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L5 S1 surgery

I'm new to this forum and would like to hear from others on the recovery time form L5 S1 surgery. I had an emergency surgery done when I was sitting in the ER and my foot went numb. I had sever back and sciatic pain, but then my foot went numb. I notified the resident and they scheduled me for an emergency MRI. The resident NS then said I needed surgery. I agreed and went under about an hr after that. Total from foot numbness to surgery was about 5 hr.
Day 4 after the surgery I'm tiring not to take any pain med, some pain but manageable. My problem is the foot. Maybe I'm asking too much too soon but how long could I expect this numbness to last? The whole left side it actually very weak.



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • If it was a fusion, I don't know how your not trying to take medication for it. I had 1 level fusion and needed pain meds and still do 1 month post op.

    As far as numb foot, that you'll have to talk to surgeon. My cousin had a discectomy because her foot went numb and they deemed it highly necessary to get surgery. She had that done in December. She us feeling fine now; however, she says her foot is still mostly numb. She can walk and function, but with a mostly numb foot. I think her surgeon said it can take up to two years for nerve to heal, everybody is different.
    Julie K
    L4/L5 fusion TLIF for spondylolisthesis on 5/12/14
  • I had a L5-S1 Fusion July 19th, 2013, and I am still recovering and taking pain meds, I am able to do about 85% of what I could do prior to the surgery hoping I will continue to improve.
  • Since the nerve was compressed, it may take some time..........relieving the compression is only part of the problem being addressed. The nerve has to recover, and you may not have any feeling or continued numbness for some weeks, and then tingling and pins and needles as well as the nerve continues to recover.
    Your surgeon can explain this to you in more detail when you see him for your first post op visit.
  • Got my results back from the EMG. The neurologist said the nerve was not severed nor stretched but badly damaged by the disk compression. How long, if ever will the drop foot and burning/tingling clear up. It's been 7 weeks now since the surgery.
  • But don't have any expectations and you won't be disappointed. I did not have foot drop but almost three years after ALIF L5/S1 I still have nerve damage that will be with me forever. They old me it could take two years to resolve to whatever extent it ever would. Unfortunately the symptoms never improved a all.
  • Sandi,
    How can one know if the nerve has permanent damage in the area of the compression. It's been 2 months and no progress on the foot drop. Pain is getting better, but the foot drop is not.
  • And nerve conduction test will tell you what nerves are damaged and if it is permanent or not.
  • Foot drop is not getting better and it's been almost 3 months since the surgery. EMG showed damage, but not severed at L5. MRI shows a small bulge at L4, but nothing that is really pointing to why the foot drop is not getting better.

    Any help? Am i expecting too much too soon?

    Maybe a second opinion from another neurosurgen?
  • I am almost 3 months post op my L5S1 MD and I still have a numb foot in certain areas but I do not have foot drop. It has improved since the initial few weeks post op when it was completely numb. Actually the entire dermatome for that nerve root is still slightly numb on my right side - my right calf, a section of my right hip.....but my foot is the worst of it all. It will take time - my nerve was severely compressed and VERY swollen as per my surgical report.
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