I have been lurking for a couple of months and now feel that I need to ask a question.
I first had sciatica 3 years ago and it was (mis)diagnosed as piriformis syndrome. It was really bad for a couple of weeks, better for the next two or so then pretty much ok since. Except for continuing leg cramps in my right leg that the Dr and physio both said weren't connected to the sciatica. I never believed that as I had never had the cramps before and that was the bad side if you see what I mean. My back has been a little stiff since (particularly in the mornings)and on occasions I suffered with leg pain if I sat for a while.
I have kept active since swimming at least a mile each week day (except for when the cramps get me) and walking about an hour each day with the dogs.
Then in March this year I started getting pain when turning in he pool but I kept ignoring it and hoped it would go away. By April 3rd I was back to having full on sciatica - pain, tingling, burning etc you all know what it's like so I won't go on. I am in England so had to wait for NHS scan which I got in May and it shows an L5 S1 herniation - more on that in a bit.
Anyway I had really bad pain for about a month, then it eased a little so that I didn't need the meds all the time and, perhaps I did a bit much but the full on pain came back in the last week of May. It seemed even worse then but I think that I just couldn't cope mentally with it if that makes sense.
I suffered bad pain for another couple weeks and then it eased a bit again. I then saw the orthopaedic consultant privately (I have insurance but I have had an issue with my GP refusing to let me go private grr). He did not have the scan at this time but his examination led him to think that probably I needed surgery but he couldn't say without the scan. It took another 4 weeks for him to get it.
In the mean time I suffered another recurrence of pain but this time it was different - sort or sharper and it made me groan out loud. This pain definitely come from my back - I feel it sort of jag out of my spine and all the way down my leg. The other pain was all in my leg. To add insult to injury I then developed all the horrid med side effects and so couldn't take the tramadol or codeine because they made me sick.
When the surgeon saw the MRI he showed it to me. My L5 S1 disc is totally black and there is a large right sided prolapse. He talked about the options. He said that an epidural would only provide temporary relief from the leg pain and would not sort out the back pain. I asked if he thought the disc would go again and he said most likely given that it's gone twice in 3 years. He explained that the best option is probably the discectomy, decompression and fusion. I agreed and I am due to go ahead on august 4th.
The thing is that since then the pain has gone again. Not totally but I do feel better. I know that the surgery will make me feel worse than I do now.
My questions are:
1) As the pain has come back twice so far in this episode is it going to come back again?
2) If it doesn't will it come back say in a year? Or less?
3) As this time is worse than 3 years ago will next time be even worse?
I think I am more scared of the pain of the sciatica than the operation.
Also I have been off work because of this since April 3rd. I really cannot keep taking time off because of the pain because I am a teacher and it is difficult to not be there. As it is now the summer holiday I cannot even try going back to see if I could cope. I don't think I could do a full day of work as my back gets very stiff and sore after even the moderate activities I do at home.
Also I have pretty much stopped doing anything that seems to make it worse.
What should I do? Should I have the op now? It seems to me that it is likely that the disc will go again and I guess it could be even worse next time.
I was thinking of doing things that might make it worse just to see. At least if I was in pain again then I would feel better about having the op!
It's just so difficult. I don't want to have the surgery if I can live without but I also don't want this coming back the day after I decide not to!
Sorry to be so long winded.
I like this forum because everyone on here Knows how I feel. I also appreciate that there are lots of you much worse off than me and I can't imagine how you cope. My mind just wants to snap when the pain is bad.