L5/S1 discectomy overseas, nerve damage and post-op unclear

///L5/S1 discectomy overseas, nerve damage and post-op unclear
L5/S1 discectomy overseas, nerve damage and post-op unclear
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  • Avatarwhitecat74
    Post count: 2

    Dear Dr Corenman

    I am thrilled to have found your website, I will send you my files for a second opinion once I have them all. In the meantime I have a few questions:

    In March 2019 I developed what I thought was a metatarsal stress fracture on top of my left foot from running around in high heels and being overweight in recent years. MRIs showed a strain but not a fracture. The pain continued then evolved to piriformis pain in the right buttock, then sciatic pain.

    I saw a variety of physios, acupuncturists, ostheopaths in the U.K., France and even Taiwan. I was travelling a lot for work, in economy seats not helping things, at a desk job in pain the rest of the time. I had a strange symptom, for weeks I experienced a strong painful spasm every time the very last second of emptying my bladder (but no one seemed to think it was related).

    On a trip to France I woke up one morning in excruciating pain and my right foot had gone partially numb. One ambulance later a spine surgeon told me he could not let me leave the hospital without an operation, that I had an enormous L5-S1 hernia that was compressing the nerve root. My file also said caudida équina.

    Today I am 4 weeks post op (not micro, regular discectomy). I was given no follow-up instructions and have since left France I am back in London. I was able to walk quickly post-op but feel that my progress stalled after about a week. My foot remains numb on the bottom, far side and up the ankle. I have a short stride and a noticeable limp and my hips feel out of sync.

    My questions are as follows:

    1) After how long should I get another scan – x-ray or MRI?
    2) I do think (obviously) I have nerve damage. Are there any activities that I should or should not be doing during this recovery phase while I wait for the extent of the nerve damage or recovery to be known? I will then happily forward these to you for a second opinion.
    3) Do you think I need physio or is time the best ally at this stage?

    They noted some other problems like mild scoliosis and hip misalignment due to one leg being shorter than the other so I do know I will need to see a specialist about that.

    Thank you so much, sorry for the long post but I’m a bit left in the dark given that I haven’t had any follow up.

    Best regards


    Post count: 2

    I have two other things that I forgot to mention:

    – the metatarsal pain in my opposite foot is back, but I assume that’s all part of it
    – I have had vertigo since the operation, it seems to be triggered by anytime the scar is pressed or when I look up suddenly to the right or move my head quickly. This part is a little stranger, I can’t figure out why I have this, could it be additional nerve damage?

    AvatarDonald Corenman, MD, DC
    Post count: 7070

    It seems you have some nerve damage. Since it is so close to your operation, it is hard to tell what your potential outcome will be. It can take up to 18 months to know where you will be.

    For follow-up instructions, you can refer to these two, one for post-operative rehabilitation and the other for continuing maintenance. https://neckandback.com/pre-and-post-op/microdiscectomy-and-lumbar-decompression-recovery/ and https://neckandback.com/treatments/conservative-treatment-mechanical-lower-back-disorders/.

    A physiotherapist would be a very good choice for your rehabilitation. I start my disc patients after 7-10 days on PT and go for 6 weeks.Some patient can get vertigo due to anesthesia. It generally passes in time.

    Dr. Corenman

    Donald Corenman, MD, DC is a highly-regarded spine surgeon, considered an expert in the area of neck and back pain. Trained as both a Medical Doctor and Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Corenman earned academic appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and his research on spine surgery and rehabilitation has resulted in the publication of multiple peer-reviewed articles and two books.
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