I had a fusion and discectomy at L5-S1 about 11 weeks ago. Initially when I woke up after surgery, the nerve pain in both legs that I had been suffering from for 18 months had all but vanished, with the exception of large numb patches on my outer thighs. Hard to describe - it was totally numb, yet hypersensitive and painful at the same time. I could poke it with a pin and feel nothing at all, but if I brushed my hand lightly over the area it would bring tears to my eyes. I was told that it was positional nerve damage from being strapped to the operating table face down for almost 6 hours. They tried to pad me and move my legs occasionally during surgery, but sometimes it happens. This pain has since started to fade, and now my left leg is totally fine, and just occasional pain in the right thigh.
Ok, back to the original question. I had been dealing with nerve pain in both legs prior to surgery - along the outer thighs to my knees, just under my knees on my shins, and down the backs of my calves into my heels and feet. I also had numbness in my inner thighs and numbness and/or pins and needles in both feet. All of these symptoms were bilateral, worse in the left leg. Both legs were also extremely weak, again worse on the left. Immediately following surgery, the nerve pain in my legs had all but vanished! I was in shock and awe that I could wake up and it was just GONE! Now, the post op pain was hell, and the first three weeks of recovery were hellish, but the pain was essentially just in my lower back, hips and pelvis. Around 4 weeks the leg pain started returning. Slowly at first, and only occasionally, and just in my outer thighs. Then the episodes grew more frequent, and the pain spread to my calves/ankles/feet. Now at 11 weeks, the nerve pain in my legs is just as bad as it was before surgery, if not worse on some days, and it's pretty much constant.
My PM increased my Lyrica dose, but it's not helping. I've had a few thoughts on this, and I'm wondering if anybody else has had the pain disappear and then return after surgery?
1- The leg pain never went away, but the post op pain in my back was so bad that my leg pain paled in comparison. Once the back pain started to improve, I was again more aware of the leg pain.
2- I spent the first 3 weeks pretty much laying on the couch or in bed, or laid back in the recliner. The leg pain returned around the time I started PT and increased my daily activities, as well as sitting for longer periods of time. In the past, before surgery, the leg pain would decrease with rest, I guess because I took the pressure off the compressed nerves by reclining.
3- I've pushed myself too hard too soon and screwed something up.
Thoughts? Opinions? Anybody else experience this? Thanks in advance!
L5-S1 Fusion, Discectomy on 7/10/12
Herniated Discs at L3-L4-L5-S1, Spondylosis, Spondylolethesis at L5, DDD, Partial CES, Lumbar Facet Arthropathy
Chronic back pain since 12/2010 (slip and fall on ice)