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Severe nerve pain

I had two discs removed and the L4 and L5 fused about four months ago. I had degenerative discs that were causing pain in my lower back when I leaned over too far or lifted anything.
Ever since the surgery I have suffered from extreme pain in my left leg and foot. I did not have this pain prior to the surgery.
I'm told that the surgery caused me to grow a little taller in turn stretching the nerve and that the pain is due to the stretching of the nerve. The pain is intense and has caused terrible hardship in my family's life.
I've had two nerve block procedures without success. I'm on several medications that at best mask and put me to sleep but do little to control the pain. Cold helps and I am continually placing cold packs on my foot, leg and back. The pain is not the pins and needles pain. It feels like I have a constant sprained ankle, the pad on the bottom of my foot near the toes is extremely tender and difficult to walk on, the large toe and the two toes adjacent feel like there is a cord tied to them and pulling from inside me foot and up my shin. Occasionally a tremendous sharp pain occurs which feels like the cord is suddenly being stretched tight down my leg to my toes. The pain is severe when this occurs and takes a couple days to settle down to just terrible pain. The left foot is sensitive to hot water (meaning stepping into a bath, when the water is comfortable to my right foot, it feels hot to my left foot). When I drag my left and right toes gently across the floor, I have sudden needles stabbing my left toes. I have discomfort in my back and hip, but not terrible pain. Not certain what else I can share that might help...
I'm 50 years old and suddenly feel helpless. I'm desperate for help if you have suggestions or know what I should consider.
Thank you in advance!.


  • I had a L4-S1 fusion as well. I did have nerve pain before the surgery then woke up with more in my L leg. It's hard to explain this kind of pain isn't it? I tried many things post op....treatments, different meds, physical therapy etc. Nerves are moody for sure when they have been damaged, crushed or messed with. The best position for me to calm my leg was kinda a fetal position on my right side with a pillow in between my legs. I'm sure you have tried every which way as well. I can't sit, lay on my left side, stomach or back without my leg getting bad. I ultimately ended up with a spinal cord stimulator and it's been a God send. I just wish I would have done it sooner.
    feel free to PM if u like. I was reading your post and could swear I would've written pretty close to the same. it's unrelenting and yes hopeless feeling but the good news is you are here where we all have something chronic or need to vent. we all get it.
    It's not hopeless though there are things they can do it's hard not to feel that way when all u want to do is stay still and not annoy the leg. I can tell you it gets better. I still am learning to accept my limitations. oh if you go to therapy pls have them document measurements your leg will flex to and whatever is pertinent as you may need this info later and some do not take the time.
    i don't know why but the shower always triggered my leg too. with the stimulator I can do alot more like sit a bit etc.
    take care
  • Mason: hi.

    I have seen what you describe a number of times here.

    Some folks have had the hardware screws installed such that it is touching / rubbing on the nerve root and the screws have been subsequently repositioned via revision surgery. Others have had the nerves irritated by being nearby the titanium metal screws (allergic reaction) and had the hardware removed after the fusion had occurred.

    Please realise that nerve irritation is common with spinal surgery and usually settles down within a few months, but getting sciatica after a fusion is uncommon when there was no sciatica beforehand.

    Please invest time in researching these stories here for yourself.

    It might be time for further discussion with your surgeon and the seeking of additional opinions from other spinal surgeons. A truly professional surgeon will welcome a fresh set of eyes on the case.

    Good luck.
  • Hi Mason,
    I, too, had severe nerve pain after surgery that I never had before. I was told that in time it would heal...a long time. The dr. said he hoped it wouldn't be permanent.
    I've had a hard time walking for it felt like the bottom of my foot was slipping to the outside. When I went to get an orthotic, the technician watched me walk and then suggested a brace to help line up my foot with my ankle. When I first put the brace on it was an immediate postive feeling. I have worn the brace for about a year and now want to try walking with just an orthotic.
    I am taking Neurotin 3x and that helps with the shooting pain. Nothing else covers the other nerve pain. My foot continually feels like it is buzzing and then at times it just gets painful. Usually an increase in activity makes it worse.. I do use Valium to help calm me down, especially at night when the foot is really acting up.
    My doc said to keep active. I do all the pt exercies plus go to the pool. Walking is generally off the radar. A pain pump has been discussed but I have not gone that route yet.
    I think pt really helps and they document what I can and cannot do so I do have signs of improvement that aren't just my imagaination. Also, pt gives me different exercises and they cheer me on. They are amazed at the recovery I have had for some of the biggiest gains have come 1 1/2 years after sugergy.
    I laughed at your comment about the dr. saying you have grown a little taller. My doc. said I was two inches taller and by golly, when I got measured it was true.
    Remember that each surgery is different. You are also just a couple of months out and we all heard it: nerves take a long time to heal from trauma. Time really made a difference for me. I have had to tone down my lifestyle quite a bit but I making some improvment and I am working at coming back to the world.
    Good luck to you. I'll cheer you on!

  • morphia1957mmorphia1957 Posts: 84
    edited 10/15/2013 - 7:52 AM
    thanks... it's hard to hear that someone else feels the same way, but it does assist... its been 5 months, coming up on 6- will be 6 as of 11/1... I am now in 'after'... i have nerve damage to my left foot that is so detrimental to walking, i feel like i might not be able to work much longer.. this is bad.. really bad. i don't want to do the spine stim as that scares me too. I've had enough. seeing my new (2nd) neurosurgeon.. i wonder, is it better than the nerves are all jangly and alive than if i felt nothing?
    new mri to show him tomorrow, new ct scan shows right side fusing, left side NOT. left side is where all the pain is.. from hip down to toes.. i too have been pushed over to pain management by original surgeon... had two nerve block procedures without success. still on muscle relaxers and percoset at night.. i used heat and cold - get the pins and needles pain and also feel like I have a constant sprained ankle. both the pad on the bottom of my foot near the toes is numb, my little toes are numb and the bottom of the foot is more than tender and i do get those crazy sharp "electrical" pains -tried the Neurontin route a few times back and forth. cannot handle it. it makes me so hungry i am never full, and it makes me feel 'outside' myself. kooky and creepy... (i'm reading both your posts again, 1and a half years ??? after surgery??) whoa... that makes sense.. though. surgeon told me a mm a day, that's 270 days down to the bottom of my foot! DO I NEED to see a podiatrist too? i feel like i am ruining my ankle and the bones in my feet. This is crazy... i just want it to END. let's see what happens tomorrow, seeing super new neurosurgeon with new scans.. will let you both know.. so sad though, the depression is the worst.. i am not the same person.. taller? i am not sure yet. PT does help - i miss it.. lifetime of 60 visits PER body part... so even though it's not my back anymore, and it;'s my foot, tough sh*t.. thanks oxford.
    at work.. getting harder and harder to DO.. that's another issue... do i need to go on disability or something?? i think i will lose my mind- either from the pain or the lack of being able to DO anything about it... this might be "it". so far, reading the reports, i don't 'see' anything as hitting the nerve.. but neurosurgeon's job tomorrow is to read the scans, and see.. i feel like i was dropped on my side! (and did read something interesting that if you on a table for TOO long in the same position during a surgery, you can have serious muscle issues) (which i now have) my calf muscle doesn't work. my ankle reflex is gone. i walk with a cane and a hitch. i never did before. i couldn't run to save my own life. THAT'S SCARY especially as it gets darker with the days getting shorter. i never wanted to feel like a victim and i do.. :-( cheer me on too as i need it..
    GOOD luck and healing light to you both!

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