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Sciatica Surgery or stick with therapy

LohartLLohart Posts: 1
I am a Soldier in the US Army, I have been dealing with Sciatica issues for over 2 years now after a incident. I have had multiple MRI's along with numerous variations of Physical therapy over the course of a year and a half. I was diagnosed with a herniated disc between the L5-S1 area of my spine along with moderate to severe Sciatica causing numbness in both legs and a large amount of pain as well as pain in my lower back.

I have spoken to a surgeon about 8 months ago and he at the time felt it was better to continue doing Therapy to lower the pain. However I am in a state where i am not able to perform my job to standard, and in some cases at all which complicates my career. I was wondering if surgery would be the best thing to try, as i am now i will soon be looked at for medical retention. I would really like a shot to stay in however I hear lots of mixed opinions from Doctors and others about surgery.

If anyone who has any experience in a similar situation I would like to discuss weather I should push for surgery or not. I am certain i will not meet retention standards as i am now, but if i act to hastily for surgery I might have a even bigger problem to live with after the military.


  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,730
    And welcome to S.H. forums. Get as many expert opinions as you can from spinal specialists, Neuro or Orthopedic surgeons. AS you know there are no guarantees with surgery. And in most cases, not a quick recovery. Have you looked into a epidural spinal injection?
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • First, thank you for protecting my freedom. I very much admire and appreciate what you do.

    Second, sugery is never an easy decision and one that should be taken very seriously, especially with lumbar surgery.

    What surgery options are you considering? Regardless, you have to know that surgery comes with risks of infection and/or worse damage to the nerves. Have you tried steroids or ESI injections?

    I would make sure your consult is with a fellowship trained orthospine surgeon and/or a neurosurgeon who specializes in the lower lumbar area.

    I can only give you my experience.
    I had a massive herniation. What does this mean? I blew out the disc. Yes, the annulus (outer skin) broke and the nucleus (inner portion) came out and really compressed my left sciatic nerve at L5-S1. I couldn't walk and after a trip to the ER and some drugs, everywhere that hurt was now numb.

    So I opted for a microdiscectomy because the situation was one where the steroids and ESI didn't work. I was at what I felt was a last option. I had lost feeling in my left buttocks, leg, foot to outer toe and perineum (groin area) and was fearful that if I didn't take care of things, my bladdar nerves my be impinged too. The procedure wasn't terrilble but didn't work. There was either another large piece free that had room to come out after the closed me up OR I herniated another piece within 2 weeks of the surgery.

    I had a revision microdiscectomy and by no means am I back to new and don't suspect I will be. But I'm back to better which for me is great.

    It's very situational.
    Consider your age. Consider the risk. Consider that once you operate on the back, it can be a slippery slope. You have to be VERY careful bending, twisting, lifting and keep your core really strong.

    Some other questions to consider are the overall quality of the disc. Is it healthy? what about the ones above it? I ask because once you operate on one level, the others sometimes compensate so you want to understand your risks of adding load to the other discs. I'd also ask about he stability of the spine.

    I don't have many answers but at least have questions for you to consider. My spine is very stable but my disc quality was degenerating.

    I think it's tough for us to say our opinion on the surgery because there are many types and each for a slightly different diagnosis.

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