I am 45 yr old wife and mother of 3 teenage-adult sons living in Manitoba, Canada. My problems with back/sciatica first became intense about 14 years ago. I had difficult labor/delivery with my babies, which definitely played into this. I really only had bad flare-ups occasionally and just thought I had a 'bad back' like most people, but now think there was a bulging disc waiting for it's opportunity to rupture for a few years already. In March 2014 my back seized on me - the very worst i've ever had. The next few weeks were nothing short of torture. I took awhile before I could get in to see my GP, and then a few weeks of figuring out a pain management plan that worked...well, the morphine, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory only just took the edge off, but it was better than nothing. In Canada, testing, surgeries, etc. are covered by Medicare, but there is a loonngg wait for absolutely everything. At first, I could only get an MRI for July - 4 months after injury, until I got a last minute appointment for end of April, reviewing results a week later with my GP. At this point, 2 months post-injury, I had been going to physiotherapy and it was giving me some short-term relief but I was still seriously over-medicating myself with everything I could throw at it. My GP said I had 'a severe rupture' at L5-S1 that would not heal on it's own and would require surgery. Next step, referral to orthopedic surgeon, apptmt 3 months away. Again, I negotiated a consult with a well-reputed neurosurgeon for an earlier date, and he recommended a discectomy. I had done some research on my own prior to the consult, and felt if I was offered a discectomy I wouldn't hesitate to sign on the dotted line. Completed pre-op that same day so I was ready to go ASAP, they said by end of summer likely. Well, I finally did get a surgery date for October 29, but they called a few days before to tell me it would have to be postponed, likely into December. Disappointed, yes. But on some level I can understand that there are people out there with bigger problems than mine that have been waiting and had surgeries postponed too. In the meantime, I am still going to physio, which I believe is still helping. The biggest aid for me has been aquacise at local pool 3x week. Seriously, the best thing to keep your muscles toned and moving, when there is NOTHING else you can do without pain - water exercise! My physiotherapist was totally supportive when I told him I was doing it, and he said it would be very hard to make matters worse for my back in the pool. Pain-wise, it has become more manageable, and to some extent I believe I am getting used to it and not 'fighting it' so much anymore. The best thing for me medicinally has been gabapentin, prescribed for nerve pain. It takes awhile to work your way up to full dose, but I believe it is helping me alot. Otherwise, I also use muscle relaxant baclofen and supplement with ibuprofen as well. I got myself off of morphine as soon as I could (was using it probably 1.5 months) as it really messed up my bowels and my head. Also use heating pad for bad flare-ups. The nerve pain makes me tense, and then my muscles start to spasm and then the nerve pain gets worse...you know the vicious cycle. I know to keep muscles moving reduces the spasms and pain, but it's hard to find things to do that don't aggravate that compressed nerve. Aquacise has been the life-saver for me - something everyone with this issue should try if they have the means to.
I did follow through with the orthapedic surgeon consult in August, and was recommended for a spinal fusion (4-8 month wait). And then in September, I consulted with German spine surgeons who recommended disc replacement at their facilities in Germany with a $40000 price tag (2 month wait)...I feel the discectomy is promising for me, and much less invasive than the other options, so I'm sticking with it. I only hope I'm not in need of a 2nd back surgery down the line somewhere, that I wasted my time & energy with a discectomy 1st. It's a chance I have to take. I have connected with several people from these forums to gain as much insight through others' experiences as I can, recognizing that more people come on these forums to complain or look for answers to problems than to share positive outcomes. I hope I can be one of those with a success story to share!