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severe sciatica can't take it anymore, surgery or epidural?

tqttq Posts: 3
Tonight was a good one, got 5 hours of sleep. Probably because I got three last night. I have severe sciatica, the pain is at a 9 out of 10 right now and I function like this every day. It is causing weakness and numbness in the leg and foot also. Has been really bad for about 8 months. My neurosurgeon feels that we should do surgery with an 11mm disc rupture in my L4-L5 and the weakness it is causing. He also said I could do an epidural since I haven't done any radical treatment yet. The reason for waiting so long is that I am uninsured. I am a point now where I have to decide what to do, I can't live this way anymore. I have three children and a husband that are being affected and I have to think about them to. As I lay here sobbing on my living room floor (like I do every night) I am still wondering if I have waited to long for surgery to effectively work? Has anyone got any advice as to whether they had an epidural or lumbar discectomy with my condition? My doc is afraid that I have waited to long and is thinking that my success rate for a good outcome has gone down for surgery.


  • I am so sorry to read about your situation. You could most certainly try the epidural (you can read many posts regarding epidurals) they work great for some and for some they have little or no success. I had both cervical and lumbar epidurals with no success but like I said many people have had great success so I am only telling you my situation.
    Obviously with no insurance an operation would be quite expensive. Also, given the fact that your dr is concerned about an operation being successful at all this puts you in quite a dilemna.
    Have you had any type of physical therapy yet? I ask as some people have great results yet I would most certainly check with your dr as you do not want to cause additional damage to your lumbar area. I have issues at the L4,L5 and S1 areas. Since undergoing a cervical fusion which has failed I too am afraid that the length of time that has lapsed in dealing with my lumbar issues is going to be a problem. The symptoms just seem to be increasing along with the pain. I was going to have a trial for a spinal cord stimulator and pain pump but I am now on Medicare and have purchased additional insurance yet the co-pays and deductibles are just more than I can handle financially as my husband is completely disabled with a heart condition.
    I totally understand your sleep situation as I get 2-3 hrs per night. Every move wakes me up with pain somewhere in my body. It really gets to a person, so my heart goes out to you as I can identify with many of your problems.
    You mentioned your neurosurgeon wants to do surgery and I was just wondering if you had tried any other non invasive techniques or if the surgeon feels this is your only possible chance for recovery if it even works?
    You have much to think about and again I am sorry to hear you are in so much pain. I know you mentioned no insurance and if the surgery would put a huge financial burden on you I am sure you have great concerns there also. Stress plays an important role with chronic pain patients and it is good to keep our stress to a minimum. (not an easy task for sure) No matter what you decide I would seek out a 2nd opinion just to compare and see if the 2nd opinion offers any other ways to help before having to take the surgical route.
    tq you will be in my prayers and I hope there is some way your pain can be reduced drastically.
  • I have tried physical therapy, no luck. He has said that the longer we wait for surgery the more the chance of not having a good outcome. I was just accepted into a program in my county that has a group of doctors that do all pro-bono work, so I'm not worried about the cost of the surgery anymore. It's enough to drive you mad though, and further someones depression. I have had a real eye opener into the world of Americas health care... depressing. While we were waiting for news on this program (months) We contemplated everything from, quitting our jobs (because then we qualify for a lot) to getting a divorce, all to save our family from anymore medical debt. I am sorry to hear about your situation my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your husband. i know how hard it is, when it rains it pours. -Tq
  • I am so sorry to hear about your situation. I would try going to a pain management doc for awhile. You could get a shot which should cost you around 300. And you could get on some meds. Most pharma companies have plans for free meds for the uninsured. I am waiting for surgery and am on Neurontin in the meantime and it has really controlled my leg and foot numbness and severe (AHHH) sciatica.

    Best Wishes,

  • First, I am no doctor or medical expert, so I am only relaying to you my experience.

    Last winter my sciatica hit me. I lasted until late Feb when I had my first epidural. The next day, I was great and this lasted until late May when I had my second injection. This relief only lasted one day and the pain returned with a vengence,

    I returned to the doc's office a few days later and told him that we need to do surgery. Three days later, I was operated on and the disc was repaired. However, two weeks later the pain came back again and was so bad that I was ready to die. This went on for about 4 days and then one night at 2:00 a.m. I had enough. I woke my wife and had her drive me to the ER. Well, the disc ruptured and I had emergency surgery later that morning.

    Today, even though I am left with butt pain, it is nothing like the sciatica that I had. I would NOT want to go back.

    I will pray for you and hope that you soon get some relief. We don't deserve this . God Bless!

    PM me if you like.
  • If you haven't done an epidural yet, definitely try one before going the surgery route! They can be really helpful... or no help at all. But you don't know if you don't try :)

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