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extream pain in foot and toes following lower back fusion

GelindaGGelinda Posts: 4
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:43 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am 5 weeks post op from L5-S1 disk fusion. My surgeon informed me following surgery there was alot of nerve involvment that was not seen on any of my MRIs.Following surgery i had no feeling from my knee down on my right leg the has improved now i just have sever pain and burning in my foot and toes. The doctor was treating that pain with Neurontin 3 x day. It made it worse. It is my understanding that the pain is from the nerve trying to heal or die. My question is how long will this last and will it ever get better?


  • I was given exercises to stretch and get the pain allevied as it might be impingement. I have a physical therapist that does myofascial release and it helps a lot as she find where the pain is coming from and does massage that relieves it.

    Could you ask your doctor since you have this after surgery and I also had spasm as the back has to get used to the new placement (my term) and I had those for six months off and on. Topomax worked for my nerve pain. Hope you get better and maybe your doctor will be receptive.
  • Your information is more or less correct. It is fairly common to have some nerve pain after spine surgery, particularly if a nerve had to be handled during surgery. If you did not have this type of pain prior to surgery, the nerve is probably just responding to the surgery itself.

    If you had L5 or S1 nerve pain prior to surgery, the nerve was probably compressed for a period of time, and now it is in the process of recovery.

    In other case, it doesn't really matter as you now have pain. No one can really say how long it will take for the nerve to recover. Nerves take the longest to recover from surgery and heal at a very slow pace. It is not unusual to have a surgeon tell you it can take up to a year for it to recover. And in some more unusual cases, it has taken even longer.

    Also it is difficult to determine whether a nerve will be able to recover completely...it is a waiting game. Sometimes a nerve itself becomes scarred and is not able to completely recover, so the patient continues to have symptoms. But the nerve does not die. If the nerve "died," the patient would not be able to move the foot, or ankle, or whatever, depending on which nerve is effected.

    There are other meds besides Neurontin that are given for nerve pain: Cymbalta or Topomax, as mentioned by the above post. Also, Lyrica is frequently prescribed. It is the newer, big brother of Neurontin and supposedly has fewer side effects.

    I'm not sure why Neurontin would make your pain worse. Sometimes people can't take one of these meds due to side effects, or they stop just because it isn't doing any good...but I haven't heard of it making the pain worse. I'm sorry that happened to you.

    Try to keep up with your walking. It is VERY important at this point in your recovery. Distance is not that important. Better to walk several times per day for a few minutes than take one longer walk. Walking is the best exercise to stretch out those spinal nerves to hopefully keep scar tissue from attaching to the nerve. It also gets freshly oxygenated blood to an area that does not have many blood vessels running through. This helps with healing, too. So walk as much as you can. And remember not to sit too long at a time.

    You are still very early in recovery. You have had a big surgery and need to keep that in mind. Try using an ice pack for pain...on your lower back if your incision is closed. It may help with the burning in your foot.

    There are many people on the board who have had fusion, so post often if you have questions or concerns or just want to talk to someone who has been through it. None of us are doctors, but we have a wealth of personal experiences.

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  • thanks for the replys they really helped.i guess i am more frustrated with my restrictions more than anything but any new suggestion is better then giving up. i have tried the lyrica and it caused swelling in my throat but the ice has done wonders.
    my sergeon informed me following surery that the nerve was badly swollen due to the impingment of the disk which was very damaged do to the wait i had prior to surgery. i waited 2 years for the insurance company to allow my fusion. i guess if i waited that long for the surgery i can wait that long for recovery.
  • That's one thing my surgeon used to say to me. "Remember how long it took for you to get to this point. It may take just as long for all the symptoms to resolve and for the nerve to regenerate...."

    I know you've heard this before but five weeks is still VERY early in recovery. Just keep trying to stay positive...keep walking, and keep following all your surgeon's restrictions. Don't measure progress day by day. Try to take a longer view and before long, you will see that you are better than you were a couple weeks previously.
  • I have not taken the neurontin in 36 hours and it seemd as though the pain and burning as well as the other side effects are getting better if i can get the pain in my foot under control i know i will have this licked but i aint ready to give up yet. i have made it this far and no need in giving in yet .
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  • I have not taken the neurontin in 36 hours and it seemd as though the pain and burning as well as the other side effects are getting better if i can get the pain in my foot under control i know i will have this licked but i aint ready to give up yet. i have made it this far and no need in giving in yet .
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