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9 Months Post OP after L5/S1 Fusion - Had Foot/Leg Weakness/Numbness/Nerve Pain

Hello Everyone...

I haven't posted in a while, as my recovery has improved I've found myself trying to get back to "normal" life. Quick recap, I had an L5/S1 Fusion in January of this year. Re-herniated the same disc that I had a Micro-D performed on 3 years previously. Started out as mild sciatic pain and eventually ended up in emergency surgery after having weakness/numbness from the rear end all the way down to the right foot. The nerve pain was unbearable! The S1 was compressed and the nerve root was inflamed, my Ortho did decompression along with a fusion. Took a few months to calm down and went through PT to help with continued weakness in right foot/leg. The residual nerve pain was still present, underestimated how long the recovery would take at this point.

Fast forward to now, I feel like I've made a pretty good recovery thus far. I still have weakness in my leg/foot and some numbness in my heel which has resulted in a limp but minimal pain. Been seeing my ortho for various follow up visits regarding the weakness, they keep repeating what I already knew about the nerves taking a long time to heal (1mm per day). The nerve has to "re-grow" the entire length of my leg down to my foot and hopefully the strength returns. I've been preparing myself for the possibility that I may never regain all my strength, I'm praying each day that's not the case. I feel like I'm gaining a little strength back in the leg, but it's so hard to tell for sure. I still can't do a calf raise (stand on tip toes) but continue my strength exercises at home.

I underestimated what the recovery process would be like and even after 9 months I find myself still improving. My last EMG showed a little improvement in the nerve response from the S1. The doctor that did my EMG also mentioned that it could take up to 2 years before they would know the extent of the nerve damage. I continue to take 1 day at a time but have no regrets with getting the fusion done. I just wish I would have went in sooner to see my Ortho and maybe limited the amount of nerve damage done. I can't stress enough the importance of seeing a specialist (either an ortho or neuro) sooner than later, especially if you are showing any signs of nerve compression. My Ortho was able to evaluate my condition in 2 minutes and knew I needed surgery without even suggesting more drugs and epidurals. Good luck to those who are reading this and I hope this helps those considering surgery. Just be aware of the risks and there is light at the end of the tunnel!

I will do another post op post after 12 months and hopefully things continue to improve.

Thanks for reading!


  • heacoxhheacox Woodside CaliforniaPosts: 1
    HI. I am new to this forum - but read your item and it is almost identical to mine. I ended up having that pain in left foot and ended up in ER a few times - rush surgery etc. etc. I had almost no feeling in left foot and calf - significant drop foot. Mid 2015 something happened and I damaged the "repaired" L5S1 - long story short, I just had AFIL surgery. I am 42 healthy (injuries from surfing) - but this surgery was tough. 
    Good news is I am 3 months post op and off drugs and my left leg IS getting stronger.
    My question for you - did you or do you have any burning and pain in your feet now? I find both my feet most surgery (and now I am off the morphine) have nerve sensitivity and burning...
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