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Right arm in pain and losing grip strength
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Right arm in pain and losing grip strength

I has a spinal epidural on L4 about a month ago and the day after I got it, I noticed a weird cramping sensation in my right forearm. I shrugged it off as just being a sore or pulled muscle.  The pain has continued and I have lost significant hand strength in my thumb and index fingers.  I also can barley lift an empty cup from overhead on the shelf. It's like I have no strength to grip and lift. the object. The weakness is most present when my arm is extended or overhead. My forearm also just won't lift the object.

When I returned for my follow up I explained what had happened to the Anesthesiologist. He said it had nothing to do with the epidural. My back is much better, but now my primary arm and hand are going down hill. I am in great shape and healthy. I know should go the doctor and find out what is going on, but this seems like one of those " we are not sure whats wrong with you type issues."  Surely someone has had this happen to them, or can give me some info to offer to my doctor.

Even when my arm is at rest it hurts. I tolerate pain well, but not being able to pick up coffee, water, plates and kids and getting me down.


Old broken Marine,
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The liklihood is this does have something to due with the epidural, and the anaesthesiologist is going into "don't-sue-me-mode".

You are being treated like a mushroom - kept in the dark and being  fed you-know what.

The problem, of course is inflammation of a nerve in the cervical area. Guess what. The spinal column connects the two places. It sounds like you have inflammation because something was in that anaesthesia that your body did not like. If could even be an infection.

Usually these things resolve over time, but you need to make a written documented complaint to the hospital and a written documented insistance on an immediate evaluation, to include a 3T MRI of the cervical spine. You need to have a freedom of information request with the notes taken during the operation and those by the anesthesiologist. And find out who did the procedure. Often the spinal is done by a student. Sometimes there are problems even when they try to do everything by the book. I wouldn't be took mad at the physicians.

If there is no infection the usual treatment is an anti-inflammatory (prednisone) and range of motion exercises. They are now also using a transdermal lidocaine patch, that is cut and placed on the back of the neck for up to twelve hours.

The good news is this will probably resolve over time.

Just in case it does not, you need to have your ducks in order.

If you did this at the VA, you can't have a tort action of course.

But document everything  just the same.

If this was a service-connected operation you may have your disability rating increased during the period of recovery.
This was done at a civilian hospital and I don't use the VA except for service connected injuries.  I took a lot of anti-inflammatory meds and my back pain has gone away, but I have traded it it for this new arm pain.

I had a MRI done on my spine. L4, L5 degenerative arthritis, and herniated disks in both locations. They said no Stenosis.

Since the epidural, I don't get all knotted up with tightness like I did before the epidural.  Now instead of muscle soreness I get a very sharp instantaneous pain in my spine that feels like something is being pinched. It almost makes me fall over like I have lost connectivity between the upper part of my body and the lower half and then it is gone. When it happens my upper body goes backwards and my lower half tries to move forward. This happens 5-6 times a day and happens only when standing or walking,

I can live with that and accept I am getting old and broken at 45. The arm and hand pain though is not acceptable due to me being very active, and have a 2 and 4 year old to raise.

Should I go back to the pain clinic, or is there a type of specialist I should see for the issues? It is hard to find a spine specialist if that is indeed who I should see. They don't list one at the hospital, and for my back I went to the pain management office at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.  My doctor there was not a student doctor and was highly spoken of.  He was simply an Anesthesiologist who specializes in spinal pain epidurals.


I see this post is 3 yrs old but I was wondering if you ever resolved your arm problem.  I have the exact same thing.   Lost grip and pain in forearm.
47 and 5 and 7 to raise.  Gotta figure this out.
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