My wife recently had L5-S1 spinal surgery to treat her lumbar spinal stenosis. She had both ALIF and PLIF. She also needed a second spinal surgery immediately (after 3 hours) following the fusion surgery because she lost all sensation to her right foot and CT showed there was additional nerve compression. The surgeon decided to take off the bone which was causing the additional nerve compression. Afterwards she recovered fine but had no sensations in her right foot.
Three weeks after surgery she started getting these extreme neuropathic pain in her right leg and fingers. This was followed by heavy swelling of her right foot. We went to the ER and the orthopedic surgeon said that this was nerve regeneration. We had a follow-up appointment with her surgeon who also said this was nerve regeneration and while they understand this is extremely painful, there's not much they can do about except give her painkillers to manage the pain. He also did an X-ray and a CT of her back and confirmed the rods and screw are in their proper place and nothing has moved.
The surgeon strongly suspects this is the nerve coming out from L5 which is severely irritated and causing the foot pain. I suspect and her family doctor agrees that the L5 nerve root is probably inflamed. We read in different forums that the fusion process takes 8-12 weeks to set and there will be big changes to the body after 8 weeks and this nerve pain may simply disappear. Currently she's on Pregabalin, Nortriptyline, Hydromorphone, and a custom compound cream (6% Pentoxifylline, 10% Ketmine, 2% Clonidine, and 6% DMSO in Lipoderm) to help manage her pain. She has also been prescribed Furosemide to help reduce the swelling. A combination of these drugs, magnesium supplements, and ice water bath is keeping her pain manageable. She can't lie down as it triggers pain in her lower back and foot burning, so has been sleeping on the couch for the past 3 weeks.
I wanted to share our recovery experience on this forum to see if others have faced or are facing similar difficulties and would be willing to share their recovery stories.