Pain in shoulder after cervical surgery

Posted by Harvey @purdy, May 10, 2020

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.

October 1st will be the 10 year anniversary of my anterior cervical spine fusion surgery. Over the course of the following 2 1/2 years, I struggled with extraordinary pain in my shoulder which compelled lots of PT and pain mngt — LOTS of shots to knock down the pain. I had radiating pain for almost a year prior to the surgery and my continued struggle post-op made me feel that I would never feel good again. Depression compounded my general state of mind.
Over time, my electric shoulder pain gradually dissipated. I believe that it was referred pain and I’m able to feel normal . There’s no doubt that I am dramatically improved, but actively working on treating the pain is something you must be committed to. Be sure to articulate your pain to your physical therapists and physiatrist.
I hope this helps and am available to talk more about it, if you like. You must keep hope alive!!!

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@shenriq Thank you for your help. Sounds like I better take it easy when I get home from surgery. It sounds like you had a pinched nerve in your neck to caused your shoulder pain. Did you have sciatica all the way down your arm from your shoulder? I'm just guessing, but I'm glad it's better. Did they ever diagnose what was wrong with your shoulder?
I wouldn't be surprised if I will eventually have a neck fusion surgery. It's a mess, but no sciatica down my arm. My right shoulder is a replacement and my left shoulder I fell, got dizzy on my garage steps and couldn't figure out why I couldn't get my key in the door to lock it. I barely turned around and flew off two steps and broke right below my shoulder. I now have a plate with 11 screws in on my left upper arm. The bone were in pieces and the surgeon told my husband that it went back together like a puzzle. I don't know what caused me to become dizzy. The only thing was I had low sodium at the hospital. Neither shoulders hardly bother me. Now this and I know it will hurt more after the surgery, but I do feel positive that it will work, since they tested me and I started out with pain at 9 and after the procedure it went down to 1 and was still not hurting me the next day.The Assistant Surgeon told me that my surgery would be a success. I liked when you said to keep my hopes alive. I feel positive and hope it carries through after the surgery and I have faith. I may start having depression, since I probably can't do much after the surgery and my husband will have to do it. Thank you for your comments!! I won't give up hope.

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@artscaping

Good evening @ljbsgausa, welcome to Connect. I had the same cervical fusions as you did 7 years ago. I don't recall any pain in my shoulders. I had just had a reverse shoulder replacement before the cervical surgery. And as soon as the fusions were healed in about 3 months, I had a rotator cuff repair on my left shoulder from falling down the stairs. At that point, the pain in my arms and wrists became quite critical. It was then that my small fiber neuropathy was discovered by a punch skin biopsy. This all became one of those nightmares from a fall down the mountain.

I have very little discomfort in my neck as long as I do yoga stretches every morning and use the cervical collar. I still have numbness and pain in my arms and my feet. What are you doing to treat your pain? When was the last time you discussed your shoulder pain with a clinician? What has been recommended and how can we help? We are here for you…….not as physicians or medically trained technicians. What we can do is help you research your medical status and ask others to share their treatments and medical care with you.

May you be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.
Chris

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@artscaping Hi, I have been thinking of @am3. We haven't heard from her in a long time and I wonder how she is doing. Would it be ok if I send her a post? Jeanie

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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!

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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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