Leg pain and nerve pain in the feet post lumbar surgery
by Joel Howard
(Webb City, MO)
Neck problems can cause pain and weakness in the legs.
Leg pain and nerve pain in the feet post lumbar surgery are a difficult complication.
Hi, you were kind enough to respond to my questions about an issue that I am having in my cervical spine, so I am hopeful you will answer some questions I have about a lumbar condition. I guess you can tell that I have neck and lower back issues, much to my delight! :)
Anyway, 7 months ago I had a microdiscectomy at L5-S1 with very limited success. My back and leg pain did go away for a while. I was able to walk long distances almost immediately after the surgery without much pain or irritation in the legs. However, within days of the surgery I developed odd spasms in the arches of my feet and nerve pain in my ankles. Especially on the inside. After 6 or 8 weeks post surgery the pain started coming back in my legs. Mostly my right leg, but some in my left too. Don't get me wrong, I hate that pain, but there is something else that bothers me more. For the past few months if I do much of anything physical (like rebounding basketballs for my son), my right leg will (in the upper thigh) will get a heavy, dead sort of feeling. Like I might be unable to move it. In fact, if I attempt to raise my knee up actually feels heavier than the other leg. This feeling is very unsettling and concerns me about my long term future.
My surgeon is very conservative and not quick to overreact to something but he did order another lumbar and thoracic MRI. I have not had one in almost 6 months. I don't have the results back yet, but will soon.
I guess my real question after all that explanation is...can all of that be caused by nerve compression in the lumbar region? Am I in danger of permanent nerve damage? I have been very active and athletic all my life until this surgery. Now just walking a significant distance puts me in pain.
I know it is a lot to ask for some sort of diagnosis based on what I have said, but any thoughts would be appreciated.
I very much appreciated your feedback on my neck situation. You have a great website, that is very helpful.
Thanks for your time.
JoelHello again Joel,
The answer is yes, the dead feeling in your right thigh, and difficulty raising your knee can certainly be caused by nerve compression in the lumbar spine. But higher, affecting the femoral nerve.
Have your knee jerk reflexes tested, and bounce on each leg; does the right leg tend to give at the knee? The femoral nerve stretch is difficult for you to do at home, but the surgeon will have done it; find out if it was positive.
Frankly, in my opinion, you went back to long distance walking far too soon. After major surgery a period of rehabilitation, with gentle exercise and perhaps swimming was the way to go. You were badly advised; or did it against orders?! But that's water under the bridge and there's no going back.
Now something far more difficult; very occasionally and it's unlikely in your age group, a problem in the neck, or surgical complication can affect not just the nerve roots passing to the arm, but the spinal cord itself. Then pressure in the neck can cause these difficulties in your leg. It's unlikely, but needs to be considered.
I wish I were nearer Joel, but South Africa is some distance from Missouri! But there are plenty of good chiropractors in your neck of the wood. I'm not sure that you're a chiropractic case, though. Not now. But you might start looking around for a very experienced and thorough chiropractor in your neck of the woods.
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