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Numbness in hands, pain in elbows, sore hands, tingling leg. Done 4-level ADCF. Any thoughts?

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Neurologist, Surgical
Practicing since : 1997
Answered : 96 Questions
I recently had a 4 -level ADCF in Sept 2012 and haven't had any problems until about a month ago. It seemed like I strained my neck muscles after working long hours at the computer under an enormous amount of stress. After that I've slowly began experiencing various weakness in my upper buttocks and thighs. I went to the ortho and they did x-rays of my cervical spine and it looked well, nothing out of line. This was a couple weeks ago. The weakness seemed to subside but last night I woke up about 2am and both hands were completely numb! Not parts of my fingers but the entire hand on both sides. It never seemed to get better with movement and did not feel like they had "fallen asleep". I stayed awake nearly all night as the numbness progressively worsened, resulting in a total inability to feel either hand. My elbows and forearms were in terrible pain. After approx 20 mins after getting up the feeling came back slowly, but not like you would expect from your limb falling asleep. There was not prickly sensation, but a slow gradual feeling of my hands coming back. I didn't even think I would be able to drive. Now both hands are very sore all over, palms, fingers (all), and the "funny bone" nerve in my elbow is extremely uncomfortable, like I was hit in the funny bone on both sides and the feeling won't go away. My left leg is also tingly. Nothing is numb anymore but very "sore". Any thoughts?
Just as an aside, it has been a duration of almost 12 hours since I first woke up with numb hands and still have symptoms. I thought it might add a little to my inquiry so you know that it has been going on now for several hours and not only in the morning after I woke up.
Okay, sorry for all the follow up posts. It has been a few hours since I last wrote and the "funny bone" pain has stopped and I'm getting full feeling back in my lower extremities, although my hands are still very sore. However, now the lower part of both my arms (between the elbows and wrists) is excruciatingly itchy. My palms are also very red if that means anything at all. It's driving me nuts! What in the world is going on? I have never experienced anything like these symptoms in my life. My medications are exactly the same as they have been for 7 years, no increased or decreased dosages or changes, nothing has changed as far as I can think of that would cause this. I'm at work and it is extremely difficult to concentrate. I have a call in to my orthopedic surgeon but he is in surgery all day and I probably won't be able to reach him until tomorrow. In the meantime I just want to know what in the world could be causing this.

Posted Tue, 9 Apr 2013 in Stroke
Answered by Dr. Visvanathan K 10 hours later

Please correct me but my understanding of your problem is as follows:

You had a 4 level ACDF in Sep 2012 and now have had periods of transient symptoms, mainly in the form of numbness, weakness, pain and funny feelings. The X-rays seem fine, but you are worried about the cause of the pain.

Before I can attempt an answer I would need the reason you had the 4 level operation at this young age in the first place and what your symptoms and clinical examination findings were and for how long you suffered before having the operation.

In general, your symptoms do sound like they are neurological in origin and if the construct looks good on the X-rays it may mean some recurrent nervous compression either on to the spinal nerves or the spinal cord itself. If there is no contra-indication, an MRI of the spine would help clarify matters so that the proper treatment for the symptoms could be initiated. Also, depending on what medications you are currently on, your doctor could try and adjust it such that you can get relief of your new symptoms.

Hope this helps. Please do get back to me if you have any further queries.
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