I have to make a very important decision soon and since it has got to do with my back problems, I would be really interested in what people on this forum have to say.
I have been troubled by a disc protrusion at L5 S1 since January 2008. Earlier the pain was only in my lower back but since June 2009, I usually get most of the pain in my feet and legs. Last month I met a new physiotherapist who added more exercises to my exercise plan and that has made my pain quite bearable (On a scale of 0 - 10, 5 being the limit above which I cannot ignore the pain and need to do something about it, my pain is 2-3 on most days, or is not there at all. Once in 8-9 days or so it does go up to 7). Probably the protrusion had become worse because I had not been doing the right exercises.
In two weeks time, I plan to go to England for studies for a year. My orthopedic doctor said I am unnecessarily worried and I should go and I agreed with him till yesterday.
Yesterday I tried picking up my packed suitcase (about 15 kg/ 33 lbs) and placing it on and off the bed twice - a movement similar to what I will be required to do at the airport, etc. I wanted to see if I can do this without pain and using the proper lifting techniques I have read about on this website. Lifting it was no problem, but about 10 minutes later I started to get pain in both feet and more worryingly, a tingling sensation down both legs and a slight tingling sensation around the perineum, genitals and buttocks. I have had this tingling in these last 3 areas a couple of times before since August but ignored it. It always goes in about half a day or so. Yesterday too, it went after some hours.
As I understand it, this is the sciatic nerve or some other nerve getting irritated. I am afraid that if I do this kind of lifting I may damage the nerve to the extent that I lose bowel and bladder control (that has not happened at all yet) and have paralysis. If this happens while I am in England, it will be also be a huge hole in my pocket to pay for the treatment. Since I am going for a long time, I will have lots of stuff to carry on my journey (perhaps 2 suitcases of 25 kg/55 lbs). I can get help at the airports, but I am not sure whether I will get it every time I need it all the way from my city to London to Cambridge.
My condition here in India seems quite comfortable because my pain is either not there or mild and the new exercises seem to be helping me. But in the year that I spend in England I may have to do stuff that worsens my condition.
I got an MRI done and will show it to another doctor and my physiotherapist next week to get their opinion, but I would also like to know what people here think of this.
I am sorry for such a long report of my condition. Basically I would like to know
a- if this reminds you of some of your own experiences and what you have learnt from that.
b- does a mild tingling sensation around the genitals mean I should be alarmed, or is there a very long way from mild tingling to losing bowel/bladder control?