Dear TAI Experts:

After low back surgery, I have right leg pain, numb toes, and spasms and cramps in right leg. What might cause it?


Without performing a detailed evaluation I can only make a general comment. Generally, after surgery there is a normal process where inflammation brings various agents to the local tissues to promote healing. This inflammatory phase can vary in length depending on the individual and the type of surgery. If not addressed properly with appropriate exercise or modalities, like ice and anti-inflammatory medication, inflammation can persist and lead to pain or dysfunction of joints, muscles, and nerves. Leg symptoms that stem from the lumbar spine are typically either radicular (inflammation of a nerve or nerve root in the spine) or referred (symptoms perceived at an adjacent site to where injury or inflammation is located). If symptoms continue, a consultation with a Physical Therapist would be recommended, as they are highly trained to evaluate the spine, adjacent joints, nerves, and muscles to determine the correlation of these symptoms and develop a treatment plan accordingly. Treatment would likely consist of exercises, modalities, and strategies to manage inflammation and progress to function-based activities to prevent further development of symptoms to match the patient’s goals.

Matthew Rogers PT, DPT