Post Elbow Surgery Complications

Posted , 3 users are following.

Ten years' employment with British Coal has taken its toll on both of me elbows. some years ago, I had surgery to my left elbow to decompress and transpose the ulnar nerve. This surgical procedure was a complete success.

On August 19th, I was back in Theatre for a procedure on my right elbow. Loose bodies were removed, osteophytes dealt with, capsule work undertaken and decompression of the ulnar nerve. The joint is arthritic.

The subsequent swelling and bruising was horrendous. I expected that.

However, of concern is the development of two new symptoms. The top of my forearm is completely numb and the outer side of my arm is painful and extremely hypersensitive.

My surgeon ordered an ultrasound scan which revealed an internal bleed on the arm - which would account for the swelling and bruising. The surgeon felt that such a bleed was the cause of my new symptoms. I see him again on 1st October.

The swelling and bruising has disappeared now, yet my symptoms persist. The pain and numbness remain and the hypersensitivity is chronic - I cannot bear anything touching that area of my arm!

A trawl of the Internet has drawn a blank!

Can anyone shed any light on the cause of such symptoms? Is it possible nerve damage? I am finding them quite debilitating!

1 like, 19 replies

19 Replies

  • Posted

    sounds like your elbow surgeon was trying to address the nerve and the arthritis in one go. was the surgery done open or via keyhole surgery?

    without examining you its difficult to say but if you've had a postop bleed it can be quite sore for a few months afterwards. as long as your hand function is normal its unlikely to be a nerve injury.

    hope that helped??


    consultant elbow surgeon

    • Posted

      Thanks Sam!

      Most of the procedure was undertaken via keyhole, with the ulnar nerve decompression dealt with openly. It looks like I have the beginning of an infection in this incision now. Will have it checked out by my GP.

      My surgeon did undertake hand grip tests which he was happy with. I am just worried about the numbness and hypersensitivity, together with occasional pins and needles in fingers and a 'hot hand!'

      Do you think that a post operative internal bleed could be the culprit for my symptoms? I would be relieved if this was the case and that I can look forward to a fully functioning arm once again!

      Of significance is the fact that I am on lifelong anticoagulation (Apixaban 5mg twice a day) due to history of DVT and PE. I stopped Apixaban 48 hours prior to procedure and had Heparin injection day before surgery.

      Many thanks for taking the time to provide your advice!

    • Posted

      in short yes. a haematoma can always cause problems. the infection sounds worrying especially if its in the incision over the nerve. get that seen to asap.

      i'm sure things will continue to improve and if not it may be that you needed the nerve moving like on the other side?!

      Sam Vollans

    • Posted

      Thanks Sam!

      Yes, the symptoms of an infection are presenting themselves in the incision directly over the ulnar nerve. Will get it checked out tomorrow!

      Hopefully, the haematoma is the cause of my other symptoms - even though the swelling has all but settled and the bruising has completely disappeared.

      I did not have any issues with the ulnar nerve decompression and transposition in my left elbow!

      I will update re infection tomorrow!

      Many thanks!

    • Posted

      GP confirmed infection of incision over ulnar nerve. She also took a swab to be sent off to Labs. 5 day course of strong antibiotics!

    • Posted

      Antibiotics appeared to clear up the infection, but I think it has returned.

      Area over ulnar nerve incision painful and now extremely red and slightly swollen.

      Six weeks post surgery and my arm still not right! Numbness to area of forearm and hypersensitivity to outer side. Occasional pins and needles to little and ring fingers and a hot hand.

      Should this have settled by now? I see my surgeon in clinic tomorrow. Should I request a further nerve conductivity test?

      My current symptoms are worse than what I was experiencing pre surgery!

    • Posted

      I had the good fortune to have a consult with both the Surgeon and Registrar who assisted with my procedure in Theatre.

      Both really skilled and extremely caring professionals, who provided a comprehensive explanation regarding the possible causes of my numbness and hypersensitivity.

      I bled significantly during the procedure and also post surgery.

      They advised that, as I am only six weeks post surgery, it is far too early to commence available investigations, including Nerve Conduction Studies.

      An appointment has been made to see the surgeon in six weeks. Should the symptoms still remain, they will then commence investigations!

    • Posted

      Infection to surgical incision over ulnar nerve back with a vengeance!

      Yet another seven day course of strong antibiotics!

    • Posted

      Hi Sam,

      I would welcome your advice.

      I am approaching the three month post surgical procedure period and symptoms still persist. Numbness to my forearm, with pain at the site of the ulnar nerve surgical incision.

      I will be seeing my surgeon on Tuesday 12 November and hope that he can reassure!

      Normal hand function, apart from when bringing my wrist backwards, but the numbness feeling is a tad irritating!

      Would you arrange for Nerve Conduction tests?

    • Posted

      yes. your symptoms sound strange. do you have problems with your hand function? you mentioned upon bringing your hand/wrist backwards?! and your forearm is numb? it all sounds a bit strange for an ulnar nerve issue in isolation. without examining you its difficult to say but an mri and nerve tests is probably where i'd start. let me know how you get on.

      regards sam

    • Posted

      Many thanks Sam!

      Hand function perfectly normal.

      Numbness is extremely difficult to ignore, especially if something happens to inadvertently touch my arm.

      Flexion of wrist results in a degree of disconfort to lower forearm.

      Pain and hypersensitivity to incision wound over ulnar nerve is of concern too!

      Will see what my surgeon says next week and update you!

    • Posted

      Hi Sam,

      I was woken at 03.30 Monday morning with chronic pain to the right hand side of the back of my head. I thought that I had been lying funny and took two strong painkillers.

      However, I could not return to sleep such was the pain.

      Since Monday morning, I have experienced immense pain across the back of my head/neck and nausea.

      It happened to have coincided with new pain to the surgical incision over the ulnar nerve and pain in my right shoulder and was wondering if perhaps there might be a connection?

      I am seeing my GP this evening!

    • Posted

      Thanks Sam!

      I have just been seen by a Nurse Clinician at my GP's surgery. She did not examine me and prescribed Tramadol. Made me feel as if I had inconvenienced her! Not to worry!

    • Posted

      I met with my Consultant on Tuesday (a very caring professional) and presented my symptoms of arm numbness to him.

      He feels that I am experiencing nerve irritation to the forearm as a result of the surgery and prescribed Gabapentin tablets 300mg that I have built up to taking one tablet three tines a day. The Consultant advised me to stop should I experience any side effects (none so far) and he will review me in January.

      Despite taking the Gabapentin since Tuesday, I am yet to experience any improvement. Any thoughts Sam?

    • Posted

      Hoping that Sam might read this!

      6 months post surgery and numbness to my right forearm persists. Gabapentin medication has had no impact.

      My next appointment with my Consultant is in a couple of weeks time.

      I am at a complete loss as to cause of my symptoms. Any advice would be most welcome!

    • Posted

      Approaching the twelve month Anniversary of my procedure and no improvement whatsoever to numbness to my forearm.

      I had a telephone consult with my surgeon who has arranged for Nerve Conduction tests and referral to pain clinic.

      I feel that it is permanent damage. We shall see!

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