Lumbar Fusion Complication?

Patient

Q: My father had a lumbar fusion in Feb 2010. He has since then experienced numbness from his right knee to his foot. Walking is difficult without the aid of a walker and the only relief he has, is to lay in bed with his foot elevated. Just want to know if this is normal after an operation as he had and if so how long before the numbness goes.

Doctor

A:   The lumbar fusion procedure was supposed to relieve your father of any symptoms he may have been experiencing as a result of a lumbar spine disease. Is it possible that he had these symptoms to surgery and they have not been relieved by the procedure? This scenario can sometimes occur if the nerves involved have been permanently damaged by long standing disease.
If he did not have these symptoms prior to surgery, it would suggest that he sustained some nerve injury during the surgical procedure.  Depending on the severity of the injury to the nerves his symptoms could be permanent and thus will be forced to take various medications to control the symptoms. I note in his medical history that he is presently taking Lyrica, which works well to relieve numbness. if it is ineffective on its own then you should ask his surgeon to prescribe an additional medication to help.

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