Shoulder Numbness after Spine Surgery

Category: Minimally Invasive Surgery, Nerves | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: March 2, 2015

shoulder numbnessAs we have talked about previously, some numbness is to be expected after certain spine surgeries. However, there is a fine line between a small amount of numbness and more serious numbness that may be symptomatic of a serious underlying issue. Since we’ve already discussed post-op numbness in the lower extremities, this article will focus on numbness in the shoulder area – when it’s normal and when there is cause for concern.

Numb Shoulders after Surgery

Many spine surgery patients wonder if shoulder numbness is anything to be worried about – particularly patients who undergo cervical (neck) spine surgery. Usually a little numbness in the shoulders after a spine procedure is nothing to be concerned about. Most spine surgeries involve working around nerves in the spinal cord. Even in minimally invasive procedures, these nerves can sometimes be agitated or injured. When this happens the patient can experience numbness in another area of the body. Typically the numbness will fade and feeling will return after a few weeks as the nerves heal. However, there are other cases in which shoulder numbness should raise some red flags.

When to be Concerned

There are a few rules of thumb you can use to determine when to contact your doctor regarding your shoulder numbness. If your numbness persists for more than a month (especially if it gets worse over that period), or if you are also struggling with loss of motor control in your shoulders or arms, that’s when you know it’s time to contact your physician.

Always talk to your physician if you are experiencing severe numbness after your surgery – especially if it gets worse over time or if it is accompanied by loss of motor control. This could be indicative of a serious issue, and should be examined right away. It’s always better to get the numbness checked out than to deal with it and discover too late that it’s a serious problem.

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