When is nerve damage permanent?

When is nerve damage permanent?

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Kris-NY
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Joined: 08/05/2009 - 6:23pm
When is nerve damage permanent?

I am hoping that you guys who are considering or have had surgery will have the best answer to this question. When does the threat of nerve damage becoming permanent push you over the edge to surgery?

I have two surgeons who recognize my problem and say they can fix it. One wants to do the surgery now. The second says I am not in enough pain yet to do it.

I can understand both points of view and the risks involved in any surgery. But if I decide to wait how do I know when is the right time - specifically before permanent damage sets in?

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gwennie17
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Hello Kris ~

This is a question without an answer. Or, perhaps it is a question with many answers, depending on how you want to look at it. And the answers are pretty much the same for the questions we ask after surgery when there is nerve pain.

Some people will say the longer the nerve is compressed, the greater chance there is for permanent damage. But there are people on the board who had a compressed nerve for only a couple months and ended up with permanent damage, and others who had it for a long time without permanent effects.

I talked with about 8 different spinal specialists over a three years period, about this topic prior to deciding to have fusion surgery. I was told (as a general rule -- of course there are exceptions) that regardless of how bad the pain is, I didn't need to be concerned unless I developed foot drop or bowel or bladder problems. It is true that the farther down the leg the pain goes, the greater the degree of compression. But even that wasn't true for me because my first symptoms were numb toes...so I don't know who to believe when it comes to nerves.

In addition to being compressed, a nerve can also become scarred which can result in the same types of permanent pain sensations.

What type of surgery is being recommended for you and at what level? How long has the nerve been compressed?

Gwennie

gwennie17
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and --

Let me add that if you decide to wait, you would know the time is right when you can't deal with the pain any longer, or you develop complete loss of foot reflexes, foot drop, or bladder and/or bowel problems.

Aviatrix36440
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The bad word!!

Kris-NY wrote:
I am hoping that you guys who are considering or have had surgery will have the best answer to this question. When does the threat of nerve damage becoming permanent push you over the edge to surgery?

I have two surgeons who recognize my problem and say they can fix it. One wants to do the surgery now. The second says I am not in enough pain yet to do it.

I can understand both points of view and the risks involved in any surgery. But if I decide to wait how do I know when is the right time - specifically before permanent damage sets in?

Hi Ya Kris!!

My first fusion was based on pain and such. My second one we went into rather fast because of the chance of permanent nerve damage due to pain, numbness, and the biggy loss of strength! Unfortunately, numb and loss of strength is still there passing post op month three. My NS feels it may be permanent at this point. When the disk herniated, the loss of strength was immediate - he feels the nerve root was damaged at that time! Short of surgery within hours for me, (which is almost impossible short of an ER admittance!) there really isn't much you can do if something "smacks" into the cord or root. Sad

If the loss of disk height, bone spurs, hernia etc. is slow, chances are less for permanent damage in many instances. If pain is increasing and no loss of muscle or strength, chances are still pretty good most times. The diagnostic tests you take combined with the physical exam of your surgeon should also give you a really good idea on how to gage it. Did your doctor give you any ideas?

Pain and numbness I have found isn't always permanent, but the weakness can be a major "nerve affected/damaged" issue. Good luck!!!

Brenda

PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.

Kris-NY
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T1 Nerve Root

My herniation is at t1/t2 pressing on the t1 nerve root to the right. I am going for a new set of tests tomorrow because the last were done in August and my symtoms seem to be bi-lateral now.

Right now as I type the pinky and ring finger on my left hand are numb. Usually when I am at work some portion of my left arm and hand is numb. THe pains are down my right arm and my whole shoulder saddle area.

At this point none of the pain prevents me from doing things. It just makes me miserable as I do them. I am afraid that if I wait a few years to do the surgery that some of this will never go away.

I know there is no definate answer. I think if the tests tomorrow show changes from August then I will have my answer.

saltzworks
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I have to add that I only

I have to add that I only had my nerves compressed for less than 2 days. Those nerves are still dead.

I think there has to be a difference between types of damage. In my case the permanent nerve damage was when I had NUMBNESS - a completely dead leg that felt like a block of ice or wood. The 'surgery-cured' nerve damage was just pain.

Let me clarify:

My left leg had pain and sciatica. It's the one that hurt. That and CES pushed me towards surgery.

After surgery my right leg started to go numb. It was a progression - a growing numbness that kept spreading and encompassing a larger and larger area within 24 hours of my surgery.

After the surgery my left leg and the CES were better - no permanent nerve damage that I can tell.

I had the second surgery - numbness stopped spreading, but the numbness has NEVER gone away.

The left leg had several years of pain, but it's better. The right leg had only days of numbness, but it's never healed.

Aviatrix36440
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Pinkie and Ring

Kris-NY wrote:
My herniation is at t1/t2 pressing on the t1 nerve root to the right. I am going for a new set of tests tomorrow because the last were done in August and my symtoms seem to be bi-lateral now.

Right now as I type the pinky and ring finger on my left hand are numb. Usually when I am at work some portion of my left arm and hand is numb. THe pains are down my right arm and my whole shoulder saddle area.

Howdy Kris,

What has me nervous right now (see my sig. please) is after getting my forearm, palm, pinkie and ring fingers probably 85% back, a few weeks ago in the space of a couple of hours, I lost that whole area again, and now numb also if I extend my arm out - palm up, no feeling mid (bottom mind you) forearm to halfway up my upper arm! Shoulder as well. I am set for PT - not thrilled right now for that! I fear I will lose those areas this time! I am losing disk space below my only 3 months ago surgery! Lucky me again. If I did, then this loss probably happened fast in the T1/C7 is my guess - bites.

Like another member posted in this thread, with some people it is a slow process. The key is I think in a nut shell, is did the nerve suffer damage, or is it just compressed? I am hoping that is the case with mine - but the fingers are starting to show atrophy and too in the forearm. Do you have any of that? That can happen fast! Good luck, keep us posted on what you find. Oh, another change, just typing, the backside of my upper arm gets really tired and "dies" with no muscle energy. Best luck!!!

Brenda

PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.