I thought I would share my back surgery experience since so much of what is posted in this forum is people dealing with fairly recent surgeries. Most are struggling with varying degrees of pain and nerve issues.
I had an accident almost 2 years ago where I had a L5 burst fracture and completely dislocated knee. My horse tripped and fell on top of me, all 1200 lbs of him. As a trauma patient I was taken by ambulance and had 2 surgeries that night to repair both injuries. I spent the first few days in the ICU and then the rest of the month in the hospital. I was on Diladaud IV every 2 hours and had a rough time dealing with the pain. A Neurosurgeon repaired my back with Titanium rods & screws. To make sure the back was stable he ended up fusing my vertebrae from S1 to L3. I was later to find out from the most prominent neurosurgeon on the west coast that he would of probably not fused up to L3. Unfortunately what was done is done so I have to live with a bit stiffer back. I am also more crooked since from L4 to L3 the original surgeon was only able to place a rod on one side as the screw on the other side did not hold and was removed, leaving my spine to heal unevenly.
Recovery was long painful and yes lots of nerve pain symptoms. I wore a back brace for a few months after surgery and did PT for nearly a year. I pretty much thought life as I knew it was over and of slipped into a pretty deep depression.
The first year went really slow and it seemed like I would be on pain Meds forever.
After PT was basically over I started working with a personal trainer to work on strength training. I also started riding horses again even though I still felt very fragile.
Slowly, very slowly things started to improved, not only physically but mentally. Yes, my toes are still numb, I sometimes get muscle cramps in my calves, toes, etc. My back is a bit stiff but not painful, if I sit too long it takes a few steps to loosen up but I can walk normally now. I'm back to riding and competing again with the horses. I think one of the most helpful things from all this is to strive to be as active as you are able. Strength training, (not aerobic exercise) has made a huge difference in my recovery. I hope my experience will provide a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel for those in their early stages of recovery.