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Intro/ Nerve damage?-what to expect

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
Good Morning!

First off, I found this forum while researching nerve damage after microdiskectomy surgery for a herniation at L4-L5. My research has led me to believe that what I am experiencing is damage, but I would like to know what I can expect in the future.

History (how long-winded should I be? *grin*)
I have a lot of history prior.... going back to 1980. I am going to focus on the recent stuff for now, unless someone really wants to know.
October 2006-Violently thrown from a horse I was starting. And by that I men I was launched at least 6 feet above the saddle, landed on the saddle on my right hip, launched again, then hit the ground on my left hip, back and head.
December 2006-After weeks of low back pain and sciatica made worse by spending a month crawling around on the floor piecing quilts, my back went out in a grand and spectacular manner. Unable to get out of bed to pee, I had my husband pick me up and stand me on the floor (thinking once I was upright, I'd be able to walk) which resulted in excruiciating pain to the point I passed out. (I've had two kids, and passed four kidney stones, and that was NOTHING compared to this)

Spent 24 hours in ER. X-ray, nothing. CT scan, nothing. MRI, herniated L4-L5, annular tear.

January 2007-prednizone. Some relief for about a week, then back to severe pain. Taking Dilauded, Flexeril, and Valium, which bring the pain down to about 6 most of the time. I was living in a recliner, unable to walk without lurching in agony. Pain in low back, and down outside of right leg and across the top of the foot.

(insert trials and tribulations)

March 2007- Finally have surgery. A good friend observed surgery and said when the piece of bone was removed, the disk chunks actually bulged out of the opening. They removed three pieces and watched as the nerve roots settled back into place. She said my whole body seemed to relax at this point.

When I woke, I was almost totally pain-free! I could walk without lurching!

May 2007- Weaned myself off the drugs, get on with life. Horseback riding too.

Over the past two years I have had a few bouts of severe leg cramping. Mostly the right leg, mostly my hamstring, but often involving the right calf and foot. Most of the time these bouts last a couple days, but recently (in the past month) they have persisted for days at a time.

One bout in the middle of the night cause me to leap out of bed to try to push my dropped foot back up, but both feet were cramped, as was my right hamstring. I finally managed to push my feet down, but apparently I'd been holding my breath during the pain/effort. When I stood back up straight (I'd been leaning across our waist-high bed) I passed out rather dramatically, scaring the hell out of my husband. I was out for nearly a minute, probably because I landed upright in a chair by the bed.

Since then I have been taking my vitamins, including calcium, magnesium and zinc, drinking lots of water, and doing some stretches, but I am still having problems.

What else can I do? Is this nerves getting worse, or better? Any other theories?

FYI- I am 47, fairly active with gardening, horseback riding several times a week (usually at high speeds) and maintaining a small farm with lots of critters. I am overweight by 30 pounds *sigh* but reasonable healthy. BP 90/50. Resting pulse 50. And I have no medical insurance. (Yeah, that was fun during all of this.)

I am looking forward to your input, and to reading about other people's experiences.

Take care!



  • Hi Julie

    There's quite a few members here with injuries from horses or want to ride their horses after surgery.

    I just wanted to comment on your 2 year battle with leg cramps. Have you ever googled "neuroclaudication" or "pseudoclaudication"? I have leg cramps because the nerves in my back aren't getting the proper blood supply. Resting and a heating pad on my back-position laying on back with legs propped up on pillows helps the most. Not trying to diagnose you, just some info for you to review.

    don't worry about being long winded here, I think that's impossible!!!!
  • enurse,

    Thanks so much for your reply. After googling your suggestions (and wandering the halls of wikipedia for quite some time) I realized that neither of your ideas are applicable.

    Most of my cramps/spasms happen when I am at rest. And position seems to have little to do with it.

    So I am back to the theory that I need to do a better job of excersize, stretching, vitamins, hydrating, and weight loss. Your comments are much appreciated, and if you think of anything more, please write!

  • I am so sorry for your ordeal. I have constant leg pain post L5-S1 discectomy. It's like Charlie horse cramping in my calf. I can stretch my leg out, fully extend it, but it hurts really bad. I also have weakness in that leg and it's numb from low back all the way down my leg into the bottom of my foot and 3 paralyzed toes. I have electrical shock-type sensations and sometimes it feels like someone poured hot acid down the back of my leg. I will randomly have horrific, knock you on your ass kind of shocking sensation In my leg, that renders me unable to do anything but try to breathe through the pain or scream. LOL. These episodes happen a few times a day and I no longer drive for fear of having one while I am. I would certsinly crash.

    It does sound like your pain is nerve related. There are some medications that
    migdht help, like Neurontin. I've not tried them yet, but would if my doctors thought it would help and made the suggestion.

    Good luck! I hope you get the help and the answers that you are looking for.
  • Welcome to SH :H I also get painful muscle spasms in my lower back and legs, and I have permanent nerve damage as well. It seems like those muscles have a life of their own and they do whatever they want, no matter how horrific it feels. I wonder if that neuroclaudication that ERnurse mentioned applies in my case. Anyway, I'm sorry to hear about your accident and the back problems you've suffered. My right leg is very weak and I use a cane all the time because it likes to give out on me. I can take up to 8mgs Zanaflex when things get really bad, and I also am on a lot of other painkillers and Cymbalta for nerve pain. It's nice to have you here and we look forward to getting to know you. Take care
  • Hi Julie,

    I posted a long post and then messed up posting it!
    Ok my prob is nerve damage from surgery and radiation...its kind of rare BUT I did have alot of muscle twitching, and muscle cramps. Long story short as my condition progressed I did alot of muscle compensating. I really was not aware I was doing it until the weird muscle symptoms started. That resulted in my body forgetting how to function correctly. I did fix the cramps with a chiropractor who used Active release. Its not an adjustment...it is a method to break up scar tissue but it stopped the cramps in my legs and feet. It also loosened up my cement like back but thats another story.....it worked on the cramping.

    One tip when you are getting a huge cramp...breathe.... and I have noticed a good cry relaxes my muscles rather than trying to tough it out.....the first time I just cried mostly out of frustration....the cramps stopped quicker.
  • Hi Stace,

    I have been wondering about something along the lines of what you talk about, in that my body is re-learning things. After tons of research, I think it's likely a combination of things..... not enough exercize, not taking my vitamins regularly, being kinda over-weight, poor posture, etc, along with my poor abused body trying to compensate.

    I have noticed that the more active I am, the better I do. That's nice, except when I am feeling lazy! (I have some trouble with depression)

    As to breathing, good advice! *grin* I have a tendency to hold my breath, and tough it out. And it happened again last night. Both calves cramped really bad, and I was hitting my poor husband, yelling "Push my feet up! Push my feet up!" Poor guy... imagine being woke up like that!

    But he did it, and the cramps finally quit. Then I realized I was holding my breath again. Things were starting to get fuzzy around the edges, and I was really glad I hadn't gotten out of bed to push my feet on the floor, or I'm certain I would have passed out like the last time. And Alan would have been quite upset. Luckily I think he was asleep in 30 seconds, once he knew I was okay.

    How long ago was your surgery? Were you able to get back to doing what you had been doing before the surgery?

    Thanks for writing!
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