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Muscle weakness, twitching and atrophy

daniraeddanirae Posts: 15
Hi all! Been about 3 months since my disc herniation at L5-S1. I can say the pain is getting better (though still not 100%, maybe 80%). The weakness and numbness are still there. I have noticed a bit of atrophy in my calf muscle of the effected side, I only can notice it when I actually feel the left vs the right muscle, you can't actually see it. I do know I am getting stronger, I am able to do more lifts onto my toe than a 2 months ago but wondering if I will ever even back out? Have you all noticed that while healing you lost strength and mass due to the nerve damage from a herniation or bulge? I still get random twitching in both my legs, so strange LOL, all of which started after my injury.
Dani Rae


  • Hi Danirae,

    I am 4+ months post op from a microdscectomy performed back in July. I had a big nerve impingement pressing on my L5 nerve root which caused major sciatic pain, numbness, and weakness in my right leg and foot. Post surgery, the pain is pretty much gone, however I still have weakness, numbness and tingling primarily below the right knee and my foot, big toe and the two digits next to my big toe. I have been doing PT religiously for the past 3 months and definitely feeling and seeing improvements. My right leg is smaller due to atrophy and I too get muscle twitches that occur randomly in both legs and sometimes my back. Doc says nerves take a while to heal, so I am being patient and working hard in rehab. I take supplements that contain potassium., magnesium and B vitamins along with drinking Gatorade (for electrolytes) every day. It seems to help with muscle cramps and twitches. I also notice if I sit or stand or lie down too long, muscles get weird on me. Best thing for me is to keep the body moving as much as I can. Good luck in your recovery and stay positive!

  • daniraeddanirae Posts: 15
    edited 12/02/2014 - 7:15 AM
    Thanks so much Tim! Sounds like we are in the same boat minus the surgery. So glad your pain is gone, I am getting there with my pain, it seems to be healing itself but the numbness down the back of my thigh and the anterior of my foot is still there. I do get pain in my heal as well. Very strange. I am a fitness instructor and have pulled myself out of heavy workouts until I could get healed, I am slowly getting back into the larger workouts and am super careful. The twitching drives me crazy at times, in both legs, I guess the nerves really do get irritated and let us know huh?

    Thank you again for taking the time to respond, its great to have someone who can relate!
    Dani Rae
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  • I'm the same boat as tfduffy, just the other side (left). A week shy of 5 months, post-op. I had transient foot drop which has gone away (from roughly every 100 steps, it gradually came less frequent and I haven't noticed it at all in the past two weeks), muscle twitches which have reduced somewhat, and muscle cramping and atrophy. It's still slow going and at least for me it has never been a straight-line trajectory - there have been plenty of setbacks. Previously I couldn't even do a single left calf raise but maybe 10 or 15 right, now I can do about 20 calf raises in a row on each side before the muscles start to burn a bit and both sides feel relatively even now. I guess I'm judging left-to-right by when the muscles feel tired. So for me anyways, it seems to be getting more even. This also was the case for the 15 years I managed the herniation (exercise, PT) before I eventually had the surgery.
  • I forgot to mention that over the past three months, riding on the stationary bike and the newly-introduced elliptical part of my workout has gradually felt more even. For me it takes about 15 minutes before my legs feel a mild exercise 'burn' - for lack of a better word. When I started on the bike, the left would tire in a minute or two with the right lasting a long time. Now they are usually within 30 seconds of each other. It did, however, take a total of five months for this to even up - two months of the surgeon's post-op exercise program and three months of PT.
  • Thank you for replying! Seems the atrophy and weakness is par for the course withe the back issues. I know it will take time to even the legs back out and I am slowly working to get there, its not a noticable atrophy to the untrained eye but I can feel it when I compare the 2 calf muscles and the neurologist could slightly see it. Bike I bet is a great way to even the legs back out, really targets those muscles and maybe something I will look into.

    Right now, no surgery, as long as my symptoms do not regress to a post injury state, if they do, I will go under. For now, I will try to manage. I have a large compression on the left side nerve root at L5-S1, pretty large herniation so I am happy that I am making progress. I hope to continue and pray my body absorbs it over time and allows to heal naturally. I know it will never be back to where it should be but.....

    Glad to hear things are working out so well for you now! Congrats!
    Dani Rae
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  • I've been a member for a little while, but I just lurked while I gathered information about spinal surgeries/conditions. This'll be my first post.

    I had C5-C7 fused in Nov. of last year after battling neck problems for 7 years. I have a congenitally narrowed spinal canal as well as a genetic predisposition to some other spinal problems. 4/6 discs in my neck we desiccated, 2 of which were really shot and helping bone spurs to grow. I had all the normal symptoms of nerve impingement: numbness, tingling, weakness, electrical shocks, pain, etc. I was told I could expect my nerves to heal in this manner, as the neurosurgeon said was most typical: 1st pain; then weakness; then the numbness/tingling. It took over 6 months for the radicular pain to fade in my arms, about 8 for me to notice strength returning, and over a year for the numbness to start to disappear. So, hopefully your nerves will heal in a similar manner, if not quite the lengthy timeframe.

    Surgery was the best decision I've ever made. Now I get to make it again in Jan., as I have a ruined disc at L5-S1 which is pinching off the nerve in my left foramen; good times!
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