View Full Version : Back Numbness

09-05-2009, 02:05 PM
I am almost 3 months post op and still have numbness all over my whole back from my shoulders down (fused T4-L5). They (PT) want me to work on tightening my glutes - they barely respond. My question is - how long did the numbness in your back last for those of you more 'surgically mature' than us recent operatees? Is 3 months 'normal' to still be so dead? Did it all come back or do you still have dead areas? Thanks as usual for your advise.

09-05-2009, 08:18 PM
I am six months post op from the revision. And I still have numbness. The physical therapist said nerves grow extremely slowly, and it will take YEARS for ALL the numbness to be gone. I have some real burning going on right now, and am assuming it either muscles or nerve healing. I scratch what I can, and ask my husband to scratch what I can't reach (or sometimes feel). Very stange sensation to have someone scratching what I can't feel due to numbness. Oh well, such is life. Still taking it one day at a time!

09-05-2009, 08:32 PM
There are still some small numb patches on my kid's back. She is 17+ months out.

ETA: I'll ask her how much of her back was numb at first and how quickly most of it came back.

09-05-2009, 11:25 PM

I was still numb several years after my surgery. A physical therapist that I know told me to try something that really worked for me. She said to rub things of different textures across the numb area, while thinking about how they should feel. It sounds like voodoo, but it really worked for me. I used a back brush, a hair brush, a feather, and various other household items.


dolores a
09-06-2009, 03:48 PM
Hi, I just reached my three month mark the other day, and yes there is still numbness. Some has gone away, I don't even pay attention to it anymore unless someone touches me in those areas, still feels kind of strange, but that's about it. The only time it seems to be frustrating is if I get itchy in that area.

09-06-2009, 09:25 PM
hi to dolores & all the post op recently healing folks.....

i read your stories with awe...& keep you in my thoughts & prayers... hope & pray that recovery will be as fast as is healthy & as pain free as can possibly be!

dolores, i will probably need L4-S1 & T11-sacrum, with bilateral pelvic fixation..somthing like that..am wondering how & WHERE people walk when they first need to exercise a little....do you find a level street to walk with a friend nearby...or what?? it sounds scary & dangerous, but i guess necessary...

i am starting to fool around with the idea of surgery march/april 2010...was thinking of this november, but walking in new england in the winter is ridiculous!! i know the surgery is needed & inevitable..i just hate to think of never picking up my little 9 pound puppy again!! sounds petty, i know, but he is my joy & laughter!!

i wish the best to all who are healing...i pray your discomfort & pain will be short lived & that your relief will be forever after!


09-06-2009, 11:00 PM
I am truly blessed because where I live is fairly level, complete with a walking path (with mild inclines for landscape purposes only), and streets with sidewalks everywhere. My recent challenge has been to walk on the landscape rocks when there are bicyclists headed my direction! But I did manage to "rock climb" the end of July at a place called Craters of the Moon. We hiked to the "Indian Tunnel" (about a 1/2 mile paved walk, up and down hill), then went through the tunnel (not paved, and boulders from cave ins up above blocking the pathway), but I did it. When I climbed out of the hole, which I wasn't sure I could do since I didn't bend like most folks, it was very RUGGED terrain to get back to the path. My hubby was my stabilizer when needed, but talk about sucess. What a feeling!

I also have a treadmill and eliptical at home. Started doing the treadmill at 0 incline probably after about four months. But not really commited to it until maybe 10 months. The doctor recommended to not do the elliptical until at least a year, because of the fusion and screws in the pelvis. He also did not want me doing any incline on the treadmill until the first year. I think he was being extremely cautious. He did let me ride on the Harley after about 8 months (but I cheated and took a 4-mile ride around the block on my birthday about four months post-op)!

No pets for me, but I would recommend the dog come to you gently. They sure can get rowdy and out of hand quickly, and our responses and balance are not too quick the first four months or so, especailly if on meds! All my time frame references are pretty generalized, as I don't specifically recall what I did when. Just know you're an adult and can listen and respond to what your body says. Take it one day at a time!

09-07-2009, 01:04 AM
Hey, Les..so good to hear from you...

wow, sounds like you got quite a work out! glad to hear of how much you can do...& your time line sounds like you made great progress all along the way..i hope this surgery is the last...but it really appears as if you can do just about anything & everything by now!! congratulations on your courage, strength & inspiration to those of us who havent gone thru it yet!

idaho..i guess it must be a challenge...i mean, dont you get alot of snow & stuff? i know the last few winters in northeast we had fall & winter...spring was a blink of the eye & i swear we had one day of summer this year! so the thought of trying to get exercise here after surgery...well, the ice & snow are not conducive..& last year we got snow every week! as for my puppy, he is gentle & sweet, i just wonder about bending & lifting...it would be like picking up a 9 pound bag of potatoes..i wonder if fused to the sacrum with pelvic fixation would allow that? oh, well, not my biggest worry...& there are always dog walkers for the worst of times...

thank you so much for the reply....i just have big & little questions (serious & silly) that i hesitate to ask...

thanks for the help...& best of luck to you for a pain free life


09-07-2009, 07:26 AM
Jess-- just wanted to say there are no questions that aren't important enough to throw out to all of us. Someone will usually pick up the ball and answer... It's funny how we are all different but many times we've dealt with the same nagging questions.

Walking can definitely be a challenge to those of us living in true winter climes. I didn't have any place to walk my first winter post-op, although I was doing PT during part of the time and walked on a treadmill there. In January of that year I bought a treadmill and then could walk regardless of the weather. The only problem with that is you need the money for the purchase and the space for putting it! ;) I'm really glad I got mine though. I have a nice walking trail around part of our property -- and that is where I walked before the weather turned bad that year.

From reading posts over a period of close to two years, I'd say that most of the surgeons lift at least most of the weight -lifting restrictions at some point in time. My surgeon did, but it was about one year, I think, when he upped it to over 10-15 lbs. (But I can't remember for sure...) Now it's up to me to use common sense, but I could probably lift 15-20 lbs. if I want to. Actually, I know I can lift 15, because that's how much one of my grandsons weighs now. And I definitely want to do that! I'm heading over to see him today. But I am 2 years and 4 months post-op and feeling pretty solid. When you lift, you will need to do it the correct way (not bending, which puts strain on your back and fusion, but rather using your legs to straighten up) and Les is soooo right in saying you'll need to be careful with your dog, as they can do sudden moves that get you off balance or jerk you. Once your fusion is solid it will be less risky. It just takes time.

Les-- that's impressive about your Craters of the Moon walk. Congrats! I was there once, way back in my twenties... so I very vaguely remember what it looks like... Those little victories/challenges are so important! Way to go!

Austin Paula-- my back isn't really numb much anymore, but the sensations aren't normal either. And I had surgery when I was 20 for melanoma and they took my lymph nodes out from one of my armpits, and I still don't have normal feeling there. That's been over 35 years. I think it may vary as to when/how nerves regenerate, but patience is called for... I think Linda's post is pretty interesting and worth trying.

09-07-2009, 09:55 AM
thanks susie bee...i'll remember that about the questions...& all the rest of the advice...
glad you can lift your grandson now....

enjoy him!

dolores a
09-07-2009, 11:14 AM
Hi Jess, I think I was home for a little less than a week when I started walking outside, I have regular sidewalks in my neighborhood here with the usual cracks and bumps, so I did have someone with me for the most part. When I was feeling a little stronger, I did go out by myself for the exercise and for cabin fever. I chose to have my surgery when it was warm just so I could go out without having to bundle up. Sounds like you are deciding to do this surgery in the warm weather also. You know Jess, you e-mailed my a while back about my surgeon, I did try to answer you but for some reason I don't know if I was successful, I seem to have problems with that. If you did not receive it I'll try again, let me know.

Sorry Paula, we seemed to have hi-jack your thread!

09-07-2009, 02:30 PM
Thanks to all for the info. I am going to try Linda's suggestion. It sounds intriguing. The numbness is not a problem by itself, but it means the muscles don't respond when I try to command them. Tightening my gluts when the PT tells me is almost cartoonish. Nothing hardly moves! Sounds like the lesson here is the same as the rest of my lessons on this journey - patience patience patience!

09-07-2009, 11:27 PM
I am 7 1/2 months post op and still have numbness over more than 50% of my back. Im finally getting some feeling back in my butt, thank god. I was in PT for the month of June, and my gluts/hips/thighs and tummy were the area that we were working on. I must say that the PT def. helped me in more ways that just physically. Once I learned how to stretch and move, I learned how to walk w/a swager again, which I didnt have before, due to the tightness in my hips. Once I regained that, I also regained my confidence in myself and how I carried myself. I have been slacking...with doing my excersices at home, and should probably start up again....ughh...Im not a big excersice guru I guess! Either way, the numbness is completely normal. My surgeon told me it takes a nerve about a month to regenerate a 1/2 of an inch...maybe it was less. Think about the size of your back and how many nerves were damaged from the incision. By the way, Im fused in the exact same place! :) Good luck...it will get better!!!

09-07-2009, 11:28 PM
Hi dolores...yes, i did get the message...but i need a manhattan doctor, so i like neuwirth & lonner alot..

paula, i am in trouble if patience is needed! i am hyper & impatient...staying still is hard..of course, i had to retire early from the pain, so i am learning patience the hard way!

thanks everyone, for the advice.. and as far as exercise..it sounds like a treadmill or warm weather, one or the other, is required


09-08-2009, 06:23 AM
I'm about 11 months out, and I still have some numbness. It so much smaller an area than it was originally. For me, it's mostly around the left shoulder blade, and a little in the lower back. It doesn't bother me though--except when I get 'the itchies' back there and I try to scratch the hell out of it. THat shoulder blade numb area is the spot where I get alternating itchy spells and muscle spasms. In my mind, I hope that once the numbness gets better, so will the other 2, more annoying symptoms.

I mean really--numbness--it's not pain, so who cares? :)

09-08-2009, 06:41 PM

Once your a few weeks along try going to a mall if there is one near you. For me here in VA Beach it was hot and I couldn't breath at all walking outside so the dr. mentioned walking indoors at the mall. In the end I opted for my elliptical in my bedroom. I will tell you though the elliptical has been great for my legs but doesn't begin to help with the walking. When I go out I still walk really slow and tire very easily. Good luck and be careful!

09-08-2009, 10:34 PM
Hi susan
thanx for the suggestion...the mall sounds like a great idea!

i am fooling around in my head with next spring...last winter, it was cold thru april & may in CT, i swear...lately we have little spring & this summer we had maybe 2 weeks of real summer weather! so as far as safe OUTDOOR walking, i would probably request april....

today i got sacroiliac joint injections at the pain dr...we are hoping it helps dissipate the excruciating pain in waist & hips ....my lumbar is the worst, thus the fusion suggested from T11 & from L4 to sacrum, front & back, with fixation (:confused:)....

i know all this is stalling for time, & that steroids, even directly into the pain with injection, are not good for the body! i am having a long & difficult time coming to a decision, though..so i keep seeking temporary help, hoping it will clear my mind to a final mind set about surgery...

thanks to all who have given me help & feedback..i appreciate every single response!!


09-09-2009, 12:58 PM

I hope your finding that your injections are helping you with the pain. I remember that pre surgery pain all to well. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. As for your surgery, your looking at a lot of work, I wish you the best. I always questioned weather or not I should have been fixed to the sacrum or pelvis. I'm glad that I am not but worry that in time I will be faced with another surgery. I am going to be positive and keep reminding myself that my surgeon knows best.

As far as your weather up there, your right you didn't have much of a spring this year or summer for that matter. My parents are in RI and they were always telling us about the rain everyday or the lack of temperatures this summer. I think you right about picking a spring date for your surgery! Good luck!

09-09-2009, 05:58 PM
susan, thank you so much! and your parents are right...between the rain june july & the cool weather, we had 2 weeks of summer,. & not much spring! we re now awaiting "indian summer,"...i remember going back to work in manhattan in september to the schools & boiling from the heat...now it is semi cool, with no hot weather in sight!!!

i am having good results with the S.I. injections :)...the epidurals didnt help...but this seems to be working on that awful waist & hip pain...it is so crippling, cause you absolutely cant walk with it! i dont know how long the relief will last, so i am now thinking maybe april for surgery...there are 2 surgeons in nyc i love...one more i am supposed to see in CT, but i am sure i will go with nyc....born & raised, i suspect all true new yorkers are secretly convinced that the best doctors in the USA are in nyc...at least, i probably do!.

i hope you never need to return to the operating room...my doctors tell me i must be fused to sacrum or i wont be stable...i truly hope you can avoid that!

best of luck to you