I'm new to the forums here and I'll just say first that I feel a little silly posting here because my symptoms are so much milder than a lot of the folks posting here. Also, I suspect that there the answer to my question is going to be that "there is no way to know" - I heard that a lot at my appointment with a surgeon yesterday.
Anyway, I have a classic disc herniation - L5 S1. This is the second time this has happened. The first time was when I was 15 or 16 years old in 1984 or 1985. That time I had a laminectomy. I recovered well. I have had periodic episodes of symptoms over the last 25 years but subsequent MRIs showed no new herniation and I always recovered over time.
This time is different though. While this episode started with pain in the leg as time goes on (5 weeks now) the pain has subsided substantially but it has been re=placed with numbness and weakness. 10-14 days ago I was having a hard time lifting myself with my left toes. Now I can't do it at all. This has me freaked out. I met with a surgeon yesterday and I have decided to get an epidural and do PT for a month and see if this helps.
My biggest concern is permanent muscle weakness.
I asked the surgeon and my physiatrist if there is anyway to know if my weakness is permanent and they said there is no way to know. I asked if doing surgery sooner vs. putting it off would change my chances of permanent damage - again "no way to know."
Sorry for the long story.
Does anyone know if there is any meaning to the shift from pain to numbness and weakness in terms of permanent nerve damage or muscle weakness? In other words - if I had pain but no weakness would that be better (in terms of permanent damage) as opposed to numbness / weakness?
I hope I made sense.
Thanks for reading!