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laminectomy/discectomy at L5-S1 (severe numbness)

Today is Friday, I just had a laminectomy/discectomy at L5-S1 on Tuesday. I am a little concerned because I had severe back pain and severe sciatica and from May through June, my MRI's showed aside the severe left root nerve impingement (which was the reason for the surgery), I have herniated more discs.

My thoughts, the surgery was a success. I don't have the sciatica pain running down my left leg. I know my surgeon corrected that. I do have pain from the surgery itself (I mean, they do cut you, then cut your bone, then mess around with the disc and remove the jelly material that has herniated and is pressing on the nerve).

Now, my *issue is post surgery I had leg numbness on the left side....then it was the foot... not it fluctuates between upper left toes and foot to whole upper left foot... it is that weird 'sleep foot' feeling which is kind of irritating.

The doctor said that may take an entire year before it will stop but if anyone has any experience with this, please share.

On another note, this website scared the heck out of me aside that I do appreciate people sharing their stories.

For me, I would get the surgery again to deal with sciatica and I am not a 'surgery is the best option' person. I take turmeric and glucosamine and black seed and vitamins. They help better than pharmaceutical drugs.

The numbness is not painful but it is very annoying.

Anyway, good luck to all dealing with these issues. I am 34 and got this simply from a sitting job. Back / spine pain is no joke.

Health is so important and I always try to remember how blessed I am ... I know I could have been paralyzed.

L3-L4 minimal disc bulge
L4-L5 mild disc bulge
L-5-S1 severe disc buldge/left spinal stenosis
laminectomy discectomy surgery - 6/24/2014


  • I had a MD on l5/s1 at the end of May. I too had the sciatic pain all but disappear, but have been left with a foot that is numb along the outer edge and heel. When I first started noticing symptoms back in November of 2013, that was the site of weird sensations. I figure those nerves were compressed the longest and therefore will take the longest to heal, if they will fully. If after all I gave been through the only negative is a small bit of numbness in my foot, I will take it. Although this week I have been noticing some 'pins and needles' type feeling, so perhaps it us heeling!
  • Buttahfli. You made an really important observation there, "this website scared the heck out of me". I know exactly what you mean! That's the problem I've always found with forums.. Many people have surgery, recover & get on with the rest of their lives. Very few become chronic pain sufferers. It's important to remember that most of the people who hang out in forums, sharing their stories are the unfortunate ones who for one reason or another live this life.

    This is by far the best forum I've ever found. The moderators work so hard to ensure that a balanced view is given but there are some (very rare) horror stories here. Thank you for reminding members that the outcome of surgery isn't always doom & gloom! All the best with your recovery. ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • ButtahfliBButtahfli Posts: 3
    edited 06/28/2014 - 6:41 PM
    Thank you all for your replies. I am Still numb ...it is mostly in the left 3 toes. I have been rubbing muscle creams on it and I have been flexing it. Today was hard. I am on dilaudid pills and Tylenol. I am hopeful though. I have been reading the forum and noticed old posts where some people have said their numbness subsided in a few months so I am going to try my best to be patient. I don't regret the surgery (that is the kind of thing I think is best to tell myself). I really just hope I don't have any more lumbar spasms. That is what sent me to the ER even though I was a candidate for surgery a long time ago.

    Again, thank you all. The numbness is VERY irritating but it is not really painful. Good luck to anyone with back pain. I am going to start to eat better, walk better, bend, lift and twist better - and do the things to protect my back going forward. I am 34 years old and I don't want to live with back pain.
    L3-L4 minimal disc bulge
    L4-L5 mild disc bulge
    L-5-S1 severe disc buldge/left spinal stenosis
    laminectomy discectomy surgery - 6/24/2014
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 06/29/2014 - 5:56 PM
    for the nerve issues to resolve. The problem with nerve recovery is that nerves only recover at a rate of about 1-2 mm per month, which depending on how much of the nerve was compressed and for how long , determines how long it can take to see it resolve. That doesn't mean that you won't experience improvement as time passes, you will, and you may not notice it at first, but then one day, you will suddenly do something that would have caused it to intensify, and it won't........then you will go ah ha! Finally.
  • LC84LLC84 Posts: 599
    edited 06/30/2014 - 3:31 AM
    I had increased numbness of my left leg post surgery as well. It lasted about 4 months but has slowly started to improve. I still get occasional numbness but not as bad as before. Just give it time. It takes a lot of patience to get through the healing process. I think the PT helped with some of the numbness so hopefully you'll see improvements once you're cleared to start a physical therapy program.

    Regarding the muscle spasms, you may want to ask for a muscle relaxant. That in addition to my heating pad helped with my spasms in the beginning. Down the line if you're cleared to use a TENS unit, I recommend giving it a try. I still deal with severe spasms and the TENS unit has helped reduce them.
    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
  • Hi there just a quick post (it's 12.28am in the morning in Aus and my meds are kicking in). I just wanted to reassure that I had the same surgery as you in January 2013 with nerve decompression. I woke up pain free (aside from obvious surgery site) and it was the best feeling ever. After the heavy drugs had worn off I realised I still had residual pins and needles in my bad leg to my foot and numbness on the lateral side of my right calf. Complete numbness. I was concerned, but was reassured by my surgeon that this is normal and as Sandi and others have said above, the nerves are unhappy, ischemic and needing time to heal - my surgeon said up to 2 years. Hang in there! My symptoms disappeared completely at about the 10 month mark. I suddenly realised I had my leg back. Be strong, it takes time and effort and only you can do that. Hugs to you. Kath
  • ButtahfliBButtahfli Posts: 3
    edited 07/01/2014 - 1:15 AM
    Dear all (and hugs back to you Kath)

    Thank you dearly for the comments. I must say sometimes this physical and mental stress of all this (back issues thing) is a bit of a struggle but I am hopeful!! Right now it feels like my sutures are going to split apart, I am afraid to take a mirror and look (I have them removed or at least looked at during a follow up visit to the surgeon this Monday coming up).

    My numbness is improving and I know it may fully take up to 2 years but I think mine is improving already. I am on dilaudid pills (I have a low tolerance for pain, high tolerance for meds even though I am not one to normally take pharmaceutical drugs, but rather I probably abuse vitamins and herbal drugs). Aside my multi vitamin with an extra dose of vitamin C (and biotin - and acidophilus and the herbal stuff like turmeric and glucosamine), I do have to take the dilaudid when I am in pain because I don't do well just dealing with the pain on my own but I have to remember not to do too much when the dilaudid has me feeling better (which I confuse with being better only a few days post surgery).

    I took the dilaudid 2 days ago and was walking a lot and probably bending / twisting in ways I should not have, and suffered the yesterday. Dilaudid does work for pain for me, but it did nothing for the numb, 'dead foot' , irritating weird tingling feeling. But, the numbness is concentrated now only in a few toes on my left foot (it is primarily in the 3rd and 4th toes) whereas before, it was in the left foot top toes radiating down to the top of the foot itself and to the the left side almost towards my heel. I am not sure if this is temporary relief, or if I am healing permanently, or if this is just a temporary fluke due to something I ate (or luck or prayer). I cannot say I walk enough or eat anything special. It may be the vitamins or herbal stuff (a cousin also gave me TruAge Max 120 - and told me it healed her shingles and she believes it has healing vitamins in it - it has like cherry extract and iridoids - I have been taking it).

    Anyway, thanks again!
    L3-L4 minimal disc bulge
    L4-L5 mild disc bulge
    L-5-S1 severe disc buldge/left spinal stenosis
    laminectomy discectomy surgery - 6/24/2014
  • The most important thing that you can do, post op is to follow the post op instructions and restrictions to the letter. Unless your surgeon has cleared you for bending, lifting , or twisting, you can do far more damage by not following the post op restictions than by anything else.
    Your body is healing, and it is going to take time for you to get back to where you were before the back problems began. This is a journey, not a destination, and it is going to take a lot of time on your part.
    It does sound like some of the nerve pain is resolving and just be aware that it might take a bit of time before all of it does.
    Also dilaudid and other pain medications like that, are not meant to treat nerve pain. There are specific meds for that...lyrica, gabapentin, cymbalta, amatryptaline are some.
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