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Old 05-13-2008, 05:30 PM   #1
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1 year after herniated disk - foot still numb - permanent?

I'm a 37-year old female in good shape, not overweight. I had a herniation of L5 S1 a year ago. It was the biggest rupture the neurosurgeon I met with had ever seen. I spent 3 months barely able to walk with agonizing pain. Thankfully, that went away without surgery. But the numbness in my foot and outer right leg has not improved at all. While I can walk without a limp, my leg tires out very easily and I'm not able to walk long distances. For instance, if I were to walk around a mall for 4 hours, I'd be limping by the end, my ankle bone would feel like it was about to collapse and the numbness would be worse than usual in my foot.

I recently returned to the physio therapist who initially treated me and she said she couldn't do anything more for me. If any of you have experience with this sort of thing, can you tell me what my chances are of losing this horrible numbness? I also get frequent spasms in my right calf... nothing major, just soft jerky spasms, and SOMEtimes at night I get sharp pains and/or severe muscle cramps in that foot and leg. I would love to be able to walk as much as I did before and am afraid that the longer this goes on without help, the less my chance of 'getting there'.

Thanks!

kd

 
Old 05-13-2008, 08:35 PM   #2
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Re: 1 year after herniated disk - foot still numb - permanent?

Hi KD,

I am sorry you are still dealing with this. Have you by chance gone for a second/third opinion? Nerves are very slow healing and I have been told that the nerve heals one of two ways:

1. It either heals from the top or the bottom. Meaning the pain slowly healsfrom the top of the thigh and slowly works down the leg to the foot. Or the opposite which is from the toes, to the calf, to the thigh.

2. OR it heals from the top and the bottom but meets at the middle of the leg.

Unfortunately nerve pain takes a long time to heal so the fact you are still having pain/numbness does not suprise me. However, if you have not already seen another doctor, I would consider seeking a second opinion to ensure that the nerve is not being compressed in any way. Better to not have any regrets down the road.

Good luck and please keep us posted.

 
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Old 05-14-2008, 09:45 AM   #3
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Re: 1 year after herniated disk - foot still numb - permanent?

Well, last summer when this started I ended up in the hospital for a day of morphine. While there, I was examined by the chief neurosurgery resident. She talked to the neurosurgeon on call that day and he said that since most disk herniations heal on their own within 3 months, they don't like to operate too quickly. And I was happy to hear him say that because I think surgery should always be a last resort. About 2 months later (by this time I was no longer experiencing pain, but still had the weakness and numbness) I saw an orthopedic surgeon. He told me that if the leg pain came back he would operate IF I chose to try that route, but that while surgery can help the pain, it often doesn't help the numbness.

That's interesting about nerves healing bottom to top sometimes. What I'm experiencing isn't so terrible that I couldn't handle living with it for the rest of my life if I had to. I mean there are far, far worse things that people have to deal with. But if there's something I CAN do to improve things, I sure want to do it! I've heard that some chiropractors can help with disk issues, but my doctor and physio therapist were adamant that that was the worst things I could do. So I'm not really sure what to do.

Anyway, thanks for writing back!

 
Old 05-14-2008, 02:23 PM   #4
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Re: 1 year after herniated disk - foot still numb - permanent?

They are absolutely right about the chiro. Chiro have their place in medicine and in a case like yours they would only cause you more problems then you have.

 
Old 05-14-2008, 06:05 PM   #5
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Re: 1 year after herniated disk - foot still numb - permanent?

Also, were you told that the disc completely returned to it's natural position or could it still possibly be bulging out some, pressing on the nerve in some minor way?

Also, if it's just a matter of the nerve remembering it was compressed, it could be permanent. But it could be just a matter of time in healing, which is VERY slow.

Either way.. get in to see another physio that specializes in rehab. I am sure that there are many exercises that you could be doing and also having a good therapist stretching out that nerve on that side for the best possible chance at it healing for you.

Good luck.
__________________
"believe in the beauty of your dreams"- E. Roosevelt

L5/S1 bulging @ 18, now 46; still there (but no pain)
Fusion at L4/L5 Apr -2006
Solidly Fused Nov-2006
A Success, but still improving!

 
Old 05-15-2008, 07:55 AM   #6
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Re: 1 year after herniated disk - foot still numb - permanent?

Thanks guys for your helpful replies.

The physio therapist I was seeing has a fantastic reputation in my city for being the best in her field (with many years of experience) when it comes to disk issues. In fact, my doctor wouldn't let me see anyone else but her, so I do feel like I was seeing one of the best.

On my recent visit with her (which was the first time I'd seen her in months) she really didn't feel like there was much more I can do outside of regular, common-sense exercise, like walking and swimming. She also advised me to work on the strength of my right leg. She was disgusted that the doctors didn't do surgery on me, but I told her, WHAT was I supposed to do? Tell the neurosurgeon, 'you're wrong... I insist you operate at once!'

But maybe I will phone around and try to get a second physio opinion, because it's far from healed. In addition to my leg tiring out so easily, I also have the occasional day where the severe hip pain that started this whole thing comes back for a few hours, and I've also had some occasional numbness on my left (opposite) leg and on the top of my right forearm. My doctor said with a rupture the size I had it's not surprising I would feel effects on both sides. I'm just worried I'll end up rupturing it again. That's a truly frightening possibility. And no, I haven't had another MRI to check for the extent of healing.

Well, thanks for listening!

kd

 
Old 05-15-2008, 09:45 AM   #7
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Re: 1 year after herniated disk - foot still numb - permanent?

We have to remember no matter how good they are, they are human beings and human beings sometimes make mistakes. Don't think that I am saying yours has but it is just a thought to ponder over.

 
Old 05-16-2008, 04:15 AM   #8
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burpee HB User
Re: 1 year after herniated disk - foot still numb - permanent?

Wow, I've been looking at the boards for some time hoping for answers about my "pinched nerve." I have identical symptons. I was diagnosed with a herinated L4/L5 disc. My right foot is numb all across the top with a tingling stretching into my big toe.

As soon as I walk on it, my ankle starts to hurt, and eventually the whole leg. I have no insurance, my GP doesn't seem to care much about trying to treat my pain. I can't afford surgery or another "pain specialist."

I'm just hoping for a miracle, but am confused about whether I should rest my leg or try to work on it. I guess I can always hope, so far it's been seven weeks. Not much change.

 
Old 07-14-2010, 08:04 PM   #9
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Re: 1 year after herniated disk - foot still numb - permanent?

Hi how are you? just wanted to say that I also have that same trouble, I was told it would take a very long time to heal if it did at all...And I did end up getting fused from L3 t0 s1 w/the laminectomy.So be patient.


_______________
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Chronic pain patient
medtrionic my stim implant
Drop foot

Last edited by patti1412; 07-14-2010 at 08:10 PM.

 
Old 03-16-2011, 03:44 AM   #10
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Re: 1 year after herniated disk - foot still numb - permanent?

Hi, I got here after searching on google and I have same conditions and its almost 1 year since I have this problem. Same conditions ( alot of pain for few days and then pain went away started physiotherapie no pain at all and numbness remains there) and My concern is if it is possible that waiting for it to automatically heal can cause some permamnent damage?. Secondly now i am feeling some pain in my left leg though not as worse as it was on the right side but its same kind though numbness is in right leg alone. Is it alarming in any way??? SHould I go for another MRI?.
Best Regards

 
Old 03-16-2011, 07:30 PM   #11
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Re: 1 year after herniated disk - foot still numb - permanent?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdmari View Post
I'm a 37-year old female in good shape, not overweight. I had a herniation of L5 S1 a year ago. It was the biggest rupture the neurosurgeon I met with had ever seen. I spent 3 months barely able to walk with agonizing pain. Thankfully, that went away without surgery. But the numbness in my foot and outer right leg has not improved at all. While I can walk without a limp, my leg tires out very easily and I'm not able to walk long distances. For instance, if I were to walk around a mall for 4 hours, I'd be limping by the end, my ankle bone would feel like it was about to collapse and the numbness would be worse than usual in my foot.

I recently returned to the physio therapist who initially treated me and she said she couldn't do anything more for me. If any of you have experience with this sort of thing, can you tell me what my chances are of losing this horrible numbness? I also get frequent spasms in my right calf... nothing major, just soft jerky spasms, and SOMEtimes at night I get sharp pains and/or severe muscle cramps in that foot and leg. I would love to be able to walk as much as I did before and am afraid that the longer this goes on without help, the less my chance of 'getting there'.

Thanks!

kd
You seem to have had a 1st Sacral root involvement from your lumbar disc, sesory lose and pain outer foot and up the leg somewhat from there. The nerve was probably compressed enough to make some of it degenerate giving you your present symptoms. Luckily you have no motor weakness. So we know much of the nerve is intact and so if sensory and sympathetic fibres are damaged they have a good chance of repair.I cant remember the speed of gowth but for a large nerve ? 4 mm a day. So you might be lucky. I don't know if an EMG will be useful as your muscles work well.
James

 
Old 05-15-2011, 05:08 AM   #12
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Re: 1 year after herniated disk - foot still numb - permanent?

KdMari - are you still on here?

I have the exact same problem (including the cramps at night in my right calf & RLS type twitching) - its been a year and no change

Did you find a solution?

best
ed

 
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