I'm scheduled for a far lateral microdiscectomy tomorrow and I'm not sure I'm making the right decision...any advice would be welcome. I am 62 years old and generally very healthy (until the onset of this problem an avid runner...several marathons and regularly at least 25 mile/week, eat healthy, mow my own lawn, etc.). This started in November 2012 with severe burning left lateral leg pain radiating all the way to my foot with foot numbness but little lower back pain (initially). The pain was unbearable when I stood or lay on my back; better when sitting. I couldn't do anything and so sought help. I first tried physical therapy which I couldn't tolerate, then I was given a prednisone dose pack (which I only got through 2 doses because my blood pressure skied to over 200 although it took the edge off the pain). But the pain was still unbearable when I stood (washing dishes, ironing, slowly walking thru a museum) or if I lied my back. I had my 1st MRI 12/2012 and that showed many things but the highlights: L5-S1: moderate broad-based disc bulge asymmetric to the left extending into the left foramen. Moderate bilateral facet arthrosis. Moderate to severe right and severe left neural foraminal narrowing. L4-5 moderate bilateral facet arthrosis of L4 on L5.
Then I underwent 3 epidural steroid injections (12/12, 1/13, 5/13) as well as one SI joint injection (4/13). The 1st and 3rd ESI didn't help; the second seemed to help but only for about 6 weeks. The pain returned...never as bad as in the beginning but still I could go for walks or even stand for more than 5-10 minutes without burning pain down my leg for which I needed to sit down. Interestingly I could do some more active things with less pain (dance, mow my lawn, etc.).
On 6/19 a repeat MRI (on a better machine) showed similar results: 1) No change in the left foraminal and central disc protrusions at L5-S1. There is compression of the exiting left L5 nerve root. 2) Moderate acquired cental canal stenosis at L4-5. Mild degenerative anteriolithiasis of L4. I was actually pretty good just before the MRI but the physical act of lying flat on my back (even with knee pillows) for the test nearly killed me as I hel my legs still despite intense burning pain and I was in considerably more pain again for 2-3 days after the MRI.
The surgeon did not push me to surgery, but I was tired of all of this back and forth, waxing and waning and decided (I think) on this microdiscectomy (tomorrow). However, just about since I've scheduled the surgery the leg pain is very minimal (only if I stand a really long time or lie flat on a hard surface0. The bulk of my pain now seems to be in my left lower back (which I didn't used to have) and as I understand it microdiscectomy won't help that. I'm pretty much able to do everything right now (though I haven't tried running or intense exercise) with only minimal pain. On the other hand I know from the MRI that the disc still seems to be pushing on the nerve so maybe doing this now will prevent severe future attacks. I'm very conflicted and now have less than 24 hours if I want to cancel at the last minute. Part of my confliction came after reading peoples recoveries in this forum. I had been told that though I'd have some soreness at the incision I'd pretty much be back to normal activities the day after the surgery with the exception of major bending, twisting or lifting. But reading through the forum it seems as if most people can't do much of anything for weeks or even months. And months out a lot of them don't really seem any better than I am now. I also live alone and am afraid I won't be able to take care of myself. I know this is a long, convoluted, last minute post but I would really appreciate any quick, last minute help anyone could give me!!! Thanks