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nerve damage from sciatica anyone?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,321
Hi, I see a lot of topics about sciatica pain (and I know how bad it is!) , however I do not see much postings about nerve damage from sciatica attach. Anyone has it? I have trouble rising my big toe up. I am looking for someone who has some damage and curious what treatment was chooses: surgery or conservative route. More details about me below.

I am 40 years old, always had episodes of back pain, but 2 months ago I woke up with unbearable pain (25 on the scale on 1-10) in the leg/foot, could not step on it, could not walk at all etc. Ended up in ER. They performed neuro exam and said that everything is fine, it is sciatica and will get better. Well, next day I had big toe totally not moving. Long story short, saw neuro, he said to go conservative route but see neurosurgeon nevertheless (who I also saw and he gave me steroid and said that I should try conservative route too). MRI result L4-L5 disk protrusion with L5 nerve root impingement. Anyway, today is 2 months since that episode, I am definitely better, I still have back pain and calf pain but I am not even using vicodin on most days. However, my foot/toe strength is not coming back completely, it is better , but still pretty weak. I can move my toe up now but not against resistance. I also cannot walk properly on my heels – right foot go slightly down. Today I saw neuro again for follow up and he referred me to neurosurgeon again saying that I should consider surgery. I am in total shock since he is very conservative doctor. He said that I still have limp and in his opinion the strength will not return unless I do a surgery. Anyone was in my shoes? I see a lot of posts about sciatica pain, but not much about sciatica nerve damage in foot/toe from disk herniation. I see a lot of posts of nerve dmage after surgery and this is what I want to fix! My pain today is bearable, it is the nerve damage that concerns me. I am going to see surgeon next week but in a mean time I am looking for similar situation. Thanks!


  • I can't say much about nerve damage before surgery, but I can after surgery. I'm no doc, but so far as I know nerve damage is permanent. Nerves can build new pathways, but once they are damaged they are damged.
    I say that because they haven't yet found away to re-grow the sleeve they are surrounded with. Think of it as an electrical wire. The sleeve is the rubber coating around the wire. If the rubber is cut the current travels where it's not supposed to causing pain and where the current is supposed to go gets lessened causing weakness.
    If it was me, and I could tolerate the pain, I wouldn't worry about the loss of strength in my big toe, or the difficulty of going heel toe when walking. I had spinal fusion to get rid of pain in my right leg and now I have nerve damage in my left leg. It took six months of physical therapy to be able to lift my right foot and learn how to throw it to land heel toe. I have sixty percent use of my left leg and about the same in my right foot. I have chronic pain because of nerve damage I wouldn't wish on anybody.
    This is probably not what you want to hear, but I would exhaust all conservative therapies before surgery unless your back is NOT stable and there is a possiblity of doing even more damage. There is a lot they can do with discs these days much of which helps pain and will take pressure off of a nerve, but if they are saying your nerve is damaged not pinched I would ask why they feel surgery can help.
    I would be skeptical of any doc saying surgery can help nerve damage. Just my opinion based on personal experience.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,522
    Even though Sciatic problems are caused by the impingement of spinal nerve roots, the are other nerve problems that have nothing to do with sciatic problems.
    Classic sciatic starts at the buttock area and travels down the leg. Depending on the disc problem, many times the nerve problems start from the knee down.
    I have had both. Sciatic can come and go based on my disc problems. However, I have some permanent nerve damage in my right foot, that originates from right below my knee.
    When you say surgery, I am just not sure what your doctor is talking about. Are they looking for a disc surgery to eliminate the impingement?
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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  • Hi All, I think I must have nerve pain in L leg below the knee.It was numb before surgery in April 08 and I fell down when I turned and it was like it wasn't there.After surgery it still remains numb almost like a wooden leg with 3 or 4 episodes of severe burning on the shin daily and nothing seems to help.It stops on its own and I often think that if this kind of pain would become non-stop I would not be able to stand it.I am not sure if this is nerve pain.But I feel for you.Love and Light, Jackie
  • I have had problems with nerve pain for almost 2 years now. At first it was my right leg and since having two surgeries, I developed nerve pain in the left. The right side is worse and has weakness. The symptoms go all the way down to the foot and I feel numbness, crushing, burning, electric, aching and stabbing pains. I don't know how long it takes for the doctors to deem it permanently damaged, but it's obvious to me after all this time. It's been almost 3 years of this and none of the surgeries helped the nerve pain or my chronic back pain.
  • a permanent S1 nerve damage story. I delayed the laminectomy/discectomy for 4 months and in that time, damaged my nerves and they've never improved (and in fact, gotten much worse) despite 3 surgeries, all kinds of conservative treatment, prayer, you name it.

    Docs know it takes nerves months and sometimes years to heal, so they tell us to be patient. But I finally got the doc to order an EMG and nerve conduction studies and he saw the cause of my pain. (All other tests showed my back to look great, no nerve impingements, no further surgical interventions necessary).

    I have burning 24 hours a day from my buttock to my toes. I was told early on (when the pain started in my mid-buttock) that as it traveled down my leg, the worse it was getting. So if you feel it in your feet, that isn't good. If I could reach, I could use a magic marker to draw the exact burning location all the way down my leg. If you have seen a dermatome chart (you can search that), I have burning in the class S1 dermatome chart area.

    I also had numbness in my lateral hips to toes - outside of hips, thighs, calves, feet and 4th and 5th toes on both feet. I didn't even realize they were that numb until I was walking in a parking lot in the dark and fell HARD. The pavement was mildly bumpy but I was not lifting my feet properly. I wasn't quite dragging them, but close. I was very surprised at how hard it can be for the sufferer to really realize how bad everything is, while we try to live our life and get better.

    So almost 4 years later, my back looks great on tests, I rarely have back pain anymore (and that comes from overdoing it and gets better after a few days) but my S1 nerve never stops burning. And because the S1 nerve is right at my "tail" says my doc, any sitting, standing, movement causes a flare. I spend 23 hours a day reclined - getting up to go to the bathroom, walk around the house for quick exercise and then back down. I have about a 20 to 30 minutes windows. I even stay reclined in the car, with heated seats to keep the muscle spasms under control.

    I just got my permanent spinal cord stimulator (SCS) last Monday and so far so good. It is blocking the pain signal coming from my legs and isn't letting it get to my brain. I am buzzing/tingling instead of burning. It is incredible. I have to be really really careful for 4 to 6 weeks until the leads in my back scar down (until then, bending over to tie my shoes could pull them completely out of position and ruin the placement). I use a remote control to put over my implanted pulse generator in my upper hip and turn my buzzing up, down, faster, slower, on , off. I have POWER over my constant pain. Amazing!!!

    ONce the doc saw the EMG results, he told me "Oh my - you need an SCS or an implanted pain pump, So sorry". Yeah. That's what I had trying to tell them while they kept telling me to wait for the nerves to heal.

    For now, until you can get a definitive answer, distraction will be your greatest weapon. Anything you can do to keep you mind off your pain will help you function and handle the situation. The internet has been my answer - I have an adjustable laptop caddy that pulls right up over the arm of my recliner and I can stay on it all day long if I want or need to. I do watch some TV, do some reading, but the stimulation of the Internet keep my mind otherwise busy and not focusing on the burning pain.

    On really bad days, I will get what I call "lightning strikes" that fly through my legs and out my toes. These are horrid and take my breath away. For that reason and never knowing when those will hit, I rarely drive. I could end up in a ditch from the shock and pain of those lightening strikes. To me, an appropriate description.

    I am a very young at heart 42 year old with a cane, walker and grippers/grabbers all over the house. I can't do much - with no bending, lifting and twisting, I can only clean what I can easily reach simply standing. I also got some shoes that help me with my balance issues, with so much of my feet being numb. I can fall easily. (Dansko are my favorite brand and I feel completely stabilized when wearing them.)

    Don't stop your fight, keep a pain diary, speak clearly and politely with the docs and keep searching until you get an answer.

    Take care!!

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  • My understanding is that the term "sciatica" means leg pain, i.e. leg pain coming from nerve problems. It doesn't literally mean that the nerve in question is the sciatic nerve. Its kinda like saying Kleenex instead of "tissue". That being said, I have "sciatica" or "radiculopathy: or "leg pain" or in so far as I have had surgery, "post-laminectomy syndrome". I am now talking to doctors about a spinal cord stimulator. I asked one doc if I could have gotten a stim without having surgery and I was told that in 06 (the year of my surge0ry, I probably could not have but today it might be possible. My surgeon told me thst if I didn't have surgery, I would just be taking more and more narcotics and I would have no chance of getting beter, What he really didn;t tell me was that I could be worse. Well, yes, he did tell me I could be worse off in the PARALYZED sense but not in the sense that I am worse off.
    My humble opinion is to try everything first before hou hsve surgery. It id sn iffy proposition. Best, Susan.
  • Metoo:
    Sciatica is simply back pain with oain down one or both legs. There are several possible causes, including the bulged disk you tell about. Surgery can be beneficial. It may not produce instant improvement. It may not produce any improvement. I suggest you follow your surgeon's advice.

    I am a retired physician pain specialist. I've helped treat a bunch of people with problems similar to yours.

    You might want to consider a percutaneous diskectomy. That is done through a large needle and is an outpatient procedure. If it doesn't help, you've lost nothing. I suspect it would help.

    Live Well!
  • Hi, I had sciatica caused by L5S1 herniation. For me, in the last week before surgery I noticed my foot was slower lifting off the floor than the other. For me, by the time i saw the surgeon i had foot drop and he said if i had gone any longer i would have had permanent damage. So there must be some point at which nerves are irreversibly damaged. Definitely see your neurosurgeon and check. You will kick yourself if you could prevent permanent damage but you didnt realise it.

    All the very best.
  • hi
    i have permanent damage to my L5 and S1 nerve route .i have permanent pain and ache down my right leg in to my foot and into all but my little toe. my leg feels cold {when compered to the healthy one] i also have hip ache and i have problems bending and twisting {as to wash oneself in the shower etc}.life consist of pain killers and rest that's it!
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