Hello everyone, I'm new here. I've read some of your stories and you are a brave and compassionate lot! I know my troubles aren't as bad as what some of you have to live with, but I wonder if anyone has words of wisdom for me.
I've always been a very active person, primarily a runner. My first problem with sciatica was about 17 years ago, at age 39, suffered with horrible pain for about a year and a half. Underwent multiple treatments, saw multiple specialists. At the time it was thought to be a running injury but nothing showed up on any tests, including normal MRI. Underwent chiropractic treatments, physical therapy, some kind of "experimental" surgery in the lower butt area done by a sports medicine physician, had numerous "trigger point" injections, wore a TENS unit, tried various medications. Nothing helped in the slightest and the problem got worse and worse to the point of almost complete disability. Finally I thought maybe the problem is from carrying my small child on my hip all the time; when I stopped doing that the pain gradually subsided completely and I had no problem for 17 years. By the time the sciatica cleared up, I had quit running and gradually gained quite a bit of weight.
A year and a half ago I lost the weight and started running again and doing other exercises as well, such as weight lifting and bicycling. Was in the best physical condition I've ever been. Well, that was short lived.
About 5 months ago I started noticing I was having trouble walking because I couldn't fully control my left leg. While walking, when it was the left leg's turn to swing around, it just didn't want to do it. I developed a stiff-legged limp. But I had absolutely no pain! (YET!) I went to physical therapists who said there was nothing structurally wrong and started talking about neurological diseases. Had MRI which showed L5/S1 disk herniation but on the RIGHT which made absolutely no sense since my symptoms were on the LEFT. By this time I'm starting to develop sciatic pain again (on the left). Started physical therapy, but only got worse and worse, both in terms of the inability to move the left leg properly to the point that I need a wheelchair, and with sciatica getting worse and worse.
Neurosurgeon says there is nerve compression on both sides, so I agree to surgery. During surgery, he finds some kind of bony growth (osteophyte?) on the left side, which he shaves down. Says it was compressing the sciatic nerve on the left. The disk herniations on the right were not repaired, I suppose because I am having no symptoms on the right.
I am now 10 days postop. Pain is better but definitely not gone. I still feel sciatic pain in my butt that goes down to the knee level. It's definitely better than it was pre-surgery. Walking is a little better but I still have trouble moving that left leg.
So here are my questions.
Has anybody else had trouble walking (with no pain) as the FIRST symptom? I had that symptom for about two months before developing sciatic pain.
Has anybody else had trouble walking and regained your strength in your leg so you could walk normally again?
Is it normal that I still have some sciatic pain at this point after surgery? Since the sciatic nerve was supposedly freed up on the left, shouldn't that make the pain go away?
Are these osteophytes something that will recur or grow back?
If you've read all this, thanks for listening to my story, and thanks for any thoughts you have. This is all very scary to me.