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Long Thoracic Nerve Injury...will it ever heal?
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Scottyb825 posted:
This is a bit of a long read. 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. [br>[br>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. [br>[br>I went to 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. [br>[br>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. [br>[br>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. So far nothing has seemed to improve. 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?
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stemenj responded:
I have had a long thoracic injury from an IED. I've seen the best ddoctors and the had all sorts of tests. Generally, the neuro-surgeon can do a de-compression of the nerve if your injury was within the last 6 months. I fell outside that window (had this for 6 years) and my only option was a Major Pectoralis Tendon/Muscle Transfer. Mine was a pretty severe case though, my scapula would protrude about 3.5 - 4 inches from my back when I would raise my arm. The pain got so bad that I had the surgery mentioned above. It is the best medical choice I have ever made. I am no longer in constant pain, I can lift my arm above my head and I actually want to do things now. Before I was in a constant state of pain and anything physical exacerbated the problem. The downside is that my pushing ability (push ups, bench press, etc...) is severly limited. The amount of muscle that they transferred has also left no natural padding around the shoulder joint so I can't wear MOLLE, Rucks, etc... because there is nothing there to pad the nerves/tendons. Despite this, it is the best decision I have made concerning my shoulder. I am going skydiving next month; so it is up to you. Hope this helps.
J


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