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Thread: New to forum/Strange buzzing sensation

  1. #1

    New to forum/Strange buzzing sensation

    Hello everyone,
    I hope someone here recognizes my symptoms and has an answer! I'll do the question first followed by my history.
    Question: I'm 11 weeks post surgery. If I do any kind of exercise, I get strange sweeping "buzzes" - almost like I'm being zapped with a tens unit, very briefly. It isn't painful. I also notice (from about week 7-8,) that if I sit with my back resting against a surface, that my lower back has a faint numby feeling for a short while after I get up. Are these signs/symptoms something to be alarmed about?? What is this??
    History: I'll try to make my history brief for you. On January 23rd I fell and wacked my head on the ground. Initially, I had all-over body weakness severe enough that I couldn't move, my upper body being worse, with total, extreme pins and needles in my arms. ( I had very brief L.O.C.) If anyone touched my arms, it was like I was being set on fire. I had just a tad bit of feeling in my hands and arms. I survived being "fireman-carried" into the house where I was visiting. Made it to the ER and was misdiagnosed with a stinger injury. They never even took an xray! That was a Thursday evening. I could walk out of the hospital, but could barely move my arms. On Sunday morning I went to a different hospital ER and was diagnosed (after MRI's etc.) with a tear drop fracture on a vertabra (either C4 or C5) and I believe what's called a herniated disk there. The disk had been shoved into the spinal cord. I had to have emergency surgery. They removed the disc, put in donor bone and plated C4/C5. The Doc told me that the disc had been split and they had to remove a chunk of it that was lodged on the cord. (Also that I had a very large bone spur there.) He said the cord was pretty bruised. After the surgery, the right arm was much better and I could move it without assistance. About 8-10 hours later in the recovery room, my left arm couldn't be moved without assistance, opposite of what I was like before surgery. They assured me it was most likely from swelling from the surgery. I have since regained movement in my arms, but they are still pretty weak. The pins and needles hadn't gone away from my fingers, hands, and up the insides of my arms ( a line from the thumb up to the inside elbow), but were much much less in intensity. I wasn't on fire when someone touched me anymore, but it was still uncomfortable. I feel very blessed that I have full use of my limbs......they all (hospital staff at second ER) seemed pretty surprised that I was still walking around, having been untreated and left the way I was for a whole weekend. I have been recovering very well - I continue to get more and more feeling in my fingers and hands, although there is still mild pins and needles. I'm at 11+ weeks post surgery now. At 9 weeks, the Dr. gave me permission to start racewalking again ( that is NOT power-walking. It is far more intense, has a specific technique, and is more on the order of jogging in terms of speed, and is more aerobic than running.) I was too afraid to start the next week, but did start last week Tuesday. My first time out was 3 minutes pedestrian walking alternating with 3 minutes of racewalking, doing that combo 3x for a total of 18 minutes. During the Ped. walking after the first RWing, I had a sweep of "buzzing" flow from mid-outer thigh to down the front of my shins, the sensation being equal on both legs. It lasted only a brief second, but repeated 2-3 times during the ped. walking. No buzzes while I RW'ed the next 3 minutes, but the same buzzing returned while ped. walking. Later during the day, I got occasional "sweeps". I took the next day off because I was scared. Then Thursday I walked 5 ped. walking/5 RWalking three times and had NO buzzes while working out. Later in the day though, I had the buzzes start at about mid-back down to my rear end. That was consistent through the rest of the evening. Friday I called the Dr., but had to wait for them to return my call. I decided to do 20 minutes of easy aerobic on a stationary bike. As soon as I was done with that, the buzzes came back, going from mid-back all the way through the "saddle area" to my front. The nurse eventually called back at 5pm - too late to relay this information to the Dr. She said she never heard of anything like this and advised me to either not do anything at all or no more than the 3x3. She cautioned me that I was only 10-11 weeks post surgery and had a lot of serious healing and recovery to do yet. At my Dr. visit at 9 weeks, he seemed like I was good to go for just about anything. {I also have found out from another patient of his that he really doesn't believe in physical therapy for patients like myself or those who have surgery for other conditions (other than than SCI's I'm assuming).} I had the "back/saddle area" sweeps the whole next day and just a few times on Sunday with less intensity. Yesterday the intensity was even less and I had just a couple sweeps, after driving to a couple destinations that are a half hour away.
    Well, I hope someone can give me some advise and insight into this! Thank you so much!

  2. #2
    You are very fortunate to have had so little neurologic deficit, but I am concerned about your statement that your physician does not "believe" in physical therapy (like it was a religion and not a valued health care discipline!). I would encourage you to seek an opinion about your condition from a neurosurgeon in addition to the orthopedic surgeon, and also to see a physiatrist who specialized in spinal cord injury.

    The strange sensations you have could be an indication that you continue to have some pressure on your spinal cord and/or nerve roots due to swelling or on-going spinal compression. This needs to be ruled out as the cause.

    If you are cleared in these areas, then it may be that you have a neuropathic pain syndrome. This is very common after any trauma involving the spinal cord. There are medications that can help with this, as well as modalities such as TENS and acupuncture that many find helpful. A physiatrist can be especially helpful in these areas.


  3. #3
    Thank you for the response. My doctor is a neurosurgeon. I inherited him in the ER that Sunday. He seems to be a very good surgeon and is a very personable guy, but if I don't ask, he doesn't volunteer info. At my 9 week check-up, I asked him about starting physical therapy. He told me that PT couldn't be started until about 12 weeks, to give the bone time to heal. He then added that, that was if I felt I really needed it, that a lot of his patients don't feel it's necessary. After that visit, I spoke to another fellow who has been a patient of his. He told me that this Dr. seems to balk a little at sending people to PT, and that if you do go, it's usually for a brief stint. (I'm assuming he meant 4-6 weeks.)
    Do you think I should call the Dr. office back and insist on talking to the Dr. about the buzzing, or just keep still and "inactive" until my appointment on April 24th. (As his nurse suggested.) I should have gone with my gut instinct that racewalking/exercising was too much too soon at 9 weeks. I still fatigue pretty easily, and notice that if I don't take a nap, that I temporarily lose any gains I've made in losing the pins and needles and in regaining sensation/feeling in my hands. Unfortunately, I can't always take a nap every day. That is also something else I was a little disappointed in with the nuerosurgeon. He never really told me anything about what to expect after surgery, how I would feel, what I was able to do or not do after 5 weeks, etc. etc. I had so many questions, but being on pain meds and suffering from brain fog from the residual anethsesia (that's my assumption) - I couldn't remember half of what I wanted to ask him. At 7 weeks I called to complain about being so totally spacey and unable to think clearly and carry things out. I had just stopped taking the pain meds (vicoden(5-500mg) and valium5mg.) I seemed to have better cognitive function while on the meds. I was starting to fear I had done something to my head/brain when I fell. He told me at my visit 10 days later that it wasn't uncommon to be this way after surgery and that he has had a number of patients complain about being total space cadets for a while.. He couldn't answer me as to how long it would take for it to go away. He said he thought it was from the particular anesthesia used......something about "milk of amnesia", but when he said the name of it, it didn't match up with the research I did on that on the internet. Now I don't remember the name of the drug.

    I know this may be a particularly difficult question, but what or how should I be feeling at this point in time? What is "normal"? FYI, I was discharged from the hospital at about 11AM the following morning. I had the emergency surgery at approx. 7pm the night before. Was that unusual?? They told me I could go as long as I was able to pee and could swallow "real" food. (The food thing was a hurculean effort - but I managed!)
    Thanks again for you help and response!


  4. #4
    There is no need to wait 12 weeks for physical therapy. People with very serious spinal cord injuries and very extensive spinal surgery start physical therapy in the ICU. The therapist just needs to know limitations set by the surgeon.

    I would recommend that you seek a second opinion, and see a physiatrist or ask your primary care physician to order physical therapy for you. Neuropathic pain is best treated with non-narcotics, and you need to see someone who has this expertise, such as a physiatrist.


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