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New foot pain 3 mos after l4-5 fusion

Started by Lexibright on 07/27/2020 11:33pm

Hello, this is my 1st post. I had spondylolisthesis and herniated disc at l4-5 that got so bad in Feb 2018 I suddenly couldn't put 1 foot in front of the other and walk while out shopping with my other half. It was very scary! I had been having sciatica and foot pain following long walks for 2 years but didn't realize my back was so messed up until I couldn't walk.

I had TLIF with a cage and 2 screws March 30, 2018. I went to PT diligently and did my home exercises as well but 3 months post op I noticed pain behind left knee. Kind of felt like it was going to sleep. I reported it to my NS but he dismissed it and told me I need to exercise. I have always enjoyed walking, hiking in the mountains and exercise. But after the strange knee pain started, my feet began "burning" on the tops and the ankles. Sometimes both feet but often just the left. This occurs while at rest. No rhyme or reason to it at all. Since my NS had dismissed me, I went to every specialist I could think of to get to the bottom of it.

Rheumatologist...clear. Podiatrist...clear. Endocrinologist...clear. Vein center....clear. Labs, xrays and even a recent MRI of left foot ordered by my primary dr...all clear. Sometimes the pain is so bad it makes me cry. Seems as though being seated with my butt lower than my legs like when riding in a car or sitting in a recliner makes it worse.

Its been 2 years since onset and now the pain is not only general burning to top of feet and ankles but waves of rythmic searing pain at base of 2nd & 3rd toes (on top), and a few months after that started a searing, stabbing pain on outside of mid calf.

In desperation over the years I have searched the internet trying to dx myself since the medical community was unable to. I have specifically searched about foot pain relating to back pain but never found a link until tonight. I searched foot and ankle pain following l4-5 fusion and some articles came up.

The one that caught my eye the most mentioned the phenomena occurring 3 months post op. It mentioned scar tissue enveloping the newly decompressed nerve root. The article was on a blog about neuro stimulators.

My quality of life has seriously deteriorated and I feel so helpless as the last 2 years my efforts to get help and relief have been futile.

My primary dr ordered more bloodwork trying to figure out what could be wrong and it came back that I have a positive ANA so she has referred me back to Rheumatologist. I see her in Sept. But I really think these foot problems are related to my back or the TLIF surgery itself.

Tylenol doesn't touch the pain. I can't take nsaids, Lyrica or Gabapentin and oxycodone doesn't help either. Has anyone experienced this and if so was it treatable?

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1 Response


I had my ALIF L5S1 surgery Aug 12, 2020 so I’m at the two month mark and I have to say I think I am glad I did the surgery ? The buttocks pain I had everyday level 10 has reduced to 5-10 depending on time of day and how long I sit.
My electrifying pinched nerve pain in my lower back is completely gone. That is what makes the surgery worth the post-op pain. I too have developed burning and numbness in my feet. It started with my left foot and now it is both feet. I had this pain immediately after surgery but it was tolerable at first because I was medicated all day long. I now have terrible foot pain all day long. Only time if subsides is when I lay for awhile and then get up and walk around or stand in place, but that it short lived it seems to always return. Sometimes I cry from the foot pain. My biggest fear and strange pains and happenings are when I lay on my back for any length of time. After laying for hours my entire torso legs and feet go numb ( like sleeping). Every morning this occurs and it takes time for my body’s to wake up. I feel paralyzed when this happens. It is very scary and my orthopedic surgeon says he has never hear this before. Well, it never happen to me either until he performed this surgery. I have a weird mid back annoying muscular pain as well that he couldn’t explain. In addition to the paralysis feeling my body automatically begins to stretch uncontrollably to recover the feeling in my extremities. I am frightened when this happens because I’m afraid it will rip the screws and plate of my spine. My surgeon again said this is not due to the surgery and I should see a neurosurgeon. That frightens me that he has no answers and fails to find them for me. Well I went to get the referral from my primary doctor. I will let you know how It goes with the Neurosurgeon. Wish me luck! Maybe it will be a diagnosis for you as well.