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1yr post surgery L5/S1- calf weak


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Old 11-25-2017, 05:13 AM   #1
Erknee1
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1yr post surgery L5/S1- calf weak

Good morning. My name is Ernie. I live in Mesa Az USA. I am 1 year post surgery L5/S1 microdisctectomy. I had occasional back pain since 2010 however in June of 2016 I was taking out the trash bin and felt a pinch and something squish on my lower back. The next day I could barely walk and had excruciating pain on my right side and down my leg. It took 5 1/2 months to get approved for surgery. Insurance makes you jump through so many hoops..physical therapy, epidurals, MRI ..seems like it took forever to get anything approved. Meanwhile I continued to work with the pain and my foot and leg was usually swollen by the end of the day. To make Matters worse the parking garage is at least 200 yards away from my job. I was finally approved for surgery November 15, 2016. Recovery was slow. I took 9 weeks off work. After the surgery I didnít have the shooting pain anymore or the swelling of the leg and foot...thankfully. However the healing process for me has been slow. I did 18 sessions of physical therapy. I did notice that my right calf wasnít responding as well to the therapy. I had a limp and could not raise up on my toes. After 3 months I was given approval to do light workouts at the gym. On the seated calf machine I could do over 120 pounds using my left calf, however on my right calf I could only do 40 pounds for a few reps. When i did physical therapy i know i had some calf strength and could do light weights on the reformer machine. The one where you are vertical and the machine uses metal bands for resistance. Itís a like doing calf raises or squats laying down. I slowly increased my weights for other body exercises and began using the treadmill. At first I could only walk 1.6 miles an hour for 5 minutes. After a few months I could do 2.6 for 20 minutes then 3 mph. However, I found that with the weak calf the treadmill would beat me up too much and the awkward gait hurt my back and made me sore for a few days. I switched to the elliptical a few months ago and have found it to be a better overall exercise. I can go at my own pace and can even go for 5 minutes hands free to strengthen my legs and back. I am also a little weak on the hamstrings. I can do 20% less weight using the sitting hamstring machine. I cannot jog or run. I do not take any pain meds but do have the daily soreness in the morning or if Iíve been on my feet too long doing housework and light chores my back yells at me. Iím careful to get into and out of bed properly and still use a knee pillow. I have some numbness on my right outer thigh and the outer edge of my right foot. I still do not have the strength to lift up and do a standing toe raise. I am looking for support on the healing process. I seem to be hitting a wall on the calf muscle and hamstring healing. And the lingering limp is still there. I am here for anyone to give advice to anyone else as well..thank you!

 
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Old 11-25-2017, 01:42 PM   #2
teteri66
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Re: 1yr post surgery L5/S1- calf weak

Welcome to the board. Have you been back to the surgeon to explain your continuing symptoms? Had a new MRI?

It sounds like you might either have permanent nerve damage or something is continuing to press on the spinal nerve causing some nerve compression.

You have been a model patient regarding your recovery, doing far more than ďmostĒ patients do. If a nerve is badly compressed or compressed for a long time, it can take a long time to recover and/or regenerate. Many doctors will tell patients if it hasnít recovered in a year it is probably as good as it is going to get. However, I know from experience it can still get better after that 12 month time period.

Did you have the drop foot prior to the surgery or was it a result of surgery.

 
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Old 11-26-2017, 08:43 AM   #3
Erknee1
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Re: 1yr post surgery L5/S1- calf weak

Good Morning and thank you for the reply. I met with the surgeon a few weeks ago at my post year appointment. He said that my progress was Iím still healing and i didnít need to see him unless it got worse. I didnít have the drop foot or any leg or foot numbness or pain until the injury moving the trash bin. I blame Insurance for making me wait 5 1/2 months before I was approved for surgery. Having to jump through all the hoops took time and Iím hindsight i should have just went to the ER..Maybe that would have streamlined the process. The nerve was compressed for that long. The surgeon said when he did surgery they relieved the herniated disc pressure from the nerve and it was more compressed than what was read on the MRI. I havenít got worse. By the way Iím 49 and Iím good shape. 6ft 200 pounds. I was worried for my job since I work law enforcement but Iím at the manager level so I donít really have to do patrol or physical work. And Iím close to retirement..but Iím hoping I can recover so I can at least jog or run..I find that I feel better if I exercise at least 4 days a week...thank you again for your input.

 
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Old 11-26-2017, 09:45 AM   #4
teteri66
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Re: 1yr post surgery L5/S1- calf weak

Donít waste energy thinking about ďwhat-ifsĒ. No doctor can tell you how long a nerve can be compressed before damage begins to occur. I know one person who waited less than 24hours to have surgery who ended up with permanent nerve damage. Other people have waited a year or two with no or very limited damage.

There is also no accurate way to tell which damaged nerve will fully recover...and which will have some permanent damage. It sounds like a doctor is just washing his hands of a patient when he says ďgive it time,Ē but it is the best he can offer.

I would encourage you to continue doing any specific exercises you were given for the drop foot. You might also try acupuncture. It may or may not help...but it does bring blood flow to the injured area which may help healing.

 
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Old 11-28-2017, 12:51 PM   #5
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Re: 1yr post surgery L5/S1- calf weak

Have you been going to a Physical therapist or someone who does bodywork to help with the foot drop?

 
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Old 11-28-2017, 08:40 PM   #6
Erknee1
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Re: 1yr post surgery L5/S1- calf weak

That was interesting on what you said about the person who had permanent nerve damage after only 24 hours..I completed 18 sessions of physical therapy and was released after I had enough exercises to do at home or at the gym, plus the expense of $45 per visit was adding up. Youíve opened my eyes to think about alternative treatment with acupuncture. As you said if it helps with blood flow. With my thigh numbness and calf weakness itís worth a shot.

 
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Old 11-29-2017, 07:00 AM   #7
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Re: 1yr post surgery L5/S1- calf weak

Keep doing the exercises for the calf weakness. Some of those connections may have been permanently damaged when the disc herniated, but new cells can form and eventually take over...it just can take a long time.

 
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