Question: How long until numbness from spondylolisthesis goes away?

I have spondylolisthesis of L5 on S1 grade 1-2. Two steroid epidurals helped the back pain, leg pain and foot pain very much, but due to increasing weakness and muscle atrophy of my right leg/foot and numbness of the lateral part of my right foot, I opted for surgery 4 weeks ago. The numbness has been present from the outset of problems.

I had decompression of L5 and S1 nerve roots and fusion of L5 and S1. I was given no guarantee on the numbness.

What is your experience with numbness being corrected with surgery and how long would you expect it to take if the numbness is relieved?

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Doctor’s response: It can take over a year to go away

Usually the numbness from a condition such as spondylolisthesis is the first thing to start and the last thing to go away. The numbness can take up to a year to get better, or even longer. Most times it improves or goes away.

If you had a lot of nerve damage (as would be evidenced by the preoperative weakness), I would probably expect that you would have some residual numbness. The bottom line is you won't know what you have until the nerve is done healing and this takes at least a year. If the numbness is still there at a year, then unfortunately the numbness is probably permanent.

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In Spine-health’s Doctor Advice section, physicians respond to frequently asked questions about back pain issues. These responses represent the opinion of one physician, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the broader medical community. The advice presented has not been peer reviewed by Spine-health’s medical advisory board.