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questions on disk protrusion, symptomps, surgery

midavmmidav Posts: 6
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

47 year old male.

I hope somebody can explain to me some of my symptomps and provide their opinion on whether I need surgery.

I had severe sciatica pain in my right leg about 7 weeks ago, went to ER, CT showed "large disc protrusion at L4-5", I took ibuprofen for about a week after that and pain subsided but I have some milder tolerable pain sometimes in my left leg and my right foot feels weak, it feels also different than the other foot(it has more sensation), but I can walk relatively long distances. The foot is not improving almost at all. Driving with the right foot pressing the gas pedal feels much worse afterwards.

My questions:
1. A couple of days ago I went to a neurosurgeon who after quick talk and review of my condition said that I should have a surgery done. Am I really a good candidate for surgery based on my symptomps above?

2. Is there a hope my foot will get better on its own after that much time? Will acupuncture help my foot? Does the fact that my foot is weak mean that the nerve is still compressed by the disk or it's just that the nerve is already damaged?

Thank you very much in adavance,



  • Wanted to welcome you to spine health, but sorry that back problems have brought you here.

    Surgery is a very personal decision, one that only you will know if you are ready for. What surgery are they recommending, microdiscectomy? I would encourage you to get at least 2 opinions. Have you tried any conservative measures yet (ie. physio, ESI, heat, ice, tens)?

    For myself, I tried all the conservative measures, and it got to the point that I could no longer work, or do may activities that I used to enjoy, and was in pain 24/7 with narcotics and nerve meds. My foot started off feeling tingly then numbness, I now have drop foot. My nerves were compressed for more than a year before I had a 2 level discectomy/laminectomy. Unfortunately in my case it was unsuccessful, but I also have other issues with facet degeneration,ddd etc. I am now awaiting fusion and coccygetomy.

    Others have had relief with conservative measures and time, and many who have had discectomies find relief. Nerves do take a long time to heal, depending how long they have been impinged.

    I did try accupunture, but in my case it didn't help.

    Whatever you do decide, please get more than one opinion.

    Wishing you all the best, look forward to hearing more from you.

    >:D< Karen
    >:D< >:-D< : Karen
    L3-S1 herniation and bulges, stenosis, mod facet,ddd,impinged nerves,coccydinia
    discectomy/lami July 2011-unsuccessful
    adr L5-S1 Feb 2012
  • Hello Karen,

    Thank you very much for the reply and I hope they will be able to help you or this will improve with time.
    We have to stay positive, at least I am trying.

    Unfortunately, the doctor I saw wasn't too eloquent in describing what kind of surgery he'd recommend for me, or what would be the benefits and risks, he just told me to come and see him in a few months for that. I also felt he was trying to push me into surgery (Can doctors be mostly motivated by money:)?)I read on the Internet that there are risks associated with back surgeries, so I am trying to gather all the info about pros and cons.
    One additional piece of info, which could be helpful for you or not I am not sure: a friend of mine who lives in Russia has recently had a back surgery(he is of my age but had suffered for 20 years) and I thought that was successful, but he also mentioned that he is using a new drug that they rub into your back and it softens discs and they go back into position. He said he feels better after that treatment. Although I don't know why he needed that after a successful surgery as I thought.

    All the best,

  • Here's what I can say to offer my two cents. First of all you and only YOU can tell you how much pain you are in and you just have to decide that you are in too much pain to keep going before you consider surgery. I was 21 when I had the same thing that you did, I tried all the conservative methods and they did not work I was at the point where I couldnt walk a quarter mile, So I had to do something. I had micro d and a month later I was in for a second operation which turned out that that one didnt even work either, thats a whole story and poop storm in its own. I want to focus of your problem. When it comes to considering surgery and after you have exhausted all other methods, you must first know that when you talk to a surgeon, of course they are going to say you need surgery, they make money off of it! Im not saying that you dont need it, you very well may, but just know that. My advice would be to seek a Orthepedic doctor as opposed to a surgeon to see what insight they may have. Second, Im talking from experience here and from what I have heard from others is that Microdiscektomy's more often that not, do not work. Most of the time you require getting it revised, and there is no gaurentee that that will work. Im not saying that it absolutely will not work for you but in most cases they usually dont. I do believe that they work for relieving leg and hip pain as they did in my case but they leave you with much more back problems and pain. Whatever you decide to do make sure that you truely believe that it is the right choice. Good luck to you, stay strong, and sorry to hear about it, it really sucks, I know.
  • Thank you so much for your advice about Orthopedic surgeon and your opinion about back surgeries.

    Good luck to you also.

  • Hi Midav,

    I had a ruptured disc at L4 L5 and had a Microdiscectomy to fix it almost 4 years ago. I am happy to say it was 100% successful and I haven't had any issues since it was done.

    My pain was constant and severe in my back, hip, bum and down my left leg all the way to my foot. I had muscle loss on my left side and couldn't walk tall as I was stooped over.

    I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon who after and MRI diagnosed the problem but he passed me along to a neurosurgeon to do the operation as it was a difficult case as the disc was badly tangled around the sciatic nerve.

    My neurosurgeon said most disc ruptures will self heal within 3-6 months, even if the pain has been severe. It might be worth leaving your options open for another few months and see how your symptoms are then. I had my op 6 and a half months after injuring my back and had got to the point of being in agony.

    Not sure if any of this helps you out, being in pain is horrible and there are no guarantees either way, but I wanted you to hear from someone that had a good result, I know how lucky I am to have got through it.
  • forgot to mention that my left foot was weak and numb for about a year after the op but is now normal. I think the nerves take a while to heal after being compressed.
  • If the pain is not constant and only started 7 weeks ago and you can still walk long distance without serious problems, i would think trying alternative treatment would be the best option for now,

    Pool thearapy is good along with other pt and you can probably avoid surgery,

    A person will know when they need surgery when pain never lets up no mater what they do, This is your warning sighn to start makiing every adjustment in your life to help the back heal and keep the back muscles strong but take the pressure off the disc so it can go back in to place naturaly. There is no beter way to heal other then naturaly and no surgery can do what natural healing and saving the narural disc can do,

    Micro D can remove the part of the disc that stickng out sure and many times it helps many people who tried everything else and it failed. But without trying every alternative treatment to give the disc a chance to heal and protect the disc in the future once it does heal, you will never know if it would of resolved itself or not if anyone jumps in to surgery before doing all this"

    There is always a risk with any surgery and if a nerve gets damaged from surgery then you are screwed for life, If they take out too much off the disc and it starts leaking then total disc has to be removed along with fusion, now you opened yourself up to a major surgery and every complicarion that can come with it,

    Thats why many facttors come in to play of how big the buldge is on the disc and what are the chances it can heal on its own, Always get a 2nd and even a 3 rd opinion to see if all dr,s agree about surgery, But while doing that anything you can do for yourself to take pressure off the disc just puts you ahead of the game to prove the dr that wanted to do surgery wrong,

    Back surgery can be a good thing for 1 person while it can become another persons worse nightmare,

    Good luck to ya,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Cheeka,

    Thank you very much for your reply, especially for the info that the foot might eventually come back even after a long time of being damaged.

  • Thank you very much for such a detailed explanation of the situation. It made things much clearer for me now.

    Best of luck to you.

  • Please post what you end up doing. I just herniated L3,L4 a few months ago... It hurts , limits how you live your life. I was very active before, now I have to be careful what I do, not to aggrevate it . I hear mixed reviews concerning surgery.
  • I haven't decided on anything yet. My doctor told me to come back in a few months. I am also trying not to aggravate it. The general advice I am getting is to wait with the surgery, because most cases just resolve on their own with time and to consider surgery only as a last resort.

    All the best

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