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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index


Although I haven't actually heard of this happening to someone, I know I've read that it is one of the rare possibilities of what can go wrong during a back surgery. I'm really sorry you and your husband are having to go through this.

Four weeks post-op is very early in his recovery and I'm sure there's still a great deal of inflammation in there right now. The inflammation should improve quite a bit during the next several weeks for him, and the injection should also help. It would be unlikely that the surgeon nicked or cut the nerve at all, but the surgeons often use tools to lift the nerves out of the way when doing surgery, and the surgeon may have irritated the nerve during the surgery by doing this. It's also possible the nerve may have been hit or smashed somehow when the work was being done and is now bruised really bad. There are web sites where you can watch an actual fusion being done, so if you're curious you can search for one of these and watch it.

I am now 10 weeks post-op from a fusion, and have healed quite a bit from the surgical pain since 4 weeks post-op; however, I am still having severe sciatica but not foot drop. My surgeon told me it could take 1-2 years for the nerves to heal and for me to notice major pain improvement.

Unfortunately, since your husband has already had surgery it would be extremely difficult to find another spine surgeon that would give you a second opinion at this point. If he doesn't improve some in the next month it might be worth a try to see if you can find another spine surgeon to review his information. It would be best, though, to work with the surgeon who did his surgery to try to find a resolution to this. Most spine surgeons really do care about their patients and want to see them recover to the extent possible. Be sure to be assertive with his surgeon and don't take anything less than progress for an answer.

Be sure also that your husband stay active to the extent possible. You don't need to have muscle atrophy and weight gain compound his problems in the days ahead. There are lots of upper body exercises that can be done with some light hand weights, and lots of leg exercises you can do while sitting. Of course get the okay from his surgeon before attempting any of these.

Warm wishes for the days ahead, and again I'm very sorry you are having to go through this difficult time mentally and physically.
Jack and Ann,
Thank you for your replies...We saw the NS today and he used a nerve monitoring device during surgery to make sure no nerve were being stretched, but even though no alarms went off he admits that hubby's left L5 nerve must have been stretched and even had tears in it to cause the foot drop. He did not have the foot drop before the surgery. Since the NS does not think it's inflammation they are not going to do any steroid shots. Jack your experience at 5 months out is very hopeful for us and Ann thank you hubby is already in PT with electrostimulus adn they are going to send a unit home with us so we can continue at home. He also does the mental exercises all day long even though the foot won't move upward...there are some vibrations. Also the EMG did show the nerve was not nicked, or severed in any way adn is fully intact, thus the doc thinks it will heal - it's a question of time - perhaps up to two years he said....We already have the AFO splint but he is still using a walker...but it's so early - only 4 weeks.

The good news is he said yesterday that his back pain was almost nothing! I don't think he realizes how lucky that is! He is not a patient person or a sit still type - so I just pray he takes it easy and slow enough to preserve that 0-1 pain level - he doesn't know how lucky that father suffers terribly - his fusion fractured a few years back and there is not enough bone structure for them to do anything for him except steroid shots and pain meds....I pray my hubby doesn't ever have to suffer the way my Dad has all his life...

One other good thing is that hubby doesn't seem to have pain anymore in the leg with the foot drop -he did have nerve pain at first in the whole leg but it's better now - maybe that's some sign of healing too....

So thank you all so very much for sharing your experiences and hope and I wish you all the very best as well.....

Thanks so much!

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