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Foot numbness after Spinal Fusion of L5 S1

Started by 1469095651@facebook on 09/18/2011 12:40pm

My husband is recovering from a spinal fusion of the L5 S1 surgery was done on Sept 8th 2011 and he is experiencing right and left foot numbness up to the calf. Is this normal? He has diabetes and the surgeon has told him that he is experiencing diabetic neurorpathy. He did not have this condition before the surgery. I have asked some friends who have had back surgery and they said it may be the discs still inflamed, and that the nerves need to "settle down". Any recommendations or sugesstions on what to do about his situation?

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Hi Kat,
My injury was also Workers Comp. I had no choice but to use their Dr. It was the most terrible route to have to take for healthcare.....especially for a complicated Spinal Fusion and all the post op issues workers comps Drs usually blow off. My workers comp Dr blew off my symptoms. Namely the constant stabbing lower right and muscle spasm with a constant pain level of about 6-7. He blew me off for 3 years! I now am going to my own Drs and found out the stabbing pain was the SI joint and was confirmed with SI joint injection. The gold standard in identifing SI dyfunction. Well that joint was out of alignement for so long it therw off my pelvis which in turn threw off how my hip joint sits in its socket and now am in need of a hip replacement !! I'm going tomorrow to set up the surgery. I'm sorry i went of track in commenting on your post. I guess i needed to vent.
Denice

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Good luck on the hip surgery........I have had several SI injections and none have worked. My kips go out of alignment as well. Sadly, that is a common thing we women have to deal with even without an injury, unfortunately an injury makes it worse. Our pelvis floats naturally, but usually balances itself out with good muscle tone. After an injury our muscles atrophy a bit and our pelvis doesnt always balance back out. I was lucky to have had a physical therapist show me how to realign mine by myself and if I have days where it is out alot then I also have a SI belt to wear. As far as work comp, aside from the fighting for surgery, I got lucky. I have always seen my own drs. I only had to see theirs when it was for an IME appointment snd when they agreed with my dr they would send me to another one. I had 10 IME appointments in one year. The last one finally told them that I had jumped through all their "hoops of pain" as I call them and that surgery was needed, I had no other options. I have been through PT, OT, VT, had injections, and even suffered through the spinal cord stimulator trial (I was in excruciating pain and couldnt walk from that damn thing). I met all of their requirements to try and avoid surgery, but it didnt matter what I did both of my sciatic nerves were being crushed and needed the pressure off. My attorney thinks I should try getting money from them since chances are high I will have permanent nerve damage and if both surgeries would have been done in a timely manner I probably could have avoided it.

I hope you are able to resolve most of your issues. Recovery from the hip replacement is pretty speedy these days. My cousin just had one done a few months ago and was only off work 3 weeks.

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I had a spinal fusion of the L2 S1 surgery on June 22, 2010. My right foot was fine before the surgery. Afterwards, sever neuropathy was evident. My left food presents some neuropathy; however, it is nothing compared to that of my right. Apparently, many thousands of nerves were moved during the surgery, and it is going to take a long time for healing to occur. Meanwhile, I take Hydrocodone and Lyrica, as well as Neurogenic Plus 10 Cream from a compounding pharmacy. I am 65 and retired one year, now. I have to keep my right leg elevated or endure a feeling of needles piercing my flesh in my foot. And, I still suffer from sciatica. Each week I have an hour and a half of full body massage which gives some relief. I used a n electric scooter and wheelchair at work, before retiring. Now, I am thankful I am old enough to retire. I go swimming several times a week and schedule luncheons with friends. I try not to do more than one activity outside of home per day. Thank you for stating your conditions. I'm sorry for all your combined suffering. I wish that all will be well.

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I had L5S1 TLIF SURGERY on feb. 6 2013. Started having ankle pain 2-3 days after surgery. I'm at 5 months and still have ankle pain 24/7. Has anyone had this and will it go away. Had the numbness in foot and tingling in legs but that's getting better. Also had rotater cuff problems after surgery. Still have a lot of back pain.

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PLEASE make sure you go to physical therapy as soon as you can after surgery. It will help your nerves find the right place to settle in. May not feel great at the time, but worth it in the long run.
best of luck
Denice

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Hello Melann,

I have a microdiscectomy for my L4/5 S1 back in June 2010. It was caused by the car accident but the insurance would not admit due to the long waiting list of MRI. Anyway, it took me 6 months to finally walk normally. I feel the numbness on my left foot once in a while. The neurosurgeon said I won't be to 100 percent like normal again. The upside is I don't have the stabbing pain, dull pain and sciatic pain on my back or running down my leg anymore.

Hang in there! You will feel better. I don't know if your surgeon taught you some excercises. But t surgeon instructed me that after staying in bed for two weeks after discharged from hospital, I have to do some excercises to get the nerve working and to prevent scar tissue to build up at the incision. I was on Tylenol 3 only for 7 days.

Good luck and take care.

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So, over a year later and I was released. I still need the occasional pain pill and muscle relaxer (especially when the weather changes!). I never heard of the belts, etc, but my fusion looks like it's integrated perfectly. I have a new bed so not having sleeping issues. Old age is more my enemy now than anything else. Picking up stuff and reaching into the dryer still gets me but way better than before!

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Hi Tvuong1103
I new to this site. Meant to press like for your comment. Sorry. Thanks for the information. My right leg and ankle still hurts. Went to rheumatologist yesterday and changed my medication again. I tried savella. It constipated me. Then took cymbalta had a lot of side effects. Hope this new med helps. I think I'm either having sciatic or I hope it's not my SI joint. Been twice to acupuncture. I'm going for EMG and CT Scan this month before I go back to my neuro. For 6 month check-up. Hope I'm beginning to fuse and I can get some relief. Lost more weight than wanted. TENS unit helps.

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Neecy926
Thanks for the information.
My ankle is still in pain. Now the pain seems to going back up my leg the last few days.
I haven't started physical theray on my back yet but was going for my shoulder after surgery cause it cause me to have rotator cuff. I guess the position I was on the table for so long. Have a lot of neck issues.
I have been doing lots of stretches and walking treadmill daily.
When I do see neuro at the beginning of next month I will get a script for PT. and aqua therapy.
Did go to accuputure and that seemed to help.
I'm still having some low back pain.
How long ago was your surgery and are you any better?

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Melann....I am 4 years out from back surgeryof L4, L5 S1 fusion, discectomy, laminectomy, bone graft with 6 screws and two rods. I have issues now with SI joint and need a hip replacement. Im in the pool almost everyday. The pool is the only place i can get pain free...well except for laying down. Hang in there its a long recovery.
best wishes...Denice

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I know this discussion is fairly old, but it seems that most of you have had the same issues I am having. I would love any follow up on the resolution of the burning pain and numbness.

I had an L5-S1 fusion 11/13/13. It was a MAST quadrant plif. It is minimally invasive compared to an open plif. It involves 2 smaller incisions one on each side of the spine. The recovery time is supposed to be shorter than the traditional plif because there is less muscle damage. That being said, it is still spine surgery and recovery of the muscle, nerves and bone can take 12-18 months. I left the hospital less than 24 hrs post op. It is supposed to be a 2-3 day stay, but my husband and I both work at the hospital and my husband is a neurosurgery nurse in the OR. My neurosurgeon knows both of us well and the condition for leaving early was that we call his cell phone with any questions or issues. I felt much less pain and burning than I had been experiencing as soon as a couple hours after surgery. Turning in bed was the hardest part. I am 5+ weeks out and have very little back discomfort. Most of my issue is burning down my leg, numbness in my calf and foot and an odd sunburnt sensation on top of my foot. Most of these sensations started 5 days post op. I got sick for some reason and the motions of vomiting tore some internal stitches on one side which caused a hematoma to form and it is pressing on / irritating the nerves on that side. I'm taking neurontin for the nerve pain, flexeril for muscle spasms and percocet for the leg pain. Walking helps tremendously. Sleeping is difficult. But sleeping propped up and with a large (sleep number reading pillow) under my legs does help. You can see by the hour I'm typing this that I still have difficulty sleeping, but I would have this surgery again in a heartbeat. The leg and back pain I was having prior to surgery was debilitating. This odd burning sensation is able to be lessened by meds. The pain prior to surgery wasn't touch by anything. I also have swelling in the foot that has the burning, numbness and sunburnt feeling. The odd thing is all of this is left sided. My pain prior to surgery was primarily right sided.

This is also a workers comp injury. It amazes me how risk management is trying to bully me into coming back to work. I was no sooner home from my 4 week flop low up than they were calling wanting to know when I could go back to work. My FMLA paperwork stated 8-12 weeks before returning to work. I work in health care and my job entails moving patients from their stretcher or bed to a scanning table. My initial injury was 13 yrs ago when a 370+ pound women grabbed my arm as she fell out of her wheelchair onto the floor. I herniated 2 discs at that time but with physical therapy I was able to avoid surgery at that time. I can't imagine trying to go back to work at this point. I still need to lie down several times during the day and sleep is in increments of about 2-3 hrs at a time a couple times in a 24 hr period.

How long did any of the meds for nerve pain take to work? I started the neurontin after my 4 wK follow up. It seems like it may be helping some, but it certainly hasn't been a magic bullet.

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@Padams

Looks like we have a fair amount in common. I had a L5-S1 TLIF on 11/11/13. Overall the surgery went well except I also had almost complete numbness in my left foot up to my knee. Nothing can really prepare you for that first walk. Jesus, even with IV Dilaudid the pain was a solid 10! But true to what everyone said the more I walked the better I would feel so I was out and about at all times of the night walking in my walker. The next day the pain was manageable getting out of bed on my own.

Since January, I haven't regained any feeling in my foot. The left side of my foot, 3 toes and the patch under the toes are pretty much completely numb. My pain is about at the same as it was prior to surgery. I still have a pinching sciatic pain along with new pain in my foot. The new pain is feeling like my skin has come off and nails going thru my foot. I am weaning off the pain meds. I was on 4mg Dilaudid for 2 weeks after surgery and then 10mg oxycodone 4-5 times a day. Now I am on Vicodin 5mg 4-5 times a day. Vicodin doesn't do much aside from take the edge off.

It's only been 3 months so I need to be patient. My fusion is coming along nicely so I have gotten my doc's ok to do PT. Hopefully this will help me along. This was a necessary operation for me. I had DDD in L5 disc and then it ruptured in July 2012. Also I had grade 1 going on grade 2 spondi L5-S1. So the surgery fixed that splendidly. I can bend over now with minimal pain. I am sure in 9 months I ll be much better off.

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Hello, I am just now joining here and reading posts…I am wondering if you husband continues to have numbness ? I had a spinal fusion in 2002 for 100% slippage.

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https://www.facebook.com/groups/spondylolisthesis.support/

Please also feel free to come and join this group…I am one of the Admins there and the group is growing each day…we have over 800 members now on this Facebook group…and this group will help you so much.

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@sprintimp

Has PT helped with your pain and numbness? PT has helped with strength and balance, but it has actually made the pain worse. I only take Vicodin once in a while at night but I still take neurontin daily. There has been no improvement in the raw/numb feeling in my left foot. Both feet now feel like the feeling you get after dipping your foot into too hot of water. That makes sleeping difficult. I am going to return to work soon and can't imagine what that will be like.

I hope you've had some resolution to your pain and numbness.

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I am starting PT next week on 1/24. It would seem I have a pretty conservative Doc. My fusion is coming well but he wanted another 3 weeks before starting PT. I suspect this PT will be far more intense than the PT I had the first couple of weeks after surgery which was just walking around.

I used your exact analogy to explain how my foot felt during my last follow up. My pain is the least in the morning and ramps up by the evening. Sometimes it just feels "raw" like Ive lost a couple of layers of skin in additional the burning sensation.

I noticed this week a slight improvement in my numbness and strength. I regained a slight amount of feeling in the remaining problem areas of my foot. This is pretty encouraging since I still have 9 months of recovery time. For the past month the progress has been nil which really concerned me. When you live with the chronic pain of a spine injury, this surgery is the best shot of regaining a normal life. I still hope I can fully recover. I know there might be some pain but I certainly would like to less pain than before surgery. At least I can now bend over and not worry about my L5 running into spinal cord and doing a header into the floor.

Pain is about the same 5-7. I am taking a lot less Vicodin and sometimes I wish I had the oxycodone on hand for some of the more difficult days. I had a pretty big tolerance for oxy's by the end of Jan. 40-50mg a day and it barely was managing the pain. So the Vicodin, 20-25mg a day, has pretty much maintenance to ease withdrawal. Already been getting grief from the nurse about the duration I have been on narcotics. I understand that is their job but it isnt enjoyable having to justify your pain. If I weren't in pain, I wouldn't want to be taking pain meds. Right now its easier to deal with the moodiness than the constant nerve pain.

I am looking forward to seeing what PT does for me. I am sure it will take a couple of weeks before I see results from PT.

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Mr. Weter,
Yes, i sneezed and then cried the first time but then i remembered what they taught me to do in the hospital after a cesection for coughing / sneezing. If you hold hug a pillow when you need to it dramatically reduces pain. Good luck, i hear ya.

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10/10/14 I had my second surgery. My first being August 2nd of this year which was just an l5/s1 Lamindectomy. Less than two weeks ago I had surgery again on L5/S1 only this time since the other surgery failed less than two weeks post-op she did the surgery but put a "spacer" polyethylene disk in with two support rods since my spine is so compressed due to my short leg and uneven hips. Anyways, I have been in major pain and I noticed as long as I dont move I feel great. But the moment I start moving I ache and want to cry and feel like I cant do this and I have given birth to five kids so I know what pain is!! However the more active I am during the day the next day I am not nearly as sore. I just dont know, my scar is still damp so I fear leaving it uncovered but it itches like mad. Anyone have advice for me? Btw, the hydromorophone (dilaudid), Oxycodone and Percocet do not work for me, at all so the only time I take them is when I am in too much pain to sleep so that they knock me out. Anyone know when I may see relief and what is better, more movement or less?

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Add On: I have since my last posting been diagnosed with a non-resistant form of Staph Aureus. I was rehospitalized and the dr. cleaned as much infection away as possible. I am now on a PICC line and go in every day for IV treatment, only 35 days left then they will put me on oral antibiotics for 2 more months. Im in a lot of pain still but I am pretty sure it is getting better. Not on any pain meds right now except for night time which can be excruciating.

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I have recently had my 3rd back surgery at l5 disc. On my 3rd surgery I had it fused with hardware. I didn't experience and numbness in my right foot before but I have it now. It has been almost 3 months. Does it ever go away and what can I do to help it heal.

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I initially 9/2014 had a decompression of L5-S1 nerves (stenosis) came out of surgery with massive shooting pain down right leg...that has subsided into tightness,, numbness, and burning in right leg and foot. Right calf is tight and feels like cramping , right foot has numbness in heal and two outer toes. The burning in the heal and toes is what drove me go for another opinion. Nuero surgeon did 1st surgery and basically told me to have a good life ....I'm like um I still have to take Norco 3 times a day for the pain..... Lived like this until 11/2015. 2nd opinion orthopedic doc did a myelogram ct scan...showed ruptured/ bulging disc at L5-S1 ...he offerred 3 options ... 1 do nothing, 2 do a revision clean out 3 revision clean out with fusion post and ant L5-S1 ..... I chose 3 ...it will be 5 weeks this week and I can't tell any difference ....he put me on gabapentin 300mg x 3 day 1.5 weeks ago .... I also take 10-325 Percocet 4 x day ...... The foot pain and calf pain seem more intense .....doc told me to be patient etc ....am I expecting to much to soon .... I thought the foot pain would at least subside somewhat....... It literally has been 2 plus years of chronic pain... Is there any damn light at the end of the tunnel? I'm 49 and executive in the mfg arena and am worried my career may be over if I can't get my pain to a level where I don't need narcotics.

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I am 46 and I've had 2 surgeries for my L5 S1. The first one was 4 years ago. The disc herniated and the removed half of the disc because I lost bladder control and they needed to so emergency surgery. All of my pain was originally on the left side running down my leg. A few months later the disc herniated out the right side and the surgeon had to remove the rest of the disc. I continue to have numbness in most of my left foot and on the outside of my left leg that runs up to my knee . The surgeon originally thought the numbness was from swelling after surgery and thought itbwoukd come back after about 6 months. On a follow up he said it was never damage from the nerves being pinched while the disc was herniated. I started walking and doing yoga to help build the muscles and strengthen my back. It also helped that I lost about 30 pounds. I limp some times when I walk and I occasionally fall because of the numbness. It's difficult to wear heals but I sometimes manage for special occasions. The pain seems to be bad when I take long car rides but nothing like it was prior to my first surgery. I wish I had had an MRI sooner so I would have done the surgery sooner. My family doctor told me I was having back spasms and I needed to rest. After several trips to the er and to my family doctor, I went almost 7 months in the most horrible pain I've ever felt before getting correctly diagnosed.

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Did his numbness ever go away? After 10 months of s4, s5 and Ls lumbar fusion seems like the numbness is getting worse in my right foot.

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