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permanent l5-s1 nerve damage

i had spinal fusion at l5-s1 back in october of 2013, i just found out that i have permanent nerve damage with l5 and s1 nerves. i cannot take lyrica , or the other major nerve pain medications because they cause massive weight gain within a month. so now i am left with pain in the left entire leg that is constant at a pain rating of 7-8, thats not good. i am taking hydrocodone and flexeral. but these medications do not control the pain to a level of comfort a person can live withvery well. i am not new to surgeries i have had three so far, 2 cervical spine and the 3rd. at l5-s1 that was unsuccessful, because the nerve roots were compressed to long before surgery. (appx. 1 1/2 years. i look at some of the posts here and se a lot of people telling other people ; you will just half to live with the pain. you can not live with pain levels of 6 or greater for an extended period of time and most people on here should already know that. i may half to use a lawyer for a claim of patient abandonment because my last neurosurgeon who preformed all three surgeries refuses to prescribe medications for permanent nerve damage. i do not understand how doctors knowing this kind of condition can just ignore their patients welfare.


  • 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
  • Unfortunately, if you waited for a year and a half before having surgery to relieve the compression, you may or may not recover function of the nerve over time. When was this last surgery done?
    Nerves, if they are going to recover , only do so at a rate of 1-2 mm per month, and depending on how much of the nerve is damaged, how severe that damage is, determines whether or not it will recover over time. It can take up to two years or even a bit longer in some people.
    Opiates and muscle relaxers do not ease neuropathic pain, and if you can't take lyrica or gabapentin, there are other , cymbalta, topamax, savella and some others that are comonly used to treat neuropathic pain.
    Do you see a pain management doctor? If not, you may want to consider seeing one. He can go over the different options with you for treating nerve pain, including injections, implanted spinal cord stimulation for patienjts with permanent nerve damage , which helps some tremendously.
  • i have been living with severe chronic pain in my left arm and leg for 5 -6 years , have had 2 cervical spine surgeries and a lumber also. i have a question for a doctor; when i get up in the morning after about 10 minutes my entire left arm hurts so bad i can hardly stand it, i take pain medication but it takes 3/4 of an hour to start working. my left leg pain also increases the same way? i had a series of MRI's and CT_scans of neck and lumbar which show multi-level spinal stenoisis which is moderate and also hernaited disks in the cervical and lumbar regions. but the neurosurgeon say's he cannot see anything causing nerve root compression? i asked the doctor about an MRI with a compression vest to mimic a standing weight bearing spine, and the doctor said he never heard of one? i told him to put a search in his computer and he would find what i am refuring to, he did then said; the only places in the U.S. that have this is in NY and California? he also did not seem to understand that if my MRI'S and CT_scan's were already showing a lot of problems, and all the tests were done on a non- weight bearing spine, that if i had the MRI'S done under weight bearing spine that the nerve root compression would probably be seen.
  • VoyagerOneVVoyagerOne Posts: 1
    edited 05/18/2015 - 7:56 AM
    I just discovered this board after living with this pain since Dec. 2010. I woke up to a burst disc and had to wait 14 months to get surgery, which probably caused the permanent nerve damage. Why I wait? I started a new job 3 months after the first episode and they were still diagnosing and treating it with meds, Physical Therapy and other non-invasive methods. When I started the new job, it was considered a Pre-Existing condition and my surgery was denied until I had been there for 1 year!!! So I waited... and then 12 months to the day I booked it and went under the knife. But then the damage seems to have been done. Whatever was inside the disc and had spilled out on the nerves sat there for a cool 15 months eating away at the nerves and boom! Post surgery and then 3 epidural procedures later, 25+ acupuncture procedures with electrical stimulus and countless hours of working out, PT, core strengthening, yoga and 1000s of pills later. The Pain is still EXACTLY the same as the night I woke up at 3 AM when the disc burst. Even after each procedure not even 10% reduction. Doctors, surgeons and everyone pretty much gave up. My last resort is not to get a SPINAL STIMULATOR implanted in my back. I am hopeful but nervous at the same time. I am only in my 40s and the thought of having a small implant in my buttocks for the rest of my life is a little daunting. But if it means no pain or a reduction in the pain, tingling, stabbing and involuntary muscle spasms, all the better. I just don't know how much longer I can go on like this. It is very tiring emotionally, physically and mentally. The only time I am happy with when I am asleep, if I can fall asleep, and then I am pain-free. What a joy that it. And the sad thing is, this is not positional at all. There is NO position in which I can get to and feel any relief, ever. It's constant and always present. Like a thorn in my foot and leg.

    How does everyone else do it? How do you get by? What are you taking? I have been on Methadone, Naproxen and Cymbalta for 3 years now. But I feel like a zombie. Anyone else have a better drug cocktail?
  • John,
    I am so sorry that you have to live like this. It is not okay and it is very frustrating. Do you have a pain management doctor? Or could you get another opinion of a different neurosurgeon? Unfortunately, it seems that all of us living with chronic pain have been on endless journeys of trying to find help and answers from doctors. I hope you find answers of your own.
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