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numbness as indicator for surgery????

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
I have an L5-S1 herniated disc with compression on the dorsal root. Symptoms started with sciatic pain and progressed through paresthesias to numbness in the lateral aspect of my foot. Minor muscle weakness but have lost my achilles reflex. Overall approximately 8 weeks duration. The numbness is driving me crazy and was wondering peoples experience with numbness going away both with and without surgery.


  • I had numbness at first for months until I was put on Lyrica and then my legs swelled up and the numbness was worse. I got a cane as my leg would give out often. After a few months and lasix the swelling and numbness went away. I also excercised with my recumbent stationary excercise bike even though I had no feeling in my leg. After a month the feeling came back. I've had 3 epidurals and it helped the numbness and the tingling and some pain. I still have some cramps and a little tingling but I can feel my foot and leg now. I've been off work since February and have had no surgery. I still have backpain. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Have you had an EMG test yet? That shows if there's any need for urgent surgery. Your PCP should order that for you as well as refer you to a pain management Dr. Have you seen a Neurologist yet? Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
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  • Been to a neurologist. He suggested to hold off on the EMG as I am not considering surgery at this point. He did not think that an EMG would be a good indicator for surgery. The pain is manageable with NSAIDs. The numbness is very annoying....
  • Consider high power laser therapy Class 4 for swelling around nerve root. Helps all the time. Did for me and does for my clients. You may also have Piriformis Syndrome in conjunction with the L5/S1 that is causing the numbness. Massage therapy and trigger point therapy are great for Piriformis problems. Look it up on the Internet. I always recommend rolling on a baseball or biofoam roller to release the muscle knot. There is always involvement with this muscle in chronic disc problems. Good luck.

  • Hi It was great to read your post wanderer because I have found it hard finding people with the same Sx as me.
    My foot on the top and lateral aspect, last two toes and medial tip of big toe are numb. Have been since feb 08. I too had a dorsal root compression of L5 and nerve root compression of S1 due to a broad based prolapse stretching paracentral to just outside the IVF zone with severe formanial stenosis. My surgeon fast tracked surgery because of the lack of reflexes & feeling, pins and needles and because I could not live a life I need too being that I am a student and mum to toddlers.

    3 months post op the numbness is still there and medium pins and needles. Pre op I couldnt drive 2 min now I can drive 30min before needing to stop. After the surgery it was extreemly painful and I was worried that I had damaged the nerves worse but it has let up somewhat which is great. I am really looking foward to a mostly full recovery. But the numbness and pins and needles does pee me off a bit....I jsut want it gone, it does not necessarly hurt but it is so anoying to be there ALL the time.....

    To njlaserdoctor I read that piriformis syndrome usually only refers to the knee not down to the foot. I often use my thera cane to get those trigger points but nothing is better than someone else doing it. Positional release and MET is also usefull.
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  • I have a simular issue: I do not have numbness but I have a weakness in my big toe, it is called a drop toe (8 weeks ago could not lift it up but now can if resistance not applied). Under even small resistance the toe does not have streagth to overcome resistance. I saw neurosurgeon twice: first 10 days after onset of symptoms and yestarday (2 months after). Here is the question that the surgeon asked me then and now: imagine that all the pain is gone but you are still have a weak toe. Can you live with it? My NS said that he can not tell me to have or not to have a surgery, this will be eventially my decision. He also said that if I want to correct my toe (=== can not live with this defect), the best chance is to have surgery right away, not even within 3 month as some people say. Said that he also said that he can not give me any percentages on success - he said it will only be known after the surgery. The other thing he said that PAIN is the indication on what is going on with you body RIGHT NOW. Numbness and weakness are after effects and first the pain wil be gone (if gone) and only then neurological defects will improve (if improve). If you have severe PAIN right now, this is mean that the nerve is continue to being damaged. If you see some improvements in PAIN over the last month(s), then your body is doing better. I personally made a decision that I will accept my toe weakness if I will be pain free. It is all depends how severe you neurological deficit and what you CAN NOT do with it. In my case, I decided that I will live wih my toe and will still love myself regardless. That said my pain level decreased dramatically over the last 2 months (from being in weelchair due to complete unability to bear any weight on the leg and pain level 25 on the scale of 1-10) to driving, cooking, taking care of my self and even sitting for 30 min at a time w/o too much pain. I did not have epidural but had a 2 week oral steroid course. Steroid ended up being a wander drugs for me. Per NS instructions, he suggested to have one more course before trying epidural (===invasive procedure, and trust me you do not want to have spinal headache, I had it after childbirth and it was not fun, I had to do a blood patch ===amother needle to be stuck into your spine). I am actually doing god and so far decided to wait and see without the second steroid course. So, to your original question my NS answered that if you can live your life with your neurological symptom assuming that pain will be gone, it is not an indication for surgery. If you can not - then yes, you should have it. At this point (you said 8 weeks) it is not difference per his words if you do surgery now or in a month or two. YOu already not did it right away. PS: to complicate the matter I just want to add that my neurologist thinks that I should have a surgery. The reason is that I was able to see a very good NS very quickly, is that my neuro made a few phone calls for me being seen faster (after I was able to make an appointment only in 10 weeks and called back to neuro to complain). So I have 2 doctors who think differently about the same issue - go figure. And one of then referred me to another one!
  • pain and numbness but continued for 4 months with a personal friend/chiropractor because she convinced me I had piriformis syndrome and my pelvis was always out. Boy, she made a lot of money off of me before the pain finally got really bad and the numbness went from hip to toe.

    I've now had 3 surgeries and have permanent S1 nerve damage. The same S1 nerve damage I had before any surgery. I'll never know if I hadn't waited even 4 months, had I sought medical help sooner (and not just chiro), if my outcome would be different.

    Now I have the SCS - spinal cord stimulator - and it is changing my life. But, I'll always have permanent nerve damage. You don't want that. (The numbness, which is the lateral (outside) of both legs, hips, thighs, calves, feet and 4th and 5th toes, causes major balance issues, etc.)

    Take care,

  • Wanderer:
    I'm a retired physician pain specialist.

    Numbness usually means there is pressure on a nerve. I strongly suspect you have some loss of muscle function as well. I suggest you get the EMG and consider surgery.

    NJLaserDoctor suggested laser therapy. That is definitely worth considering. The laser simply pushes lightly against the skin, and then things begin to get better. That is even better than surgery, if it works for you. It doesn't always work, especially in situations that have persisted several months.

    The numbness will probably not go away immediately after the surgery, but should get better.

    Live well!
  • My neurosurgeon advised me that numbness was a strong indicator for surgery. Might pay to get a second opinion.
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