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L2 - L3 Herniation? Anyone???

MaraisMMarais Posts: 11
edited 06/29/2014 - 6:14 AM in Lower Back Pain
My husband, newly retired, herniated a disc at L2-L3 - apparently very unusual. We've scoured the internet and can find very little info on herniations at this level nor can we find many (any?) people who have similar herniations. Pain is not an issue. Left quad weakness/ femoral nerve damage is the problem.

He had surgery five months after the herniation to remove the herniated portion of the disc, all went well, surgeon predicted an 85% recovery of function. Now, ten months after the surgery, my husband still has quad weakness and has developed a knee problem. He doesn't fall anymore and he walks without a cane but he feels he cannot walk far. His confidence is completely gone and he sees himself as an invalid. He is anxious about going out and going places. If I don't force him, we will both be homebound. He has had two courses of physical therapy and seen two psychologists who have told him to do whatever he used to do, with modifications where needed. His orthopedic doctors tell him "to go out and live his life" and relate stories of patients with far greater problems.

I feel my husband is waiting for this nerve to heal and for the feeling of weakness to go away. He was told this could take one to two years, but there are no guarantees I don't know what our family situation will be in other year because this perennial doom and gloom withdrawal from life is affecting us all.

Is there anyone out there who has had a similar herniation, with femoral nerve involvement? Any information about recovery? I read the stories on these boards about people with excruciating pain and mobility issues and I am inspired by the courage and fortitude displayed. I was hesitant to post because my husband's problem seems minor in comparison but for him, it looms huge, and this is why I am seeking information and if possible, hope. Thanks so much and I wish you all well.


  • This is why we feel so hopeless and so alone - no responses. Can anyone suggest a website with active fiorums where someone might be able to give us some advice or support. Please?
  • I wish I had some words for you!!!!!! I am almost 9 months out from my surgery. I still have issues. One day at a time!!! He will have some good days and some crappy ones. I will be praying for you both
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  • Thank you! At this point, we accept all comments as constructive and we are very grateful.
  • I'm sorry to hear your husband is having such trouble. I do have a fusion at the same level, but I'm also fused from T3or4 (never can remember, that fusion was from when I was 9) all the way to S1. When I was 9 they fused from T3/4 down to L3(ish...lol, again I was 9!). I developed some major issues and had to have double surgeries over the summer. Needless to say we knew up front I was facing some major issues. After my second surgery I developed foot drop (which I believe is a completely different level associated with what your husband is experiencing) as well as problems with my left knee. I had to wear a brace that immoblized my knee for about 2 months. I was told both things (foot drop/knee issue) were nerve related and would hopefully heal. They did! I had to do PT for awhile for both of those areas, and I took neurotin which I know lots of people on this board have poor experiences with, but it worked well for me and healing those nerves and blocking the nerve pain. In fact that is the only medicine I am currently on and just a night to block nerve pain. I was told over the summer that nerves could take a full year to heal, and that even after a year it was still possible to seem improvements. I am 32, so maybe that is why they healed faster than expected.

    I can also understand your husband's shaken confidence. It doesn't take too many times for your legs to cave under you without warning to be worried. Even now that I'm back to a relatively normal life, the moment a muscle in my leg starts to tire, or I feel even the slightest twinge I head immediately for the nearest seat, and I'm sure that isn't necessary, but my mind says it is!

    I had to spend 3 weeks inpatient at a hospital rehab. When I left my doctor was FIRM on never becoming homebound, he suggested going to movies, going to stores where I could ride on carts, go to parades, sporting events, or anything I could take a chair too. I think this was good advice because I saught out activities I could do with my family. Does he have a handicap sign for your vehicles? This might help him lots just to know he isn't ever too far away, etc.

    Please feel free to pm me. I hope by the time you read this, things are improving.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • Thanks so much for your reply. My husband read it, too. The part about never being "homebound" and the activities you sought out was very helpful. We also must look into the handicapped sign. We had talked about it a while ago and never followed through. Yes, your age is definitely in your favor, but just the fact that healing DID take place is encouraging. Hopefully, my husband will heal, too, although it will undoubtedly take longer. We wish you the very best and thank you once again for replying.
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  • I had herniation of L3-L4 and L4-L5 and had a discectomy done on both levels (same operation) several months ago. I had terrible hip and leg pain and thought the surgery would help, but sadly I have just as much pain as before and at times more pain that before. I am convinced that the surgery was not a success. Sorry to hear of your husband's issues.
  • Marais: hi.

    Yes, it's disappointing when we are not part of the 85% that get the good recovery. That's life.

    My suggestion is to get at least another 2 or 3 opinions. Learn as much as you can here, from books, etc so you and your husband can address this issue from a position of knowledge rather than possible mis-placed trust. Make decisions based on a true understanding.

    Yes, nerves can take a long time to heal, 1 mm per day. But there might be ongoing issues. Does your husband know if he has ongoing nerve damage? If not, then that's a good example of not being able to make decisions based on knowledge. For instance, has a EMG and nerve conduction study been done? It standard for post operative nerve affected patients to get this. The study can determine if damage is still occurring or was a previous unrepeated event.

    Is he doing specifically targeted nerve recovery PT? I was given exercises that specifically addressed my foot drop nerve damage and atrophied muscles? If he isn't, well something might be lacking in the care he is being given. If so, I would suggest he engage a special doctor called a physiatrist who can manage all aspects of his recovery. (See the definitions in the FAQ section for details and also search the site using the search function with keyword = physiatrist.)

    Wish you good luck, it seems your hubby needs it.
  • My husband resently hernated his L2 which has casused leg numbness and weakness in his leg. He is unable to walk very far. Thr dr have give meds. one after another, shots and no improvement, he is on a leave from work because he has to sit so frequently. Was wondering how your husband was doning as we can get no straight answer and seem to find no information on the L2 herniation with just above the knee numbness/ weakness
  • leeda76lleeda76 Posts: 1
    edited 08/05/2014 - 5:37 AM
    Hi all im a newbie here so bear with me..not used to forums..
    so where do i start..
    im 38..had 1st surgery in 2001 new years day on l4/l5 as turned to quickly in bed in the morning.,the disc was touching spine so was rushed to hospital to have surgery as was getting paralized groin area and left leg and buttocks....original injury was due to a earlier injury in work which caused a pulled back muscle..
    so had surgery and was left in hospital for 2months as couldnt pass urine due to retention and also had no bowel movement..they said i was the first ever in EDITED to request a enima(LOL)
    after the 2mths i was sent home with catheters to self catherize..this carried on for 2yrs..so had to teach myself to pass urine again..mainly threw doing pelvic muscle exercise..
    so returned back to work on light duties (wood machinist) and just my luck S1 disc popped and same again touching my spine..so opted to have it skimmed at EDITED in 2007..everything seemed ok for a while..i still had the numbness in my groin area and buttocks and also my left ankle was numb from the 2001 surgery which i managed to adapt to..but from 2007 after having the S1 skimmed i was still getting spasm,s in both my legs also siactica in buttocks and my top part of my body lower back would shift completey over leaving me bed bound on amitripelines and tramadols etc..
    so various visits to consultants..medicals..acupunchure..pyscio from 2007..i have only just really found out(april2013) threw another mri scan that i also have a larger prolapse at L2/L3 and also the S1 disc is protruding again.. Also found out that the surgery i had in 2001 they never fused the discs ;(...and also mri showed rips and tears and flapiche to tissue on my right hip joint..
    to say im stressed is a understatement..Last month july 2014 had a electric injection and a numbing fluid put into my rightsided nerve on my spine area L2/L3 and the pain releive was instant..:( untill 5 days after then all the spasms and cramps etc returned..seen my back consultant and pain clinic team & looks like the only option i have at the minute is having the same injection again but in the left side of the spine..also the back consultant is now saying where ive had previous surgery in my back he dont reccomend me having more surgery at present..so basiclly ive gotta just live with the pain and meds..really hope your hubby gets better treatment then i have..let me know the outcome
    regards lee

    Post edited by Sandi- Please see the forum rules at the link below for more information.
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