Q. Following cervical surgery, my thumb went completely numb. Why?

Answered by
Dr. Tony Magana
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on May 28, 2016 and last reviewed on: Mar 21, 2020

Hi doctor,

I had an MRI last year, which indicated a herniated disc and stenosis at C6-C7 left. So, I had cervical surgery ACDF. Still, l had pain for a couple of months and the MRI showed to my dismay that I still had stenosis with displacement of the C7 nerve root. Also, it showed that C5-C6 protruding disc and partial corresponding osteophyte with no nerve root displacement or stenosis at C5-C6. Before two months, I elected to go with a posterior cervical foraminotomy and was told the C7 nerve was then released. Four days after my second surgery, my thumb went completely numb on the top half and has stayed that way. The thumb is normally associated with the C6. The surgeon told me that sometimes radiculopathy overlaps and I just have to live with this. Doctor did not want to follow up with an MRI. I thought at least an MRI should be done just to confirm why the numbness may be there. Can you please advise?

Dr. Tony Magana

Neuro Surgery Spine Health Spine Surgery


Welcome to icliniq.com.

  • Sometimes it can take time for radiculopathy to improve even up to a year.
  • If your neurological function is getting worse then a repeat MRI would be advisable.
  • If the symptoms are the same and your neurological examination is not worse then you can wait before repeating an MRI.
  • New thumb numbness could be evaluated by EMG (electromyography) or NCS (nerve conduction study). If any new findings present, then repeat an MRI.

For further information consult a spine health specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/spine-health-specialist

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