View Full Version : Long fusion with leg problems

09-21-2008, 10:08 PM
Lacey had her fusion surgery on Aug. 25th....almost 10 hours. The doc cemented T6 and 7, and fused from T8 to S2.

Right after the surgery, her right leg and foot had no feeling at all. Today, 4 weeks post-op, she still has little control over her right leg/foot. If she watches her foot, she can place it where she wants to more easily. She has a balance problem and is a fall risk. She has foot drop in the left foot which developed about 6 months before her first surgery.....that one was on June 11 and was a 3 discectomy. At that time, she had some loss of feeling in the left ankle and foot..much of which has corrected, except for the toes.

She has braces on both legs and uses her walker.

She has weird sensations in the right leg/foot, like the feeling of water running down her leg, or sharp pricks, muscle cramps and extreme jerking. She can't feel touch, but feels cold if the leg is squeezed. She's told that is normal as the nerves "wake up".

Does this sound "normal" to you? Did any of you experience problems with no feeling in the legs/leg?

09-21-2008, 10:41 PM
It sounds as if there is spinal cord damage or impingement in an area of her spine. I have these same problems ever since a car accident shoved my rods into my spinal cord (at T5) causing permanent damage in my lower torso and legs, as well as bowel/bladder incontinence, etc. Even after my fourth surgery to remove most of the hardware, the problem is still there and getting worse. I also have severe stenosis in my cervical and lumbar spine. (I'm also wondering if the cages that are left in my spine have not moved and are causing more damage, but unfortunately noone will help me.)

I would most definately have this looked into. I would get your daughter in to be seen by a neurosurgeon as well. (She will probably need an MRI versus a regular Xray.) This is not something that normally happens after a spinal surgery unless there was damage done. I know based on my almost 30 yrs of dealing with spine surgeries that orthopedic surgeons tend to ignore *problems* so-to-speak after they have done their surgeries. Please have this looked into right away. I, myself have all of the problems your daughter is dealing with and mine continue to get worse. Unfortunately for me I cannot go to a doctor for my problems because I can't get any insurance, but was told if I don't get this taken care of soon, I will go paralyzed. Again, please don't accept what this doctor is telling you. This needs to be looked further into with a second opinion or more. Good luck to you and your daughter.

1981-Harrington/Luque instrumentation T9-L5 for 30 degree thoracolumbar curve. Dr. Shufflebarger
1990-Revision surgery-Broken hardware/flatback deformity/pseudoarthrosis-Cotrel Dubousett instrumentation with extension into sacrum. (never done correctly) Dr. Shufflebarger
1995-Revision surgery-Severe flatback deformity/kyphosis-Moss Miami instrumentation (T5-sacrum) with titanium cages (back/front/back procedure), thoracoplasty, total reconstruction with osteotomies. (surgeon did surgery while coming down with chicken pox and developed encephalitis with brain damage, etc during 14 hr surgery) Dr. Shufflebarger
2005-Car accident-spinal cord injury/myelopathy from top of rods/hooks at T5. Surgery to remove hardware, with exception of cages. Permanent damage. Dr. Campbell
2008-5th surgery pending for severe stenosis in cervical spine, as well as lumbar spine because of prior surgeries.

09-21-2008, 11:42 PM
Hi :-)

Definitely there's no harm in getting a 2nd opinion, especially from a neurosurgeon like Shelgrl says. Sometimes serious things are missed. But I also wanted to let you know that it isn't necessarily anything more than what the surgeon suggests. After my first fusion (T3-L3 or so), I found that much of my torso was numb, & it took a long time to get sensation back (like, a couple of years & never did, fully). Nerves regrowing can feel weird, & I did have sensations like bugs crawling on the inside of my skin, itchiness inside (still get this), pins & needles, sharp pains (still get these), etc.. I can't speak to effects on legs, since I'm in a wheelchair anyway & don't have great feeling/movement from the waist (esp. knees) downward.

A good sign would be a slow improvement in symptoms. I trust my surgeon with my life (literally), but even great surgeons don't know everything - if it's possible for you to get a neuro opinion, I'm sure it would put your mind at ease, if nothing else.

I hope you can get this sorted soon. Please wish Lacey the very best for a smoother & full recovery from here on in :-)

09-22-2008, 01:24 AM

I think you don't have anything to worry about at this moment. I had a surgery in 1999 with a long fusion plus they took out 7 partial ribs out of my rib hump on my upper right side and shortened my right shoulder. After that surgery I had feeling in my right arm and hand but I didn't have use of it for four months. After that my arm didn't have as much flexibility and often my hand went cold and ached alot but now years later I don't have problems with this arm or hand.

When the dr.'s go into a major surgery they manipulate things and the nerves are moved and in shock and the body needs time. Because it wasn't an injury and it was done in a controlled surgery I believe that it will just take time. Ater my surgery about six months I went to physical therapy and that helped trmendously. Also the best thing is time. And time takes time. The fact that she has feeling and coldness sounds to me like the nerves are in shock and after a few months it will improve and I am sure the dr's will suggest physical therapy at some time. Even then it takes a couple of years for the body to fully heal from a major surgery.

Just keep the faith and give it some time because at this moment no dr would do anything but suggest a few months of healing time and some therapy first.

I hope this helps and gives you hope because I do believe it is normal.

09-22-2008, 05:26 AM
DearDonna-- I'm so sorry to hear about Lacey's problems, but glad you posted about this. As far as being "normal"-- I don't think this is normal at all. Whether or not it's permanent, I really don't know. To not have the ability to use your leg and walk is not a normal outcome from this surgery. Most of us are up and walking beginning a couple of days post-op. Occasionally there are complications like what you're talking about. I would suggest seeing someone else to get another opinion on what is causing the problem and whether it is something that will just take time or is a permanent problem.

We all have numbness in our backs from the surgery which may or may not have the feeling return over time... but I don't see that as being the same thing as what you're describing. What augemac said certainly can provide some hope though-- maybe it's just something that will need more time. For the present though I would check further into this. Best wishes with this-- I'll be praying for Lacey.

joanne mclaurin
10-07-2008, 05:45 AM
I don't know if this will be much help, but, after my 1st surgery in 1971, the doctors did the "wake-up" test where they bring you out enough to get you to move your legs, before they close you up. I remember telling them after they kept yelling at me to move my legs, I told them I was moving them, but I was not. The doctors took the rods back out, I had the halo and was stretched 4 inches and they reinserted the rods. At first, I had a real problem with my left leg. During recovery, I walked up and down the hall over and over again. It helped, I have pain for time to time in that leg, but I can walk. Ask the doctor if she can walk and if it would help. It did me.

Wish you the best of luck.