I herniated my L4-L5 disc in February 2009 from moving some furniture. My symptoms were pain from my lower-left back all the way down my left leg to the top of my foot (moving around depending on the position I was in), as well as left foot drop. The pain was pretty bad, but I'm not a particularly active person and found little issue with the foot drop.
I saw a neurosurgeon but decided to go a more conservative route and entered physical therapy. Within a couple of months, all of my symptoms were gone. The pain went away first, followed by the foot drop.
In the middle of November 2009, I re-injured my back (though I can't figure out what caused it like before). The symptoms were roughly the same, except that the pain was far worse. I still had the left foot drop, but it also tingled most of the time. My updated MRI showed the same herniation, though there was a slightly farther protrusion this time (1.4 cm rather than 1.2 cm). I saw a neurosurgeon at the beginning of December but, due to the holidays, was unable to schedule a surgery (microdiscectomy) until the first week of January.
After about 3-4 weeks of mostly laying down and pain meds, my pain is now gone. I still have left foot drop (though I think it's less drastic) and touch still doesn't feel normal---still tingly---but the major symptom, pain, is gone.
I'm considering speaking to the neurosurgeon about my options at this point now that my worst symptom (pain) is completely gone and, if earlier in the year is any indication, my other symptoms will be gone soon too.
I'm a bit worried that the neurosurgeon will suggest cutting still because he's a neurosurgeon. I'm young (29) and not in terrible shape, but I've never had surgery before, and I'm concerned about the risks of surgery when weighed against the fact that I seem to be getting better on my own. On the other hand, this is a recurrence, and further recurrences that keep me from school/work for a month wouldn't be good.
What do people generally suggest in these situations? Thanks in advance for any help!