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Long Thoracic Nerve injury...will it heal?

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Unread 03-04-2011, 10:39 AM   #1
Scottyb825
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Default Long Thoracic Nerve injury...will it heal?

This is a bit of a long read. I have been posting all over different forums looking for some insight. I have talked to my doctors but all they tell me when I try to get details is that it is a rare injury and there is nothing I can do but physical therapy and wait 2 years. I need to know my chances of recovery though. Alot in my life depends on it.

My story starts in early September 2010. I was at the tail end of some training I was doing in the Army. On the last day of our training we did a 70 lb ruck sack (a large backpack) march which lasted for about 1 hour. During this march I noticed my right arm going numb as if circulation was being cut off. So I would occasionally loosen the strap and this seemed to help.

After the march everything seemed fine. Later that day I also did some pullups which seemed to go as normal. It wasn't until the next day that I woke up with pain in my right arm. This went away after a couple days. However I had lost most strength and mobility in my right arm/shoulder. I couldn't do a single push up or pull up and if I tried to raise both arms straight above my head, the right arm can not go as high. I also have scapular winging.

I went the the on base doctor and was told it was a long thoracic nerve injury and that with rest I would be good to go in 4 months. Luckly training was done so I got to go home and didn't have to do anything that would really strain my arm anymore. However all the symptoms continued minus any pain well past the 4 month mark. I starting seeing my own doctor who referred me to an orthopedic doctor. He seemed to agree that it was a long thoracic nerve injury as well and had an EMG done on me. The EMG also supported that this is a long thoracic nerve injury. The neurologist who did the EMG and doctors told me the injury is somewhere between the moderate to less than sever side.

I was told that this could take anywhere from 18 months to over 2 years to heal. My biggest problem is that my career and life goals require me to be in physical shape. I am an officer with the Army National Guard and have to be able to take a PT test once this heals. If it doesn't I could possibly be med boarded out of the Army. Which I don't want cause I love it. As for my civilian career aspirations I wanted to start working on becoming a cop, since my major in college was criminal justice. Now I can't go about that since physical test are required to join any force.

I'm currently doing physical therapy but until my arm is 100% I'm more or less SOL with pretty much everything else I do in life. I also know surgery is an option but my doctors don't seem to think that would be the best choice. They tell me that might cause more harm than good to surrounding nerves and muscles. My question is what are my chances of this thing healing on its own? Also has anybody had experience with surgery? My biggest fear is that if I wait 18 months to 2 years then surgery won't be as effective.
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Unread 03-04-2011, 01:27 PM   #2
Jo*mar
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There are some posts about LTN on the thoracic outlet syndrome forum. (TOS for short)
http://neurotalk.psychcentral.com/forum24.html

Or a whole site search might be a quicker way to locate those posts
http://neurotalk.psychcentral.com/search.php
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Unread 03-04-2011, 05:50 PM   #3
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Hi Scotty ~ I'm sorry you suffered this injury. It would have been better to have broken a bone!! It would have healed faster.

Nerves DO have the capacity to heal on their own. The AVERAGE rate of healing is one inch per month ~ that's the average. Some heal faster, some slower. So if you injured a LONG nerve, it could take awhile. It's best if you don't stress this area, but try to protect it as much as possible as it's already inflamed and irritated.

Were you given any anti-inflammatory meds to take? You can find some over-the-counter, such as Motrin. Take those ONLY as the instructions indicate, as they are hard on the stomach and can cause bleeding without warning. But these should help with the inflammation. If it's still painful, use ICE for 20 minutes every 2 hours. That also will reduce inflammation and pain. It could help speed up the healing process. But you will STILL have to be careful with it. Once you've injured an area like that, you're more apt to re-injure it. So try to protect it if possible.

Pain is NOT a good reason for surgery. Surgery only corrects mechanical problems and does NOT rid you of pain. Usually after surgery you are left with the SAME pain or worse. The doctor was right in telling you not to have surgery as the surrounding muscles/tendons/tissues WOULD probably be damaged and you would be worse off than you are now. Stay conservative and wait for this to heal on it's own. I wish you the very best. Hugs, Lee
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Unread 03-04-2011, 08:02 PM   #4
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I agree it sounds like a long thoracic nerve issue, but it can be more involved.
Doctors Parsonage and Turner were first to describe this syndrome in a 1948 study you may be interested in. It involved people in the military who tended to get the disorder after long marches with heavy packs.

Here is more info on it.

http://www.healthline.com/galeconten...urner-syndrome

I am a sufferer by the way, but not due to the same cause you have. It can heal, but as you know it takes a long time. In my case, I have improved, but not close to where I was originally. Then again, I have had more than one flare-up.

Good Luck!!!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottyb825 View Post
This is a bit of a long read. I have been posting all over different forums looking for some insight. I have talked to my doctors but all they tell me when I try to get details is that it is a rare injury and there is nothing I can do but physical therapy and wait 2 years. I need to know my chances of recovery though. Alot in my life depends on it.

My story starts in early September 2010. I was at the tail end of some training I was doing in the Army. On the last day of our training we did a 70 lb ruck sack (a large backpack) march which lasted for about 1 hour. During this march I noticed my right arm going numb as if circulation was being cut off. So I would occasionally loosen the strap and this seemed to help.

After the march everything seemed fine. Later that day I also did some pullups which seemed to go as normal. It wasn't until the next day that I woke up with pain in my right arm. This went away after a couple days. However I had lost most strength and mobility in my right arm/shoulder. I couldn't do a single push up or pull up and if I tried to raise both arms straight above my head, the right arm can not go as high. I also have scapular winging.

I went the the on base doctor and was told it was a long thoracic nerve injury and that with rest I would be good to go in 4 months. Luckly training was done so I got to go home and didn't have to do anything that would really strain my arm anymore. However all the symptoms continued minus any pain well past the 4 month mark. I starting seeing my own doctor who referred me to an orthopedic doctor. He seemed to agree that it was a long thoracic nerve injury as well and had an EMG done on me. The EMG also supported that this is a long thoracic nerve injury. The neurologist who did the EMG and doctors told me the injury is somewhere between the moderate to less than sever side.

I was told that this could take anywhere from 18 months to over 2 years to heal. My biggest problem is that my career and life goals require me to be in physical shape. I am an officer with the Army National Guard and have to be able to take a PT test once this heals. If it doesn't I could possibly be med boarded out of the Army. Which I don't want cause I love it. As for my civilian career aspirations I wanted to start working on becoming a cop, since my major in college was criminal justice. Now I can't go about that since physical test are required to join any force.

I'm currently doing physical therapy but until my arm is 100% I'm more or less SOL with pretty much everything else I do in life. I also know surgery is an option but my doctors don't seem to think that would be the best choice. They tell me that might cause more harm than good to surrounding nerves and muscles. My question is what are my chances of this thing healing on its own? Also has anybody had experience with surgery? My biggest fear is that if I wait 18 months to 2 years then surgery won't be as effective.
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Unread 08-07-2012, 08:35 PM   #5
KrisMVT
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scott what was your out come ??? Having the same issue
check out *edit* under the same name for pics and what the doc told me.. not spam

Thanks

Last edited by Jo*mar; 08-07-2012 at 11:15 PM. Reason: sorry no linking for new members
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Unread 08-07-2012, 08:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottyb825 View Post
This is a bit of a long read. I have been posting all over different forums looking for some insight. I have talked to my doctors but all they tell me when I try to get details is that it is a rare injury and there is nothing I can do but physical therapy and wait 2 years. I need to know my chances of recovery though. Alot in my life depends on it.

My story starts in early September 2010. I was at the tail end of some training I was doing in the Army. On the last day of our training we did a 70 lb ruck sack (a large backpack) march which lasted for about 1 hour. During this march I noticed my right arm going numb as if circulation was being cut off. So I would occasionally loosen the strap and this seemed to help.

After the march everything seemed fine. Later that day I also did some pullups which seemed to go as normal. It wasn't until the next day that I woke up with pain in my right arm. This went away after a couple days. However I had lost most strength and mobility in my right arm/shoulder. I couldn't do a single push up or pull up and if I tried to raise both arms straight above my head, the right arm can not go as high. I also have scapular winging.

I went the the on base doctor and was told it was a long thoracic nerve injury and that with rest I would be good to go in 4 months. Luckly training was done so I got to go home and didn't have to do anything that would really strain my arm anymore. However all the symptoms continued minus any pain well past the 4 month mark. I starting seeing my own doctor who referred me to an orthopedic doctor. He seemed to agree that it was a long thoracic nerve injury as well and had an EMG done on me. The EMG also supported that this is a long thoracic nerve injury. The neurologist who did the EMG and doctors told me the injury is somewhere between the moderate to less than sever side.

I was told that this could take anywhere from 18 months to over 2 years to heal. My biggest problem is that my career and life goals require me to be in physical shape. I am an officer with the Army National Guard and have to be able to take a PT test once this heals. If it doesn't I could possibly be med boarded out of the Army. Which I don't want cause I love it. As for my civilian career aspirations I wanted to start working on becoming a cop, since my major in college was criminal justice. Now I can't go about that since physical test are required to join any force.

I'm currently doing physical therapy but until my arm is 100% I'm more or less SOL with pretty much everything else I do in life. I also know surgery is an option but my doctors don't seem to think that would be the best choice. They tell me that might cause more harm than good to surrounding nerves and muscles. My question is what are my chances of this thing healing on its own? Also has anybody had experience with surgery? My biggest fear is that if I wait 18 months to 2 years then surgery won't be as effective.
what was the outcome ??? Having the same issue
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Unread 08-11-2012, 12:14 AM   #7
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bump bump
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Unread 08-11-2012, 12:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KrisMVT View Post
what was the outcome ??? Having the same issue
I'm sorry KrisMVT but I think it's unlikely that you'll get a reply from Scottyb825, as he's not logged in here since posting this once, 18 months ago.
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Unread 10-11-2012, 07:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottyb825 View Post
This is a bit of a long read. I have been posting all over different forums looking for some insight. I have talked to my doctors but all they tell me when I try to get details is that it is a rare injury and there is nothing I can do but physical therapy and wait 2 years. I need to know my chances of recovery though. Alot in my life depends on it.

My story starts in early September 2010. I was at the tail end of some training I was doing in the Army. On the last day of our training we did a 70 lb ruck sack (a large backpack) march which lasted for about 1 hour. During this march I noticed my right arm going numb as if circulation was being cut off. So I would occasionally loosen the strap and this seemed to help.

After the march everything seemed fine. Later that day I also did some pullups which seemed to go as normal. It wasn't until the next day that I woke up with pain in my right arm. This went away after a couple days. However I had lost most strength and mobility in my right arm/shoulder. I couldn't do a single push up or pull up and if I tried to raise both arms straight above my head, the right arm can not go as high. I also have scapular winging.

I went the the on base doctor and was told it was a long thoracic nerve injury and that with rest I would be good to go in 4 months. Luckly training was done so I got to go home and didn't have to do anything that would really strain my arm anymore. However all the symptoms continued minus any pain well past the 4 month mark. I starting seeing my own doctor who referred me to an orthopedic doctor. He seemed to agree that it was a long thoracic nerve injury as well and had an EMG done on me. The EMG also supported that this is a long thoracic nerve injury. The neurologist who did the EMG and doctors told me the injury is somewhere between the moderate to less than sever side.

I was told that this could take anywhere from 18 months to over 2 years to heal. My biggest problem is that my career and life goals require me to be in physical shape. I am an officer with the Army National Guard and have to be able to take a PT test once this heals. If it doesn't I could possibly be med boarded out of the Army. Which I don't want cause I love it. As for my civilian career aspirations I wanted to start working on becoming a cop, since my major in college was criminal justice. Now I can't go about that since physical test are required to join any force.

I'm currently doing physical therapy but until my arm is 100% I'm more or less SOL with pretty much everything else I do in life. I also know surgery is an option but my doctors don't seem to think that would be the best choice. They tell me that might cause more harm than good to surrounding nerves and muscles. My question is what are my chances of this thing healing on its own? Also has anybody had experience with surgery? My biggest fear is that if I wait 18 months to 2 years then surgery won't be as effective.
I see that its been some time since you posted this and I'm curious if it has gotten better. I know my doctors put me on gabapentin and physical therapy and tell me to just wait. I'm a cook and its been really hard on me, I'm always in pain. When they did the EMG, they said that mine is severe damage. So let me know how you are doing, it would be nice to have somebody to talk to about this who has been through it.
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Unread 11-13-2012, 12:58 PM   #10
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Default I hear ya!

I have suffered with thoracic nerve damage for several years and was told I am one of 9 the Dr. has seen in 25 years. He was an Air Force Dr. if that means anything to you. He was fantastic. We tried three series of Shots in the back to kill the nerves to no avail, I tried massage, p/t and heat and cold and you name it. Nothing has helped. It started on the left side and is now wrapped all of the way around. Mine they guess may be caused by Hepatitis C being present for 35 yrs, now taking another track to get me. I just want to offer my support. I now take one small pain med at bedtime and just deal with it the rest of the time. I am nearly 60 so don't have the same worries you do. I wish you luck and healing. I was told by Dr. Justin Boge that surgery is not an option, there are 43 miles of nerves in the body to deal with. Sorry I could not offer better news for my part.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottyb825 View Post
This is a bit of a long read. I have been posting all over different forums looking for some insight. I have talked to my doctors but all they tell me when I try to get details is that it is a rare injury and there is nothing I can do but physical therapy and wait 2 years. I need to know my chances of recovery though. Alot in my life depends on it.

My story starts in early September 2010. I was at the tail end of some training I was doing in the Army. On the last day of our training we did a 70 lb ruck sack (a large backpack) march which lasted for about 1 hour. During this march I noticed my right arm going numb as if circulation was being cut off. So I would occasionally loosen the strap and this seemed to help.

After the march everything seemed fine. Later that day I also did some pullups which seemed to go as normal. It wasn't until the next day that I woke up with pain in my right arm. This went away after a couple days. However I had lost most strength and mobility in my right arm/shoulder. I couldn't do a single push up or pull up and if I tried to raise both arms straight above my head, the right arm can not go as high. I also have scapular winging.

I went the the on base doctor and was told it was a long thoracic nerve injury and that with rest I would be good to go in 4 months. Luckly training was done so I got to go home and didn't have to do anything that would really strain my arm anymore. However all the symptoms continued minus any pain well past the 4 month mark. I starting seeing my own doctor who referred me to an orthopedic doctor. He seemed to agree that it was a long thoracic nerve injury as well and had an EMG done on me. The EMG also supported that this is a long thoracic nerve injury. The neurologist who did the EMG and doctors told me the injury is somewhere between the moderate to less than sever side.

I was told that this could take anywhere from 18 months to over 2 years to heal. My biggest problem is that my career and life goals require me to be in physical shape. I am an officer with the Army National Guard and have to be able to take a PT test once this heals. If it doesn't I could possibly be med boarded out of the Army. Which I don't want cause I love it. As for my civilian career aspirations I wanted to start working on becoming a cop, since my major in college was criminal justice. Now I can't go about that since physical test are required to join any force.

I'm currently doing physical therapy but until my arm is 100% I'm more or less SOL with pretty much everything else I do in life. I also know surgery is an option but my doctors don't seem to think that would be the best choice. They tell me that might cause more harm than good to surrounding nerves and muscles. My question is what are my chances of this thing healing on its own? Also has anybody had experience with surgery? My biggest fear is that if I wait 18 months to 2 years then surgery won't be as effective.
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