My story, in bullet points:
- Me: early 40's, in generally good shape, not overly athletic, normal weight (BMI ~= 24); doing computer work, sitting most of the time.
- Sciatica 13 years ago, from an incident while moving furniture, lasted for about two years, treated with exercise, got better and over time completely healed.
- 11 years of peace and exercise and yoga and normal life.
- 6 months ago: Sciatica flaring up after moving an apt.'s furniture without incident - I swear I'm paying big dudes to do this next time.
- Sciatica coming on and off over the past 6 months, manageable pain.
- Sciatica worsening significantly 4 weeks ago, for about 3 weeks. Pain most severe a few seconds after sitting down, and a few seconds after getting up (so intense I was clenching teeth). Debilitating, I would stay home instead of going out because lying down was the only way to be pain-free.
- Big disc herniation occurred all at once one night at 2am, absolutely insane and unbelievable amounts of pain as a lightning bolt shot down in my leg suddenly, a real nightmare come true, no position would relieve it, threw myself on the floor screaming, then after calling my doctor and exploring options (including E/R), laid down for 16 hours in a row riding that monster pain alone without moving (and I was already on NSAIDs - Meloxican), which oh so slowly receded over 3-4 days of absolute hell.
- I could stand up after that - somehow the location of the herniated material had moved - but any moment would cause reinflammation and an insane amount of pain again after a few hours.
- Most worrisome to me, after this I have L5-S1 dermatome region symptoms:
* Tingly 2-3-5 toes on my right leg,
* Right calf is entirely desensitized and numb, and
* My right leg is somewhat weak (I cannot lift on toes on the right foot - though I can lift on toes if using both feet).
* Because of this, I haven't been able to really walk normally ever since - I'm using a cane.
- MRI showed a "pretty large herniation" (an 8/10) to my spine specialist; referred me to a spine surgeon, he thought it was a 4/10 (all he sees are worse cases). He recommended a micro discectomy based on the fact that I have weakness for more than 12hrs/day (actually 24hrs/day), this is where he draws the line.
- My option were:
(A) deal with the pain, outcomes are the same with or without surgery 6-12 months out, but risk that the neuropathic symptoms becoming permanent (found many stories like this, where not doing anything made it FOR LIFE), or
(B) get the surgery, get rid of the pain, and most importantly relieve the pressure off the nerve and symptoms are "highly likely" to go away with healing.
I could not risk my leg, so I took option (B) and got the operation.
- Got the micro-discectomy 8 days after the big herniation (thanks to the US medical system and a great insurance plan, it's all so expensive but you do get care right away if you can afford it), the op was a piece of cake, though I had been really scared of GA; the radicular pain was mostly gone as of the moment I woke up, I'm not even taking painkillers, 2 days post-op went out to dinner walking, 3 days post-op I feel like going back to work. So far no complications, I can pee and poo normally post-op, and I haven't touched that stash of painkillers, no pills, and no regrets. This is a clear step forward.
NOW, my leg still has all the neuropathic symptoms above :-(
Weakness, numb calf, numb and tingly center of foot...
I'd really like to hear stories of nerve damage recovery... I'm really worried that these could be permanent. I need my leg back!
Please share stories of recovery of leg weakness, I'd love if you can provide
- Duration and nature of neuropathic symptoms (numbness, weakness, tingling) before micro discectomy
- Whether post-op the symptoms were relieved immediately (the doctor says it's normal that it takes time)
- If not, how long it took for the nerve damage to subside
- Whether you still have neuropathy
- If you have found anything that promotes nerve recovery