Is 9.5 months too late for radiculopathy recovery


To keep my story short I had l5-s1 herniation on 5/13/19 back pain appeared day or two after but I recovered from it.

Though it was present before sadly I've noticed numbness and pain in my right foot bed mainly on the balls of my toes only at the start of winter late November when I had to put closed shoes. 

Form there about 3 months passed and I did an l5-s1 discectomy on 2/24/20. I recovered from the surgery very quickly but the numbness/loss of sensation and pain from my right sole persists the pain aggravates when I walk on my toes (normal walking) , prolong sitting cross-legged it even hurts a bit more when I'm pushing to do my toilet needs.

I am so angry of my self having the herniation at the first place and then neglecting the symptoms all summer.

What are the chances to escape from chronic radiculopathy that is what are the chances of my l5 nerve root to heal?

Since it's a nerve issue I'm feeling helpless I can only start PT a month after the surgery as the doctor wrote but I don't think it helps with neurological problems. Is there something I can do other then waiting for that nerve to heal?

God bless all who suffer from these herniation problems it goes under the radar of preventive medicine yet can cause so much suffer.

Thank you




  • Welcome rypz79 we’re glad you’re here!

    Nerves take time to heal, my surgeon says to give them a year, I have heard others say to give it two years, after my last surgery I had more nerve pain than before surgery, it took 4-5 months to calm down. Recovering from back surgery requires time and patience, and lot's of it, give PT a chance, they have treatments and exercises that can help.

    While you’re waiting for a reply to your first post, please take a few moments to review the Code of Conduct and FAQ section, located under Forum Tools. There you will find important information about posting in the forum and helpful tips for new members.

    Have you read this article about scar tissue and nerve pain after surgery on Spine-health? It has a lot of great information. There are additional resources about what to expect after surgery in the Neck and Back Surgery Health Center that you may also find helpful.

    Again, welcome to the Veritas Health Forum.


    Veritas Health Forum Moderator

  • You’re only 12 days post-op. Just a babe in the woods. My advice is to be as patient as possible and allow healing. 

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  • Hi L4_L5, Chip

    I just want to reassure myself. Did I do the discectomy on time to have a chance of nerve root healing? 

    My symptoms only got worsen gradually half a year after the accident (13/5/19) 

    From there 1/12/19, 2 MRIs,  3 doctors (1 whom I met 3 times) , 1 steroid injection and then finally a discectomy on 2/24/20

    Thank you very much guys!

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,339


    Only time will tell. It also depends on how the surgery was done, what was cut and or moved. Like they said above, time and patience. 


  • Nerves are very unpredictable, they can hurt one day and the next be gone, but usually it just comes down to time, the longer the nerve was compressed, the longer the healing time.

    Take care and keep us posted


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  • rypz79rrypz79 Posts: 13
    edited 03/09/2020 - 6:33 AM

    Thanks chip. I'm willing to go the distance but I need some live signs along the way.

    Here is a very good article about nerve damage & healing 

    It still puts you in the dark. It has a lot of caveats and ifs The main paragraph says:

    "The only way to know if the nerve will heal is to provide it the best environment to heal and then wait. Many times this means surgical decompression if a disc herniation or a large bone spur compresses the nerve. After decompression, only time will tell what injury the nerve had suffered and what recovery is possible"

    I really really hope I did it on time and that the compression was not so hard on it (in the first  4-6 months I didn't kept my back and got several flairops).

    God bless you all

  • I can only tell you my experience and what my surgeon has told me, I have some permanent nerve damage in my left foot (numbness) that came from my first injury, it's a long story but the nerve at L4-L5 was compressed for over a year, I am lucky though, it's been so many years now that I don't even notice it anymore unless I look for it. I have also had complete nerve healing after surgery, before my first fusion surgery which I didn't want and fought not to have it by doing everything else first for almost 2 years, it took around a year but slowly healed and all of the pain and numbness went away. I had to edit your post because of the outside link which is not allowed by the code of conduct, we have a lot of very good articles here, go to the search box at the top right of your screen and type in nerve pain, scroll past the ads and you will see articles and past discussions. 

    Take care and keep us posted


  • Update

    Day 19 post surgery.

    I still have pain flairup while walking, standing, sitting cross-legged, even pressing to get my bowels compresses the nerve and it sends pain all down to my thumb. I think the time that flairup occurs from stressing my foot gradually increases today it took about 2 hours.

    All the things that looked so obvious and benign in a daily living are now a sturggle. only when I lay down on my bed pain diminishes.

    I think it's improving, but it's so slow....I want my foot back in shape so bad. I need it ASAP.

    I went to see the family doctor today to inform her about my surgery and get some NSAIDs. The pain isn't so bad, it's just annoying catching my attention , numbness, pins and needles or burning foot in some cases.

    She prescribed me with etodolac 400mg I don't know if I wanna take it or not. What do you say?


    God bless you all

  • I actually take the same medication, it's a good anti-inflammatory and seems to work pretty well for me. If it were me, I would contact my surgeons office and tell them that you are going to take it, surgeons can be concerned about certain medications right after surgery.

    Take care and keep us posted


  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,339

    I agree with Chip, check with your surgeon before taking any different meds. You are still early in the recovery process, it takes time and patience. You want to recover the right way, that the fastest.


  • Hi,

    37 days post op and I'm swinging from little hope to big fear.

    In all the studies I've read the optimal time for a surgery is after 3 months of failed non-surgical treatment. And that's a big problem because I've read that time is critical if you want to have a chance to fully recover. 

    The truth is I just not felt the numbness and later pain four or five months after the stupid accident (lifting a plasma TV while twisting to my car). only on early November I found my self wearing socks and closed shoes I started to notice the difference from there since 1/12/19-2/24/20 I saw 3 specialists (the first one 3 times) did 2 MRIs and got 1 epidoral shot to my back until I went to the Microdiscectomy specialist 9 days before my operation. if I've gotten to him earlier things might be a lot different.

    The problem is that we're talking about public healthcare services I almost didn't pay (150$ approx in total) but it took around 2-3 weeks from MRI to MRI and from Dr. to Dr. but who cares about money when your quality of life is hanging on the balance.

    I've met one orthopedic Dr. two weeks after the accident and two monts after he wrote: There were no "red" flags as they call it, there wasn't even positive SLR, all Reflexs are good but he mislead me all the way this bulge/herniation was pinching my nerve all time and only operation can relieve it.

    Don't wait go to a minimal invasive surgery as soon as "conservative" methods don't work even if you have mild symptoms as they will get worse unless you directly solve them.

    Thank you

    God bless you all

  • @rypz79 37 days post-op is just a babe in the woods. I’ve known people who’ve waited years to have back surgery and then 6 to 18 months post-op are 80 to 90% better. So don’t give up hope. Nerves can take a long time to wake up and heal.

  • Don't give up, 37 days is nothing when recovering from back surgery, especially when nerves are concerned.


  • L4_L5 , Chip

    There are timelines for nerve healing

    If you'll go to neckandback(dot com)->lower back->nerve damage & healing you'll see them.

    I'm absolutely terrified & obsessed from this radiculopathy. For the first time in my life I'm facing a debilitating injury that I don't have almost any control on it's healing outcome. that's scares the shit out of me to make things worse I'm also suffering from OCD which is relentless about this matter. It's tough mentally a lot more then physically.

    I think I've improved a little over this 40 days post-op but still no major improvement. Although it's not numb per say it has less sensation or less blood or less electrical power then the other foot. thus it gets irritated in all kinds of "normal" situations.

    I really hope & prey there will be a significant sign ASAP that I'm heading out of the woods so I can ease out and let nature do is thing.

    Thank you 

    God bless us all

  • I understand all of your feelings, been there more than once, I also know about all of the predictions, from my experience nerves heal very slowly, especially if they were compressed for a long time, they were also irritated during the surgery, 40 days is nothing, my surgeon says give it a year, I have heard others say their surgeon said 2 years before healing is complete. I have had 5 lumbar surgeries, every one has been different as far as recovery goes, the one thing I have learned is that you can't rush it and if you constantly worry about it, you will delay things, research suggest that stress and worry will delay recovery and nerve healing, my surgeons office gave me a booklet before one of my surgeries that explained it, basically it said that stress and worry tightens your muscles which in turn delays everything.

    I know it's hard and you want it over, we all do, but you have to give it time, one other thing, leave doctor google alone, it will only make you feel worse.

    Take care and keep us posted


  • rypz79rrypz79 Posts: 13
    edited 04/11/2020 - 2:06 PM

    Hi All,

    Well it's now day 46 post-op.

    Yesterday I felt better , I felt that something is "moving" in my foot , a sensation of something warmer. I took myself for a little walk I went down 3 stories and walked about a half-mile to my mother's house it wasn't smooth but I've managed to walk relatively fast.

    We eat dinner started siting leg over leg which irritates my nerve (dammit I love this posture). I went back to my apartment went up 3 stories then I got a flairup I needed to take down my shoes and relax. 

    I saw Netflix until 3:00 and fell asleep at 3:30 when I woke up around 10:30 I felt something isn't right the symptoms I thought I've lost since yesterday came back mainly loss of sensation and some pain the balls of my foot.

    It's so frustrating,  the progression isn't always in straight line there are good days and bad ones. I can feel the difference with my left foot which is fully alive.

    When the symptoms get worse I can get very anxious I'm metaforicly  "banging my head against the wall" saying to myself how careless was I to lift that TV and why it took me so long to get that surgery done. I've already lost a disc in my back why do I have suffer with my leg now??

    Why the hell those nerves don't heal faster ? I'm really waiting & hoping for a breakthrough I want some symptoms to be by gone.

    BTW sleeping 8-9 hours (except from yesterday) and taking 2000mg of quality Omega-3 fatty acids can help the nerve regeneration process? I've been doing this from almost day 1. I really want this leg back in shape.

    Thank you

    God bless you all

  • Don’t beat yourself up for lifting the TV. If it wasn’t that it would be something else in the future. We all have done things in the past we wish we had done differently.

    Keep on keeping on. What does your doctor say? I would tell him all the things you’re telling us.

  • I know you are in a hurry to get back to normal, we all are after surgery, don't beat yourself up about waiting to have surgery, there is no guarantee that you would be any better at this point if you had the surgery the next day after surgery, nerves are slow healers and there is nothing you can do to hurry that up except to keep doing what your surgeon told you to do. Time and patience, the hardest part of any spine surgery.

    Take care and keep us posted


  • Hi all,

    53 days post-op and I'm feeling so so.

    I'd definitely lost some muscle strength in the gastrocnemius (calf) muscles I can do 20 toe raises but it's not as easy as it with my left leg. The problem with all the lower-leg muscles is that if you cannot retrieve the strength in the 3-4 months after the surgery they are probably gone since axonal regeneration cannot reach beyond 18 inchs (18 months) and muscle cells die without nerve supply. That sucks I'm so angry about those 4 Dr.s (especially the first 2) who checked me and didn't bother to check those muscles thoroughly they only checked this manual outdated "brute motor strength" and found 5/5 that's bulshit. 

    As far as the sensory problem goes I cannot sit prolonged time with my right leg over my left one. Walking with a closed shoes for a period of time is uncomfortable the foot starts to "choke" and burn or becomes numb same with "yoga child pose" can't be in it for long time. Did anyone here experience these things?

    As for paresthesia goes the pain has reduced but when I apply pressure on the sole it hurts this is not painful yet annoying and disturbring situation since you need your sole to touch the ground.

    I'm frustrated I didn't do the surgery earlier but on the other hand the leg problems (sciatica) really began to disturb me and get my attention ~4 monts before the surgery. I know my herniation was not severe so it took time for it to actually affect me. I really hope I'm progressing . just can't wait  to be out of the woods. It's like getting your life back.

    Thanks VVV

  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,339

    I know you are still frustrated but you are still early in recovery. And, as you know, it takes time and patience. Keeping a positive attitude can make a big difference, physically and mentally. Hang in there, and look forward to getting your life back.

  • "As far as the sensory problem goes I cannot sit prolonged time with my right leg over my left one. Walking with a closed shoes for a period of time is uncomfortable the foot starts to "choke" and burn or becomes numb same with "yoga child pose" can't be in it for long time. Did anyone here experience these things?"

    Can someone share his/hers insights/experience on these symptoms?

  • Sitting with your legs crossed is one thing my surgeon said to not do because it puts your spine out of alignment, he also said to limit my sitting to 20 minutes at a time for 3 months after surgery, especially in a straight chair, don't know anything about yoga, but have you discussed it with your surgeon. I understand your worries, after my last discetomy, I was in much worse pain after surgery, had more nerve pain, weakness and a cold right foot that was not there before, it took 4 months before I started to feel better and around 10 months before I would say I was healed, every surgery is different and nerves can take a very long time to heal.


  • Hi All,

    2 months post-op.

    There is a continuous improvement but there is no resolution yet.

    Pain has much subsidised. It all sums up to paresthesia. mostly numbness in a sense that there is less sensation in the right foot compared to to the left on in other words the nerve from l5 to the foot doesn't conduct in the same velocity. the dorsum of the foot is somewhat cold or less sensible.

    The big lifestyle affects: I cannot sleep on my left side, I cannot sit cross-legged, I cannot sit on my knees, barefoot I cannot press my leg hard into ground

    All for a some period of time (from several minutes to an hour) it just irritates/suffocates the nerve causing pins & needles or burning sensation when I'm with closed shoes. Things I did once without thinking now catch my attention. 

    I have post-op with the surgeon next week (a delay of month due to the covid-19 closure) I'll ask him for re-MRI with gadolinium to make sure that everything is free. I don't know what else to ask/tell everything is symptomatic based evidence.

    I really hope to be out of woods at least in my mind I have a withdrawal from trying to run or lifting weights (even safely) I really need this nervous problem solved so I can focus on getting my body back in shape.

    Thank you all 


  • It is a good sign that you are seeing improvement, keep being patient and looking for those improvements and remember, nerves are slow healers and you still have plenty of time to heal.

    Take care


  • Hi all,

    Almost 3 months post-op.

    I really hope the my l5 nerve root is making progress towards healing. Now I really know why they use the phrase "nerves of steel". You literally need to have them both physically and mentally to endure this kind of injury.

    I probably returned  to the phase I was 3-4 months pre-op numbness on the dorsum of the foot - the skin feels everything but there is lack of "electricity" or warmth. sometimes there are tingligs I hope it's a good sign.  and  there is stabing pain on the balls of foot you feel it with every step especially when walking on flip-flops. The pain is accumulated the more you walk without rest the more pain you get.

    I really hope to get the conduction or current back to normal by hook or by crook by luck or by chance.

    These "low grade" symptoms just interfere with your daily life , steal your attention and don't let you flow in your daily routines. (In the summer I used to walk with flip-flops all day long and now I'm having second thoughts about it :-/)

    If anyone has gone through these kind of symptoms and made a full recovery I'll be more than happy to hear his/hers story.

    Take care


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