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Nerves unimpinged, how long can it take to heal?

pepeguapoppepeguapo Posts: 57
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I still feel pain, pressure, and the spastic rap-rapping on my familiar pain superhighways even though it's way less intense than before surgery. I was told that it should take 12 weeks to fully recover from the surgery trauma. It has been 6 and I'm much better but still very aware of radiculohell. Anyone know how long it might take for previously pinched nerves to calm down? Can it take years or more? (a positive answer would make me feel more assured that I'm gonna keep getting better) I know it's a vague question, but maybe someone had a successful surgery that took a long time to fully work after the initial major pain went away? Thanks for reading.


  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    that the amount of time it takes for a nerve to begin to refunction is equal to the amount of time that it was compressed. Don't know if its true but it is what a doc said ..... but then docs say alot of things.

    Best wishes,

    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

  • could be a couple years then. Thanks for the response, it helps to know that it shouldn't be fixed right away.
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    Nerves heal VERY slowly so as long as you continue to see some small improvement then you may again see more improvements. A nerve, if impinged too long, can fail to heal fully.

    My left index finger is numb at the tip as I waited a bit too long to do my ACDF. Everything else came back except for that tip. My neighbor had foot drop and put off seeing a surgeon. He had surgery last December and is still wearing an orthotic from the shin down BUT says he continues to see improvement and he (and his docs and PT) say healing is not done until they see no improvement for an extended period.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • the same thing as others post.
    I've heard it will likely equate to how long the nerve has been compressed for, blah blah blah, and that if you see improvement, even if it's a little, you may keep getting better.

    But I'm told it takes a LONG time.
    Also, it depends on how hard the nerve was hit.

  • You are early in the process. I had a crushed nerve, see my sig, was one of the worst Dr had seen. It took 3 months before things started to feel better. But, after that things got better quickly. Off all meds including the nerve one. Some minor numbness. If I over do a little pain. But, that is also lessening quickly. I think one to two years is expected. It may not get any better. Know one knows. Measure improvement in months not weeks.

    Good Luck

  • and i have 15 years of it !!! they may never heal fully and after many months/years you may still altered feeling in your legs/feet if you were operated on your lower back or arms/hands if it was your neck that was operated on ..i wont lie to you i have had nothing but bad news from my back problems and my views are the glass half empty but you should be aware that nerves can be a long time healing
  • Thanks so much for the info guys, it helps a lot. I've gotten used to thinking in weeks, but months sounds even smarter. I know I'm still getting better, and am even willing to live with what I'm dealing with now, but still go back to the fear that if I was in the pain I was forever I wouldn't want to live with it. I do PT but beyond that it is so frustrating to be powerless as to how much better I get, especially when it is the most important thing in my life. Funny how I used to be frustrated about living at home, no girlfriend, no money, nothing to do with my BA, no more sports. And now all that is fine, all I want nowadays is no pain. I love watching count of monte cristo. I always like the part when he escapes and he is so happy. Makes me think how after being in a small jail for years you would be ecstatic to move to a big jail (-:
    It's a good thing expectations change otherwise I would be miserable right now, and today I am pretty happy. And less stressed about getting better hearing that it can take a long time. Guess everyone gets the 'you'll be back at work in a month' story from the doctor and finds out for themselves that it's not so simple. Thanks again.
  • I wish I understood why surgeon aren't "straight up"! So often I hear that surgeons sugar coat it, then little by little tell you the "whole story".

    I am 6 months post 360 and still improving. It is a long journey and with nerve impingment/compression, it can take a long time!

    Hang in there! We are here to support you along your journey! Wishing you the very best!
  • my surgeon told me the truth .he said .tony your spine is wrecked by poor surgery and arthritis and i can understand why other surgeons refuse to operate on you again .and if i operate on you you will take around three years to recover and even then you will never be totally pain free ..now if that is not up front i don't know what is!!
  • Jayhawk, I don't think all surgeons sugar coat it. Mine tried to tell me statistically what to expect but he also told me that he has no way of knowing.

    I think they try their best to tell you the 'average' case based on text book answers. At the end of the day, my nerve was hit pretty badly. At first the answer was "we caught it early so you have a good prognosis" which then changed to well, it was hit really hard and that plays a factor.

    It is discouraging at times.

    On the flip side, I heard from Gwennie not too long ago and she is doing much better than her or her doctors ever expected. The nerves are so strange...they are like electrical wiring but unpredictable. I try so hard to keep faith and optimism that I will keep seeing progress and that others on here will too.

    It stinks. I really hate reading about everyone here that is still hurting.
  • I am new to this forum and new to spinal surgery
    I have had fusion of L4,5 and S1 about six weeks ago.
    On a pain scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the worst. My sciatica prior to the operation was 10+. I couldn't walk straight and was in agony 24/7. I had this pain for about 4 to 5 years, but needed to lose about 50lbs in weight before the surgeon would operate ( hence the length of the suffering)
    The day after my surgery the nerve pain was at 3 and within a week or two I could walk properly without sciatic pain
    I am now 6 weeks in and I still get some pain in my legs, but no-where near the pain I had pre-op.
    My surgeon ( Plymouth England) explained every detail of my procedure and my expectations of success. He sat with me for over an hour and explained absolutely every possible good and bad outcome. Some of the the negatives were horrendous, but I stil went ahead. OK. I am only a few weeks in, but if this is the best I will ever feel, the. It is better than I expected.
    He did say that the nerve does take time to repair and I shoukd expect a 60 - 75% reduction in the pain over the course of 6 months to a year. I would say I am already at the. 75% stage and off the pain killers.
    The important thing to do is to obey instructions from physio's.
    I was told that you need to convince your body that the pain is going away. Exercising my feet has helped, some massage to stimulate the nerves also helped. But also posture and strengthening core stomach muscles is very important. I do start to feel some pain when I am not sitting or standing straight. I was told to listen to my body, when my body tels me to rest, then rest. Don't over do it
  • i have had nerve pain in my right leg (due to Sciatica) for two weeks. My back pain has improved but not the nerve pain. What should I expect?
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,818
    we need more information:

    Welcome to Spine-Health

    One of the most important things that members can do is to provide the rest of the community with as much information about themselves as possible. It is so very difficult for anyone to respond when we do not have enough information to go on. This is not meant to indicate that you are doing anything wrong or violated any rule, we are just trying to be pro-active and get the information upfront so that people can start responding and your thread is more effective.

    So many times we read about members who have different tests and they all come back negative. The more clues and information you provide, the better chances in finding out what is wrong, The fact that your test results are negative does not mean that you are fine and without any concerns. Many times it takes several diagnostic tests and procedures to isolate a specific condition.

    Here are some questions that you should answer:

    • - When did this first start?

      . Year, Your age, etc
    - Was it the result of an accident or trauma?
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    - What doctors have you seen? (Orthopedic, Neurosurgeon, Spine Specialist, etc)

    • . Which doctor did you start with? Ie Primary Care Physician
      . Who are you currently seeing?
    - What Conservative treatments have you had? Which ones?

    • . Physical Therapy
      . Ultrasound / Tens unit
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    - What diagnostic tests have you had? And their results (MRI, CTScan, XRay, EMG, etc)

    • . Summarize the results, please do not post all details, we cannot analyze them
      . How many different tests have you had over the years? Similar results?
    - What medications are you currently using? (details, dosage, frequency, etc)

    • . Name of Medication
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    - Has surgery been discussed as an option? (If so, what kind)
    - Is there any nerve pain/damage associated?
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    Providing answers to questions like this will give the member community here a better understanding
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    You should also consult your doctor to better understand your condition and the do’s and don’t’s.

    It is very important that new members (or even seasoned members) provide others with details about their condition(s). It is virtually impossible to help another member when all the details we have are

    I’ve had this for years, it hurts, I cant move my shoulder – what could this be, what treatment should I get?

    Diagnosing spinal problems can be very difficult. In many ways it’s like a game of clue. Especially, when the diagnostic tests come back negative – no trouble found! Then it’s up to the patient and the doctor to start digging deeper. The doctor is like a detective. They need clues to help them move along. So, you as the patient need to provide the doctor with all sorts of clues. That is like it is here. Without having information about a condition, its impossible for anyone here to try to help.

    Specific comments :

    Personal Opinion, not medical advice :

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    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
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