Chronic nerve damage

I have been dealing with Bilateral posterior sciatica for 7 months now.. My MRI shows bulges and disc tears at L4-L5 and L5-S1. My first injection was after 3 months in L5-S1. Did not help. My second injection was in L4-L5 and L5-S1 three months later and did not help. Finally had the nerve tests last week and the neurologist said I had chronic nerve damage at L4-L5. Yikes. I see my neurosurgeon in two weeks to hear is opinion what to do next. Does anyone have nerve damage with sciatica? Did surgery help the nerve damage and sciatica? I have a feeling that is my only option. 



  • jnice, my heart goes out to you. I've had nerve pain and sciatica for many years so I know what you are dealing with. My first surgery was 2005 L4S1 discotomy/ laminectomy. Reherniated same area and in 2011 my neurosurgeon wanted to do a fusion which I refused (big mistake)  so he just cleared out more bone to free up the nerve root. Fast forward to 2017 the pain became unbearable and all I could do was curl up in the fetal position and cry. I had moved to a different state so had a different surgeon who did a myelogram and said the nerve was crushed and most probably permanently damaged. I then agreed to the fusion because I had no other option. Of course I had ALL the conservative treatments, injections etc. before and since each surgery. 

    To answer your question, well yes and no. I am SO much better off but then I was incapacitated before the surgery. I still have  lots of neuropathic pain but I have to remind myself that I do have some mobility. He wasn't sure the nerve would come back because it had been crushed too long. It's been 2+years since the surgery. I tried a Neuro stimulator which made things worse. We're not supposed to give advice and your surgeon will give you the best options but I sure wish I wouldn't have waited so long to fuse. Not a fun surgery by any stretch but sometimes it can give you your life back. Praying there is some relief for you! Please keep us posted when you see your surgeon. 

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,137

    jnice, welcome to the forum!

    I am so sorry you have to go through this. I also have nerve damage, sciatica with SI joint dysfunction. Like Joanne, I tried a SCS, and made things a lot worse. Injections help, sometime. When they don't my PM doctor will order a steroid pack, which really works better than the injections. Below is an article on stretches, something I do everyday.

    Also, you should take a look at the Sciatica Health Center on Spine-health. It has a number of informative articles and videos about common causes and treatment options for sciatica; from first aid tips to stretches you can perform to relieve painful sciatica symptoms. It’s a very helpful resource for those with sciatica.

    Take care and please keep us posted.

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  • In my experience an annular tear and/or disc bulge doesn’t make someone a candidate for surgery. Even if you fail injections and physical therapy. I don’t have any evidence of nerve root impingement; therefore I’m not a candidate for surgery. I’ve also been told that pain is never a reason to have surgery. The results of your MRI/EMG and physical examination are generally what dictates whether surgery is warranted.

  • ArizonaAArizona ArizonaPosts: 182

    "Does anyone have nerve damage with sciatica? Did surgery help the nerve damage and sciatica?"

    I had surgery four weeks and two days ago.  It was a large surgery but I made a fast recovery from it, quite remarkable I'm told.  I've been walking a mile or two everyday. I overdid it yesterday, walking up a  long steep sand and gravel hill, my first post op big hill. What put the most strain on me was coming down so slowly and carefully because I was afraid to fall on the slippery gravel.  I overdid it and now, alas, it is hurting me a lot today, and it is the nerves in my leg, same as before.  I should be better tomorrow and all ready to do something foolish again, though!  

    I still have hope. Nerves can take  a good amount of time to come alive again and heal. I had it for years.  I imagine the nerve pain is less frequent now, and I imagine that I have better control of my lower leg now too, because the severe stenosis was causing innervation in my lower leg as well as pain.  Am I imagining these improvements? Time will tell. 

    I was putting the big op. off for years. You hear horror stories. I was very afraid of it.  No, the back op part is good.  I'm actually taller after the operation!  I had some scoliosis as well as the usual degenerated disks. I used to be 6' or 6'1" but I had shrunk to 5'10 1/2".  Now I stand straighter and I'm taller than I've ever been, 6'2"!  

    The surgeon said the op was a total success, but yes the nerves in my leg are hurting me today, but I had a few good days before I tackled the hill, and I must admit did a lot of work around the house too yesterday, probably heavier work than I should have.

    So to answer your question - ask me in a few months!

  • ArizonaAArizona ArizonaPosts: 182

    Update almost 2 1/2 months after the surgery.  The recovery and results of the operation on my back itself has been extraordinary, better than I ever hoped for and even better than the doctor said it might be.  Unfortunately, though, even tho the surgeon freed up the pinched nerves in my lower back, the (poly)neuropathy pain in my leg and foot is at least as bad as it ever was.

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  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,137


    Great to hear from you, thanks for the update. I am so glad your surgery went so well. Sometimes nerves can take a while to heal, depending on how long they were impinged, I know it did with mine. I hope it gets better for you.


  • ArizonaAArizona ArizonaPosts: 182

    Thanks, Sandra.  Yes, that's what they tell me, but there's no sign of the nerves getting better though.  I had the neuropathy for almost six years, even longer if I count early warning signs like slightly tight shoes or socks hurting my foot.

    " I know it did with mine"

    That's great!  Are you feeling much better then?

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,137

    Needless to say, I developed SI joint dysfunction, sciatica drives me crazy. The last injection I had lasted about 8 weeks. But what works better for me is either Prednisone or a Medrol pack.

    Take care and keep us posted.

  • ArizonaAArizona ArizonaPosts: 182
    edited 01/04/2020 - 10:55 PM

    I am sorry to hear that, Sandra.  One completely unexpected and unadvertised benefit of my Oct. operation had was to fix my over 40 year old SI joint dysfunction which was somehow connected with the scloliosis I had - when my SI flared up I was bent over to the side - tho doctors always were puzzled about it and what to do about it.

  • What an ordeal!!!  May I ask...what kinds of test did the neurologist do to determine your nerve damage?  

    I have been suffering from sciatica for a whole year (herniated l5/s1)..I have had 3 injections and I am not having anymore..I go for a follow up in February and I'm wondering if I should mention that I would like to see a neurologist..

    Thank you!

  • @speedmomma

    I've been dealing with this for more than a year and a half. I see the neurosurgeon next month and will be requesting nerve/muscle conductor tests.  EMG  I believe. 

    Alas I am also dealing with cervical stenosis. 

    Sorry you're still suffering and the injections didn't work. What tests have you had so far? Are you in PT?

    Best wishes 


  • Sorry to hear the recovery hasn't been as quick or thorough as you had hoped! I'm at about the same point post-op for an l4/5 partial discectomy, and I'm also not really noticing any change to the affected nerve area in my leg. I'm back to most of regular activity in terms of the surgical site, though. 

  • @Arizona

    Fantastic news! Always great to hear positive stories. 

    Wishing you all the best for continued healing.

    Best wishes 


  • Liz53Liz53 MissouriPosts: 78

    I have been dealing with the same chronic leg pain and some back pain on and off for 7 years! I have a normal MRI most recently and even went out of town for an upright MRI and it didn’t show anything. I am having a CT myelogram tomorrow to see if they can see what might be compromising my nerve root. I had a Dr last week mention a SCS as an option? Hope to figure this out!!!

  • @Liz53

    Gee I'm so sorry you're still without answers. How frustrating and painful for you, for so long  :/

    I really hope you get some answers and solutions from the CT.

    Please let us know how you get on.

    Best wishes 


  • @Liz53 good luck with your CT today. Please post back on how it went if you can.

  • Liz53Liz53 MissouriPosts: 78

    CT done

    Waiting for results and visit with Dr later in the week 

    Experiencing a bit of increased back/leg pain after? Is this common??

    No headaches at least!

    Will report back when I know more.

    Thanks in advance for any replies about your Experience 


  • angie29angie29 Posts: 98
    edited 01/21/2020 - 11:55 AM


    I've not had one so I'm sorry I'm of no use, but others will reply with more help.

    I'm glad you have it over and done with, hopefully you'll get some answers very soon.

    Hope you feel better soon. 


  • Liz53Liz53 MissouriPosts: 78


    Thanks for your reply.

    Just looking for answers to chronic radicular pain. It is hard when the tests are inconclusive and the pain persists. Hope I get some answers with this test. 

    Will post when I have more information.

    Thanks Again 


  • @Liz53 did the recent upright MRI mention any bulging or herniated discs? Was it done with contrast?

    Is it possible your pelvis or hip is the problem? 

    I have hip impingement that was diagnosed by an orthopedic surgeon and I also have a small herniated lumbar disc.

    I’ve seen research papers online that state nerve root impingement is not required for someone to experience chronic pain from a herniated disc.

    My hip therapist thinks my herniated disc caused the hip impingement issue.

    What ratio of low back to leg pain do you have?

    For me most of my pain isn’t in my low back, unless I bend over or squat down.

    However ... (rhetorical question): Is the pain I’m getting in my low back from the herniated disc or is it from the hip impingement? 

    The therapist mentioned hip impingement can cause pain in the upper thigh down to the knee, as well as in the groin and low back.

    Does your leg pain stay at or above your knee? Is the pain in the front of your leg or the back of your leg?

    The diagnosis can sometimes be really tricky. And the importance of verifying where your pain is coming from, if there’s, in fact, more than one issue going on, is paramount.

    Hope you get some answers from this CT myelogram. Please keep us posted when you know more.

  • angie29angie29 Posts: 98
    edited 01/22/2020 - 5:47 AM


    Very interesting and useful post. Hope I'm not intruding on your post to Liz.

    I have L4/L5 L5/S1 bulges detected almost 2 years ago and my right hip has been painful for 5 years (no diagnosis).

    Initially I did have lower back pain,  but now I very rarely do. My pain is tingling aching pain  in my buttocks,  back of thighs,  sides of calfs and my feet either tingle/burn/ache or are cold. 

    Sometimes my legs ache, the muscles feel super tight, my knee and ankle joints click. Bilateral. 

    It's bizarre how many "symptoms " I have. I worry about myleopathy.

    I do have C4 degeneration and C5 C6 lateral recess stenosis. 

    I don't know if these are all related or all separate issues.

    I do see a neurosurgeon next month,  so let's see what he says/thinks.


    Please keep in touch and let us know how you get on with your results. 


  • Liz53Liz53 MissouriPosts: 78


    Thanks for your interest and help.

    The upright was done with contrast and didn’t show anything that was new and different. No new herniation or reason at L3-4 for nerve root compression. I really was hoping because of my positional pain it might have been helpful.

    I have seen this time around 4 different Drs( orthopedics and neurosurgeon) all suggested the myelogram as another slim chance for an explanation. Also mentioned was long term chance that scar tissue is impeding the movement of the nerve causing my symptoms. That same dr suggested a Spinal Cord Stimulator as a potential thing to help. This scares me!!!!

    I also have seen many PTs and no one mentioned hip or pelvis issues. I do have pain down the front mostly above knee pain, feeling vice like not numb or tingling issues. 

    This is getting old as this time it started in August and is really not improving.

    Wish back and leg pain could be more easy to figure out

    Very debilitating and limiting yo living life....

    Appreciate your thoughts!


  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,137


    At least you are not giving up, keep up the great attitude. I know it is frustrating when dealing with the unknowns but at least you are pushing for an answer.

    We have several members that have or have had a SCS, some good, some bad. Including myself. If you are considerating this, please do your research with a list of questions for your doctor. Plus, we are here to help if you need it.


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