Anyone dealt with loss of strength due to pinched nerve (cervical radiculopathy)

Discussion in 'Everything Else' started by Tirofijo, Feb 19, 2018.

  1. DFBrooklyn

    DFBrooklyn First Timer

    I have it now and it is the 3rd time. I think that the Kettlebell program here is placing too much emphasis on shoulders, what do others think? Between Overhead Presses, Snatches, Halo, Getups, Windmill...... there is really a lot of shoulder work especially compared to surrounding areas such as the chest and upper back. Any thoughts?
  2. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @DFBrooklyn welcome to the StrongFirst forum.

    Overhead work is fine for healthy shoulders.

    mprevost and fractal like this.
  3. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    I agree. A great deal of that emphasis is due to the tool itself, KBs being ideal for a lot of overhead lifts. The SF barbell and bodyweight programs are no where near as intensive with the overhead work. And yes, one of the first things a PT will tell you if you present with cervical neuropathy is to stop the overhead work till symptoms stabilize.

    I didn't agree with my PT when I first heard this but I do now. I actually became stronger with my overhead press by doing less of it (a lot less), but it took a lot of trial and error to learn this. Is an individual thing though, I can't tell someone else what they should do to manage their symptoms ongoing but I would say if you continue overhead work while symptomatic you're asking for trouble.

    You have to be honest with yourself and do what is healthy. If that means nixing the overhead work, so be it. Horizontal push/pull will carry over very well to overhead pressing when necessary, while overhead pressing carries over very little to horizontal push/pull.
    mprevost likes this.
  4. Edward Vickers

    Edward Vickers My Third Post

    Hey guys,

    I am 29 year old ex rugby player.
    So glad I’ve found this forum as have felt alone, scared and frustrated so far.
    circa 6 weeks ago I had a c6-c7 disc protrusion which lead to c7 Radiculopathy. Very painful for first 3/4 weeks and have lost roughly 85-90% of tricep extension strength. Also lost 30%-40% of pectoral and latissimus dorsi strength.
    Doctors saying I am likely paying for years of neck abuse through wrestling and rugby and aren’t suggesting single trauma incident is cause.
    Weirdly I have also started getting twicktches in left calve and quad as well as some minor nerve pain in foot.. any suggestions?

    Had mri which confirms disc bulge in c6-c7 impinging nerve canal (c7) and went for second mri today (not sure why).

    Is the pec and lat weakness common? Also experiencing tingling in left arm but no diagnosis on that yet.

    Doctors are discussing possible fusion or disc replacement but are saying best to let some time pass and monitor symptoms more before further exploring surgery options.
    Has anyone in this forum had either procedure and if so what outcome? Is anyone aware of how long the impingement can be left untreated before the nerve stands significatly less chance of recovery?

    I have read mixed messages on recovery probability and as a very active (previous to this) young(ish) man I am hoping to regain some in not all of previous strength. Has anyone heard of cases of individuals making full recovery’s from such strength deficits?

    Sorry for long message but don’t know anyone else to talk to about this and the National health service in England is slow and prioritises emergencies over rehabilitation cases.

    Thanks in advance guys

  5. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

  6. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    My diagnosis is not the same as yours, but I would hold out hope for recovering much of your previous strength. Impingement has to be very severe and for a goodly duration (months according to my Dr) for the nerve to not recover mostly.

    I recovered most of my strength, if not all.

    Nerve pain and tingling are common from the pecs and shoulderblade all the way down to the fingers.

    I cannot speak to the fusion or replacement. I have a friend that had fusion of lumbar and he still backpacks, canoes etc.

    Study everything you can re mobility drills etc that are known to help, your recovery will be multifaceted. Posture corrections and avoiding certain neck angles as you work etc also a big help.

    Best of luck!
  7. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @Edward Vickers, the first order of business is to follow your doctor's orders. Ask what you can and cannot do, and ask about what the doctor sees as the next step, e.g., physical therapy. After those things, think about strength training.

  8. Edward Vickers

    Edward Vickers My Third Post

    Thanks buddy appreciate the reply.
    How long following the initial impingement did you feel your strength start to return? I’ve had a significant amount of muscle wastage in the tricep and no sign of strength returning six weeks post impingement.

  9. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    I had an acute flareup in Oct 2014. By early Dec when I had MRI had developed significant pain and strength loss (approx 15-20%) in my right arm, shoulder, pec, accompanied by shooting pain/strobing nerve tingling across pec and tricep, severe pain under right shoulderblade, had lost sensation in index finger and partial ring finger and some grip strength.

    By the time I got in w/ specialist in early March my symptoms had begun receding. I continued to train but was limiting the overhead work. He noted a slight difference in mass and strength but stated I was not a surgical candidate. By end of Summer 2015 I had regained most of my former strength - about a 9 month ordeal.

    With degenerative disk it is more common to reabsorb smaller bits that fall off and impinge on the nerve, and that's what ultimately happened. A larger chunk or more severe/worsening symptoms could have justified surgery. He also told me that it takes months of partial nerve blockage to cause permanent nerve death to a given motor unit.

    That said I still have maybe half or less the sensation in my index finger and I don't believe it's coming back ever. I've lost maybe 5% strength on my right side, and I can add about 7-10 pushups to my AMRAP just by keeping my chin elevated/facing forward as I exercise.

    Important to note that we do not have the same diagnosis, and even so this sort of thing is pretty individual. But I would follow medical advice, follow PT advice, use cervical traction if recommended, do whatever mobility and strength work that is recommended. If at all indicated, continue to do some strength work to fire whatever nerves are still functioning at whatever capacity they still possess. I managed by restricting overhead work but isometrics are another avenue, possibly a better one.

    Whatever you can get away with that is not contrary to medical advice will pay off as your symptoms recede or are resolved through surgical intervention etc. It was hard work getting back on line with a lot of high intensity effort, but there is plenty of reason to hope for a good outcome and restoration of most of your functionality.

    If possible get multiple opinions, research what the implications and success rate are for the medical interventions being discussed, and work as hard as the Dr/PT will allow - you might not even need surgery. Stay positive - your situation definitely sucks right now but is far from hopeless (and far from uncommon!) no matter what route this thing takes.

    Best of luck,
  10. mprevost

    mprevost More than 500 posts

    Hi Edd

    Of course, everybody is a unique case. I had quite a bit of weakness from my injury too. Before my injury I had no trouble knocking out 65-70 good pushups but could not do a single one post injury. Couldn't do a dip or pullup either. But I had no pain after about 4 weeks. I opted to avoid surgery. It took about one year to get the strength back. I did not get all of it back, but I got enough. It has been 11 years now, and I have had no real problems since. I'll never be as strong as I was due to ongoing weakness but I can do 12-13 pullups and can press the 32kb kettlebell so I have enough strength to get thorough life and enjoy an active life. My max bench is my old warmup weight but that is OK. It's all good. You adjust.
    Steve Freides likes this.
  11. Edward Vickers

    Edward Vickers My Third Post

    Thanks Guys, some great insights.
    Quick update, I have now been informed that surgery is likely (fusion or disc replacement) in the next couple of weeks.
    The surgeon ordered nerve conduction tests and the results showed active denervation enough to convince him that I am a surgical candidate.
    Will keep you guys posted but in the meantime I’d be most grateful for any info or experience any of you guys have to share that might be appropriate.

    Best regards,

  12. Kalle Videnoja

    Kalle Videnoja Double-Digit Post Count

    I have a recurring problem of cervical neuropathy. I had the problem first time in 2010: I quite much lost the control of my left scapula and I couldn’t flex my tricep. My physiotherapist said back then that the symptoms were probably due to a compressed nerve root caused by a disc protrusion and gave me a McKenzie method rehabilitation program to follow. I regained the control of the scapula and the tricep strength in about half a year. The nerve got pinned again in December 2015, and I started following the McKenzie protocol. This time, however, the rehab wasn’t at all as easy as it was the last time. It took me one and half years to regain the scapula control and during that time I had lost quite a lot of my arm strength. The bright side, however, was that I got to follow the S&S as a comeback program after the symptoms were gone.

    All went well for a while. Then, just a couple of weeks ago I was doing some grappling and the next morning I found my back quite stiff. Nothing unusual about that I thought. However, in a couple of days I started having pain under my shoulderblade radiating to my left elbow and felt that I was losing arm strength and scapula control. My occupational health care doctor was quite sceptical about the possible disc protrusion and said it can be number of things causing the symptoms.

    A friend of mine teaches the TRE method and I’m somewhat familiar with the system. I found the TRE exercises relieve some of the pain, so I made them a daily practise. During one exercise I felt a loud crack in my neck and felt the nerve impingement release. There’s still some pain under my shoulderblade but I believe I have regained quite much of my arm strength and motor control. I went to see an OMT physiotherapist and he said my fascia were all crumbled around by cervical vertebrae causing facet joints to lock

    Now, there is no medical imaging of my cervical vertebrae, but the physiotherapist gave me no restrictions regarding training. I’m still waiting for symptoms to recede and I’m doing some TRE exercises and OS resets for the time being. I had a plan of starting ROP from the new year but I’m having a second thought especially considering what North Coast Miller said about overhead work. My physiotherapist said, however, that overhead work should be no problem and that there’s, in fact, some recent medical research done in Finland suggesting that push presses might be beneficial in rehabilitating neck injuries. Then again, the problem emerged after following Genesis and Strength Plan 701A both having quite a lot of overhead work. This can, of course, be purely coincidental.
  13. ___AL___

    ___AL___ First Timer

    So glad I found this thread. I’ve been dealing with a pinched nerve in my neck for about 9 months now. First it affected my right arm, pec and lat. eventually I recovered but my right pec pretty much went away. It is significantly smaller than my left now.

    A few weeks ago it hit my left arm. Numbness and twitches, etc. Expecting the left pec to atrophy soon.

    This sucks. Pretty sure it is from getting my neck cranked on BJJ.

    anyway a few days ago I got the therapeutica pillow and it seems to help so I wanted to throw that out there to you guys. I signed up so I could share this. I know how s***ty this injury is. I can’t do more than a single push up right now. I can’t train either.

    Before I got the pillow my doc advised me to sleep on a soft noodle pillow and so that helped also.

    I find the noodle and the new pillow kind of open up my neck and relive some of the pressure.

    Anyway just thought I’d share. Let me know how it goes gents
    North Coast Miller likes this.
  14. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @___AL___ , welcome to the StrongFirst forum.

    (That's 3 underscore characters at the beginning of his username ....)

  15. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    Sleep posture is of major importance to me dealing with both cervical disk degeneration and fascia arthritis at L4,L5,S1.
    Normally sleep on my side or stomach on firm matress (Sleep number inflated to 100+). Have a roll/bolster pillow I align diagonally from base of skull to forehead, lets me breathe easy and allows me to tilt my face down a bit even sleeping flat on my stomach.

    Gotta experiment a bit to see what works, my chiro told me I'd screw up my neck and back if I kept sleeping that way, but if I don't I get in trouble quick.
  16. Tirofijo

    Tirofijo More than 500 posts

    I tried the McKenzie neck roll pillow but could never get used to it. I found a memory foam pillow with a round indent for the head and neck support. It’s been great.

    I’m the OP. Nearly a year later and I’m fully recovered, or close enough. My rep maxes on left side still lag behind my right for a rep or two, but they did before anyway.

    Even though I was taking a break from BJJ due to work/life commitments when I had the nerve pain, I suspect all the rolling I did in the past might have contributed to the sorry state of the disks in my neck. I used to have a chronically sore neck when I was actively training. I would really like to start BJJ again but I think that’s a more severe injury just waiting to happen.
  17. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller More than 2500 posts

    This is the one I use, I replace it every couple years:

    For many years I used to sleep flat on my back with cervical support but that posture kills me now.
    Aside from sleep, the next biggest factor is keeping my chin up during the day - pretty sure all the hours of working at a bench were a major contributing factor. I do some cutlery, shear, and other tool sharpening as a side job and had to rearrange all my gear from navel height to a few inches under my collarbone.

    Likewise when sketching, keyboarding etc have to keep my chin up. I should probably be wearing a collar of some sort. I actually made a small one out of formed Kydex and sleeping pad foam that can be wrapped in a bandana and tied around my neck, lets me rest my jawbone on the top edge with the load resting on my collarbone, and actually helps quite a bit - is also not very comfortable or convenient, and doesn't reinforce good posture habits.
  18. SamTon

    SamTon Double-Digit Post Count

    My friend once get loss of strength because of pinched nerve. It was horrible, every move was a pain. It took him 2 months to recover a little
  19. Aaron214

    Aaron214 First Timer

    Ed, how is the recovery going? Very similar issue here. I’m a 44 year old professional firefighter. I’ve always been in very good physical shape and have worked out religiously since about age 15. Just before the new year I started having bad neck/upper back pain which is nothing really new, it would always go away within a few days. I was sitting at lunch and noticed my thumb and index finger were numb at the tips. I didn’t give it too much thought but when I went to the gym that day, the 135 pound barbell I would use to warm up felt as though it had an extra 25 pounds on the left side. Long story short...not really, I had worsening pain, numbness in arm, hand, shoulder that just wouldn’t go away soon with the left sided weakness. I did chiro, massage, nsaids, etc with no relief. MRI showed herniated c6/7. Did an epidural injection with relief that lasted about a day and the pain just worsened. I realized that this was not going to just go away. I am now 4 weeks post op for artificial disc replacement. Pain in neck and radiating pain down my arm instantly went away and I feel pretty much 100%. If I didn’t workout at the gym I wouldn’t notice any difference at all by there is still the weakness. The doctor says that it will return with time...crossing fingers. Anybody considering the surgery, I would recommend it 100%. I was miserable for about 6 weeks and pretty much couldn’t even get up off my couch and walk 50 feet without extreme pain. Like I said pain is gone which i couldn’t be happier just need to get the strength back, slowly.
    crateRaWAwKI likes this.
  20. crateRaWAwKI

    crateRaWAwKI Second Post

    Can anyone of you provide an update on your recovery and how things are going? Thanks!!!

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