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Foot feels frozen post surgery

NicNNic Posts: 4
Hi all,

This is my first post here, but I've been reading a long time. Y'all have helped me a great deal.

I had a microdiscectomy with partial facetectomy on L4/5 back in Nov. Prior to surgery my pain was severe but I don't recall this frozen feeling in my foot. I had all the classic symptoms of a severely ruptured disc, but ended up waiting almost 2 moths for surgery. I did have a steroid injection with very little success.

Current issue:
Foot feels frozen

Post surgery I noticed the issues in my foot - tingling, toes curling, weakness etc, but my NS stated I'd likely had this all along & it wasn't apparent due to the overwhelming pain in leg/buttock/back. It feels like a block of ice at the end of my leg, I have no real feeling other than cold. (I had no issues with foot drop)and still have considerable weakness in the leg & obviously the foot due to the fact I can't really FEEL it while walking.

I'm incredibly frustrated at this point, and have in fact re-ruptured the disc by falling when my foot went out from under me while carrying something. (it tends to turn in when I walk and this was one of the first things I noticed prior to the pain hitting - At first I thought I had just taken a misstep, but it continued to happen - Now if I don't concentrate on keeping it straight while walking it will "go out from under me").

I'm looking at another surgery to correct the re- rupture but am right now wondering if this foot issue will ever resolve. NS said it can take up to a year for nerve to heal, I can't imagine lasting that long being unable to ride my horse or carry on my usual activities.

Has anyone else dealt with this? I've read a lot of posts & the pain isn't really my issue, it's the lack of feeling in my foot & the never ending COLD.

Thanks in advance for your comments



  • Hi Nic,

    I know what you mean about the "cold" feeling. I actually have to shower to warm my foot up and have never slept with socks on but since my hernation found that sleeping with a sock on the one foot helps. However, if I sit too long or stand still too long, I get that sensation and it takes a bit to "undo" it either by walking or just running it under warm water. Lying flat with pillow under my knees also helps.

    I'm sorry you have to have surgery again. I'm about 7 weeks post op of revision on L5S1 (reherniated a few weeks after initial surgery). I am still waiting on feeling to come back in my buttocks, leg, and foot.

    The NS is right, the nerve can take quite some time to regenerate and unfortunately your foot is furthest point away from injury and will take longer. My NS told me if I don't see improvement in 3 months he'll make sure I don't have any additional issues but that he thinks it can take 5-9 months before I see any improvement

    I'm not sure if this is helpful but after your surgery if you still feel that "COLD" sensation, you may want to ask you doctor about nerve pain meds. I don't know if they'll work for COLD but Lyrica and Neurontin (?sp) are nerve blockers. But if they are options, you will want to read up on the side effects of each of them.

  • Hi DNice,

    Thanks for your reply. I'm also wearing sock constantly & use a magic bag heated in the microwave pretty much all my waking hours.

    I am on neurontin (down to 1600 mg per day) and it's not helping the foot at all. It does help the leg pain which is a lifesaver.

    Even when walking it feels cold - I just came in from walking the dogs 2 miles on a perfect evening and it still feels frozen solid. :(

    I hope your numbness resolves soon, I know the frustration of wanting it all to be over & ending up back at the beginning. Has your pain decreased since the revision?
  • Hi there...lost my post the other day and didn't have the energy to retype it at the time.

    Thanks for asking about my recovery. My back is MUCH better but my leg is about the same. I guess a slight improvement. The doctor isn't worried just yet since the nerve was so compressed. I think what's better is my ability to recover if I sit or stand still too long. I am also on much less meds this time. Barely took any prescriptions and barely any OTC meds. If at 3-months I don't improve on leg pain or numbness, the doctor will send me for another MRI. If there's no concern, I may try the Neurontin at that point.

    How do you like it? Any side effects that you've experienced?

    I don't want Lyrica b/c I'm afraid of what I read on people's eyesight being impacted. I am trying hard not to take the nerve blockers but if it helps, I may consider it.

    Anyhow...your friendly fellow cold-footed Spiney friend.

  • Hi Nic,

    Sorry to hear that you'll need to have another surgery so soon after the first - spineys unfortunately seem to take 1 step forward and then have to deal w/ taking 2 steps back. I had drop foot before surgery, almost turned my ankle or fell when it gave way w/out warning too many times to count as well as having the frozen feeling too (before/after surgery). The drop foot has resolved, I can flex the foot at about 95% of normal but, I still have some numbness and sometimes the frozen feeling as well. My OSS told me it could take anywhere from 1-3 years for nerve healing and there's never a guarantee that full healing will occur since nerves are so sensitive. It's said nerves heal at approximately 1 mm a day, so there's a lot of ground to cover from the nerve root to the foot. A # of folks here have had 'new' issues post surgery w/ nerve involvement, it can sometimes occur because of how you're positioned on the operating table, the nerve(s) reacting to the manipulation during surgery, and the inflammation that was caused w/ the disc herniation. Like DNice I've used warm water, also I massage the foot w/ something like BenGay to get some warmth into area, flexing my foot w/ calf raises off the edge of a step (hold on to the bannister), ankle circles & pumps, trying to pick up a pencil with my toes - anything to exercise the foot and hopefully get the blood flowing better which does seem to help. I also take B complex since there's a school of thought it can help w/ nerve regeneration. It might not be a bad idea to ask your doc if an orthotic can be prescribed to help support your foot and minimize the chances of it giving way w/out warning.

    I hope this helps, please keep us posted on how it turns out.

  • PFD...thanks for the extra tips on getting circulation back to the foot. I've used some of them and they do help get the foot 'active' to get blood flow there.

  • Glad your back is much better, I'll keep my fingers crossed the leg shows improvement real soon too :)

    I hated the neurontin at first, I had an allergic reaction to it, but when I stopped it the pain was so much worse I told my PM doc I wanted to try it again. I recall it does take some time to build up in your system, but it was the only med that helped the leg pain. No other side effects that I couldn't live with, and the reaction wasn't nearly as bad the 2nd time.

    Still got the cold foot, but since temps are in the 80's it's not as annoying :)

  • Hi pdf,

    Thanks for your comments & suggestions! I'm learning how long the nerves can take to heal, not what I want to hear for sure, but like you said, 1 step forward & 2 steps back seems to be our lot ;-0

    I've been doing a lot of foot "manipulations" as well...bending & flexing my toes, walking & really trying to use the foot correctly (that's' a challenge) but I'm sure it's all helping. Hadn't thought of trying to pick something up with my toes, great idea!

    I've also started taking B vitamins,another thx for the suggestion!

    Also on my list of things to talk about is some sort of support for my ankle. I do need to get that dealt with so I can get more exercise!

    Again, thanks for your assistance, I really appreciate it :)

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