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Variable symptoms

Liz53Liz53 MissouriPosts: 142
I was wondering if any others have variable nerve related symptoms. I am now 5 months post-op L3-4 microdiscectomy and previously had unbearable leg pain( down the front) from a compressed L 4 nerve root.

Now I have continued leg pain that sometimes causes numbness and other times the same sharp shooting pain that I had previously to a lesser degree.

I had a repeat MRI that was normal and now am wondering if this will ever go AWAY!

Anyone else with these variable symptoms?

Anyone that has experienced them eventually healing?

Thanks, Liz


  • It can take up to two years for nerve to heal once they have been damaged. I understand that it can be slow going and the changing symptoms are a good sign that things are improving slowly. Have you talked to your doctor about maybe using one of the nerve pain medications like Lyrica or gabapentin to see if that helps in the meantime? It might be worthwhile to think about.
  • Liz53Liz53 MissouriPosts: 142
    Thanks for your reply. Yes I did try these prior to my surgery, both Lyrica and Gabepentin, neither was well tolerated. I realize they can be helpful for some. They just did not work for me.
    I would like to hear some successful results for long term nerve healing. It is very frustrating after so many months of pain and then more months of recuperation post surgery!
    I am looking for a positive outcome! My whole life has been totally changed from this and I guess going into the surgery I didn't realize how long things would take to heal. I definitely needed the surgery and am not flat on my back but far from normal!
  • i have been post op for about 12 years with four fusions, and i still have leg pain and numbness. my last mri last year was negative with no herniations or stenosis. i think that the nerve gets damaged if the disc has herniated and once nerve is damaged, it is more or less permanent. years ago i took lyrica and i could not tolerate it. made me feel like a zombie. i still have leg pain going down right leg and it wakes me up most nights. hang in there.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • Hi,
    I am new here and with much less experience than the others who answered you but I can speak to continued leg pain and numbness due to lumbar stenosis. I have had DDD for many years, from cervical to lumbar spine, and I had a severe bout with sciatica 7 or 8 years ago. It left me using a cane, with severe pain and numbness in my hip and down the back of my leg.

    It took 6 months of therapy to walk again without the cane. My physical therapist said that if nerve pain and numbness persist that long, the numbness is likely to be permanent and the pain will periodically return.

    I have found that to be true. Years later, the numbness on my foot does persist, although the severity waxes and wanes. Sometimes it is very uncomfortable. Maintaining a good blood flow to your numb area is important. If you keep it warm and exercise it, it helps. The pain can be very tolerable even if it doesn't disappear.

    Good luck.
  • Let me see if I can help you a bit with some positive info- If you are interested most of my story is in the profile ...but basically, I have had two spinal cord injuries, one caused by my first surgery and the second caused by the use of bmp during my second 'salvage' op to try to keep me walking.
    After my first surgery, I went from having a patch on the outside of my leg being numb and some tingling, and of course tremendous back pain from the issues that I had, to waking up post op being numb from my hips down, and a bilateral complete foot drop, and having various organs in my body no longer working properly.
    I had a second, what the surgeon called a 'salvage' only op to try to keep me on my feet, with no guarantees about anything..
    I tell you all of this to say, that since 2006 , when I had my first surgery, until now, I still see some improvement in the nerve damage , some days, it is a tiny , almost insignificant amount, and sometimes, it takes me some time to realize that something that I couldn't feel at all before , has some sensation, it might be like sitting on stack of quilts but it is something that I once could not feel at all.. The burning , stinging pain that I had for so long is not there, now, and while the sensation is not what it was before, it is better....
    How fast, peripheral nerves heal depends on many things, how much damage occurred, the location of the damage ( spinal cord nerves are different than nerve roots or peripheral nerves ), the length of where the damage is....if I recall correctly, the peripheral nerves only heal at a rate of about 1 mm per month, so it can take some time to recover.
    I sometimes think that some of these doctors fail to explain to us prior to our surgeries just how long and extensive the recovery can be because we think that recovery means one thing and they mean recovery from the surgery itself, not necessarily the entire process.
    I hope that this helps you , and reassures you some. It can happen and it can take some time before it does. Sometimes you may not notice it all , and then one day, it will occur to you, like it did me, that something that was so painful before, now isn't.....and those stings and zaps are supposed to be a good sign that the nerve is trying to fire.....
  • just another note to help
    even there has been no improvement in my left leg i had the same issues in my right leg after my first fusion 12 years ago. i had similar pain and about 2 weeks after my first fusion, i awoke at night screaming in pain and i mean screaming. it scared the hecky darn out of my wife, they put my on lyrcia which turned me into a zombie so i went off. long story short, after a couple of years, the pain in my right leg disappated and now i hardly feel anything in the right leg.
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • Liz53Liz53 MissouriPosts: 142
    Thanks for your detailed information. I really appreciate the time you took to post. I am trying all modalities to help with healing. Today I got in the water and did some water PT and next week I have an appt with an acupuncture person. I just want to relieve some of my symptoms. My neurosurgeon did say that one day I might wake up and realize that some of these symptoms would be gone. I am waiting for that day but it is very hard to be patient.
    Thanks again. I look forward to reading about others during this slow process.
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