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Is neuropathy (e.g., numbness) *always* caused by nerve compression?

I'm day 4 post-MD, and yesterday I've basically just done too much walking, and spent the night in excruciating pain because of it.
However, coming off the pain (thanks to ibuprofen/meloxican), I find myself with some newly located numbness:
- On the outside of my ankle and just above (on my radiculous leg)
- On the back of my thigh
These are NEW and DISTINCT from the neuropathy I had experienced before surgery, and which are already beginning to improve (I only waited 8 days before getting the op).

I'd like to know: does a new numbness only result from nerves being compressed?

AFAIK the MD was successful and the surgeon made the nerve free from its previous pressure points.
If only nerve compression will cause this, then would this not imply reherniation?


  • This walking stuff is for the birds!

    I a 7 weeks post-op and just stsrted walking outside about a week ago and i am so much number after walking

    And like you in different places and sometimes in the old pre-op places of my foot, toes, ankle and leg

    Did i do damage? Or is this from SWELLING putting pressure on my nerve?,
    Did i re-herniate something or is this normal after walking or doing other activities?

    I took a spine ed class at my hospital before my surgery and they kept stressing

    Walk, walk, walk. And then ICE

    Well i have been lax with the icing I must admit

  • Liz53Liz53 MissouriPosts: 142
    I am 5 months post surgery and lately I have experienced numbness in my leg, at times in the same location as before surgery and other times in different spots. I was a runner before all this and now am walking 4-5 miles each day. Recently both my leg and back have felt worse and I went back to see my neurosurgeon. I had a repeat MRI because I was concerned something new was going on. It was normal! Not sure where this pain is coming from? Possibly irritation of the nerve? So same symptoms as above posts and nothing seriously wrong. Very frustrating though because I thought after my surgery I would have fewer symptoms, not more.
  • kamgramkkamgram Posts: 483
    edited 10/04/2013 - 5:41 PM
    A relative has neuropathy from years of abusive drinking and also diabetes can cause neuropathy :(
  • increased or changed numbness and tingling can happen because each level of spinal nerves innervates a different area of the body and there are overlaps, so technically, a nerve root that was compressed before the surgery can begin waking up or recovering but cause new numbness in a different area near where the original numbness was due to the overlap
  • An update on my initial situation: after 3 days of relative peace post-op, I spent 48 hours in absolute hell with more stabbing pain which brought about these NEW neuropathic symptoms. Now it's calmed down and I had a good night's sleep, finally.
    In summary, I now have neuropathy from two episodes: Episode 1, which led to the surgery, which are improving in what feels like 2-5% every day, and Episode 2 from these 48 hours, which are still very very numb.
    I hope my doctor will order a checking MRI when I meet him in a week. I need to know if Episode 2 was from another herniation and if it will get better.
  • The nerves take up to18 months to resolve or not is my experience. New symptoms or exaggerated old symptoms don't mean new problems or permanent non solutions. Our bodies didn't get trashed in one day so they will take more than a day to heal. Do exactly what they tell you for now and you'll have the best shot at healing. Let the dr know what's going on too though. They may give you steroids to go with antiinflammatories and nerve meds such as lyrica. That has been my experience. It's not an exact science and in fact is only a practice.
    Hang in there. You're along for the ride now.
  • Thanks 64pvolvo1800.
    I've told my Dr., and he says that basically it's either

    (A) something about the nerves "waking up" and still being inflamed, or
    (B) a reherniation.

    I've clearly felt the difference between the "fire" of the nerve waking up and the "stabbing" pain of radiculopathy, though I'm still a beginner compared to other peeps on this forum. I really wonder if it's possible to have that intense damaging stabbing pain without the herniated disc - and more numbness to follow it. Seems to me if there's that uber intense stabbing, the nerve must have touched *something*, and that something had presumably been taken out before, so therefore must be disc material, but then again, I don't really know (any stories of people post-op with verified no-reherniation going through radiculopathy?)

    I am indeed along for the ride... but I think I was already riding before the operation, so I have no regrets :-)
    My Dr. is a star, the incision is so small, didn't even feel like surgery. I felt like I could go back to work the next day, but then... that pain came back. Now I'm going to lay down for a few weeks, just in case. I don't want to live this ever again.

    The only thing is: how are we going to confirm that it's not a reherniation? I'll ask for a follow-up MRI, or buy one the Dr. doesn't want it. I need to know.

    I'll look up this Lyrica, had never heard about it ; thank you.

  • I guess i also have those mad nerves

    Did you take LYRICA and did it help? Details please

    Hugs and thanks
  • I was told by my surgeon that post-op SWELLING is nirmal and tge swollen areas compress or rub against the nerves
    Causing more pain, numbness, tingling

    It makes sense

    I am praying for SWELLING CAUSING MY PROBLEMS, not re-herniation

  • Liz53Liz53 MissouriPosts: 142
    edited 10/06/2013 - 11:18 AM
    You were interested in stories of radiculopathy post surgery without herniation. I have had these symptoms post op 5 months and just had a repeat MRI to rule out re herniation. My MRI is normal but I have pain and numbness that is variable. Nothing like pre surgery but disconcerting!
    My dr also thinks it will get better. I am not sure. My nerve was compressed from Dec- may.

    I feel at times like maybe the nerve needs to be compressed to feel this pain but I guess not in my case?
    Waiting for it to heal!
  • 64pvolvo1800664pvolvo1800 Posts: 250
    edited 10/06/2013 - 11:21 AM
    Is the same type of treatment as neurontin and Keppra. They have different side effects and affect on everyone and I am n now way advocating either. I was able to take a lot of Neurontin 10 yrs ago w some success but this time I went slightly nuts under a low dose. Went to lyrica, 150 x 2/day and thought it wasn't helping until I quit and tried Keppra. The Keppra had me ready to kill in two days and the lyrica became my savior for awhile. I could not go higher on dosage without losing my mind. All these help tame the nerve and definitely are worth discussing w the doc.

  • and topamax as well...........those are just some of the many medications used to treat neuropathic pain. Some of them really need to be tapered up and down in dose slowly so that side effects can be minimized, and those that most of us have will go away after a week or so.
    I tried gabapentin some time ago and didn't do real well with it, went on Lyrica, and it worked wonders for the nerve pain, stayed on it for a couple of years, and wanted to stop it to see where the nerve pain stood, after second surgery went back on it for some time, and came off it again in the last year...I also tried topamax, but didn't get along with the side effects that seemed to be too much when it came to my taking it..Cymbalta worked really well for my mother in law when she had two fractures and neuropathy from the nerves being impinged.
  • Seriously... some people have this pain for months after? Very, very scary to me.

    I've been immobilized, unable to walk for more than a few minutes nor get out of my flat, in gnawing pain 70% of the time and I'm just about to jump off the roof. There's no way I can go on like this for 3 months or more. The reason I decided to go with the surgery early on was specifically to minimize neuropathy and ongoing pain after a big herniation event. I just have to remain hopeful, but the Dr. is giving me a bit of runaround "Oh it's probably muscular." Nope, not muscular, I can tell the difference, this is shooting pains down my leg. Then again, this is week 2 post-op only.

    I'll clearly insist on a follow-up MRI; I can't believe this is normal, especially after having seen so many testimonies of people getting better by the day after their MD. I'm so angry right now. And in pain.
  • Is the key since we cannot change the damaged body any faster. I know what you're feeling, trust me, I've been there. It sucks but the only option seemed like "early retirement 9mm style". That's always an option but its a permanent solution for a hopefully temporary problem. Keep doing the next right thing and it will be what it's meant to be in the end.

    I'm sorry for your slow healing but I is very early on so give yourself permissions heal and be pxssed that its not faster. But keep on hoping for better. Without hope you're doomed.
  • I think Lyrica has helped with sciatica; I have taken it at night for several years. It can cause some grogginess so may not be appropriate for daytme use depending on the level of mental alertness required for the day. Really helps with going to sleep though.
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