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Hand Weakness
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Hand Weakness

Ok so for years now my left hand has been in a strange condition. I have been to a few doctors and the conclusion was that I had nerve damage somewhere up my left arm leading this strange weakness/pain in my left hand. I can grip/squeeze things just fine but trying to pull something back doesn't work. If I lay my hand down on a flat surface I can ONLY raise my pinky finger. The rest have no muscle function to raise up. I cannot give a "thumbs up" with this hand and or point with my index finger straight out. After a while of using it while lifting heavy things, it begins to be quite painful and at night when I sleep my hand just curls up in a fist and it hurts if I try to sleep with it laid out flat. I need help, I don't know whats wrong and I have been going from doctor to doctor. Thanks!
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Avatar_m_tn
CMB, has a doctor ordered an MRI or an EMG for you?  These tests should help localize the damaged nerve.  I experienced hand weakness many years ago and thought I might have MS.  For three years the doctors said that I had carpal tunnel syndrome.  Well, when all treatments failed, a doctor (my fourth one) said that the weakness sounded like a cervical disk problem and she ordered an MRI.  Sure enough, the MRI showed a herniated disk at C6/C7.  I had an operation to remove the disk and my hand weakness moslty went away.  One note of caution for you - the longer your nerve remains pinched, the more permanent damage will happen.  This could mean that not all of your hand function would return.  I would certainly ask for an MRI or to see a neurosurgeon or neurologist.

Take care,

Curt
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Avatar_n_tn
Curt,

My husband too has been diagnosed with c6/c7 disc prolapse. There are many options in this surgery, I would like to know which one have you undergone? was it a fusion or artificial disk replacement or a simple discectomy? would you be kind enough to share this info?
Also, I would like to know if you were given general anesthesia? if so were you awaken by the doctors right after the surgery?
How better do you feel after surgery?

Thanks a ton!
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Avatar_m_tn
Good morning, Divya!

I actually had two surgeries at the C6/C7 level.  The first was a simple diskectomy and I went under general anesthesia.  I felt better for about six months and then I reinjured the disk while swimming.  I turned my head to breathe and probably turned too far and I heard a pop in the neck and soon after, my symptoms returned.  

The second surgery was a disk replacement with allograft (cadaver bone) and again went under general anesthesia.  I was awakened both times by hospital staff and not the doctor soon after the surgery was complete.  I don't know how long I was under the anesthesia as I didn't have a watch and had no concept of time.  

I was, and still am, terrified of general anesthesia.  I had a difficult time trying to wake up because I would stop breathing while I was out.  The hospital staff kept shaking me and telling me to breath.  I found out later that I have both central and obstructive sleep apnea and that was the cause of my difficulty - the anesthesia further depressed my respiration.  

How do I feel now?  That's complicated because I don't have the nerve impingement but I suffer from terrible neck pain.  I didn't have neck pain prior to the surgery - only hand and tricep weakness.  There is still foraminal stenosis and another herniated disk and that is probably the cause of the pain.  However, my cousin just had the same procedure and her pain is worse now than before the operation.  

Depending on the severity your husband's symptoms I would try every possible thing before surgery including chiropracting, physical therapy, massage therapy, accupuncture, and traction. I was a flyer in the Navy and they did not give me the option for those things.  In order to fly, I had to have the surgery right away to get back into a flight status.  

In some ways, I regret the operations.  They led to me being prescribed opiods for five years and I became addicted to them and had to go into rehab.  Now that I'm off the drugs, my pain is severe and affects all aspects of my life.  Again, if your husband is not too bad, I would treat conservatively before I would have an operation.  Also, if you do go ahead with a surgery, make sure you get a neurosurgeon and not an orthopedic surgeon to do the job.  

Please feel free to ask any more questions.  I'd be happy to answer them.

Best of luck and take care!

Cheers,

Curt
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