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Surgery or Time?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
I used to be a very active person (Zumba, Salsa,Bollywood Dance, etc.) until November 2008 I herniated L4-L5 . ( Protrusion w/ L4 nerve root Impingement) Initially I lost motor and sensory function . I can walk now but have sciatica and sensory abnormality. I have tries everything (Inversion, Acupuncture, 2 Steroid epiduals, and PT 2X a week. Currently, my recovery is very slow. I use a treadmill and some days I can walk 2.5 miles and others .5 miles. I have noidea why I have such a eratic recovery pattern. I am contemplating surgery (microdiscectomy). I really just want to get back to my normal activity level as exercise is an important part of my wellbeing.

Should I continue w/ PT or get the surgery. My Physical Therapist says that I am improving but it has been almost 4 months.




  • Have you consulted with a spinal specialist? It is possible to recover from a herniated disc but it is a long, slow process. My husband ruptured a lower lumbar disc about 15 years ago. I think it was about six months before he started feeling something like "normal." To this day, he does his "back" exercises every single morning, keeps his core strong, and uses good body mechanics. He is a runner and exercises daily.

    Some doctors advise that you not wait too long before you have surgery when there is nerve compression, as it can lead to permanent nerve damage. But that has not been our experience. (I waited 3 years before having surgery.)

    I would encourage you to see a fellowship-trained spinal specialist if you are not yet doing so. Otherwise, I would encourage getting another opinion from a specialist in a different practice or clinic.
  • Based on your post, I wouldn't have surgery if you ARE improving. I exhausted all my options before surgery. By the same token, I definitely would have a consultation with a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon because you have an impingement.

    Your situation sounds just like mine. My pain started about two years ago, but it really flared up last Nov 2008. I also tried acupuncture, chiropractic, medications that they give to cancer patients for pain, 4 lumbar steroid injections, and PT.

    Upon examination, my OS found nerve damage. I had to make a choice. While I wasn't in extreme pain at the appt (just had another injection), I had to weigh all the factors: inability to work, no social life, bad moods, stress on marriage, depression, taking more medications, and FINALLY nerve damage.

    I just didn't want to wait any longer for improvement and my husband really wanted me to get the surgery. He witnessed me countless nights crying and whimpering for relief and there was nothing he could do. He felt really helpless.

    Keep us posted.
  • Can you tell me about what happened next? Are you glad you had the surgery?
    I too have had an incredible amount of life changes due to this problem.
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