Long-time lurker, first-time poster here. What's prompted me to finally post is the slow pace of my recovery from surgery and some ongoing issues I've been having. This is a little long (apologies in advance).
My story: 32 years old. Lifted something stupidly, felt a searing pain, and figured I had sprained my back pretty badly and that it would heal on its own. After a week of excrutiating pain and no improvement I went to the doctor, got an MRI, and found out I had a herniation at L5/S1 that was borderline cauda equina. Initial symptoms apart from the back pain were sciatica down the left leg and some toe/foot numbness. Once the penile numbness and tingling in the perineum kicked in, I went to the emergency room. Had a microdiscectomy the next day and was released the day after that. Declined physical therapy at the 6 week post-op appointment because 1) my mobility was and still is very good and 2) I don't have insurance.
The surgery was 18 weeks ago. The pace of recovery has been slower than I expected for someone of my age and fitness level. I can still only manage to sit for 20-30 minutes at a time before I absolutely MUST stand up. The searing type of sciatica I had before the surgery is gone, but I still get what I describe as pinges behind my knee about 30-50 times a day. I can feel when they're about to come on because I'll get a tingle in my foot and then a second or two later.. BAM. It's more a feeling of pressure than pain, like someone is pressing into the back of my knee with their thumbs.
So, question #1: Has anyone experienced that particular type of knee pinge/nerve pain? How long does this stage of the recovery last? I know nerve damage can take months or years to heal, if at all, but some insight would be great if anyone has had this specific type of pain.
Also, two weeks ago I was sitting in my new ergonomic desk chair and, after about 20 mins, felt a brief but very sharp pain in my back. Naturally I freaked out. After poking and prodding gently, I located the pain several vertebrae up from where my incision is (guesstimating L1/2). That reassured me somewhat that it was not a reherniation. Two weeks later I still have that pain, especially if I arch the small of my back. It's always better in the morning and gets worse during the day, with sitting. It's also not generally something I feel if I'm just standing around normally, but if I arch my back it can be quite intense.
Which leads me to question #2: Could this be a muscle sprain? Are sprains ever that sharp? I hope that's all it is. My mind has been running away with me thinking it could be spondylolisthesis due to my lower back muscles weakening to the point of not holding things in place. I'm not asking for a medical diagnosis of course, just wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar or what you all think the likelihood of sprain vs. spondylolisthesis is.
Once I have insurance in January, I will be going back to the doctor to ask him all these questions myself. In the meantime, any insight would be very much appreciated!