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Post-laminectomy numbness of genitals and rectal area

Hello, I am new to this site and would greatly appreciate any feedback.   I would like to know if anyone else has shared my particular symptoms and what his/her outcome has been.  I am a 37-year-old male in otherwise good health.  I am currently post-op day 5 from a lumbar laminectomy at L4-5.  The procedure went relatively smoothly and I have experienced immediate relief from the symptoms that caused me to seek medical attention.  However, I am concerned with some new symptoms: mainly, numbness and tingling in my genitals and rectal area.  My genitals appear more reddish/purplish than the skin around them.  I am able to urinate with effort, but, due to the numbness, it is difficult to tell when I am done.  Also, I have not had a bowel movement for 7 days.  I am taking Colace, Senna and Miralax, which I can "feel" are working, but I can't "go." Part of the problem is that the muscles in that area are numb and I can't seem to "squeeze."

I have discussed this multiple times with nursing staff, the surgical PA and the neurosurgeon himself, and they are all of the opinion that this is residual from the original compression of my nerves (although I didn't experience these symptoms prior to surgery) and/or due to swelling caused by the surgery itself.  In other words, wait it out.

Again, I would like to know if anyone else has experienced these particular symptoms and what their outcome was.  I am obviously concerned, especially due to the sensitive nature of the effected areas.  Any other insights are welcome, too.  Thank you!


  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    hello patrickj0seph !
    welcome to spine-health
    please click on link for helpful information!
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    While you are waiting for members to respond with shared experiences, you may benefit from the search on this site, upper right on page.
    Typing in any of your concerns, ex..genitals numbness...and you may be led to current or older discussions on topic.
    You may be led to the medical side with articles and videos. Very informative.
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

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  • SooveritSooverit Finger Lakes region of NYPosts: 460
    Hi Patrick,

    I have not had a surgery yet. However, I experienced similar symptoms  (I am a female, though) after a recent epidural. After a few weeks, those symptoms did subside. 

    Pear juice works better than laxatives for me (and more quickly, and without the cramping, etc.). Magnesium citrate (which you can get at your local pharmacy OTC) is good for constipation  (without cramping), too. I have had to drink two bottles. 

    Also, when trying to have a movement, you could a) turn your bathroom trash can upside down and put your feet on it or b) squat over the toilet (with your feet on the rim). That may sound ridiculous, but it helps a lot for me, and is what they encourage women in labor to do.

    If that sounds too awkward, you could just squat for a bit before hitting the toilet. "Bicycling" your legs can help, too, if it is not too painful.

    It's concerning to me that your doctors/nurses aren't being more attentive to this. If you feel very worried about this, push for more help!

    Not being able to evacuate can be very serious! I ended up in the hospital with an impaction once, and they told me I could die if I didn't pass it (stool that backs up aND dehydrates can tear your intestines or colon). Not trying to scare you, just saying you need to evacuate asap. 

    They ended up giving me a shot of morphine and I immediately went to the bathroom (because the excruciating pain stopped), but I still had to drink two gallons of really nasty stuff and was on the toilet for the rest of the week.

    Take care,
  • Hello,  PatrickJoseph! 
    I can understand why you are concerned!   I started experiencing similar symptoms about 6-8 weeks after double level lumbar fusion surgery (L4-S 1).  I didn't have the genital discoloration, but experienced (and still am! ) "saddle anesthesia" , constipation (though can't rule out pain meds as the cause of that), numbness/tingling/pain radiating into the buttocks,  down both legs,  and into my feet. All of these symptoms were preceded by intermittent bouts of Intense tailbone pain that Is now constant.  My surgeon ordered an MRI to evaluate me for Cauda Equina Syndrome. 
    It was discovered that I had a mass in the epidural space behind L5/S1. I was ttold that there were numerous possibilities as to the cause, but that time was needed to see if the mass would shrink/reabsorb.   Unfortunately,  the mass grew to include the L4/L5 level,  and has been identified as "epidural fibrosis" (fancy name for scar tissue)that is extending into the spinal canal.   
    I also experienced immediate relief from the type of pain that prompted the surgery,  but your symptoms seem to have come on much more quickly than mine since you're only 5 days out.   
    Sometimes,  as patients,  WE have to be the ones to suggest possibilities.   May I suggest that you do some research about Cauda Equina Syndrome, and if the symptoms fit,  a talk with your doctor?   I am in NO way saying that you have it, but it's a condition that is best treated quickly to prevent lasting damage!  It could be scar tissue,  swollen veins pressing on irritated nerves (again,  possibilities are endless!)., or as your surgical staff thinks,  ticked off nerves. Post-op hematomas can initiate these types of issues,  too.
    It's ALWAYS better to be safe than sorry!
    Kimmy72, Spine-health Moderator
    Firm believer in PMA!
  • Hi patrickJOseph sorry to hear about your problems post op. I also experienced saddle numbness like Sooverit, after an epidural injection for L5/S1. This disappeared but ocassionally I have saddle numbness if I sit in the wrong position as I still have lots of nerve issues. Is yours constant numbness or does it come and go?

    Re urination I have ongoing issues with flow, sometimes the urge to go and sometimes not being able to complete a full flow but have to sit and wait while my body decides if it is finished or not! Sometimes after laying down, I can complete a trip to the bathroom as I remember it in my dim distant past, that is complete flow. Nerves can be damaged while trapped or take a battering during surgery so fingers crossed this will settle down for you as the staff are suggesting. However if your gut feeling is telling you its wrong or things are getting worse then keep shouting. 'The squeaky cogs get the oil' I think is the saying!

    Re bowels. It was suggested to me a long time ago by a colonic therapist to put a tablespoon of golden linseed in a glass of water, leave to soak, stir at bedroom and drink down. This has helped me through bowels problems caused by medication on many occasions ,where other remedies have failed. I also eat Medjool dates and prunes for extra benefit :-)

    please keep us posted or ask for more advice as there are many people on here who have experienced many different things and are willing to listen and share their discoveries and experiences.


    L5/S1 herniation Apr 2013
    nerve root injections Oct 2013
    L5/S1 discectomy Jan 2014
    L5/S1 nerve roo &, facet joint injections & edpidural Jan 2015
    L5/S1 revised discectomy, L4/L5 discectomy & Wallis Inswing Stabilisation L4/L5 May 1st 2015
    L4-S1 TLIF with decompression June 2017
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  • kcase15kkcase15 New HampshirePosts: 14
    Hubby had a laminectomy at L4-L5 just two days ago. He has had quite the time trying to urinate. He either can't get the flow to start (which seems to be getting better now), or doesn't seem to evacuate the entire amount. 
  • @patrickj0seph I really hope you see this message to you. I know exactly what you wrote about genital numbness and bowel movement. I recently had the exact same surgery and same symptoms. 2 1/2 months after surgery. Yours was a while ago, how do you feel and what happened. Please let me know Thank you. 

  • LizLiz Posts: 9,745

    This is an old discussion created by a member no longer on the forum so I have to close it. If they return we can reopen the discussion.


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
This discussion has been closed.
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