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Foot Numbness...bad one day better the next

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,082
I had a laminotomy and discectomy at L5S1 on 3/21/2008. Have experienced no pain since the surgery but have been dealing with foot and toe numbness. The Dr. told me it could take 1-2 years for the nerve to heal if it heals at all. My question to you is somedays the numbness is to a mimimum and the next really flared up. Has anybody else experienced this. It's getting me pretty darn discouraged.



  • Hi, Cynthia. L5/S1 is one of my problem areas, though I've never had any invasive surgery done. Recently I've had a flare-up in that area, and my foot tingling and numbness was very pronounced for a few days, then eased off quite a bit. I realized the change happened when I started on a new NSAID; I think there were some nerve issues as a result of inflammation around L5/S1.

    Are you on any anti-inflammatories at all? If you can take them, would it be worth trying for a few days to see if the symptoms settle a little more?

  • Thanks Tracy Lynne for responding. I have not been taking any NSAID's. This will give me some hope. I feel as if I'm slipping into depression because of my discouragement. Your response lifted me up! Thanks again.
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  • Tracy Lynne what did you take for the anti-inflammatory medicine? Curious to know what would help?
  • I was just prescribed Flurbiprofen after a diagnosis of spondylitis, but I don't think it's that commonly used. In the past I've used larger doses of Ibuprofen (i.e. 600 to 800 mg) a couple of times a day with a stomach protectant.
  • I have the same thing with the numbness in my left foot. It is awful one day....and better the next. I have found that if I take my anti-inflammatory (voltaren) it seems to help. The downside is...I don't think you are supposed to take that long term, so I just use it for particularly bad flare ups. I have also noticed that if I take my shoe off, it isn't as annoying. Since it is my left foot, I drive with that shoe off...and sit at work with that shoe off.

    The one positive that I am noticing is that, over time (I am 11 weeks post-op, L5/S1 MicroD), it does seem to be gradually improving. The numbness is always there, but not as pronounced as it once was. It does come back pretty bad on days when I am really active, but then subsides again.

    My doc said that it can take a very, very long time for that to go away....and it is possible that I will always have some residual patches of numbness on my left foot.

    Good luck, you are not alone.
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  • Thanks for the feedback. I wish I knew what would cause the good and bad days of the numbness. What is going on with the nerve anyway?
  • I am not sure exactly what is going on with the nerve. My doc told me that it takes an extremely long time for nerves to heal and his physician's assistant told me that foot numbness can be very slow to improve.

    I know that mine does seem to be related to activity (for the most part). If I take it easy for a few days, I notice an improvement....if I am exceptionally busy, I notice my foot numbness (especially under my little toes) increases. If I get back on my anti-inflammatory meds it seems to relieve it as well...so I am guessing something is swolen and irritated.

    I had surgery at the end of April and at my 8 week visit, my doc said that hopefully by Christmas the remaining pain and numbness will be gone. However, he did say that I may always have patches of numbness on my foot and behind my leg. I guess in the grand scheme of things, if I have to choose between foot numbness and the terrible pain I had before (and that I read about on these boards)...the numbness is the lesser of two evils.

    It is annoying though.

    Good luck.
  • Yes it is frustrating and I have no ankle jerks at all on one side and no sensation in my toes at all, as you say it does go better and worse but never goes away, the nuances are individual and I would go with what the surgeon said until the time arrives. It is not something that can be improved by something that you do and may just be doing its own thing. If I increased my activity levels that the foot pain increases as a consequence so my aim is to pace better find out if anything make it worse and not do that or restrict that if possible and keep up to date with the medication levels and evaluation of my overall plan.

    We have no magic solution and my failed fusion has not given me the desired improvement.

    Take care.. John.
  • My disc between L5/S1 is herniated (12 mm on left) since May 2008. I didn't know about numbness and muscle weakness in my left food till the neurosurgeon showed me and suggested the microdiscectomy. He was in opinion that numbness and weakness will remain forever unless I choose to have this invasive procedure. But I have found that it is slowly going away. Some light stretch exercises, rest and walking helped me a lot. Some days I do have more numbness but I feel that sensory numbness is going away. One of my friends' husband who had the same problem (and recovered fully under supervision of a naturopath) told me that numbness and weakness will go away with increased blood circulation in my leg.

    Noone will believe me but one day I went to a mall (after 2.5 months ) and I walked for 3.5 hours. My legs and back were in bad shape and hurting a lot. But the moment I came back and removed my walking shoes and socks I felt that my numbness is reduced. I guess walking might have increased the blood circulation and that might be the reason. I am not sure but whatever happened after 3.5 hours of window shopping was like a magic.

    Cythia, You please continue doing exercise and walking, it will definitely help you soon.

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