Sorry for the long post - I'm just lost at the moment and don't know which direction to take my healing.... (I might break this into two posts later as it's really two questions - but I thought I'd take a chance and see if someone else had a similar experience)
I had a microdisectomy at L4-L5 at the end of May this year (2011). I had left hip pain and dual leg light numbness (on/off) for four months before - then during the month of may my left leg became extremely painful - and they had to get me in for surgery 5 days before schedule as they were worried about nerve damage.
I recovered fairly well - was walking, most of the pain was gone - some residual, but not too bad. In August - about 2.5 months after my surgery - the general numbness came back in both legs (feels like the leg is half asleep) - and I also get a lot of stiffness in my lower back itself. The doctors said it could be the scar tissue building and it would recede eventually.
The numbness-tightness is worse with sitting and walking - basically feels best after a hot bath. After walking about a mile - my hamstrings and calves start to tighten up.
The stiffness - I'm not exactly sure - but I think when I do too much I get stiff - but also when I don't do enough? Confused! Sometimes I get some pain that feels like a bruising - but it's mostly stiffness.
I had a second MRI recently - and while there is some scar tissue, a few minor bulges - nothing that would really explain the numbness clearly (ie: if it was new). Overall the MRI looked okay...
So my two questions -
1) The stiffness in my lower back - how can I tell if it's the discs (rest/ice/anti-inflammatory) or if it's muscular (heat, stretching, walking).
2) The numbness - any suggestions on what to do about that? It basically limiting my recovering - unless I ignore it and work through it. But I feel like the times that I've pushed too far I end up sore, stiff and in some pain. If it's residual, am I harming myself by walking when I feel numb?
Anyway, if anyone can help - I feel like my healing plateaued in September....and my doctor (haven't talked to the surgeon) is stumped in a way
(L4-L5 microdisectomy May 2011)