Permanent numbness following microdiscectomy on L5/S1

Hi All. In 2005 I had my first back surgery, a microdiscectomy on L5/S1. When I came out of the hospital, my right leg was numb all along the sciatic nerve (buttocks, down the calf, bottom of my foot, and around to my three outer toes). Everyone thought the feeling would come back eventually but it never did, not even by a millimeter. My surgeon said that the herniation was so large that the nerve was damaged when they "pulled it away" to get at the disc.

ANYWAY. I've lived with it and my ensuing limp all this time, and went on to have a second microdiscectomy on L4 about eight years later. After that surgery I got a small amount of more numbness along my toes, but it's mostly the same. 

Now it looks like I've torn a few tendons in that numb ankle and my limp is a lot worse. The problem is that I've also re-herniated L4, and so I just don't know whether my new walking problems are due to the back or the ankle. I've been to multiple specialists in both fields and the back surgeons say the problem is from the reherniation and the ankle surgeons say it's from the torn tendons. The problem is that if you're looking for a specific root cause in your specialty, you can find it . And yet, neither can say whether a surgery will make it any better.

The good news is that I have minimal pain. My rule with surgery is not to do it unless my quality of life is so affected that I NEED to do it. And so I probably won't operate on either until it gets much worse. Both surgeons have said not to muck around with either the back or the ankle unless I have to, but it's really discouraging to feel it getting worse.

I guess I'm just wondering if anyone else out there ended up with permanent numbness along the sciatic and, if so, what is life like for you? I've never met anyone else who ended up with as much permanent numbness as me and even after 20 years I still get mad that it happened like this. 



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

    I have some permanent numbness in my right leg and foot from nerve damage caused from a ruptured disc 30+ years ago, it's not my whole leg though, it does slightly affect the way I walk, but like you I have learned to live with it.

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