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Two damaged discs, sciatica and a decision to make.

sadmanssadman Posts: 15
Hello everybody,

I'm a 21 years old guy with spine problems (it's a nice way to introduce myself, isn't it?) and I'm new to the forums. Let's go.
I have 0,5 cm paramedial herniated disc at level L4-L5 and 0,3 cm medial disc protrusion at level L5-S1. I got these two problems in the beginning of 2008 or so and since then I was living with varying lower back pain (it wasn't very sharp or something, but it was a discomfort, though I did some sport related activities like bodyweight exercises, stretching, swimming, bike riding etc.). To make a long story short, in October 2010 I started to feel some kind of discomfort in the bottom of both feet, like needles, pinching or something like that (sciatica). I thought that it would go away with the time, but, unfortunately, it didn't. Now I have, let's say, a discomfort in my feet (under and above them) and sometimes I feel needles in my front calves, but this discomfort is very little and I can easily live with it. To sum up - I have a sciatica which isn't huge in pain, but still, it doesn't go away and that bothers me. I tried to do lots of things with my lower back before I got my sciatica, but none of them really helped (core strength exercises and stretching and swimming did their jobs just for a temporary improvement in back condition, but that's it).
I am thinking about having a microdiscectomy or something like that (removing the herniated fragments of the disc, I am not that good at English terms of medicine, so sorry for that) but at the same time I'm confused, because people do surgeries when they are deep in the trouble and when they can't live without painkillers or even when the painkillers don't do the work. But I think that one day that sciatic pain can get worse and irradiation of the nerve root will only be bigger as the time goes by, so a surgery can be an option to prevent this from happening.
If you need any kind of information about the background of my lower back problems etc. feel free to ask, because I don't want to make my first post here look extra long (though I already did).
So after telling all this, I am looking forward to your responses / opinions about my situation.


  • That's rough you're having pain and sciatica. A second opinion from another Orthopedic Surgeon or Neurosurgeon should happen before nay surgery. I hope you get some answers soon on your plan of care. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • And so young too but it can affect any age. Please look at all of the options before committing yourself. I have had severe back problems, on and off during the last three years, now I have sciatica. During the three years I had a pain free episode lasting a year. it was wonderful and achieved by self excercises. I hope surgey is not an option for me.

    Incidently how do you make it an option, where do you live. Here in UK, pain alone is not a criteria for surgery unless it is progressive and debilitating. The NHS will step in and do surgery for us,based on medical oppionion. its not an option as such, just a necessity by consent if everything else fails. But then we dont pay anything on NHS, only through out tax system

  • Thanks for your responses.

    I read a lot about people who had surgeries and stuff and I formed an opinion that if the symptoms are not very painful and a person can live with them it's not worth having a surgery. I think that's my case because my sciatica isn't that big and I can walk, sit, stand, sleep (perhaps I could do more, but I don't try) with almost no pain which can prevent me from doing these activities. I don't need any drugs too.

    But it is interesting for me, do those pinched nerve roots are becoming weaker with the time while they are being pushed by the fragments of a herniated disc? I mean, living with those pinched nerve roots can damage them so much that even a surgery won't help. Or am I wrong?

    Some say that it's the best to do a surgery as immediately as possible because chances of a successful surgery and no sciatic pain after it are bigger than in a case when you are having these kind of problems and you are waiting for some years (and your herniated discs are damaging the nerve roots in a way that even a surgery can't help).

    Of course all my writing is often repeated in these forums and it's only up to a person to decide about what he or she needs to do, but when one has pain, it looks as if his pain is the most important (yeah, that's sad truth).
  • This problem has really gone on for a very long time. Have you got a good physical therapist that you've worked closely with? Possibly they can help you. There are certain movements that might help reduce the pain even though it has been going on for a long time as I understand it.

    Also, are you in need of losing some weight? Are you getting any exercise now? Final question: does the numbness and pain come and go related to your position and activities you are doing?

    If you haven't already, you might want to consult with a neurosurgeon or good orthopedic surgeon who could help you with the decision about surgery. Good luck.
  • My sciatic pain problems began in 2010 October though I got my herniated discs in about 2008 February. Basically, I lived with varying lower back discomfort and no sciatic pain and one day it appeared like from nowhere. Before my sciatic pain I tried lots of different means to get rid of back pain but the relief was temporary (it's logic - herniated discs didn't disappear, hehe). After I got my sciatic pain I went to a physical therapist but he said that my condition (muscle strength / flexibility / range of motion) was okay and he offered to do physical therapy procedures (I tried them before sciatic pain, but they didn't work) so I refused it, because they cost a lot and I'm sure that they won't help me.

    I don't have any weight problems because I have athletic backrgound (ironically, it caused me my herniated discs) and I do some stretching or, rarely, core exercises. It's hard to say whether there are certain positions which give me relief, because, as I said, that needles / numbness are quite little and it doesn't limit my daily activities (I've read lots of stories of people who had surgeries and I believe I'm in condition which they can call from okay to very good, though the needles / numbness didn't fully go away).

    And yes, I will try to consult a surgeon but before that I want to collect as much information as possible by myself. Surgery involves huge amount of risk so by having a surgery I can lose a lot.

    Thanks for a response.
  • It should be noted that just because you see a surgeon, doesn't mean that's what they will recommend. There are a lot of practices that specialize in the spine. They usually look at the patient as a whole and suggest the best course of action. Also, you don't have to do any surgery if you don't want to.

  • Since you said both feet are involved, I hope you are aware that is unusual for sciatica which is usually one sided. Because of this fact you may want to be checked for peripheral neuropathy and diabetes, which a family doctor or neurologist could do. Would not be able to diagnosed that yourself without the help of lab tests and hopefully, a doctor.
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