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L5-S1 ALIF + Nerve decompression procedure

meeshell154mmeeshell154 Posts: 3
edited 08/01/2015 - 8:42 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I apologize how long this is in advance!
I had L5-S1 procedure on July 17, 2015 and nerve decompression surgery on July 20th, 2015. Upon waking up from ALIF I had *severe* left leg/foot pain - so bad that I was given an epidural. The ALIF procedure went beautifully, so no issues there, however, the next day they discussed with me that there is a possibility there is bone still pressing on the nerve. So 3 days later I had the decompression surgery.
The lower back pain has improved, however, I am having some really awful pain in my left foot, and sometimes lower left shin. The doctors referred to it as "burning foot" and that it will go away with time. I'm currently taking Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Hydrocodone. I'm getting minimal to no relief. The foot pain is almost unbearable. The top of my foot can have absolutely nothing touching it - no shoes, sandals, not even a sheet. The arch of my foot feels like there are multiple Charlie horses/stabbing pains. Also, husband noticed my foot appears to be a little swollen. It is very weak and hurts to move it - as in it hurts from the pain, but the skin also feels tight. Almost like a sunburn.
Has anyone gone through this?


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • After my fusion (they did the decompression at the same time) my right foot felt like it was on fire! The nurses would take my socks off after I complained about the pain and I almost screamed in pain when they touched my foot. I also felt like someone was putting pressure on the arch of my foot. It took about a month for things to calm down but the first week was really bad. I'm 6 months post op now and only have some numbness in the heel of the foot but otherwise the pain/swelling went away. It also felt cold for a while too, nerve compression manifests itself in strange ways and you will find many people on this board with different symptoms. Keep us posted and give it time, it should get better once the nerve calms down.
  • Thank you so much for your reply!
    I feel awful saying this, but it's nice to know that someone else has been through/understands this pain. I woke up today and the pain arch of my foot seems to have improved since yesterday, thank goodness. I was preparing myself for an ER visit today.
  • I felt the same way a couple times after I was home for a few days, I literally toughed it out as bad as that sounds. You might want to ask your doctor for a Medrol Dosepak, it's a steroid that prevents inflammation. That seemed to help me after my 2 week post op visit to the Dr, I was a little perplexed why they didn't offer it sooner but I guess because they wanted to see how I was doing.
  • Of pain about a week after returning home. The medrol dose pack worked; I felt better after a few days. Good luck. I ended up having to go on an ER med too, a few weeks later when it wore off. But, what I didn't understand was that this is an entirely different type of recovery than any other surgery I've ever had before. Angry nerves take forever to settle. I'm learning patience is key.
    Good luck to you. Keep us posted.
  • I'm happy to report that my nerve pain seems to be subsiding - it's been exactly 1 month since my surgery on 17 July 15, and I can say that overall pain has subsided significantly. I'm not glued to the couch near as much, I get up and walk often. I'm still having pain my left glute/left leg, but it's been manageable without pain medication so long as I'm not sitting upright or walking too far/much. As for the foot pain I was having, the "swollen" feeling I was once having around my ankle/top of my foot seems to have subsided. I still get the occasional charlie horse in the arch of my foot, and the top of my foot is still sensitive to the touch (I can't wear any type of footwear other than a flip flop due to the sensitivity). What happens more often now is a dull ache in my calf, and a throbbing sensation in my big toe and my second toe. My heating pad has been my best friend for low back pain, and even the ache in my calf. My incisions have healed beautifully, and most of the glue has fallen off. If I am going to the store I try to use a scooter, or if it's a quick trip I bring my walker. I am currently taking Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Norco (currently attempting to wean myself off of the Norco). I have my first x-ray and follow up appointment next week, so I'm looking forward to seeing how the fusion process is going.
    I'm happy to say it's definitely getting better, but I'm having a very hard time laying around as much as I have. I have to keep reminding myself i HAVE to take it easy. I'm a 28 y/o mother to twins, and I miss holding them more than anything.
  • Meeshell, glad to hear you are feeling better! I remember looking back and around 6-7 weeks after my fusion/decompression is when the nerve pain started to subside. I'm an impatient person and I remember thinking that the nerve pain was NEVER going to go away. I spent so much time researching and reading other experiences on this forum and came to the conclusion that it's just a waiting game. I'm going in for my 6 month post op visit tomorrow. Luckily I'm off all the drugs and for the most part feel almost human again, still have some heel numbness and leg weakness but everyone keeps telling me 2 years before the nerves fully recover (hopefully!)
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