reaching inside the washer and dryer. Forget cleaning floors with vacuums, dust mops, brooms or wet mops, they result in setbacks and more pain. I take Tylenol when the aching and burning get bad, but of course, nothing helps the sharp nerve pain. Because I have stage 3 kidney disease, there are very few pain meds I can take. I'm sorry I don't have a specific remedy for you, but it sounds as if you were questioning whether the positioning during surgery had caused your shoulder injury, to which I say, yes, I absolutely do. I wish you the very best in your search for relief from pain and injury. I cannot tell you how overjoyed and relieved I am that you posted real information about this. By the way, when the surgeon denied any knowledge of my injury resulting from a procedure, I was crushed, it was such a let down from someone I had admired and relied on to perform this complex surgery. I never returned for any follow up care.
My best regards,
Nan
P.S. Dylan and Hope, both doggie rescues who are now part of our family, send doggie hugs to you and Molly!

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@nkd123
Hi Nan. Welcome to Mayo Connect. Hopefully Elizabeth will see your post and respond to you, but her last post was in July so she might not be following Connect that closely now. I actually started a discussion a while ago about ACDF surgery. A friend of mine was having one done and I was trying to elicit experiences from others who had had it done. Here is a link if it's of any interest to you:
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/anyone-had-an-anterior-cervical-corpectomy-and-discectomy-with-fusion/?pg=1#comment-367661
I am sorry that your doctor will not discuss what was done to you during surgery, i.e. the reason your shoulders evidence these areas of "brachial plexus injury" as you say. Liability issues really drive a wedge between doctors and their patients unfortunately.

In addition to the Chronic Pain Group (here), you might be interested in checking out these other groups to perhaps connect with others who have similar issues:
Bones, joints and muscles: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/arthritis-and-joint-conditions-268850/
Spine health: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/spine-health/

Nerve pain is the WORST! My wife has peripheral neuropathy in her feet and ankles and there is (so far) no cure. But I try to monitor the neuropathy group myself. Occasionally a good idea will appear and we will try it. Some actually have been helpful to my wife.

I'm so sorry for what has happened to you. My heart goes out to you for sure! I hope you are able to get some benefit and enjoyment from using Connect. All my best to you, Hank

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