Numb Tongue after Spine Surgery

Category: Neck Surgery, Surgery Recovery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: May 19, 2015

numb tongue

Numbness after a surgical procedure is always scary for a patient. As we have discussed before, it’s quite normal to experience some numbing after a minimally invasive spine procedure. However, there are times when it’s cause for alarm. In this article, we are going to discuss why a patient may experience a numb tongue after spine surgery, and what you should do if your tongue goes numb post-op.

What Could Cause a Numb Tongue after Surgery?

Tongue numbness is most common after a cervical spine procedure. Cervical disc replacements, or anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgeries can potentially result in temporary numbing of the tongue.

Minimally invasive procedures significantly cut down on the need to interfere with the spinal nerves, but even the least invasive surgeries can negatively impact the nerves. When the nerves and surrounding muscles are interfered with during a procedure, it usually takes time for these areas to fully heal and get back to functioning normally. During this recovery period, the patient may experience some unexpected numbness or loss of sensation in certain areas.

If the numbing is present immediately after the procedure, it could also be an after effect of the anesthesia. Typically, anesthesia-induced numbness will dissipate quickly in the hours and days after surgery.

What to do if your Tongue goes Numb

If you start feeling a numbing sensation in your tongue after neck surgery, do not panic. It is likely just a minor symptom while your nerves recover from the procedure. However, if the numbness lasts for several days, or it gets significantly worse, contact your surgeon. It’s possible that tongue numbness could indicate something more serious involving the cervical nerves, and it’s always best to get these issues treated before they become worse.

Always speak with your surgeon prior to your spine procedure. They will explain to you the potential symptoms you can expect during the recovery process – what’s normal, and what is cause for concern and further investigation.

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