Paralysis occurs when the nerves of the spinal cord are damaged. The spinal cord contains bundles of nerve fibers that transmit information between the brain and other parts of the body. When these nerve fibers are damaged, they cannot send signals to the muscles and nerves below them. Paralysis can cause weakness, numbness, tingling, loss of sensation, difficulty moving and more.
The most common types of paralysis after cervical spine surgery are:
Spinal cord injury (SCI). An SCI occurs when the spinal cord is damaged by trauma or a disease process such as stroke or tumor. SCI causes complete loss of function below the level of injury because there is no longer an intact pathway from the brain to control movement in those muscles and nerves. Spinal shock may occur immediately after spinal cord injury and result in temporary paralysis lasting several weeks, months or even years after it happens.
Central cord syndrome (CCS). CCS occurs when there is damage to the central portion of your spinal cord where motor neurons exit to control movement in your arms and legs. Signs and symptoms include painless paralysis (weakness) in your arms with relative sparing of movement in your wrists
After you have been diagnosed with cervical spine surgery, the next step is to get ready for your surgery. You should be prepared for a long recovery period that may require several weeks of bed rest.
If you are suffering from paralysis after cervical spine surgery, contact the Debney Law Firm today for a free consultation. We will help you understand your rights and options for compensation.
What Is Paralysis?
Paralysis is a serious condition in which someone has trouble moving or feeling parts of their body. The term “paraplegia” refers to paralysis in the lower half of the body and “paraparesis” refers to paralysis in one arm or leg.
What Causes Paralysis?
Paralysis can be caused by many different factors, such as:
Chronic back pain – If you have been living with chronic back pain over time, it can cause your nerves to become damaged or inflamed. This can lead to paralysis in certain areas of your body if not treated properly.
Can cervical surgery cause paralysis?
Cervical surgery is a risky procedure. The surgeon has to make a cut in your neck, and sometimes the spinal cord is damaged during the surgery.
The most common complication of cervical surgery is nerve damage. This can happen to anyone who has cervical spine surgery, but it’s more likely to occur in patients with poor muscle tone or poor blood supply to their spinal cord.
Nerve damage may cause paralysis in one or more limbs, or other sensory problems such as numbness or tingling. You should expect that you’ll be fully recovered from the nerve damage within several weeks or months after your surgery.
In rare cases, paralysis can be permanent after cervical spine surgery.
Cervical surgery can cause paralysis, but it’s a rare complication.
Paralysis is an uncommon side effect of cervical surgery. The risk varies depending on the type of surgery you have and your overall health.
The most common causes of paralysis after surgery include:
A blood clot that breaks loose and travels to your spinal cord (thrombosis) or brain (embolism). Blood clots are more likely if you’re older than 60 and have other risk factors for blood clots, such as smoking or high cholesterol. Blood clots can also occur after spinal fusion surgery because bone grafts sometimes cause bleeding into the spinal canal. This bleeding can cause a blood clot to form in the spine, which may travel up to your brain and cause a stroke.
Damage to nerve roots during the operation (axial injury). Nerve roots are bundles of nerves that branch out from your spinal cord at each vertebral level. Damage to these nerves can cause weakness or numbness in different parts of your body near where they emerge from your spine. In some cases, damage may be temporary; in others, it may be permanent. If any damage is temporary, it usually heals within several months after surgery
Can cervical surgery cause paralysis?
No, cervical surgery will not cause paralysis. However, there are potential complications associated with any surgery and these need to be taken into account prior to having any procedure.
Cervical spine surgery is performed to repair a damaged disc or vertebrae in the neck. It can also be used to treat some of the symptoms associated with neck pain such as muscle spasms and nerve impingement.
There are two main types of cervical spine surgery: discectomy and foraminotomy. In both procedures, an incision is made into the vertebrae through which tissue is removed and bone fragments are removed if necessary. The goal of this type of surgery is to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerves in order to reduce pain levels and allow normal functioning of muscles in the neck area.
Complications from this type of procedure include bleeding, infection or hardware failure (such as screws or plates). There is also a risk that swelling around the neck could cause compression on the brain stem or spinal cord; however this is rare due to the location of these organs within our bodies.
Cervical spine surgery, also called a cervical discectomy and fusion, is performed to remove a herniated disc in the neck and replace it with a bone graft. The procedure is done to relieve pressure on the spinal cord that can cause pain, numbness and weakness in the arms or legs.
Cervical spine surgery may be required if you have:
A herniated disc that presses on nerves to your arms or legs.
A severely degenerative disc.
A spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the canal in which your spinal cord sits.
Cervical spine surgery can be performed through either an anterior or posterior approach. In an anterior approach, an incision is made at the base of your neck; in a posterior approach, an incision is made at the back of your neck.
The type of cervical surgery required depends on where the herniated disc is located and the extent of nerve compression caused by the herniation.
What are the chances of getting paralyzed from neck surgery?
The chances of getting paralyzed from neck surgery are very low. The risk of paralysis is somewhere between 1% and 5%.
The risks associated with neck surgery are:
Paralysis or nerve damage, which can result in loss of sensation, weakness, or difficulty moving parts of your body
Bleeding into the spinal cord or brain, which can be life-threatening if not spotted early
Dural tear (a tear in the membrane surrounding the spinal cord), which can cause meningitis or a spinal fluid leak.
I am a physician, and I am more than familiar with the risks and complications of surgery. However, the chances of getting paralyzed from neck surgery are very slim. In fact, it is only about 1 in 10,000 for procedures that involve the cervical spine (neck).
However, there are some surgical procedures that have a much higher risk of paralysis. These include:
Neck discectomy or fusion surgeries in which there is an injury to the spinal cord or nerve roots during surgery
Removing an entire disc or vertebrae (fusion) with a large amount of bleeding into the spinal canal
Removing multiple discs/vertebras at once with large amounts of bleeding into the spinal canal
I have a friend that had neck surgery and she ended up being paralyzed from the waist down. She is still in recovery and is unable to walk.
I am wondering what are the chances of getting paralyzed from neck surgery?
The chance of paralysis after neck surgery is very rare. In fact, it is estimated that you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than becoming a paraplegic because of an elective neck surgery.
It has been reported that the chances of becoming a paraplegic after cervical spine surgery are less than 1 in 100,000 and most cases have been associated with infections (possibly related to IV lines), not the surgical procedure itself.
Can spinal surgery cause paralysis?
Yes, spinal surgery can cause paralysis. Spinal surgery is a very invasive procedure. It involves cutting into the spinal cord and removing bone and tissue. This can lead to complications such as infection, bleeding and nerve damage.
The most common cause of paralysis after spinal surgery is damage to the spinal cord or nerves connected to it.
Spinal cord damage can happen during the operation or afterward. It may be caused by poor surgical technique, or it may have been present before surgery but not detected until later.
Damage to nerves connected to the spine can also cause paralysis after surgery. For example, if you have lower back pain that affects your legs, this means there’s an abnormal connection between nerves in your lower back (which control feeling in your leg) and nerves in your leg (which control feeling in your foot). If these connections are disrupted during surgery, they could be reconnected incorrectly afterward — leading to permanent leg paralysis.
Spinal surgery can cause paralysis, but it is a very rare complication.
Spinal surgery can sometimes lead to paralysis. In fact, spinal cord injury and paralysis are among the most serious complications of major spinal surgery.
There are several reasons why spinal surgery might cause paralysis. If a surgeon accidentally cuts through the spinal cord during an operation, for example, it can cause permanent damage to the nerves that control movement and sensation in your arms, legs and body below the point where the cut was made.
Infection is another possible complication of spinal surgery. It’s not common, but if your infection spreads beyond the site of your incision (cut), it could travel into your central nervous system and damage your spinal cord or brainstem — which would result in paralysis.
Back surgery can cause paralysis if it goes wrong.
However, this is a rare complication of back surgery.
If you have spinal surgery and experience any of the following serious complications within one month:
Paralysis in all four limbs (quadriplegia) or half your body (paraplegia). Quadriplegia means you have lost control over all four limbs, including the muscles that control breathing. Paraplegia means you have lost control over half your body, including the muscles that control breathing.
Inability to urinate or pass gas (urinary retention). This is a common complication of spinal surgery and happens in up to 20% of patients. The longer it takes for you to be able to urinate after surgery, the more likely it is that your bladder will become infected or damaged by pressure from urine building up inside it. If you develop urinary retention after back surgery and cannot urinate on your own, this can cause kidney damage or kidney stones because urine backs up into your kidneys and causes them to swell painfully (called hydronephrosis).
I have just had spinal surgery, and was wondering if the surgeon could have cut the wrong cord. I have no feeling in my legs, but can feel my left foot.
I am not able to move my legs or my feet, but I am able to wiggle my toes and curl my fingers. I have been told that this is normal after surgery, but it has been 3 weeks now and still no improvement. My upper body is fine.
I will be seeing a neurologist next week for an MRI.
What is the most life threatening complication for patients who have a cervical discectomy?
Cervical discectomy can be a very dangerous procedure. The most life-threatening complication is bleeding, which can occur in the spine or brain. This occurs on occasion and requires immediate medical attention to prevent death.
Other complications include:
Spinal cord injury due to damage of the spinal cord during surgery (very rare)
Infection of the surgical site or blood stream
Stroke caused by bleeding into the brain (rare)
The most life threatening complication for patients who have a cervical discectomy is the development of spinal cord compression. This occurs when the vertebral body is cut through, or the spinal cord is compressed above and below the level of surgery.
Spinal cord compression usually develops within 48 hours post-operatively, but can develop at any time during the first year after surgery. Spinal cord compression results in symptoms that include:
Severe back pain
Weakness in an arm or leg
Loss of bladder or bowel control
Loss of sensation in an arm or leg
The most life-threatening complications are neurological injuries. These can include spinal cord injury, stroke and paralysis. The most common neurological injury is spinal cord injury. This occurs in about 1 out of every 10,000 cases of cervical discectomy.
Other complications that can occur include:
Bleeding – Bleeding is the most common complication after a discectomy. It is usually minor and can be treated with pressure dressings or blood transfusions if necessary.
Infection – Infection is a risk after any surgery, but it’s especially important to prevent infections after a cervical discectomy because of the proximity of the spine to other organs such as the lungs, kidneys and brainstem (the part of your brain that regulates breathing).
The most life threatening complication for patients who have a cervical discectomy is bleeding from the blood vessels. Bleeding can occur during surgery, after surgery or both.
Bleeding from the blood vessels in the neck can be a serious problem because it can cause air to be trapped in the spinal cord and spinal canal. This condition is called a spinal epidural hematoma and can lead to permanent paralysis or death.
The risk of bleeding is higher in older patients, those who smoke and those who take anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin or Plavix (clopidogrel). Some patients may have an abnormal blood vessel in their spine called an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). AVMs have a high risk of bleeding during surgery, so these patients should not undergo discectomy unless there are no other treatment options available.
What happens if you have a failed cervical fusion?
When a cervical fusion fails, it means that the bones in your neck have not fused together.
The failure may be due to one of several causes. The most common is an infection (septic arthritis). This happens when bacteria gets into the disc space and infects the soft tissues of your spine.
Another cause is poor bone growth from poor healing or lack of fusion between the vertebrae. In some cases, a metal device used in the surgery may fail, allowing movement between two vertebrae that should be fused together.
It’s important to remember that cervical fusions are considered major surgeries. As such, they carry a higher risk of complications than other types of surgery performed under general anesthesia.
Complications following a failed cervical fusion can include:
Infection – septic arthritis
Nerve damage – if the nerve root is damaged during surgery, you may experience pain or numbness in parts of your body served by that nerve root (such as arms or legs).
If a cervical fusion fails, it means that the spinal segments have moved apart. This may happen immediately after surgery or years later.
You will need an MRI scan to confirm that your fusion has failed. At this point, you will need a repeat operation to restore stability between your vertebrae.
The success rate for cervical fusions is high but not guaranteed. The main reason for failure is that the vertebral bodies move apart again, which allows the discs to bulge out between them and cause further pain and instability.
If a fusion fails, it usually happens within five years of surgery but can take much longer than this to occur. This may be because your body wasn’t ready for surgery at the time of your operation (for example, if you were too young or too old).
If you have a failed cervical fusion, you might need to have the spine surgery redone. You may also need other treatments to relieve your pain and improve your health. The following are some of the possible options:
Re-do the surgery. If your doctor thinks that another fusion would be successful, he or she may re-do the surgery. This is called an additional anterior cervical fusion (ACF). The ACF can be done in several ways, including using plates or rods and screws to hold the vertebrae together. The surgeon will use bone graft material to help fill in any gaps between vertebrae.
If you were previously treated with an ACF, but it failed due to infection or if there was too much movement between the vertebrae, then you might need an additional posterior spinal fusion (PSF). In this procedure, screws are placed through the back portion of your skull into each side of your neck to hold vertebrae together while they heal over time.
Your doctor will talk with you about which option is best for you based on his or her assessment of your condition and medical history.
What happens after C5 c6 surgery?
After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room and monitored for several hours.
After you have recovered from anesthesia, your surgeon will remove the drapes used during surgery. You will likely have a dressing over your incision(s). The nurse will help you get dressed and assist in getting out of bed. Any drains that may have been placed during surgery will be removed at this time. The amount of time it takes to remove a drain varies from patient to patient, but usually takes about 10 minutes.
Once you are ready to go home your doctor or nurse practitioner will provide instructions on how to care for yourself and what medicines to take (if any). You will also receive instructions on when to call if there is any problem or question regarding your care at home. They may also prescribe pain medication for you if needed (which should not be taken until after you have had food).
It is important for you to move about as soon as possible after surgery so that swelling does not build up around your spine and cause problems later on
You should avoid bending forward at all costs until the incision has healed completely (this usually takes 4-6 weeks) because doing so could risk tearing open the incision site again