On September 13, 2012 I suffered a herniated disc of the L5/S1 space from severe coughing with a bad bout of bronchitis. I suspect I have had bulging discs for years because I have had bouts of sciatica for about 12 years now that has previously been successfully treated by a chiropractor. I also work for a chiropractor now as well so I get free care. Let me interject that I know some have had bad experiences with chiros but this guy is great and he knows his limitations. He has many times referred patients on for an MRI and medical work up when he feels the condition is not improving.
When this herniation occurred I was bedridden for 2 weeks then went into physical therapy for 6 weeks. I was also on steroids, pain pills and muscle relaxants. My HMO would not pay for an MRI until these steps had been taken first. The MRI revealed the L5/S1 herniation and a bulging disc at L4/L5. I had severe muscle cramps, right sided sciatica with numbness, nerve burning, weakness etc. I recovered to a point and did go back to my part time job as an insurance clerk but never got pain free so in December I saw an orthopedist. He gave me a steroid epidural which just seemed to irritate the nerve and make everything worse. He then wanted to do surgery but I decided to get a second opinion because this guy was a bit of a jerk and had a bad bedside manner. In Jan 2013 I saw a Neuro surgeon. He repeated the MRI which showed the same as the first and also did a NCV test. He said I did not show permanent nerve or muscle damage on the NCV and he thought I really would benefit from a discectomy.
On March 22, 2012 I had a discectomy and laminectomy. I awoke in far more pain than I was expecting to and my nerve numbness and irritation was still present. 11 days out from back surgery I had a major set back. For about 3 days I had more leg pain/irritation. I thought maybe I wasn't moving around enough and so this past Sunday evening we got out of the house and went to the park to walk. I walked a mile and it felt so good to be out in the fresh air. The walk was slow and at times I stopped to rest but I felt okay and like it actually did me some good. This past Monday morning I awoke to very bad nerve pain, burning etc. down my entire right side from my low back to my ankle. I could hardly walk when I got up. I burst into tears as this is what I felt like before surgery when I was still in the throws of much pain. I put a call into my doctor's office and the nurse there said that it can happen to have increased nerve irritation along the way in recovery. She talked to the PA and they called me in a steroid dose pack. I was told to stay on ice alternating with heat and get up and move around every hour. Then we wait to see how things go from there.
It has taken me all week to recover from this back set and I feel like now I am about back to where I was last Friday. I am disappointed that overall I am not better than I was before surgery. In some ways I am not as good as before surgery because I have all this recovery discomfort. I also have more nerve pain and burning in my leg right now than I did before surgery. I keep hoping that the surgery will eventually speed up the healing process and that overall I will still have benefited from it.
Time will tell. It is just hard for me because the last 2 weeks seem like it has been a month and I still can't yet even do a lot of the stuff I was able to do before surgery. Sitting is the hardest, I can only sit upright in a chair about 15 mins before I start hurting. I am weakened and give out easily too. When I awake in the morning I am achy, sore and stiff. The nerve pulling is still there.
I don't "think" I have reherniated because I am not in the worst pain like I was when this first happened but I am in more pain than I was prior to surgery. Can someone who has been down this road give me any insight, encouragement or whatever as to what to expect? Is this normal?
Angie 46 yo
Post Discectomy for L5/S1 herniation on 3/22/13. Also have bulge at L4/L5 and minor facet syndrome in one joint.