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persistent post op numbness L5-S1 fusion

Hello all,

I am a 31 year old about 17 weeks post-op from a posterior spinal decompression fusion at L5-S1. I herniated that disc in April of 2016, and once the burning sensation subsided after about two and a half months, my left big toe has been numb and the top of my left foot extending a few inches up my shin have been desensitized (can't feel hot or cold, only pressure). I tried conservative treatments for about a year, and though they helped a great deal with pain, particularly PT, there has been no change in the numbness and desensitization. After a second MRI, we found the disc has completely degenerated, so went ahead with the spinal fusion.

The surgery seemed to have no complications, but there has been no change in the numbness and desensitization. I know nerve regrowth is extremely slow, and of course I potentially have permanent damage, but the lack of improvement seems to have surprised my surgeon. My surgeon, PT, and the doctor who did the epidural injections are trying to troubleshoot the issue. I have an appointment on July 26 to see if injections into my left piriformis muscle might help.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? I have had a lot of trouble over the past year with very stubborn muscle spasms, particularly in my piriformis, gluts, and IT band. Can your muscles stay spasmed for over a year? Has anyone had a secondary problem like piriformis syndrome actually compressing the nerve to the point of numbness that doesn't subside? Are there other conditions or treatments I should ask my doctor about?

If the numbness persists until 6 months post op, my surgeon plans to order more imaging (an MRI and maybe CT scan?) Would it be wise to ask if he can push it sooner?



  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 6,372


    For one thing, please keep me posted on the outcome Wednesday with the shot to your piriformis muscle. I am scheduled for one but also a SI joint injection Aug. 8th. Mine has been an ongoing problem for a while but now has gotten worse.
    Talk to your doctor about your other options if this does not work. Give the shot time to work. Then if it doesn't push for the MRI.

    Hopefully you will get more replies but in the meantime go to the top right of the page to the search box and key in piriformis muscle,scroll down and there will be a lot of discussions on it.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator
    Please read my  Medical History
  • WLLadyWLLady Ontario CanadaPosts: 1,486

    I'm 7 months out of a long fusion where i had numbness in most of my left leg, and foot drop.  my sciatic nerve has JUST woken up this week......i know it's a good thing to feel nerve pain.  BUT.....

    just saying that they take an awfully long time to heal.......

    Veritas-Health Moderator
    Dec '16 T10-S2 fusion with pelvic fixation. Laminectomies L2, L3, L4, L5, facet removal, cages L4-5, L5-S1, severe scoliosis, arthritis and stenosis repair. 

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  • Thank you Sandra and WLLady for your encouraging comments. It's really good to know that patients also can start to improve 7 months out, especially since going into the surgery I thought I would have immediate relief from the numbness and slow improvement on the pain.

    I feel good about the appointment. My doctor examined me and had me perform various movements to see what would result in increased nerve pain in my leg. He thinks that the coating on my nerve is bruised and prescribed Gabapentin to help the nerve calm down so it hopefully stops triggering my muscles as it heals.

    I have another follow up in two weeks to see how I am doing with this course of treatment. Then we will see if injections might be needed.

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