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Cold Feet and knotty sensations in bottom of my foot.

I am 3 months post L5-S1 surgery.  I have no back pain thank goodness.  But i have numbness in my left ankle and a knotting sensation in the bottom of my foot.  There are no knots there, just the sensation of them.  I also have very cold feet.  Any one have any of these symptoms??  



  • Welcome jmpspine we’re glad you’re here!

    I had surgery on T12-L1 in Nov. 2018, after surgery my right foot was cold and numb, I also felt like I was walking on a rock, most of the numbness has gone, the cold sensation is still there, it has gotten a little better over time, doctor said it was the nerves causing the problem.

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  • After L3-S1 fusion my left foot was warm, right foot cold, with a constant knot feeling in the right foot. Also could not feel my toes as parts of each feet. 21 months later apparently the temp has evened out (I can’t tell though) still can’t feel my toes and the knot sensation comes and goes. I also developed neuropathy pain around the ligaments that wrap around the ankles, left ankle is worse right after surgery that has not gone away.
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  • Thank you both for your replies.  I have done a lot of searching for these 2 symptoms and really haven't found any specifics about them.  I have been told that that is the end of the nerve and will take the longest to heal.  This is my 2nd discectomy on the L5=S1.  Since i couldn't really find anything about it, i was wondering how common an issue this is with this surgery.  

  • I'm pretty new to this, but I had an l4-l5 discectomy about 4 weeks ago after about 4 months of numbness/cold foot after a month of severe sciatic pain following a disc rupture. The feelings you're describing sound very similar to mine, and I haven't noticed any improvement in symptoms following surgery. I'm told I have 6-12 months before I'll know if the operation was a success or not. I take the knotty sensation you describe (for me, anyway) to be little bundles of muscle/tendon/bone in the foot actually "feeling" their work for the first time, because the normal groups (including some of the skin) haven't been able to keep up their job. It's very unpleasant for me, but happily doesn't hurt. I do notice my lower leg gets tired and cranky MUCH faster than the other leg because things aren't operating as they're supposed to.

  • This is  very interesting topic for me.  Neuropathy electrifying shocks from my knees down and especially wrapped around my ankles aside, my feet pain actually impact me the most because I simply can’t walk more than a 1/2 mile, usually a 1/4 mile, before I have to stop because of pain. .  And walking/hiking was my favorite exercise before surgery.  The week before my surgery I walked 8 miles one day, would love to get back to that. 

    It feels more like pain deep in the bones of my feet, especially in the heel and balls of each foot, and very achy like I would imagine arthritis to be at the joints, but it’s not at a joint (and I don’t have arthritis).  But I mainly have the knot in the ball of my right foot—this really feels like there’s something in my shoe or my sock is wadded up in a ball or I’m walking on a rock with bare feet.  It started the first time I walked after surgery (both surgery) and I kept complaining about my socks being balled up but of course they weren’t.  Never had a single problem with my feet before surgery, so my doctors just shrug and a podiatrist just says it’s nerve pain radiating from my fusion area, nothing he can do except prescribe Neurontin which I’ve been taking 2700mg daily since about 2 months post op.  

    Thanks for starting this thread  jmpspie - maybe someone else’s experiences will shed a new light on these issues.  I have to believe it’s more common than we think  It’s also interesting chip that your post op experience is similar, except that your issues improved 


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  • Been a month since i've posted about this.  But, my left foot and ankle have pretty much remained the same since my last post.  Seems like i have a moving target on what doesn't seem to be working well.  My right leg over that past 4 weeks, which i never had issues with before, ever, is now feeling moderate pains on occasion and the bottom of that foot is feeling mild issues of cramping.   The past couple days have been sitting issues on my tail bone mainly on soft surfaces.  This was doing ok for the past couple months but has reappeared over the past few days.  It "lights up" my feet with tingly feelings and more pronounced knottiness.  So frustrating.

    Good to hear from you both.  This is such a struggle and a mind game that it's difficult to deal with.  It's good therapy to discuss it with someone who understands the issues.  Sorry to say that any of us have to deal with this.  Seems like science would have better answers these days.

  • I had ALIF/PLIF S1-L5L4 this past May, guess I’m doing as good as expected, still stiff in morning and after long car rides and when I lift/ do something dumb.

    For about 2 months my feet, mostly my right foot has been felling puffy,swollen numb when I bend my toes, not sure what’s causing this, it’s not bothering me when I work, machine shop,on my feet all day. Hope it’s just nerves getting better.


  • Earlier in this thread I said my foot pains felt deep and achy like I would imagine arthritis to feel, but I don’t have arthritis.  

    Strike that, reverse it.   Apparently I do have arthritis-something in my feet.  I saw a new (my third) pain Dr who X-ray’d both feet and the report showed moderate osteoarthrosis in my big toes, mild-moderate degenerative changes elsewhere, clawtoe deformations and the bones appear demineralized.  The report lists osteo- arthrosis not o-arthritis I suppose because they think it’s the normal wear/tear degenerative kind with no inflammation.  However due to lung issues I’m on prednisone again for the 4th time in 3 months, and each cycle on has been great for my foot and all other joint pains. When I have titrated down and off eventually off for about a week between prednisone treatment my joints get wildly inflamed and painful to the point of I cannot function.  My toe tingling pins needles numbness or shooting/stabbing neuropathy pains do not change regardless.

    This is the same doctor who is going to do the superior cluneal nerve injection.  He med portal messaged me after the X-ray results came back was he could do injections in my feet at the same time (no type of injection has been discussed). Not sure if that’s the right tact as I have joint (arthritic) pain just about any joint you can imagine, again none of which I ever had presurgery 2 yrs ago. 

    And same as jmpspine my issues are a moving target and travels ebbs flows -it’s frustrating.  My PCP has ordered RA blood marker work to start the digging down that rat hole.  

    Keep us all updated.  

  • Yes, I  still have numbness  I am. Post week 14 my  Dr says give it 15.monthd

  • Have you read the article Practical Advice for Recovering from Back Surgery on Spine-health? It offers a lot of practical tips around what to expect before, during, and after surgery. You may also want to check out the video How to Prep Your Home for Spine Surgery Recovery, which also has some great tips...

    These are great articles, I wish I had found them before. I am now 12 weeks post-op, can still feel tingeling in my right foot, have cold feet almost constantly... Doctor said to be patient and I had to 'sit this out'... it's unbearable sometimes.

  • darcaro123ddarcaro123 Posts: 1
    edited 08/05/2020 - 9:08 AM

    FWIW, I am very new here and I'm about to schedule a 4 level ACDF for cervical stenosis - I have many different symptoms, including this exact same issue in the ball of my foot.    I was able to alleviate it quite a bit by purchasing a pair of sneakers made by "Kuru"  .... my wife came across these sneakers and they've made all the difference in the world -  I actually hate walking on my hardwood floors without them! 

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,697


    Welcome to the forum! Since this is an older thread and you are new, I suggest you join Surgery Buddies. Just go the right under Forum Topics, click on Surgery Buddies and join in on the month of your surgery. There, you will meet other members that are waiting on surgery and/or recovery. All of the conversations have a lot of helpful information.

    Keep us posted,

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