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Foot numbness, will a surgery help?

I have had a number of surgeries.. fusions and lamin..., chronic pain, and herniated discs. My back is a mess!

I am reaching out to the forum members to see if anyone has gotten relief from foot numbness, either from surgery or anything else! Anyone tried artificial discs or stem cell?

My latest herniated disc resulted in a dropped foot ( which went away after a lamin/ disc) but the foot numbness on my left foot remains and I often have it on my right foot, middle toes only. It is really annoying. It has been going on for almost 2 years now and one surgeon says that a double spinal fusion L5-S1 will likely help as I am bone on bone at those discs, my other surgeon says it probably won't.

I am not one to jump into yet another surgery, but this foot thing is driving me whacky.

Any advice?



  • I too have foot numbness on my left foot that drives me crazy. My last surgery was over the summer, so I'm still hoping this will heal as the nerves heal, which I know can take a very long time. It has improved. I did have pain in adjacent areas that is close to gone, so maybe the numbness is the last to go? I'm hoping.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • NHbackNNHback Posts: 35
    edited 02/25/2013 - 5:33 AM

    I'll preface this by stating I have no medical training, just a lot of research for my own back issues.

    First, you need to determine what is causing your tingling &/or numb toes. You know that your last herniated disc resulted is nerve damage to your left foot (ie drop foot) and you had surgery. After surgery you have continuing numbness in your left foot, and numbness in your right.

    There are several causes of foot numbness - nerve damage, bad circulation/diabetes, tarsal tunnel symdrom, B12 vitamin deficiencies, even anxiety...

    And remember, if both your feet have numbness, and it is from nerve damage/impingment, there has to be two different nerves involved...

    So back surgery can only help if you are sure that numbness in each foot is from nerve damage/impingment caused in the back.

    If that is the case, Id ask for specifics of how each nerve root is being impinged and how surgery would specifically help that impingement. If they cant give you those exact details, Id be leery of surgery...

    For example: the surgeon is saying fusion will 'likely help' because you are bone on bone in those areas... but it is my understanding that "bone on bone" alone has NOTHING to do with foot numbness... IF being bone on bone is CAUSING nerve damage/impingement then maybe. If your bone on bone situation is painful but isnt actually causing the nerves to be irritated or damaged, then how is solving the bone on bone issue by fusion going to help the foot numbness?

    Lastly - even if the foot numbness (in either foot) is indeed caused by nerve damage from your lower back, and surgery can alleviate the impingment on the nerve, be aware that nerve damage can be permanent... and that one of the common signs of permanent damage is some lasting numbness/tingling... either for a loooonng time, or permanently.

    In a nutshell - if you can be convinced that the source of the numbness is nerve damage specifically coming from your lower back, AND you are convinced that whatever surgery is recommended SPECIFALLY focuses on correcting those exact causes, then weigh the pros and cons for the surgery accordingly.

    (My background: Ive had 'mild to moderate' back issues (bulging discs) with tingling/aches in my left foot off and on for 10 years. My issues became severe when I completely ruptured my L5-S1 disc. My foot became extremely numb - toes and "ball" of foot - soon thereafter. MRI clearly showed a chunk of disc pressing on my S1 nerve root. Microdiscextomy removed chunk and numbness went away in short order. However - in the subsequent 4+ months, I still get some tingling/ache in the foot that comes and goes.)
  • That's a lot of good info NHBack! Thanks!
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • coyotewildwomanccoyotewildwoman Posts: 130
    edited 03/29/2013 - 3:43 AM
    Great comments, I will consult with my surgeon and see if there appears to be direct impingement. My numbness increases with inflammation in my back.. So I am going to work on reducing that first. I am finding every surgery is wiping me out more and more.. So I will delay as long as I can.

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