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Sleeping Post L4/L5 Microdiscectomy

I had an L4/L5 right side microdiscectomy on Feb. 10, 2014.

It seems that no matter which position I sleep in I'm getting increased numbness in my lower right leg and foot. I typically try to sleep on my side with a pillow between my knees and one to hug and another at the back to provide some support. If I'm on my back I have a pillow under my knees. I've tried sleeping on my back and even my stomach but the numbness persists. I think sleeping on my right side seems to cause this less but it's still there and it's difficult to stay on my right side the entire night. When I'm standing up and walking the numbness seems to subside but I still have a pressure/numb spot on the bottom of my foot.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this? Is this an indication the nerve is being irritated? Will it lead to pain? Has anyone found anything that can help with this issue?



  • I still have constant nerve pain and occasional numbness in my left leg post surgery ( mine was on 1/27/14 and it was a different surgery than yours) . I was told that nerves can take a long time to heal, and numbness can last even longer than nerve pain. I was also told that sleeping on my stomach was the worst position for my back. Your Doc may have additional suggestions so I would call and let them know what's going on. There is also good information on this site if you search for it.
    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • hypernovablasthhypernovablast Posts: 12
    edited 03/07/2014 - 5:08 AM
    Thanks for the response.

    The numbness on the bottom of my foot seems to be constant and that has me very concerned. I would be more understanding if it would come and go but it is there all the time. I also have some nerve pain on the right leg but I don't think it's constant although if I really focus on the area it always seems like there is some sensation.

    I've also heard that sleeping on ones stomach is a bad idea. I only tried the position to see if it would help with the numbness in the right foot and it didn't. I have called my surgeons office to let them know what's going on and they say pretty much what you have said. That nerves take a long time to heal and numbness and pain can last a long time. I'm still concerned that the numbness is more constant though.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    edited 03/07/2014 - 5:43 AM
    can take much more time to heal. Depending on how long the nerve was impinged by a disc, can determine how long it may take. In some situations, the damage could be permanent.

    You may recover from your back surgery in 3-6 months, but the numbness and nerve pain may not disappear until 12 to 18 months. There is no formula on how to determine this.

    For one of my lumbar surgeries, I waited too long , and while the surgery was successful, I have some permanent dead nerves in my right leg below my knee and in my right foot. I also have a semi-dropped foot because of the nerve damage..
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • LeeLeeMccDeeLLeeLeeMccDee Boston MAPosts: 101
    Hi! What have you been doing when you are up and about during the day hours? Is there any position you are most comfortable during the day opposed to "bedtime" positions? February 10th was not very long ago and I would think you are still in an acive nerve regenerating mode which actually can take a long time. Not to mention each time you get really bad pain from doing this or that, your nerve is being "tugged at" hence more swelling. It's a catch 22 for us recovering from surgery. For myself I've found that laying on my back, propped up for reclining position, by how many pillows make you feel the most comfortable (and have someone else take the pillows in and out, instead of you getting in all sorts of weird twisting positions to manipulate the pillows) works well for me. I also put a small "traveling size" pillow, tucked slightly on each side of my bum so when adjusting to the left or right, I'm applying less pressure to each side of my body. After all, you must move somewhat this way or that during the night but it doesn't have to be all the way over to the left-side and vice versa. This is what I do everynite and it works fine for me then others mentioned.
    We start to feel better then we don't, start to get better then we don't.....vicious cycle for the majority of us. I don't expect ever to be pain free and I'm okay with that...I've expected and anticipated that. But I won't let it take over my life or the lives of my family and friends.
    Let us know how you are doing and what turns out to work best for you...maybe I'll give it a try!
  • Thank you for the response. It seems that patience is the key. It can be very difficult at times.

    I had sciatica pain from Sep. 2013 but it was very minor to begin with. It progressively got worse until I was unable to walk or stand for any length of time by the end of Jan. 2014. I guess it's hard to say how much nerve damage may have occurred. The thing is I never had the numbness at the bottom of my foot before the surgery. The most severe pain was located in the buttock and hip area and sometimes down to the calf and foot but not on the bottom of the foot.

    I walked about 1/2 mile today and it seems that the pressure point or numb spot on the bottom of my foot got more pronounced. Does that mean I should not walk that far?

    Thanks again.
  • Thank you for your response.

    During the day it seems that standing or walking is the best. But I can't do that all day as my back gets fatigued. I do have a reclined position that I try on the couch being supported by pillows, but sometimes that seems to irritate things and cause sciatic pain or foot numbness. So I go and lay down or walk around the house some. I also sometimes just sit straight backed with a cushion that has the tailbone cutout but I don't do that for very long.

    I know what you mean about the cycle. During the first few weeks I thought I was doing well. Then I guess I tried too much and also tried driving and things took a turn for the worse. Now trying to get back to where I was but things don't feel as well.
  • My surgery was yesterday L4/L5 discectomy and laminectomy bilateral. The bilateral was news to me and looks like that is just a decision that has to be made going in. The L4 was a redo but the left side is new. Long story short I vas not get comfortable. I am sleeping on side sleeping in back. I walking which is the most comfortable. Any helpful hints out there I am in pain on my sides but throbbing not nerve
    Pain. I actually can feel part of my leg and door already.. But begging for comforter ideas!!
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