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Old 03-25-2012, 12:26 AM   #1
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Left Foot Swelling Post-ALIF

Just wondering if anyone else dealt with left-foot swelling after having ALIF? About a month post-op, I kind of panicked thinking that something was wrong with my cold right foot and went for an ultrasound thinking I might have a blood clot in the right leg. Fortunately, no clots!

As it turned out, during ALIF, the parasympathetic nerve bundle can get bumped and a very warm and swollen left foot is the not altogether unexpected outcome. Spine surgeon says it will go away about six months post-op; I am 3.5 months out. I am still having issues wearing shoes, as the left foot is still about a half-size larger than the right.

I was thinking about getting compression socks and just wearing one, but the problem is increased bloodflow, not simply edema or lack of circulation. (Incidentally, I would not mind if both feet were affected, as my feet tend to be very cold. But, fitting into shoes is getting really annoying.) I realize that this is not the worst of side effects, but I have been unable to find any accounts of this problem resolving.

 
Old 03-25-2012, 07:32 AM   #2
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Re: Left Foot Swelling Post-ALIF

I can't really speak to the actual issue, but as far as shoes, maybe try some Chuck Taylor type canvas shoes. More give to the material, and if you need arch support, you can put them in. Chuck's don't have any arch support.

A pair of leather moccasins could be a good alternative as well, as long as they are the ones that tie in front, not zip at the back. You can get them with a synthetic sole or without. Without the synthetic sole, you can't wear them when it's wet out.

One additional tip with the Chuck's . . . watch it on slippery surfaces like wet grass, especially on an incline. Not much traction with them either.

 
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Old 03-25-2012, 02:18 PM   #3
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Re: Left Foot Swelling Post-ALIF

Thanks for the suggestions -- I've been wearing Haflinger clogs, which are made from boiled wool (plenty of give) and have a good shock absorbing cork sole. I have also worn Arcopedicos, which tend to have very stretchy uppers. Neither require lacing up, which is good b/c I am still to avoid bending.

Last week's work activities required something more professional and I realized as much as my back was hurting, my poor left foot was hurting from being confining to a dress flat in my regular size. That was after spending an hour at the Clarks store to get a decent fitting pair.

Wondering whether there is an end in sight, or if I have to start buying two pairs of shoes to constitute one pair that I can wear? Or, maybe, I'll get something dressy and mocassin-ish. At my age, I can no longer rock a skirt suit and a pair of Chuck Taylors.

 
Old 03-25-2012, 03:44 PM   #4
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Re: Left Foot Swelling Post-ALIF

I'm still living in jeans, sweats and sneakers myself. Haven't gotten to the fix yet for my problems.

Hopefully, the swelling will go away soon.

 
Old 03-25-2012, 04:25 PM   #5
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Re: Left Foot Swelling Post-ALIF

Fortunately, I am able to wear sweats to the office 90+ percent of the time! Really helps not to have a rigid waistband when dealing with healing sutures. Keeping the foot elevated does help somewhat, so maybe I will try out some compression stockings. I will post under this thread if it ever resolves.

On a slightly different note, I am presuming you are left-handed from your moniker? (As am I.) I wonder what percent of folks with severe issues (like back injuries) are left-handed as compared to percentage of the overall population. I know that lefties are more susceptible to industrial accidents, but I also wonder if we are more prone to injuries in general.

 
Old 03-25-2012, 05:10 PM   #6
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Re: Left Foot Swelling Post-ALIF

Are you on neurontin or lyrica by any chance?

I had forgotten about having a swollen foot until I saw your post. I didn't have problems with my first two surgeries, but I did with the most recent one. It wasn't bad -- mine was more in the ankle so I could still get shoes on OK. I remember asking my surgeon about it several times (I saw him once per month for the first 9 months post surgery), and he never had an answer. He'd just kind of shrug his shoulders and tell me not to worry about it.

I guess I did have swelling before the 3rd surgery because, now that I think about it, and I apologize for thinking a loud here, when we tried to up the lyrica to see if I could get more pain relief, all that would happen was swelling in one leg.

I had the swelling for a long time and then it just slowly went away.

 
Old 03-25-2012, 05:37 PM   #7
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Re: Left Foot Swelling Post-ALIF

No Lyrica or Neurontin, here. Down to tramadol, SOMA at night, and skelaxin if needed during the day. The right leg is totally normal, and the left foot, ankle, and calf are swollen and warm to the touch. Pedal pulses were normal and ultrasound was clear.

The surgeon indicated that because the ALIF is a left-sided approach, the left parasympathetic nerve bundle if often bumped. The nerve bundle controls blood flow and temperature. Not the worst side effect, but I wish it were bilateral. Or that it would go away at some point.

I go back in a couple weeks for another X-ray, so I will ask again. Glad that I don't have to follow up monthly, as it is over an hour each way to the surgeon!

 
Old 03-25-2012, 05:38 PM   #8
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Re: Left Foot Swelling Post-ALIF

Only a lefty when it comes to playing bass guitar and shooting pool, neither of which I have been able to do for quite a few years. I was dubbed Lefty by the guy who ran a bass shop I bought some gear from years ago.

 
Old 03-25-2012, 11:03 PM   #9
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Re: Left Foot Swelling Post-ALIF

Swelling seems to be a fairly common complaint after lumbar fusion. I can recall through the years many people posting with a question about it...most of my issues were with my right leg and it was the right leg that swelled.

If it gets really large then I think you need to try all those things you mentioned earlier like the compression hose, etc.

Luckily my surgeon is about 15 minutes away -- I was surprised he wanted to keep such close supervision of me...but we'd been through so much, first 18 months of trying to figure out what was still causing radiculopathy when everything looked fine on MRI, finally more or less figuring it out and deciding to do the 3 level fusion, getting to within 15 hours of surgery and having insurance pull the plug on covering it, jumping through copious hoops to appeal the decision and then finally having the surgery and having him find a couple nasty surprises that he wasn't anticipating when he opened me up...after all that, I think he was bound and determined that my recovery would proceed carefully and cautiously as he didn't want to go through this ever again with me.

Has your foot, ankle and calf been swollen ever since the surgery, or has it come on gradually? Does it seem to be affected by how long you are on your feet during the day?

 
Old 03-25-2012, 11:20 PM   #10
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Re: Left Foot Swelling Post-ALIF

I first noticed the swelling -- actually thought the right foot had a problem b/c it was cold while right was warm -- about three weeks post-op. Since then, the left leg has been consistently warm and slightly swollen. I actually use it warm up my right foot. It is more swollen in the evenings, particularly if I have to go in to work. The swelling starts in the calf and goes all the way down to my toes.

 
Old 03-26-2012, 05:42 AM   #11
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Re: Left Foot Swelling Post-ALIF

Since you had it checked out and know there isn't a blood clot or something vascular, I guess you just have to be patient and let nature run its course. I just realized a couple weeks ago that my feet are no longer cold. They had been cold for many years and it is only recently, almost 2 years post surgery, that I realized I wasn't having to wear socks to bed every single night.

I guess all you can do at this point is watch that the swelling is not increasing a lot and maybe try all the usual treatments for edema to see if anything helps.
Have you seen the catelog Footsmart? They carry different types of shoes for various foot issues in both dress and casual styles. Perhaps you could find some comfortable shoes there that would accommodate your two sized feet....

 
Old 04-06-2012, 06:37 PM   #12
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Re: Left Foot Swelling Post-ALIF

Because I did not get much pain relief from ALIF, the surgeon sent me to pain management. Pain management fellow had no clue why I was there, until he saw my left foot: Aha! Complex Regional Pain Syndrome - Type II (causalgia) -- something I can treat!

I'm having a diagnostic injection in ten days. They also want me to take neurontin, but have a policy not to prescribe any drugs after one office visit, so they faxed a request for a prescription to the doctor who originally referred me to the surgeon. He and the other doctor in his office are both on vacation, so no idea when the prescription will get filled. The fellow gave me a list of some supplements that might help too, like mega-doses of Vitamin C, so I guess I will start on those.

 
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