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Spontaneous Numbness in Right Foot, No Pain

Hey everyone,

It's been a while since I posted, so please forgive me if some of you have already shared your experiences on this.

I had a microdiscectomy on Jan. 4, 2012, for a severe herniation at the L4-L5 level. I went through months of PT in the spring in order to be prepared for a difficult research trip in the summer, and all was going well. I could not only walk, but I was finally able to run again, jump, pretty much do whatever I wanted. I was careful, though, and very mindful of my movements and body mechanics. Over the last couple of months, though, I've gotten horrendously busy with my job, slacked off on exercise, and started sitting for long periods of time. I've also had a really bad cold lately, with sneezing, coughing, etc., which may have put added pressure on my lower back, but seemingly out of the blue last night, a portion of my right foot went numb (heel and outside section of ankle). My instincts were to freak out and worry that I had reherniated, which I might have. However, I'm not in any pain at all and am still just as active as I ever was. My neurosurgeon wants me to just take high doses of ibuprofen, ice my lower back, and continue with my regular routine and see if the numbness subsides. Have any of you experienced anything similar? With my spinal problems, I've become a little OCD when I start to feel anything abnormal, which means my productivity plummets. Do any of you have recommendations for things I can do to help the numbness subside? Would you recommend using an inversion table (I do have one) or could that make things worse? I really want to avoid another surgery this soon after the first, especially since I don't have much disc left at that level and the next step might be a fusion (I'm only 36).

All the best,



  • DaveFusionDDaveFusion Posts: 476
    edited 11/29/2012 - 8:02 PM
    Nerves generally regenerate. They are quite resilient generally. Often takes about 3 mths generally, I find. Medical people say it regenerates at 1 mm per day approx.

    Cause can be from events such as sitting with nerve compressed and blood supply pinched off; or compressive mechanical damage.

    Hot packs help to draw blood to the nerve and can help healing.

    So time to heal and prevent reoccurrence of the nerve damage event is about as much as you can do. So make sure you don't sit too long. Get up and walk often. Keep the nutrient supply up to the nerve by movement. Anti-inflammatories, steroid injections can reduce nerve swelling, like you had before the micro-d.

    An EMG study can quantify the extent of the nerve damage to see if it is progressive (ongoing).

    See http://www.spine-health.com/ask-a-doctor/chronic-pain/healing-chronic-pain-and-nerve-damage-after-surgery for more info.
  • Thanks, Dave, for the comments. Just to clarify, though, the numbness I'm feeling at the moment is new. I have "old" numbness from the original injury and microdiscectomy, but this is a new patch that suddenly appeared out of the blue 10 months after the surgery. I'm definitely limiting the amount that I sit. Fortunately, my job allows me to work from home, so I can use a standing work station or even work from a laptop while lying in bed if needed. My neurosurgeon told me to keep my routine the way it is, so I'm still using the elliptical machine at the gymn for cardio and I recently started doing my core-strengthening PT exercises again. Neither gives me any trouble, although my left leg felt a little rubbery today, like it didn't have enough strength in it. I do have muscle weakness in that leg from the initial injury, but I'm a little paranoid that whatever is going on with my back post-surgery might be making the muscle weakness worse. I'll keep minimizing the sitting, taking the anti-inflammatories, icing, and being cautious with my movements. I REALLY want to avoid another surgery, and I'm not in any pain. I just don't want numbness to take over too much of my feet or else it will screw up my balance or even my ability to walk. I appreciate all your suggestions. Hang in there yourself.
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