5 Weeks PostOp - Neuropathy

So yesterday was the 5 week mark since my surgery. Everything (except my nerves) seems to be healing well as far as I can tell. I am down to the last 10 degrees in my boot and set to be at neutral at week 7. Incision looks decent, and swelling is under control (more during the day, quickly subsides with elevation/ice).

I am having one problem that is, honestly, debilitating. Quick recap: had a nerve block during surgery that was supposed to last 1-3 days. It ended up lasting about 15 days before it began to slightly wear off. Doctors assured me it was ok and that some people just take longer to rid of the anesthesia drugs from their system.

After it began wearing off I went from sensations of pressure and pins and needles, to now having constant 24/7 burning and stinging pain in my toes (mainly big toe) and the ball of my foot. I do also have the numbness along the side of the foot from the sural nerve being irritated but there’s no pain there or burning, just numbness and it doesn’t bother me much.

But man, my toes and foot. This is the worst pain I have ever experienced. It has last about 1.5 weeks now. It is debilitating and is giving me anxiety becuase it doesn’t take a break and I can’t sleep for more than 30 min at a time and that’s if I am lucky. I literally stay up all night just doing breathing exercises to try and get through the pain and discomfort.

Taking hydrocodone (norcos) and anti-inflammatory is doing absolutely nothing to help. As soon as my brother can take me today, I am going to urgent care to see if I can get some cream or any kind of temporary help until I can see my surgeon this week (hopefully tomorrow).

Has anybody experienced this kind of nerve pain in the toes, foot, or anywhere? How about at this stage of 5 weeks post op? If anyone has info or feedback you would be helping me tremendously. Anesthesiologist and Surgeon assure me this will go away but I can’t help being afraid and also knowing I cannot deal with this pain for months as I have read it could take up to a year for nerves to heal.

Anyone have suggestions for my urgent care visit today? Should I ask for any certain meds or creams? At this point I am more anxious to rid of this nerve pain than I am to start walking, just horrible. I hope for my sake someone here has dealt with this, but I also hope for the sake of their sanity nobody had to deal with this pain..

11 Responses to “5 Weeks PostOp - Neuropathy”

  1. Are you sleeping in the boot? I am about 8.5 weeks post op from surgery. During weeks 2-4 post op I had terrible burning and throbbing in my toes and top of foot. At that point, the doctor was requiring me to sleep in the boot. I was only getting maybe an hour or two of sleep at a time. My husband and I were brainstorming ideas of what to do for relief. He thought my symptoms sounded a lot like when he gets athletes foot. I ended up getting some gold bond powder. That helped take the edge off, but ultimately soon as I could sleep without the boot the burning and throbbing pain went away for me.

    I don’t know if our symptoms are 100% similar since you had those issues with the nerve block. I still have decreased sensation at the base of my big toe and heel. It used to be my whole big toe and lateral side of my foot but that seemed to have gotten better for the past few weeks.

    Honestly, if it’s driving you that nuts and you are not getting sleep, it doesn’t hurt to call your doctor’s office or go to urgent care.

  2. Ak1986 - I am sleeping without the boot for the past 1.5 weeks per the doctor. But it hasn’t given me any relief. It’s funny, my toes are so senstitive the boot feels like hot shattered glass. Even with a sock on, still happens. Same feeling if I reach down and massage my toes, but I bite a pillow and do it anyway because the stimulation is supposed to help heal/reeducate the nerves.

    Athletes foot huh? I’ll tell you what, the sole of my foot and toes are dry and slightly peeling in an area or two. I also feel uncomforable tension in the ligament running from my big toe through the arch of my foot. Don’t know if those symptoms relate..

    So when did you start sleeping without the boot and that is the point your burning and throbbing went away?

    I am going into ortho at 1:00pm today my time, about an hour from now. Don’t have an appointment but surgeon told me over the phone last week if it doesn’t get better to just come in monday at 1:30. Let’s see what happens.

    I have a few goals for this visit:
    1. Get imaging done for two things: Check for DVT and to make sure tendon is healing well, and the rest of the muscles in my lower leg are not torn or strained (have had calf pain, etc)
    2. Come up with a game plan to handle this pain so I can continue rehab and get my boot back on. Hate to say it, but might have to try neurontin or another nerve pain medication. I know it’s going to make me feel like crap, but I think I have to try,
    3. Push them to double up my PT time since they’ve repeated to me that PT is the key to getting the nerves to wake up and settle down.

    Hoping for the best!

  3. I can feel for you not getting any sleep. I also wasn’t getting any sleep the last week with the cast due to itch and pain. Cast was just removed last Fri (5 1/2 weeks post-op) and found out that my leg is full of blisters and it was the cause of itch and pain. Dermatologist prescribe some Triamcinolone cream and it helps a lot. But leg will be disgusting look for a few weeks and itch like hell but pain is gone. I need to bandaged lay leg to go to sleep, if not I’ll be scratching. But I was finally able to sleep, what a releif.
    I wish you luck in getting releif on you symptoms and get a good night of sleep.

  4. I hope you get something for the pain. Neurontin may be the best bet since it is for nerve issues. My mom takes it daily due to nerve damage from disintegrating disks in her back. It doesn’t make her feel like crap and she’s 80. :) But, as I know, everyone reacts differently to meds. If it allows you to sleep that alone should make you feel a lot better. I know I was miserable when I couldn’t sleep because of the cast and then my night boot.

  5. sharkmork - thank you much. I am so happy to hear you are sleeping better! It’s really immeasurable how much impact the sleeping problems have on my system in general. Makes me realize I was a pretty decent sleeper before all this, look forward to getting it back and my circadian rhythm etc..

    cserpent - they did end up giving me Neurontin today. Took first dose at 7:15pm, got drowsy around 10pm. Slept until 2:30am waking up every hour or so. Not too bad. Been awake since, it is 5:10am my time as I write this. Did not help with the nerve pain however, but will give it a week or so to see if it helps. Got nothing to lose at this point, as all doctors and research indicate that it’s a waiting game with the nerves…

    Do you know what kind of nerve pain your mom was getting? I feel like I am noticing a difference between the shooting pain and burning pain. The shooting pain seems to be helped by the meds a bit, but the burning pain does not..

  6. She gets both pains. Since the nerve damage happened before she got her vertebra fused she has it all the time and neurontin keeps it manageable. I hope it starts calming down both the nerve pains for you!

  7. My nerve block also took a long time to wear off and I barely slept from weeks 4-7 post op. Had the shooting and burning pains. My doctor just kept telling me to take Advil and Tylenol and wouldn’t prescribe anything else. He just reassured me that it should pass, but if it hadn’t at three months, he would schedule some testing. He was right. It passed and by 8 weeks post op, the nerve had calmed down and I was sleeping again.

    I still have numbness right around the ankle bone, but the pain has been long gone. Nerves take a very long time to grow back. But I know what you’re going through. I did a lot of researching during that time on nerve damage. The only thing that did seem to help was attaching the pad of my circulating ice cooler to a foot pillow and ran the cooler while I slept. Keeping it cold helped alleviate the pain to some degree.

  8. So it turns out that the anasthesiologist hit my nerve during the popliteal nerve block (behind the knee). The pain I had behind my knee after surgery is now explained. My sore calf is also a result of this. Good news is I should recover, bad news is it could take weeks to up to 6 months and I will have to deal with this most delibilatating constant pain. Hit a new low (new high for pain) last night. So hard to get through.

    cserpent - thanks for sharing. Glad she get’s some relief from it.

    kamueller - I cannot believe you went through that pain and your doctor wouldn’t prescribe you anything! I don’t know how severe your burning pains were, but this is the most painful and debilitating thing I have ever experienced in my life. As a 31 yo grown man, the last time I cried was when I signed my first overseas contract at 24 because I worked so hard for it. Well I have cried on 3 seperate occasions from this pain, from feeling helpless and overwhelmed.

    Happy to hear it passed for you at 8 weeks! Since my nerve injury was not from the surgery I am having the burning in my toes and sole of foot from the tibial nerve which is not involved in this surgery. I can’t even imagine the pain of putting a sock on.

    Can you please please share how the cycle of numbness/pain went for you. Me, for example, it started off being totally numb from the block, then went to the numb feeling you have when you sleep on your hand, then to tingling and shooting electric shocks, then to burning and electric shocks, and now its just burning and more so constant stinging in the toes. The pain levels have been virtually the same but the type of pain has shifted if that makes sense. I also have it 24/7 with it being slightly worse at night.

    Maybe if you can share your progression I can tell if I am getting closer to healing or what the different transitions of pain mean to the healing process of the nerves..

  9. beginnersmind19- I am curious how your recovery is going. I am at week 6 post op and have had almost an identical struggle. First few weeks was tingling like my foot was asleep, and then came some burning in my toes for a week, and now the past week has been nothing but constant shooting pains in my toes and bottom of my foot. It is unbearable at times, especially at night. My surgeon didn’t seem too concerned when I saw him last week, but it has also gotten much much worse since then. I emailed him over the weekend so hope to hear back soon. Please update me with your process as I too hope I am almost through the worst of it, hopefully!
    Thanks!

  10. Hi indigobc - first off I am so sorry you are dealing with the nerve pain. I wish you nothing but strength. Good news - I am at 9.5 weeks and my nerve pain has been reduced to a 4/5 on average with peaks of 6/7 (out of 10). I am not sure if it is the natural healing process or a combination of things, but I have done 3 low dose Ketamine infusions along with aggressive physical therapy starting at week 7. If you would like to know more about the Ketamine infusions let me know, it is hard for me to tell if it is truly helping me but its part of a combination of therapies that has worked for me. I truly hope you feel better ASAP!

    Couple points of advice: Stay as positive as possible! Talk to yourself, repeat positive mantra’s. Get into a mindset that what you are experiencing is not necessarily pain. It is painful but think of it more as just an experience. Your foot feels funny, it’s acting up, it’s trying to test you, but it’s not pain. I know it may sound silly, and when the pain is so damn real (I get it, I was there) it sounds even more silly, but again it was another one of a group of therapies that is doing the trick for my healing.

    Do you know what the root cause of your nerve pain is? Do you have the shooting/burning in the bottom and top of your toes/foot?

    1. During the popliteal nerve block (behind the knee), my sciatic nerve was either hit by the needle or my nerve was damaged by toxic drugs - either too much or the wrong combination. This has caused neuropathy in my entire lower leg - both sensory and motor. I have done an NCV and EMG and I have abnormalities across the board. Good news is prognosis is positive and I . During the popliteal nerve block (behind the knee), my sciatic nerve was either hit by the needle or my nerve was damaged by toxic drugs - either too much or the wrong combination/cocktail. This has caused neuropathy in my entire lower leg - both sensory and motor. I have done an NCV and EMG and I have abnormalities across the board. Good news is prognosis is positive and I am hopeful to recover the nerves 100% in 6 months to 1 year.

    I suspect you will as well if you are able to move your foot well and lift your foot up (dorsiflex).

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  11. beginnersmind19 : Thanks for all of the information regarding your process. Glad to hear that you are on your way to recovery and the pain is becoming more manageable.

    I talked with my surgeon and anesthesiologist over the past few days. They both think there is some form of nerve damage (obviously, ha) and while the anesthesiologist recommends I go see a neurologist for testing, the surgeon wants me to wait a few more weeks to see if things subside on their own. He also gave me some ____ to help with pain, but it hasn’t helped much yet.

    The pain is mostly on the top/bottom of my toes and bottom of my foot. Mostly a steady burn but then sharp pains shoot off pretty frequently. I do have great motion in my toes and ankle which I see is a good sign. Just trying to manage pain.

    Tomorrow is 7 weeks post op, so hoping by the end of March I am noticing more improvement. Thanks again for sharing your story, glad to know I am not the only one dealing with something like this (although I am sorry that you are too, it is definitely a struggle at times). I look forward to tracking your progress, both with the nueropathy and the achilles itself.

    Cheers!

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