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Leg much more numb than before & right after surgery????

Rue32RRue32 Posts: 3
edited 12/08/2014 - 2:17 PM in Recovering from Surgery
Hi. I'm a 49 y/o woman and had a microdisectomy on a very large herniation between L4 &L5, and the surgeon had to go in between L5 and S1 to clean the rest out. He said he had to "dig around a lot" to clean out what he said were a lot of pieces, including one he said was about the size of a large pea, very hard, and very wedged down in there against nerve sac. This disc has been in a moderately degenerative state for a few years, and it herniated on October 15 of this year ( 2014). My surgery was on November 26th, so it had been 12 days today (December 8, 2014). When the herniation happened, I was in the typical excruciating pain, and over the weeks that changed to primarily numbness and total foot drop, but even that improved quite a bit. After surgery, there was the obvious pain from surgery, and nerve pain, and more numbness than before surgery... But it seemed appropriate. About 4 days ago-10 days post surgery-my leg became much more numb, and walking is extremely difficult now, even more than the days after surgery. After surgery, I could raise my foot, about to the ball of my foot, about like pre surgery. Now I can't lift my foot at all, and can hardly lift my leg; it feels dead, as does my foot. I called the Dr.'s office on Friday and they said to keep icing it, stay on my Naproxen, which I never stopped taking, and to watch it. They seemed to act like this is probably inflammation. I'm extremely depressed and discouraged. Is it normal for there to be new numbness 10 days after surgery?? Has anyone else experienced this? And what was your outcome? Sorry to be so long. This is very disconcerting!! How many of you who have experienced this needed additional surgery?? Thank you for your time!!!


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    edited 12/08/2014 - 2:19 PM
    You are barely out of surgery.
    Spinal surgeries can take months and months before the true healing process begins. And if there are nerves involved, it could take as much as a year.

    Give it time, be patient. Do everything that the doctor told you to do and not to do.

    And when there are times when you are really nervous, then call your doctor
    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
  • Thank you Dilauro. I appreciate your encouragement :). I was just concerned when it got worse than it was, 10 days after surgery? Is that normal?
  • My case is similar to yours. Large herniation at L4/5 which occurred on 5 Nov 2014, and an older, though smaller herniation on the left side of L5/S1 which occurred on 21 October 2014 (they were just a few days apart). By 12 Nov, I was on the operating table for a two-level discectomy.

    To cut a long story short, I had and still have foot numbness that wasn't there before the surgery. Felt it on the 2nd day after surgery and have been asking the surgeon and his staff about it since. They have been assuring me that it's normal to expect fluctuations in recovery during this period, and the foot or calf numbness is completely normal and expected. The reason for this is that the surgeon "disturbs" the nerve quite a lot during surgery in order to loosen it, especially if the disc material is wrapping tightly around the nerve.

    They won't commit to when this numbness will disappear, but a neurologist I've been speaking to tells me that nerves grow an average of 1mm per day, and with the foot being about 1m from the spine, one can expect full sensation to return in 1,000 days, i.e. about three years. Again, this is just a rule of thumb and depends on patients' individual conditions of recovery. It can be faster or slower, but generally expect it to be quite some time, so it's important to be patient.

    Am I disconcerted about this "new numbness that wasn't there before surgery"? Yes, but after learning about the reasons for it and the fact that I believe it will eventually disappear, I think I can live with that.
  • ddubov67dddubov67 Posts: 28
    edited 12/09/2014 - 5:01 PM
    I too have had some issues after surgery. I am 5 weeks post op. My rt foot goes numb when I walk and feels like my foot has a bandage at all times and it a bit cold... I didnt have this pre surgery and was told that it will probably go away, just takes time as when they go in for surgery lots of nerves get disturbed and it takes time for it to re adjust and heal. Make sure you keep in contact with your dr in between appts if you have a concern.


    L4/5 S1 Decompression PSF with TLIF 11/5/14
    Spondylolithesis (congenital)
  • This is the thing that I too have a difficult time remembering, especially when we don't see improvement in the first few weeks after surgery. For example, the numbness on the top surface of both my feet has been pretty constant since right after surgery, without seeming to be improving or getting worse.

    It has been 4 weeks now, but as I mentioned in the earlier post, I'm accepting the fact that this can take many months and if the numbness eases earlier, then so much the better.
  • Rue32RRue32 Posts: 3
    edited 12/09/2014 - 8:19 PM
    Thank you so much for your responses. I've been really bummed and worried about this. After surgery, I was a able to almost totally squeeze my toes again, and walk pretty well. Now I really can't even lift my toes off of the floor and can't squeeze them together at all. My left leg is so "heavy", and if I'm laying on my left side, I can hardly raise it, my left knee off of my right, like when you open your legs. It's so worrisome. Walking is so incredibly difficult and painful, including the strong pain it produces in the other leg and other areas as it tries to compensate for how I'm walking, and trying to sort of help almost drag the other leg along. I really wonder if I'm ever going to walk normally again! If I could believe that this really will get better, even with time, I can live with that. I can't believe how much I took for granted just being able to walk "heel-toe". Thanks again for responding. I hope that you both get well and get relief very soon.

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