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: 3,779

    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: 169

    "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!

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